Category Archives: book lists

Year-end Book Roundup: 2011

Books Read in 2011:
1. Death from the Skies! by Philip Plait
2. Original Sin by Beth McMullen
3. Expiation by Greg Messel
4. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson
5. The Animal Review by Jacob Lentz and Steve Nash
6. Lodestone: The Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway
7. First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells
8. Exchange by Dale R. Cozort
9. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
10. The Talisman of Elam by Jim Mastro
11. Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star by Ann Elwood
12. The Dog Park by Ann Elwood
13. Borneo Tom by Tom McLaughlin
14. The Dark City by Catherine Fisher
15. 1,001 Things You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know by Anna Mantzaris
16. Threadbared by Kimberly Wrenn and Mary Watkins
17. Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants
18. How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
19. The Demon Queen and the Locksmith by Spencer Baum
20. The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
21. Lodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars by Mark Whiteway
22. The Torah Codes by Ezra Barany
23. Releasing Gillian’s Wolves by Tara Woolpy
24. Otherworld Tales by C.T. Markee
25. The Meowmorphosis by Coleridge Cook and Franz Kafka
26. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
27. The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
28. Neopets Ghoul Catchers #1: The Creeping Danger by Vivian Larue
29. Finders Keepers by Russ Colchamiro
30. Waterwoman by Lenore Hart
31. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
32. The Two Dead Girls by Stephen King
33. The Mouse on the Mile by Stephen King
34. Coffey’s Hands by Stephen King
35. The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix by Stephen King
36. Night Journey by Stephen King
37. Coffey on the Mile by Stephen King
38. White River Junctions by Dave Norman
39. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
40. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
41. The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
42. The Last Cowgirl by Jana Richman
43. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
44. The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick
45. Grover G. Graham and Me by Mary Quattlebaum
46. River Rat: The Storm Treasure by Joseph Fleck
47. Lodestone Book Three: The Crucible of Dawn by Mark Whiteway
48. Highlander: The Captive Soul by Josepha Sherman
49. The Patron Saint of Eels by Gregory Day
50. Revenge by Mark Young
51. Ireland (Little-Known Facts about Well-Known Places) by David Hoffman
52. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
53. Jennifer Government by Max Barry
54. The Prestige by Christopher Priest
55. Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Books Listened to in 2011:
1. Spook by Mary Roach
2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
3. Don’t Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis
4. Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
5. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
6. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
7. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
8. Dune by Frank Herbert
9. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
10. Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith
11. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
12. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
13. Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules edited by David Sedaris
14. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
15. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
16. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
17. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
18. Divergent by Veronica Roth
19. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
20. The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov
21. The Collectors by David Baldacci (abridged)
22. The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov
23. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
24. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
25. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
26. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
27. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
28. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
29. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
30. Extras by Scott Westerfeld
31. Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life by Douglas T. Kenrick
32. Trackers by Deon Meyer
33. Horns by Joe Hill
34. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
35. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Books Started but not Finished:
* Creative, Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho and Meg Mateo Ilasco (just didn’t interest me)
* Fractured Time by Michael D’Ambrosio (I just…couldn’t.)
* Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov (Had too much trouble following the story)
* Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (Couldn’t understand it and didn’t care enough to try)

Previous years: 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | Review Archive

2011 TBR Pile Challenge – check in


2011TBR

Adam from Roof Beam Reader popped by the other day to remind me about the 2011 TBR Pile Challenge I’d signed up for some 6 months ago. It’s a good thing he did, because I’d forgotten all about it. Let’s check in, shall we?

  1. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  2. Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
  3. Adventures by Mike Resnick
  4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  5. Jennifer Government by Max Barry
  6. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  7. Suburban Safari by Hannah Holmes
  8. As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto
  9. Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions by John F. Burnett
  10. Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way by Bruce Campbell
  11. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
  12. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

My alternates:

  1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  2. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

Hmm. Well, I did manage to read The Graveyard Book but nothing else so far. I also did a major sweep of my TBR pile and got rid of Suburban Safari, Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions, and A Walk in the Woods. I guess that means I’ve failed the challenge already.

