20 Years of Book Lists and Book of the Year

As is my New Year tradition, today I select which book I read in the past year as my Book of the Year. This is a book that I read for the first time in that year, though the book did not need to be published in that year.

I realized as I was making my selection that I have been keeping my book list and selecting a Book of the Year since 1995, making this the 20th list and the 20th Book of the Year.

In a word: Wow.

I look at the lists, see what I selected for Book of the Year, and it brings me right back. Not only to the books, but to what was happening in my life at the time. Like all life, some bad things are recalled, but luckily many good things are too.

I started the lists on pieces of paper and 3 x 5 cards. I still have all of them. It’s been fun keeping this list, and motivational as well. It motivates and inspires my own writing, while also prompting me to read more (going for 40 novels read in 2015).

Last year I added novels I listened to on Audible to the list. This year I may add non-fiction books, but I am trying to decide criteria around that. For example, in 2014 I read two great books on Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. However, they are reference books. I would consider a true non-fiction book something like Seabiscuit (which is amazing). Also, if I do include non-fiction, I don’t think I would include them in the running for my Book of the Year, though I may select a best non-fiction book separately.

A fun problem to have, and I will post again with what I decide.

Finally, my 2014 Book of the Year goes to The Peripheral by William Gibson. 2014 was a great year for books, there were fifteen nominees for Book of the Year, and it was really a toss up of which book it would be until I read The Peripheral a few weeks ago.

Please see my The Reading and Listening Lists Featuring My Selections for Book of The Year page for my thoughts on The Peripheral, my 2014 reading and listening lists, and see what the other nominees for Book of the Year were.

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Peripheral

I just finished reading The Peripheral by William Gibson. With only two weeks left in 2014, it is definitely a top contender for my Book of the Year.

A return to far future science fiction for Gibson, it is a murder mystery with a time travel element to it. Gibson also keeps the future tech coming, all of it feeling possible and probable.

This is another book that is very easy to drop spoilers for, so I do not want to say anything more about it other than that I highly recommend it.

Coming Home by Jack McDevitt

Coming Home

Jack McDevitt is one of my favorite writers. The first book of his I read was Moonfall. A standalone novel about an asteroid that will shatter the moon, it was edge-of-your-seat exciting. I was hooked on McDevitt from that point forward.

The next book of his I read was Deepsix. This is the second book in the Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins series. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. They are fantastic. This is the book where I knew I would read everything McDevitt wrote. Many of the books are around the Omega clouds, space traveling destructive forces that will attack any planet where it finds structures with right angles. This is because right angles do not exist in nature, someone had to make them. Very cool, exciting books.

McDevitt’s other series is the Alex Benedict books. These take place thousands of years in the future. Alex and his pilot Chase travel the universe looking for relics. Some human, some may be alien. Coming Home is book seven of the series. Another home run by McDevitt, it is a nominee for my Book of the Year.

Coming Home has two major stories in it. One is Alex and Chase looking for Apollo-era relics. The other is a continuation of a storyline that began in book six of the series (Firebird) about the rescue of passengers on a starship stuck in trans-dimensional space. I don’t want to say too much more due to possible spoilers, other than I really enjoyed it. Also, if you have not read the Alex Benedict series yet, I would recommend at least reading Firebird before reading Coming Home since they tie into each other so much.

Please check out Jack McDevitt. You will be glad you did.

McDevitt Books
My Jack McDevitt Book Shelf.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

I finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn yesterday. I tried to read it a few months ago and just could not get into it. I’m not sure why, but I think the initial pages made me not like any of the characters (this changed as I got deeper into the book). I decided I would give the book another try since the movie comes out Friday. I knew that if I saw the movie first that I probably would never get around to reading the book.

Gone Girl is one of those books that everyone raves about, one of those books that people who don’t normally read do read and love. I have been burned by books like that in the past. They were fine, but they weren’t “that” good.

Gone Girl is that good.

It is one of those books that I was sure was going to go one way, the resolution would be what I thought it would be a hundred pages in, but I was wrong. I even changed my mind a few times as far as who did what and how is it going to end.

