Thursday, January 01, 2009

Fred's Reading Report (December and Year-End)

This will be a combined reading report, both for the month and the overall year.

So where did I end up?

Books in December? 34. 34? 34! How the heck did I manage that? Mostly due to a combination of reading shorter works during the month, finishing up a number of partly-completed works and making the maximum use of my time by reading books electronically (as well as in paper format) and "reading" audiobooks. It's all about multi-tasking, folks!

Books for the year? 118. Not an all-time personal best, but pretty good.

Shorts for the year? Yikes! Can it be? 854?????? Holy smokes...

So what were the best reads of the year.

Hands-down, once again, Patrick O'Brian. During the year, I read: Master & Commander (three times), Post Captain, H.M.S. Surprise, The Mauritius Command, Desolation Island, The Fortune of War, The Surgeon's Mate, The Ionian Mission, Treason's Harbour, and The Far Side of the World.

To keep things going, I've already started what might be the dramatic point of the series, The Reverse of the Medal.

This back-to-back reading, both visually and via audiobooks (especially given the quality of the narration in the set I'm using) have really given me a new appreciation for O'Brian's craft. You really get the feeling that he labored over this, writing by hand, choosing each word carefully for its impact.

In one internet forum I read a comment along the lines of "That series by O'Brian, where, in the space of twenty-odd books, nothing happens."

What? New species are found. Friends are made and lost. People get married and have children. People die. By the score. Sometimes up close and personal, sometimes by the hundreds when a ship sinks, or is burned, or is broached. Countries rise and fall. Wars start and end, and are started again. Friends play music.

Nothing happens? The whole universe is here, in these books. Which is why I read and re-read them.

Other good reads? I've gotten an increased appreciation for David Drake and Neil Gaiman. The good news there is I still have a lot to read by David Drake. Not so much by Neil Gaiman, unless I want to start buying his "graphic novels" (I've made progress in that department, but still an not enamored enough to spend $95.00/volume of the Sandman collections!)Three old favorites, Cordwainer Smith, Poul Anderson and Walter M. Miller continue to grow on me as I re-read their works. Terry Pratchett continues to amuse, but I only read one last year (but will strive for more this year).

New to me stuff includes Phil and Kaja Foglio's series of adventures with Agatha Heterodyne, the fiction set in the Warhammer 40,000 game universe, and a few others that I will need to explore more of.

Was anything really bad this past year? I can honestly say, no. There were some disappointments (e.g., Stephen Baxter's Manifold: Origin), but nothing that I tossed across the room and into the garbage can.

And that's a good thing.

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