The truth is, I’ve been spending so much time reading and reviewing new books that I haven’t been making any progress whatsoever on my existing TBR pile. Perhaps I’ll be able to get caught up (somewhat) during my current hiatus…but no promises.

Books Won Reading Challenge 2010 – recap

Back in December of last year, I joined the Books Won Reading Challenge. I managed to read 7 of the books on my list:

1. Heresy by S.J. Parris
2. Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh
3. The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner
4. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
5. Absolute Power by David Baldacci
6. Juliet by Anne Fortier
7. The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide by John McNally

This qualifies me for a “silver” medal, and in fact I tied for most books read according to the final standings. That’s kind of nifty. I’m not signing up again this year but it was a fun way to get some of the newer books off the shelf.

Year-end Book Roundup: 2010

Books Read in 2010:
1. CauseWired by Tom Watson
2. Heresy by S.J. Parris
3. Dreaming Again edited by Jack Dann
4. Malice by Chris Wooding
5. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
7. No Greater Sacrifice by John Stipa
8. I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) by Laurie Notaro
9. Stupid History by Leland Gregory
10. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
11. The Blind Geometer/The New Atlantis by Kim Stanley Robinson/Ursula K. Le Guin
12. A Secret Atlas by Michael A. Stackpole
13. Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll
14. BookCrossing Though Middle-Earth by Skyring
15. Death Comes as Epiphany by Sharan Newman
16. The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey
17. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
18. Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris
19. Marooned in Fraggle Rock by David Young
20. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
21. Brothel by Alexa Albert
22. A Golfer’s Tail by Roscoe Watkins
23. Juliet by Anne Fortier
24. Leaving Fishers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
25. The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld
26. Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary by Vivian Cook
27. Some Fools, A Turtle and Queen Elizabeth by A. M. Lascurain
28. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
29. The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner
30. Don’t Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis
31. Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
32. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
33. The Immortal Ones by John F. Ferrer
34. Time of the Twins by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
35. Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson
36. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
37. Jack Fell Down by Kenneth Underwood
38. Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
39. A Place to Die by Dorothy James
40. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
41. The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide by John McNally
42. Moominpappa’s Memoirs by Tove Jansson
43. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, vol. 1 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim
44. Heroes A2Z #1: Alien Ice Cream by David Anthony and Charles David
45. Knightscares #1: Cauldron Cooker’s Night by David Anthony and Charles David

Books Listened to in 2010:
1. The Taking by Dean Koontz
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
3. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
4. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
5. Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh
6. Messenger by Lois Lowry
7. The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz
8. The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
9. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
10. Absolute Power by David Baldacci
11. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
12. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (abridged)
13. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
14. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
15. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
16. Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
17. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
18. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
19. Looking for Alaska by John Green
20. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
21. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
22. Holes by Louis Sachar
23. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
24. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
25. The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
26. Good Harbor by Anita Diamant
27. Anthem by Ayn Rand
28. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
29. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
30. Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine
31. Rules by Cynthia Lord
32. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
33. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
34. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
35. Paper Towns by John Green
36. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
37. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Books Started but Not Finished
* The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (left on a plane – whoops!)
* Making History by Stephen Fry (couldn’t follow it)
* The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (never did encounter any plot)
* The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (it was just too stupid)
* Atonement by Ian McEwan (disc 4 of audiobook too scratched)
* Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner (disc 5 of audiobook too scratched)

Previous years: 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | Review Archive

Reading Challenges for 2011

The lovely and talented kel_light has inspired me to sign up for some reading challenges for the coming year.

Bewitched Bookworms

Whisper Stories in my Ear, hosted by Bewitched Bookworms, is an interesting audiobook challenge based on the number of hours you spend listening. This means I’ll have to start paying attention to the length of these books beyond the number of discs.

Speaking of audiobooks…

Teresa’s Reading Corner is also hosting a 2011 Audio Book Challenge. This one is in terms of number of audio books completed. Unless something drastic changes in my commute time, I fully expect to earn the “obsessed” badge on this one.