I recommend it highly, it is definitely a nominee for my Book of the Year, and I cannot wait for the movie.

Acceptance: Book Three of The Southern Reach Trilogy and World of Trouble: Book Three of The Last Policeman Trilogy

Accept WoT

Usually when I finish reading a book I add it to my Book List page and indicate if it is a nominee for my Book of the Year. With this post I am starting something new here on the website. Now when I finish a book, I will also write about it. This first post will cover the last two books I read, Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer and World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters. Both are the final books in their respective trilogies.

Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer
Acceptance was the final book in the Southern Reach trilogy. The story is that twenty or so years ago, a border came down around the southern part of the country, now known as Area X. The Southern Reach was the organization tasked with sending expeditions into Area X to try and find out exactly what it is and what its dangers are.

Mystery mixed with literary sci-fi, all three books are highly recommended. I will definitely read Jeff Vandermeer again.

World of Trouble: Book Three of The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman trilogy is about junior police detective Henry Palace at the end of the world. The time is present day, and an asteroid will destroy all life on earth in a matter of months. Though the end is coming, Henry can’t stop being a cop. A lot of this has to do with his sister Nico and the conspiracy theorists she has become involved with.

Highly recommended, the first book in the trilogy won a 2012 Edgar Award. World of Trouble is a nominee for my Book of the Year.

Yearly Totals Added to Reading and Listening List Page

I recently updated my Reading and Listening Lists page to include yearly totals. 2013 and 2014 include totals for books read, books listened to on Audible and their combined totals.

Totals

Years 2012 and earlier have books read totals.

While working on the totals, I noticed that they have fluxuated greatly over the years. 1995 had the fewest number of books read at 20. 1995 was also the first year that I started keeping the list.

2004 had the most books read at 39.

For 2015 I will try to break 40 for the first time.

That Time Author John Scalzi Kind of Mentioned Me on His Blog

So this was cool.

John Scalzi is a science fiction writer that I am a huge fan of. His Old Man’s War series and novel Redshirts are highly recommended.

This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Times did their yearly Summer Books section. Mr. Scalzi’s new book, Lock In, was a recommended book.

I took a picture of the page it was on:

Summer Books Page

Then I tweeted it to Mr. Scalzi.

This morning, my friend Jamie Todd Rubin(sci-fi writer, Evernote Paperless Living Ambassador, blogger) tweeted me that he saw my name and face on Mr. Scalzi’s blog.

I checked it out, and in a post called A Nice Way to Start the Work Week, Mr. Scalzi had included my tweet about the LA Times recommendation for Lock In. Very cool and fun stuff, and thanks to Jamie for calling that out to me.

Throwback Thursday – The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop

One of the first “real” books I read as a kid – meaning not one for school or just aimed at kids – was The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop.

I believe I bought it (for $1.25!!) in 1974 or 1975 at Greenwich Village’s legendary Science Fiction Shop. The picture above is of that very copy.

As the description on the cover says, Texas has left the Union, kidnapped the President, and tank-driving Israelis are going to get him back. As a kid I thought this was awesome.

I even did a book report on it in school and actually got a decent grade.

Many years later in 2003 I found Jake “Buddy” Saunders via Google. Buddy founded Lone Star Comics in Texas in 1961 and in the 2000s started MyComicShop.com. I emailed Buddy through the site, asking if he would sign my book.

Buddy was awesome. Not only did he sign it, but he then forwarded my book to Howard Waldrop who signed it as well. Howard continues to write and he has won Nebula and World Fantasy awards.

My Selection for Book of the Year 2013

Since 1995 I have selected a Book of the Year. This is a book that I read in that year, though it does not have to be published in that year.

2013 is the first year that I have used Audible. I love it and have included the books I listened to on Audible. The Audible books were also eligible for Book of the Year.

This year I have selected Peter F. Hamilton’s Great North Road as 2013’s Book of the Year. Please see my The Reading and Listening Lists Featuring My Selections for Book of The Year page for my thoughts on Great North Road, my 2013 reading – and listening – lists, and see what the other nominees for Book of the Year were.