According to my records, I read 21 books last year. This is not a large number by any means, but it was an improvement over recent years. Earlier in the year, I posted my book queue, featuring 10 books that I had sitting on my shelves (an unprecedented number of unread books for me, as I usually don’t work that far ahead of myself) and of course, I’ve only read 7 of those. So three of the below are repeats, and in looking at some other previous lists, there’s a couple other repeat books as well. Then there are several new additions, meaning that somehow that unprecedented list of 10 unread books has actually grown despite my reading 21 books last year. Score. Anyway, for the record, these are the books:
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: This one is next up in the queue. Not sure why I got this one in the first place, nor why it’s taken me so long to pick it up, but there you have it. It seems relatively short, so hopefully I’ll knock this one off quickly.
- Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville: I’ve some mixed feelings about Miéville, but the fact that his work is described as “weird fiction” in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft and M. R. James has always interested me and since he’s one of the more prolific and popular genre authors these days, I figured I should give him a shot. But then, while my friend Sovawanea enjoyed the book, she also mentioned that it was a bit of a slog at the beginning, and looking at the 600+ page book with small type, well, I don’t want to get bogged down to start the year, so it probably will be a while before I pick this up. That being said, I do want to get through it, if only because it’s been on my shelf for 2 years!
- Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter: I think I’ve read the first chapter of this book about 3 times. And I really like it! But this is another of those do I really have time to read a dense, 900+ page book with tiny type books. That being said, it’s a classic geek text, and something I really do want to finish off this year (assuming I can get through some other stuff first).
- Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram: Another one that’s been sitting on my shelf for years. Boyd is apparently quite influential in military circles and his theories are apparently quite important in current conflicts around the world (in particular, he’s frequently referenced by John Robb in Brave New War, a book I read from the last book queue post). I’m not usually a big biography fan, but it’s something I should try out.
- The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale: A gift from longtime Kaedrin friend and reader Spencer, I will most definitely be reading this early in the year (probably before most of the above). I don’t know that much about it, but then, the subtitle pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond: Another gift from Spencer, and another one that I’ll most likely be tackling early in the year.
- Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky: I picked this up on a whim whilst at the bookstore a few months ago. Shirky is always entertaining and fun to read, though sometimes I feel like his ideas are too high level. He’s a good writer, but perhaps too clever for his own good. Or maybe not – I guess we’ll find out.
- Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon: I get the impression that Pynchon is slumming it in a genre story (hard boiled detective fiction) with this book, so I’m actually quite looking forward to this, as Pynchon is a brilliant prose stylist and yet this novel seems more accessible than his other, more literary works. Also, I want to read this before Paul Thomas Anderson finishes his movie adaptation (which I will also look forward to!)
- The Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn: And of course I return to one of my favorite trashy science fiction workhorses. This is apparently one of his older books, but I’m still looking forward to it. Of course, this is also an omnibus collection of three books, so it’s a monster (around 950 pages).
- Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold: The first in an apparently longstanding science fiction series, including several Hugo Award winners. I’m looking forward to this, but I can easily see myself getting sucked into the series (and thus delaying some of the other books in this list).
- The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist by Fred Brooks: I’m a big fan of Brooks’s The Mythical Man Month, and this book about design from a computer science perspective should be interesting.
- Time’s Eye (A Time Odyssey) by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter: A Christmas gift from my brother and yet another first book in a series (!), I will try getting to this, but I have a feeling that it will be pushed back by some of the above…
A lot of these books are longer than the ones I read last year. In my zeal to cut down the book queue, I seem to have gravitated towards shorter books, leaving only longer (and in a lot of cases, denser) books. As such, I think I’ll be lucky to hit 20 books again this year… but that shouldn’t really matter.