Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Reading List: 2009 Edition

mistborn It’s the time of the year where Top 10 lists and Favorite lists are popping up, and this is certainly true in the blogosphere. In many ways, this will look very similar to any other favorite list you may look at, but this is the only one that reflects my personal opinion.

I thought I read more books than I did during this past year. In total I’ve read 55 books, but there may be some that I have forgotten, as I didn’t start my list until halfway through the year. I did not include a few books in my stats (children’s books). If you’re interested in the complete breakdown of data and to see every book I’ve read this year, follow the link here. Otherwise, the data in this post may suffice for general perusal.


Oldest Story: The Shadow Over Innsmouth, by H.P. Lovecraft, published in 1936
Number of Audio Books Read: 7
Number of Library Books Read: 33
Number of Read Books Published in 2009: 8
Number of Books Forsaken: 1 (Dan Simmons The Terror)
Number of Different Series: 15
Number of Different Series Finished: 6
Total Number of Books Provided by Publishers: 7
Most Popular Author: Brian Vaughan (Y: The Last Man series)
Most Popular Publisher Read: Vertigo


As you can tell, I’ve read quite a few graphic novels. I’m not really sure how to approach this method of storytelling. Graphic novels aren’t technically a genre, but a medium. So If I charted the technical genre breakdown it would look something like this. technical_breakdown While I really enjoy graphic novels, are they on the same level as a traditional novel? Furthermore, how many reads do they count as, especially if they’re a collection of trade collections (I’m looking at you Absolute Sandman)? For me and for my data, I counted one book as having one cover and back, regardless of how many individual comics were inside.

Even this second graph isn’t without flaws. It’s too difficult to keep books restricted to one genre, as many of them cross several genres. Is Star Wars fantasy or sci-fi, or is it simply a genre by itself? Is an alternate history book with magic fantasy, historical fiction, or mystery? There are too many discrepancies with limiting myself to one genre, but I have tried to appropriate my reads the best way I could.


Below are my favorite ten reads from the past year, with links to my reviews. They aren't really in order of my liking, as each one has its own merits and awesomeness. Some reviews are combined for the entire series (Mistborn, Sandman), while others are typical reviews. All are spoiler-free.

1. Mistborn: Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson
2. Absolute Sandman Volume 4, by Neil Gaiman
3. Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson
4. The First Law: Last Argument of Kings, by Joe Abercrombie
5. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
6. The Book Thief, by Mark Zusak
7. Mistborn: Well of Ascension, by Brandon Sanderson
8. The First Law: Before They Are Hanged, by Joe Abercrombie
9. The First Law: The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie
10. Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson

jonathan_strange_and_mr_norrell_coverOut of these books listed, only one of them was actually published in 2009. While I’m sure there were a lot of new and exciting books released this past year, I spent much of the year reading older books and finishing college. I did want to read Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie, but I didn’t get around to it. I also intended to read Bill Willingham’s Peter & Max, as well as Fables Volume 12, neither of which made it onto my reading pile this year. And I have Ken Scholes Lamentation (thanks Krista) to read, but no time for it, either. I started Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker just a few days ago, but I won’t have it done before the end of the year. Once again, to see all the books I read this year, follow this link to the Google Document.

Overall I felt that this was a great reading year for me. I discovered both Brandon Sanderson and Joe Abercrombie, two bright and shining voices for the world of fantasy. Mistborn was hands-down the most exciting fantasy book series I read, and I’ve found myself recommending it to many different people. I literally tore through the concluding volume of the series. And Abercormbie’s First Law books were fast-paced and terribly fun. Two books outside the typical genre—Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and The Book Thief—even made it onto my top ten favorite reads, and both of them were superb. I’m still excited about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and I hope to see more from Susanna Clarke on this story. The Book Thief was definitely the most emotional, heartfelt story I read, and I likely will revisit those pages, too, one day.

LastArgumentOfKings For 2010 I’m looking forward to another good year of reading. I fully intend on reading through the Wheel of Time novels, hopefully getting caught up before Sanderson & Jordan’s next installment comes out. I hope The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss, comes out next year, as well as George R. R. Martin’s antepenultimate ASOIAF novel, A Dance With Dragons. Who knows, maybe Sanderson will release his new work, too, and my brain will explode. I hope to read some more steampunk books, and maybe find another alternate history or two, as well. I also plan on reading The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and hopefully a few other “Classics,” like 100 Years of Solitude, Crime & Punishment, and Alice in Wonderland. And there’s still Jim Butcher to get into… Sigh. Too many books to read.