Last but not least:


MizB is hosting what appears to be a fairly casual Read’n’Review Challenge. I review pretty much every book I read as it is, so I figure I’m a shoo-in for this challenge. :)

Okay, so I admit that these aren’t exactly the most challenging of challenges for me. But to be honest, I am so behind on my reading – especially books sent to me for review – that I am wary to sign up for more, particularly if they require me to accumulate more books just to fit the theme. My TBR pile is already set to topple.

What about you? Are you participating in any reading challenges this year?

The 2011 TBR Pile Challenge


2011TBR

I happened upon this 2011 TBR Pile Challenge over at A Novel Challenge and figured, “12 books is nothing. I can do this.” And so I’ve signed up.  At worst, it’ll get some oldies off the shelf to make room for newbies.

My list:

  1. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  2. Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
  3. Adventures by Mike Resnick
  4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  5. Jennifer Government by Max Barry
  6. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  7. Suburban Safari by Hannah Holmes
  8. As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto
  9. Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions by John F. Burnett
  10. Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way by Bruce Campbell
  11. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
  12. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

My alternates:

  1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  2. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

More Pet Peeves

Check out the original list. Evidently I’m not done yet. Here are some more tips for writers who want to avoid irritating me their readers:

  • Avoid repetitive statements. He shrugged his shoulders. What else, pray tell, can one shrug?
  • Give your characters distinct names. I don’t mean unusual, necessarily, just noticeably different from each other. Once I had to quit a book after only a few chapters because I couldn’t keep Johnny, Jack, Jackie, Jerry, and Jimmy straight in my head. (No, I’m not making that up.)
  • Be consistent with your names. It’s fine to refer to Jack Smith as either “Jack” or as “Smith”. You can even call him “Smith” in the narration and “Jack” in the dialog from time to time. Just don’t switch back and forth constantly. Pick one and stick with it.
  • Have someone read your book aloud to you, preferably someone who’s never seen it before. Make notes while you listen, but don’t read along. Realize that this monotone is how every reader will “hear” your book in their head.
  • Careful with description. If the clouds around the mountain have nothing to do with moving the story forward, don’t spend three paragraphs on them. Readers don’t want to be stuck in a white room, but we also don’t care about the cuckoo clock’s personal history unless it becomes important later.
  • If you want to write a movie, write a movie. Don’t write a book. I cannot stress this enough.

Any more I’m forgetting?

My “Favorite” Conundrum

How does one determine their favorite book or author? It’s a common question around lit-loving communities, and I never know how to answer.

If it’s the author by whom I’ve read the most books, then my favorite author would be Mike Resnick, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, Katherine Neville, Jodi Picoult, Piers Anthony, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, Orson Scott Card, or Jennifer Weiner. But I’m not sure I’d count any of them as my favorite author (though I’ve referred to Mike Resnick as such many times just because I’m pretty much guaranteed to enjoy his stories). Aside from Resnick, Rowling, and Neville, I don’t see myself going out of my way to pick up anything else by these people. I’m currently on hiatus from Picoult and Koontz, and Anthony and I broke up years ago.

If it’s the book I’ve read the most times, then it would be The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy” by Douglas Adams, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, or Santiago: a Myth of the Far Future by Mike Resnick. Sure, I’m guaranteed to laugh out loud every single time I read Gallery of Regrettable Food, but I’d like to think my favorite book would be something with a little more depth. So my problem there may be self-delusion more than anything else.

If it’s a book that really stuck with me for a long time, then it would be The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan, Flatland by Edwin Abbott, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, or – most embarrassingly – the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I refuse to consider any of the Twilight books a favorite because they are awful and I will never read them again. I wouldn’t mind claiming The Demon-Haunted World or The Time Machine, I suppose, but if they were truly my favorite, wouldn’t I have read them multiple times?

So tell me: what’s your favorite book or author? How can you tell?

Open post: to read or not to read

This is an open post. Comments welcome and encouraged. (Not that they aren’t normally, but this time I’m actually asking for opinions.)

