Monday, December 31, 2012

Reading List 2012

There may not be much consistency to this blog these days (other than spambots leaving multiple comments on year-old posts), but here's one thing you can count on: the year-end reading list!

I'm not too proud of my list this year.  I started pretty strong but only actually finished 32 books, including some trade paperbacks and graphic novels.  Yikes.  (I'm not sure if this is 100% accurate, because I also did a lousy job of keeping track throughout the second half of the year.  As some of you may have noticed, my book blog has been ignored completely for almost a year)  Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure the list below is fairly close. And, as always, the list doesn't include play scripts. 

Part of the problem was that I spent a lot of time trying to slog books that I just couldn't get into.  I listed those last year.  I'm not going to this year.  A bigger part of the problem, though, is that the kids are just so darned demanding of time and energy. Not that I'm complaining, but it does cut back on reading time quite a bit.  And I did start and finish writing two plays in the past calendar year.  (Or was it three?  We'll say two and a half) 

So, I'm not an avid reader, or a book nerd, and I don't read as much as I'd like to.  I don't write as much as I'd like to, either.  Whatcha gonna do?  That's life.  You don't always get to do as much of things as you want to. 

Also, I didn't keep page counts this year because, as I said above, bad record-keeping.  Hopefully I'll be better about that in 2013. 

And, just to change things up, I'm going to do this year's list in alphabetical order rather than chronological. Oooh! 

American Gods, 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery
Annihilation: Conquest by Keith Giffen
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Best of Down Goes Brown: Greatest Hits and Brand New Classics-To-Be from Hockey's Most Hilarious Blog by Sean McIndoe
The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team by Wayne Coffey
The Bulllpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran by Dirk Hayhurst
The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan
The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Dune by Frank Herbert
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
God's Grand Vision for the Home by Dr. Rob Rienow
The Green Mile by Stephen King
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Invincible Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Journeyman: The Many Triumphs (And Even More Defeats of a Guy Who's Seen Just About Everything in Hockey by Sean Pronger
Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung
Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid by Wendy Williams
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Powerless: The New Avengers vol. 12 by Brian Michael Bendis
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Trust: The New Avengers vol. 7 by Brian Michael Bendis
War of Kings: Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King


Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

The first book I read this year was one of my favorites.  The story itself isn't actually all that strong, so it's a bit surprising that I enjoyed the book as much as I did (since I'm generally a story-first man).  The prose, however, is simply gorgeous.  And, as always, the ideas and themes in Lewis' writing are fun to think about.  About halfway through, the book sort of seems to lose its way and gets a little boring (to me, anyway), but it starts and ends so strongly that I'll probably be buying this one day.  (The version with pages and a spine and everything, that is)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I never saw this movie, but I loved the book.  I can't point out anything particularly masterful about it, but it's solid all the way around.  Story, characters, narrative voice, world, there's not really a weak point.  It's laugh-out-loud funny and drop-dead serious, and it flows quit naturally between the two. Another one that wouldn't look too bad on my bookshelf one of these days.  (When I have room for a bigger bookshelf, that is)

The New Olympians series by Rick Riordan
I read the last three of these books (in the original Percy Jackson series) over the course of the year.  If you like YA fantasy or fiction, you really ought to read these books.  They're just a ton of fun.  They're clever, they're creative, and they really use the Greek mythology well.  It is fun, fun, fun reading.  The throughline at times gets a bit messy and often it seems like major character development just sort of happens from out of nowhere, but if you're willing to let that sort of thing slide, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable ride. 

The Green Mile by Stephen King
My favorite book of the year.  Any time someone saw me reading this book, they'd comment on how great the movie is.  Well, I still haven't seen the movie, but the book. Is. Awesome.  I haven't been floored by King like this since The Stand.  (Note: This does not mean that I like this book as much as I liked The Stand, but it did pack a similar emotional whallop)  Now, it does get pretty graphic--it is still Stephen King, after all, and the subject matter involves serial killers and death by electrocution-- but if you can stomach some gross details, I'd definitely recommend this one to just about anybody.

Here, a couple of quickie recommendations, and then I'm off to bed:

Moneyball by Michael Lewis
I like math.  I like baseball.  This book was made for people like me. 

Just Do Something  by Kevin DeYoung
The subtitle to this book is "A liberating approach to finding God's will."  And I can't really sum it up any better than that. 

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Great mystery/thriller.  Enjoyed every twist and turn the tale took along the way. 

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
More Wheel of Time goodness. 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
No mamby-pamby love triangle here!  Alternately creepy and hilarious, I can't believe no one ever told me this book was this good.

Journeyman by Sean Pronger
Any hockey fan should read this book.  (Just about anybody else probably won't follow)

The Bullben Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst
Ditto, but for baseball.  (Oh, and, uh...LOTS of gross-out content.  Unfiltered locker-room talk. You've been warned)

The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey
Anybody with a passing interest in the Miracle on Ice, hockey, or the winter Olympics should read.

Beast by Peter Benchley
Basically Jaws with a giant squid.  Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but quite possibly the best use of a sperm whale in modern literature.