Writing Wednesdays tomorrow. Another sort of year end conclusion post coming Thursday. Remember to visit your public library and to frequent local used bookstores. Just give ‘em a wink and tell ‘em I sent ya.


Carl V. said...

I basically count anything bound between two covers that can be classified a 'book' as reading. So a graphic novel read is a book completed, regardless of how long or short it is. I also count children's books read, as they are still books. For me it isn't about achieving a certain magic number but to track a year's reading history, which is why I count any children's books I read.

I have yet to read Sanderson, but I've enjoyed his blog in the past and really need to read him sometime. I'm glad you enjoyed Jonathan Strange so much. If you like short stories, Clarke's collection, The Ladies of Grace Adieu, is wonderful, and one of the short stories is set in the Strange and Norrell universe.

Also psyched to see you reading Boneshaker, as it is a wonderful book AND it reminded me that I forgot to add it to my favorites list, something I quickly corrected this morning.

Stephanie Fey said...

Pie charts and everything! Boy, you're such a bloke! One good turn deserves another, sir, and I'm more than happy to subscribe to your musings and look forward to keeping up with them. Best wishes, Steph Fey x

logankstewart said...

@Carl: Definitely add Sanderson's Mistborn books to your list. I cannot stress that enough. He is amazing. I've heard of The Ladies of Grace Adieu, but I've yet to read it. And Boneshaker is awesome so far. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store.

@Stephanie: Pie charts and all. Yep. I'm a statistics junkie. Enjoy your time here at my blog, and thanks for following.

Crystal said...

I totally understand; too many books to read, too little time. If only I can make money reading all day long.....

I haven't heard of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I will add it to my TBR list.

Glad to see The Book Thief made your top 10 :)

logankstewart said...

@Crystal: I've long desired to get paid to read and play music, but nobody wants to hire me... Maybe I should do my reviews as songs?

I hope you read my review of JS&MN and can tell how much I loved that book.

Kristopher A. Denby said...

Man, your interest in math is shining through in this post. I thought that I was analytical, but you take the cake! :)

Anyway, a few thoughts/questions from the top:

I wonder what it was about Dan Simmons' The Terror that you didn't like? I've read some of Simmon's SF and found it to be top notch, and I had high hopes of eventually reading this unique horror/historical fiction story.

I'm not sure that I would count comics/graphic novels the same way that I would traditional novels. Though, I've never really thought about it. I typically consider s short story collection, or any kind of collection really, as 1 book. Cover to cover as you put it, which, I think is generally a good way to look at graphic novels, but perhaps not individual comics.

I'll have to go back and take a look at your review of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It was one of those books that I bought this year (or last) and never got into. I found it started off incredibly slow, and just didn't have the hook that I needed at the time. Perhaps I bailed too early.

I'm also looking forward to The Wiseman's Fear by Rothfuss. When it does finally hit the shelves I'm certain that it will usurp whatever I'm reading at the time.

This was an abysmal year for me in terms of reading. I was gifted several books last Christmas, and have barely put a dent in them. Not to mention all the ones that I bought myself. I think I got bogged down in some stinkers and a bad book just makes reading a chore rather than a pleasure. The book I am reading currently is just such a one. I have been reading off and on for more time than I care to admit, but a friend recommended it to me and now I'm to far into it to abandon ship.

I've got a favorites list from 2009 of books, films, and music that I'll try to get up today.

Great post!

logankstewart said...

@K.A. Denby: I think a big problem I had with The Terror was that I was listening to it as an audio book as opposed to reading it myself. This works great with some books (The Book Thief) and not so good with others. The book did receive a lot of acclaim, and perhaps one day I'll try reading it myself and seeing if I like it that way.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a rather slow book, comparatively, but the depth of the history of magic in England and the folklore and the fascinating story won me over rather quickly.

Aye, good luck on chipping down your reading list. Every year I hope to shrink it, but somehow it always grows...

Kristopher A. Denby said...

I forgot to add that I've got Lamentation on the short list for the new year as well. That may be the next book I read, in fact, should I get through the debacle that is Dies the Fire!

Happy New Year to you!

logankstewart said...

I've heard a whole lot of excellent stuff about Lamentation, and I look forward to reading it early next year.