When the year started, my goal was to read more than I read in 2012. Last year I read sixteen books and this year I was only able to match it. I started off the year well, but then we started subscribing to several new magazines and that ate up too much of my time. Only by weaning myself off magazines in the tail end of the year was I able to make this one respectable.
Looking back on this year’s list, there’s nothing I read that I found as enjoyable as “Ready Player One” which I read in 2012.<dl><dt>Blue Moon Rising - Simon R. Green</dt><dd>Starts out like it will be rather predictable and perhaps like some warmed over Terry Pratchett. However, the plot twists and turns, the writing becomes less glib, and the book finishes much better than it starts. Still not a complex book, but enjoyable.</dd><dt>The Man Who Would Be King - Rudyard Kipling</dt><dd>Short, probably more of a novella. An interesting peek into British India at the start and a warning about hubris at the end.</dd><dt>Imperium - Ryszard Kapuscinski</dt><dd>Like a travelogue for places that you probably never want to visit (Vorkuta; Magadan) and for places that sound fascinating (Baku; Abkhazia; Tblisi)</dd><dt>You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations - Michael Ian Black</dt><dd>Black is a noted comedy writer and actor and this memoir starts out better than it finishes. The first few chapters lure you in; by the end of the book you’re really glad that you don’t know this guy personally.</dd><dt>Last Men Out: The True Story of America’s Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam - Bob Drury and Tom Clavin</dt><dd>An interesting and compelling read about the final hours spent in Vietnam by Marine Security Guards at the US Embassy in Saigon and other consulate offices around the country.</dd><dt>The Emperor’s Knife - Mazarkis Williams</dt><dd>A fantasy novel with strong Middle Eastern overtones. Characters are generally well developed and the action isn’t predictable. Wasn’t sure if I would finish it when I was fifty or so pages in, but it got more compelling as it went along.</dd><dt>Blackout - Connie Willis</dt><dd>Even the library doesn’t know if this is sci-fi or straight fiction. It’s generally a fictional account of life during the London Blitz where the primary characters are brought to the scene by science fiction methods. Interesting, at times confusing, and sometimes repetitively dull. But good enough that I sought out the sequel, “All Clear”.</dd><dt>The Chronoliths - Robert Charles Wilson</dt><dd>Straight-up sci-fi. In writing up my impressions of this book, the previous, and the next, I just realized that I read three books in a row with a time-travel element.</dd><dt>All Clear - Coonie Willis</dt><dd>The beginning carries along much of the tediousness that characterizes the end of “Blackout”. I was often left thinking, “Get on with it, already!” However, the book really improves over the second half and even now I’m left with unanswered questions.</dd><dt>Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life - Steve Martin</dt><dd>Primarily an exploration of Martin’s teens though his first film. Not terribly engaging or compelling. It comes across as honest but not soul-baring.</dd><dt>We The Drowned - Carsten Jensen</dt><dd>A long novel following the lives of several characters from one Danish town. The book spans the years from 1848 until after World War II. Bought this for my Kindle at a deep discount knowing little to nothing about it, but was glad I did.</dd><dt>The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett</dt><dd>The first novel in the Discworld series. If you’re familiar with the Discworld, you already know the flavor and tenor of the book.</dd><dt>The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis</dt><dd>Another good book by Michael Lewis. I wonder how much of it would make sense to someone who wasn’t familiar with Wall Street terms (‘sell side’, for instance) because he doesn’t really explain many of those. However, it was an interesting examination of how several people who decoded the problems with subprime loans early took advantage of their knowledge.</dd><dt>American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History - Chris Kyle</dt><dd>A book that spent time atop the New York Times list of bestsellers and has always had a long waiting list at local libraries. After reading it, I’m left wondering why. “Sniper One” by Dan Mills was a much more engaging read that gave a seemingly better look into the daily life and mind of a sniper in Iraq. The most interesting parts of “American Sniper” were the periodic interludes written by his wife, giving her perspective on what life is like when you’re married to a Navy SEAL.</dd><dt>Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison - Piper Kerman</dt><dd>I’ve never seen the TV show based on this book, but after reading it I wouldn’t have said there was a TV show in it. I guess that’s why I’m not a TV executive. There are almost too many people in this book who come and go sometimes to be seen regularly and other times never to be seen again. It can be difficult at times to keep track of who is who. It was an enjoyable read, however.</dd><dt>Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training - Mark Rippetoe</dt><dd>The book that got me started on barbell training and remains my go-to source for periodic refreshers on form.</dd></dl>