2012 Reading List

Now in chronological order:

Trumps of Doom – Roger ZelaznyLots of Books
Blood of Amber – Roger Zelazny
Sign of Chaos – Roger Zelazny
Knight of Shadows – Roger Zelazny
Prince of Chaos – Roger Zelazny
The Last Light of the Sun – Guy Gavriel Kay
Look to Windward – Iain M. Banks
Here Comes Trouble – Michael Moore
The High King’s Tomb – Kristen Britain
22-11-63 – Stephen King
Trujillo – Lucius Shepard
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
The Fear Index – Robert Harris
Solar – Ian McEwan
Matter – Iain M. Banks
Blonde Bombshell – Tom Holt
The Cold Moon – Jeffrey Deaver
A Bend in the Road – Nicholas Sparks
The Shadow of the Torturer – Gene Wolfe
The Claw of the Conciliator – Gene Wolfe
The Sword of the Lictor – Gene Wolfe
The Citadel of the Autarch – Gene Wolfe
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
Iron Council – China Miéville
One of our Thursdays is Missing – Jasper Fforde
A Son of the Circus – John Irving
The Mist – Stephen King
The State of the Art – Iain M. Banks
Blaze – Richard Bachman
Alex & Me – Irene M. Pepperberg
The Coma – Alex Garland
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Caves of Steel – Isaac Asimov
The Man Who Was Thursday – G. K. Chesterton
Raw Spirit – Iain Banks

2012 was a highly varied reading year. As always I’m far below the number of books that I wanted to read, but I guess the times when I was an unmarried, jobless, friendless, carefree gal of 15 who didn’t generally bother with homework won’t be coming back. Good riddance, I say. If I had to pick my favourite book of the year I would have to say Look to Windward by the always amazing Iain M. Banks, with The Coma by Alex Garland a close second.

Worst book of the year is a little harder to pick. The competition is so thick that you could cut it with a chainsaw… and probably should. I guess I should nominate A Son of the Circus by John Irving, just because everyone keeps carrying on about how bloody brilliant his books are. Well, they aren’t, at least not all of them. Second place is a tie between Nicky Sparks and Jeff Deaver for brain-numbing, cliché-laden awfulness and abuse of the English language in general. And Kristen Britain… well… is Kristen Britain. See my review of First Rider’s Call for more details.

I also had a few firsts, authors which I’d been meaning to read since forever but never got around to, and those were one and all delightful. Chesterton, Zelazny, Wolfe, Chandler, Miéville and (I am ashamed to say) that giant of both fiction and non-fiction, Asimov, are all worth a read. Not a single turd there.

For now I’m still in the middle of Raw Spirit by Iain Banks, which I am enjoying way too much to be envious of someone who got paid to taste all of Scotland’s great single malt whiskies. Okay, maybe a little. But it’s a really great read. And I shall use it to bolster my next reading list – after all, I can legitimately claim that I read it in 2012 and 2013.

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2011 in Books

These lists seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Either I read less, or I’m running out of good books. No, wait, I remember now: the Unconsoled, that triple-damned piece of literary diarrhea by Kazuo Ishiguro, put me off reading for at least four months in early 2011. There, all his fault.

The Brooklyn Follies – Paul Auster
Excession – Iain M. Banks
The Mirror of Her Dreams – Stephen Donaldson
A Man Rides Through – Stephen Donaldson
Past Imperative – Dave Duncan
Present Tense – Dave Duncan
Future Indefinite – Dave Duncan
The Last Dragonslayer – Jasper Fforde
The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
Sailing to Sarantium – Guy Gavriel Kay
Lord of Emperors – Guy Gavriel Kay
The Lions of Al-Rassan – Guy Gavriel Kay
Gerald’s Game – Stephen King
Misery – Stephen King
The Stand – Stephen King
A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Tombs of Atuan – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Farthest Shore – Ursula K. Le Guin
Tehanu – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner – Stephenie Meyer
Snuff – Terry Pratchett
The Alphabet – David Sacks
Nine Princes in Amber – Roger Zelazny
The Guns of Avalon – Roger Zelazny
Sign of the Unicorn – Roger Zelazny
The Hand of Oberon – Roger Zelazny
The Courts of Chaos – Roger Zelazny

