2012: A Year of Books

I enjoy reading, like…a lot. One of the reasons that I like writing so much is that I love reading what others have written. One day, I would love to walk through a bookstore (assuming physical bookstores still exist) and see my name on a shelf. Basically, I think books are the bee’s knees (that phrase doesn’t look nearly as cool written out).

Now, I know I said that I was going to take a break from blogging over the holidays to maximize the time with my family before I leave again, but the grandparents had an extremely early flight back to Kansas City. Since I hate going back to bed after I’m already up, I find myself all alone at 4:30 in the morning with a full pot of coffee and a burning desire to write something. Therefore, I’m going to run through a few of the books that I’ve read over the past year.

Goodreads tells me that I read 67 books this year. I just started reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (I’ve heard great things) which is over 600 pages long, so that number probably won’t go up before 2013 rolls in. That count is probably pretty tame for some folks, but it’s probably my best year since high school when all I did was read (it was either that or talk to girls, which quite frankly, terrified me).

I read quite a few new books and authors (I highly recommend Jason Andrew Bond and Marita Fowler for new, independent writers). I finally finished a few series that I started years ago (Speaker for the Dead is really good even though it’s completely different from Ender’s game), and I re-read a few of my favorites (mostly David Gemmell and Joe Abercrombie). Here are a couple of the highlights and lowlights from my year in books.

Best Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This book was just amazing. It wasn’t just my favorite book of this year, it was probably my favorite book of the last decade. When it comes to modern science fiction, I honestly think this book should be talked about alongside Ender’s Game and Dune as one of the all time greats (I also think John Steakley’s Armor belongs in the group). There are just so many things about this book that are appealing. If you love science fiction, it’s a must-read. If you love video games, it’s a must read. If you love 80s and 90s pop culture, it’s a must read. Combine all of those interest groups with an amazing story, and you’ve got a winner. If you take nothing else from this post, remember this: READ READY PLAYER ONE!

Most Surprisingly Awesome Book: Fat Assassins by Marita Fowler

I won this book as a giveaway on Goodreads. It’s not the type of book that I would normally read, but it sounded like something my wife would enjoy. Since I am much more motivated about applying for giveaways (the only thing I like more than free books is free t-shirts), I tried to win it for her. When my wife didn’t stop laughing for 300 pages and almost hyperventilated twice (I actually had to take the book away from her, so she would stop reading long enough to breathe), I figured I had better give it a shot. What followed was the funniest book not written by Douglas Adams that I’ve ever read. It was absolutely hilarious, and it has a terrific story behind it. If you have the chance, you should definitely give it a read. It’s awesome.

Most Disappointing Book: Fobbit by David Abrams

I don’t normally post negative reviews. This is partly because I’m a positive guy, but mostly because I certainly couldn’t do any better. If an author sends me a book that I don’t like, I’ll normally just politely refuse to write a review before I’ll criticize their life work. However, if your positive reviews are going to carry any weight, it becomes necessary to point out a few that you didn’t enjoy.

I think the biggest problem with Fobbit was that my expectations were far too high. All of the reviews described it as a Catch 22 (one of my favorites) for the new generation. That’s a pretty big shoe to fill, and the book falls well short. In the end, I forced myself to finish it just so I could move on to something else. There was just nothing about the book that interested me or held my attention.

Worst Book(s): Dean Koontz’ Frankenstein series

Wow! These books were really, really bad. My wife likes Koontz, and I’ve heard that other people do as well, so I think I just picked the wrong books to introduce myself to his writing. I may give him another shot, but after these books, it will be his last. There was almost nothing to like about these books. The story was awful. There was only one likable character, and he was relegated to a supporting role by the 2nd book. I found myself finishing the series mostly out of morbid curiosity to see how bad it could get and then deeply regretting all the time I wasted on them. If you only remember one thing from this post: READ READY PLAYER ONE! If you decide to remember a 2nd thing: NEVER, EVER READ THE FRANKENSTEIN SERIES BY DEAN KOONTZ!

That basically sums up my year in books. I would love to say that next year will be as productive, but since my shore duty just ended, I have a feeling that my time will be spent on other things. Fortunately, I think it’s going to get off to a good start thanks to Patrick Rothfuss.

Happy New Year!

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