My to-be-read pile, generally referred to as Mt. TBR, is occasionally overwhelming. (Ignore the colors; the only one that means anything of interest is yellow, which is what I’m currently reading.) One of my 101 things in 1001 days is to get Mt. TBR under 50 books, even just temporarily. I’m over 150 days in and have not been able to reduce the size of the pile, despite having read over 30 books in that time.

So I’m thinking it might be time for a cull. The following are books I’m thinking of chucking unread. (And by “chucking” I mean wild releasing.) If anyone has any thoughts on any of these, please let me know. I’m willing to keep anything on the list if someone says it’s a good read. But for now, here are my maybes:

  • The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul by Douglas Adams – As much as I love Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency left me wanting.
  • Push Comes to Shove by Wesley Brown – I was lured in by the promise of a free book from Concord Free Press but the subject matter doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.
  • Virtual Light by William Gibson – Neuromancer was okay but hard to follow, so I’m not sure it’s worth it for me to read any more Gibson. (I also have Pattern Recognition on Mt. TBR, but a friend told me it was really good.)
  • James Herriot’s vet tales quadrilogy – I like Herriot just fine, but I have a feeling a bunch of touching stories about injured/sick animals might make me cry more than is strictly healthy.
  • Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead – As much as I like Arthurian legend, I’m not sure I really need to read another one unless it’s totally awesome.
  • The Monk by Matthew Lewis – A friend “lent” this to me years ago. I assume he never wanted it back since he’s since moved to Florida. It looks…dense. Is it good?
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike – As far as I can tell, this is about basketball and a selfish man. Nothing in the Amazon reviews convinced me it was really worth reading.

So what do you think? Any of these something I should not pass up? Any that you’d like me to send to you if I do decide not to read it? (That holds for any of them except the Adams one, because that one belongs to my husband.)

And if you want to add books to Mt. TBR, well, I suppose that’s okay too. I’m always up for a good recommendation.

Pet Peeves

Everyone has little things in books that bug them, ranging in reaction from minor irritation to a full-on “if this is there I will stop reading immediately.” Here are some of mine, in no particular order:

  • A man falling in love with a prostitute (a.k.a. the hooker with the heart of gold). It’s been done, people. Done to death.
  • Conflict/drama caused entirely by people not telling each other things. This drives me insane. Yes, I get that people have secrets, but too often characters hold back because (1) they have a martyrdom complex and don’t want to burden anyone with their problems, or (2) they think people just wouldn’t understand, and don’t even give them the chance to decide. It’s dumb, and it’s even worse when it’s the entire reason pretty much everything in the plot happens. If I can read a book and think “if they’d only told each other everything from the start, we could have avoided pretty much the entire story,” it really irritates me, and it’s a sign of weak writing.
  • Large amounts of foreign language. I was going to say it only bugs me when it’s not translated, but it also bothers me when people say things in a foreign language and it’s immediately translated into English. The occasional word is fine, but paragraphs or entire conversations get very tiresome. It’s a great word-padding trick for NaNoWriMo but I’d rather it were left out of published novels.
  • Conversations that are described instead of printed. Jane Austen was particularly bad about this, but she’s far from the only offender. The only exception to this is if the information would be a repeat of what the reader already knows.
  • Stories that don’t end. Now, I don’t need all the loose ends to be tied up, but I do need a story to have a satisfying (though not necessarily happy) ending. When it just stops and it’s left totally up to the reader to decide what happens (such as in The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber), I feel like I’ve completely wasted my time reading it. If I wanted to write my own ending, I would have written my own story. Finish what you start!
  • Authors that don’t do basic research. I’m not talking about little anachronisms in historical fiction; I mean truly basic information that anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the topic would know. James Patterson is a good example. He sets many of his novels in the DC metro area (which happens to be where I live) and then makes such glaring mistakes as inventing a mysterious city in Virginia called Church Falls and asserting that locals refer to the Smithsonian Institution as “The Smithy”. (We don’t. Seriously, nobody says that.) If you want to make up stuff, don’t set it in a real place. All you’re doing is irritating the natives.

I’m sure there are more I’m not thinking of. What are your pet peeves in books?

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