My Year in Books

Here is, for all those interested, a list of the books that I’ve managed to read in 2009. I always enjoy these lists when I see them on other people’s blogs, as they provide me not only with inspiration for my own reading, but also with a rough idea of what that other writer might be interested in. So, here we go (and don’t dream of getting this in chronological order):

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie
I See By My Outfit – Peter S. Beagle
Strange Roads – Peter S. Beagle
We Never Talk About My Brother – Peter S. Beagle
Lythande – Marion Zimmer Bradley
Green Rider – Kristen Britain
First Rider’s Call – Kristen Britain
The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson
Adventures in Unhistory – Avram Davidson
Pawn Of Prophecy – David Eddings
Queen Of Sorcery – David Eddings
Magician’s Gambit – David Eddings
Castle Of Wizardry – David Eddings
Enchanter’s End Game – David Eddings
Guardians Of The West – David Eddings
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
The Glass Key – Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett
Lustrum – Robert Harris
A Song For Nero – Tom Holt
The Hotel New Hampshire – John Irving
The Lions Of Al-Rassan – Guy Gavriel Kay
Cell – Stephen King
Duma Key – Stephen King
It – Stephen King
Lisey’s Story – Stephen King
On Writing – Stephen King
Die Känguru-Chroniken – Marc-Uwe Kling
The Gunseller – Hugh Laurie
A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
A Clash Of Kings – George R.R. Martin
A Storm Of Swords – George R.R. Martin
A Feast For Crows – George R.R. Martin
Dragonharper – Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Blood Sucking Fiends – Christopher Moore
Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook – Terry Pratchett
Nation – Terry Pratchett
Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett
The Name Of The Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
The Tales Of Beedle The Bard – J.K. Rowling
Indecent Exposure – Tom Sharpe
Riotous Assembly – Tom Sharpe
Wilt – Tom Sharpe
Barnacle Bill The Spacer And Other Stories – Lucius Shepard
Softspoken – Lucius Shepard
The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter – Lucius Shepard
The Writer Got Screwed (But He Didn’t Have To) – Brooke E. Wharton

This was going to be a post about Barnacle Bill the Spacer but then…

… I read up a few things about Lucius Shepard, the author of Barnacle Bill the Spacer and half a dozen other books that I absolutely adore.

I very much adore Lucius Shepard. I adore his writing. I adore the way he describes places and I absoluetly adore his gift for setting the mood. I also adore his political and religious views. I short, Lucius Shepard is God.

At least I thought so before I started reading his blog in order to get a few nice juicy quotes for this post. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t even know Mr. Shepard had a blog. I had read that he was a very seclusive person and didn’t like to give interviews. Somewhere. Wikipedia, I think. And that was it. Man has no public life. Good for him. I tend to support life-style choices like this.

But then I re-read the Wikipedia entry and lo and behold! There seemed to be a blog after all.

Only it turns out that the political and religious views and the great writing (also suspiciously absent in the blog) come in a package deal with a stunning example of the most horrid artistic snobbery that I have ever witnessed in a human being.

This man claims to be a Firefly addict, yet he says that according to his own likes and dislikes he should hate the show. Actually, he hates “populists like Joss Whedon and J. K. Rowling.” I won’t even get into on how many levels that is so  wrong. (Not a Whedon fan-girl myself by any means, but he has done some good stuff over the years, above all Firefly.) Could it be, Mr. Shepard, that you try to dislike everything new and presumably Hollywood with a Harold-Bloomesque fervor, but actually, deep down, like stuff like that? Did you, like many people of your generation, sit through Star Wars Episodes 1-3, desperately grabbing on to your deep-seated mistrust, lest it fly away on wings of superb CGI? And did you shelter your carefully-groomed hatred, lest it get scared away by the good story? If yes, then I pity you. There seem to be too many people out there today that reject modern cinema out of principle. Like my grandfather, who still insists that in his youth the vegetables still tasted of vegetable and not of cardboard. Only he is probably right.

Also, there is the small matter of JCVD, which as I can personally testify is the worst movie of the decade. And I’ve seen Bloom. (Not Harold.)

Sorry, Mr. Shepard, but it’s true.

Now, the question is: Can I still adore an author who is also so obviously a total idiot?

I guess I can. The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule and Jailwise are still two of the very best short stories that I have ever read. Nothing will change that. Fine writing is fine writing.  Shame about the rest though…