Books Read in 2017

I read 57 books this year, which I know is way down from last year and I’m sorry. This year started off so strong, but then from like August through December, I feel like I haven’t existed. Either I was anticipating something fun, doing something fun, or doing some monumentally soul-crushingly stressful thing that occurred so rapidly after doing something fun that it’s almost like the fun stuff never existed. The point of that is–when I’m depressed or stressed, as I have mentioned, reading just becomes so much work, I can’t handle it.

So the longest book this year was A Woman of Substance, which wasn’t as good as the movie but was pretty decent. At 868 pages, it was much shorter than last year’s longest book . . . but then again,¬†nothing could be longer than¬†November 1916, eh? Nonfiction was way down this year (I include poetry and plays in nonfiction, btw) — only nine in the whole year, or half as many as last year. When I’m already having a hard time reading, look, nonfiction is even harder.

But I really only read three books I disliked this year, and that’s really most of the battle. Also due to the aforementioned being so stressed out for so long, I did a lot of rereading. Thank goodness Goodreads finally lets you give multiple read dates, or this post might not even exist!

JANUARY (0:3)

Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers
A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves

FEBRUARY (0:3)

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

MARCH (2:7)

Zod Wallop by William Browning Spencer
Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Ballistics by Billy Collins
The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins
The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
Possession by A.S. Byatt

APRIL (0:5)

The Changing Land by Roger Zelazny
Dilvish the Damned by Roger Zelazny
Havana Bay by Martin Cruz Smith
Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn
The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky

MAY (1:4)

Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith
Inkheart by Cornelia Price
Stalin’s Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith

JUNE (0:3)

Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith
Triplet by Timothy Zahn
The New Rebellion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

JULY (2:5)

Dune by Frank Herbert
The Imperial Handbook by Daniel Wallace
Our Man In Tehran by Robert Wright
Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith
Deceived by Paul Kemp

AUGUST (3:6)

Death Star by Steve Perry and Michael Reaves
Landing It by Scott Hamilton
Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova
Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Russian Tattoo by Elena Gorokhova

SEPTEMBER (1:4)

Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon
Today We Choose Faces by Roger Zelazny
The Swarm by John Whitman
The Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn

OCTOBER (0:4)

The Doors of His Face, The Lamps Of His Mouth by Roger Zelazny
The Ruins of Dantooine by Voronica Whitney-Robinson
Allan’s Wife by H. Rider Haggard
The Partner by John Grisham

NOVEMBER (0:5)

A Dark Traveling by Roger Zelazny
The Street Lawyer
by John Grisham
The Adventures of Mabel by Harry Thurston Peck
The Dynasty of Evil Drew Karpyshyn
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

DECEMBER (0:8)

Ambush at Corellia by Roger MacBride Allen
Assault at Selonia by Roger MacBride Allen
Showdown at Centerpoint by Roger MacBride Allen
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
The Little Cow and the Turtle by Meindert Dejong
Christmas Party by Rex Stout
The Christmas Heretic and Other Stories by J. Edgar Park

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Follow the Introvert-Brick Road

Completely by accident, today I happened to rediscover a post I made three years ago titled “Wings and Bricks.” It’s kind of an abandoned post because I never got to the “bricks,” and when I read it just now, I almost didn’t even remember what the “bricks” were supposed to be. The hint was my reference to the upcoming “anti-introvert” post, which never ended up mentioning the bricks, either, but you can read it here.

Why come back three years later to do a follow-up post for a post that fewer than five people have ever even read? Well, because at the beginning of April this year (I find it ironic the original post was from April 5, 2014–three years apart almost to the day!), I once again began thinking of the bricks that made up my path to introversion.

Originally, my idea was a Pink Floyd-esque “all in all you were all just bricks in the wall,” but as I started this post, I realized, it wasn’t a wall I built: it was a road. And this was the first brick.

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A Child’s Christmas in Ohio

On this, my first post of 2017, happy Russian Christmas! The Eastern Orthodox calendar celebrates on the 6th of January, so here I am with a Christmas post before I take down all the Christmas decorations and return to the real world. First, as context, a recording of a prose-poem that has always said Christmas to me as I’ve listened to it almost every year as long as I can remember.

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find.

In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out comes . . .

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Books Read in 2016

I read 73 books this year, up 22 from last year! Safe to say, I felt much better about life this year, was more relaxed, less pressured, and in general pretty content, and my reading habits showed. And 72 is even my favorite number, so go, me!

The main hindrance to reading this year has been, in a semi-ironic turn, how annoying Goodreads has become to use. According to Goodreads, I only read 55 books this year, because it will not allow me to count books toward multiple years. I also don’t get a page count for the year, since Goodreads will only tell me 15,638 from the 56 it thinks I read. Either way, my Goodreads goal was 54 and my real life goal was 62, and I surpassed both.

The longest book this year was November 1916, which I dedicated the entire month of November to; it was a hearty 1040 pages long. Second place goes to Cryptonomicon at 918 pages. I read 54 fiction and 18 nonfiction/poetry (a more uneven slant than usual). I read almost exclusively things I wanted to read (i.e. no obligatory booklisting, forced-by-challenges) and I pretty much loved everything, which probably also contributed to my overall satisfaction in the year’s book reading department.

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O Real Christmas Tree

I have never, never, never, never, never, EVER liked “real Christmas trees.” I don’t even understand why “real Christmas tree” only means one cut down from a tree farm.

My childhood tree was real. I begged for it to be released from its box, helped sort its branches, breathlessly watched its assembly, and then hid in the basement until Dad was done putting the lights on. I watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV and drank hot chocolate while running back and forth (the TV and hot chocolate not being in the tree room) to put up ornaments. I played with the tree more than most of the toys that eventually appeared under it. And I bid it farewell as I helped stash it away in its box after New Years.

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I Want To Words

Suddenly, somehow, for no reason that I can tell, I woke up this morning with a head full of words and a desperate desire to do things.

If it isn’t obvious from how the posting around here completely fell off the edge of a cliff, I haven’t felt like doing much of anything for a long time. Maybe that’s depression. I spent so much of my life being depressed because of legitimate outside causes that I just assumed it would go away when the outside causes went away. I absolutely took this for granted. Once things were good, I would feel good.

Looking back over the last year, and how it’s been close to that long since I did a real post, I kind of feel like I’ve been in a coma. Even when I got everything I ever wanted last year — an apartment of my own, a full-time job, more money than I had ever even contemplated in my life — I still felt listless. Especially over the last month or two months, it seems like all I’ve been able to do is sleep. I started going to bed earlier thinking it would make it easier to get up earlier, and all it did was add an hour and a half to my overall time wasted unconscious.

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Film Review for 98 Years

Russia gets to be on my mind in July, for fairly obvious reasons I guess. First of all, tonight is the 98th anniversary of the Romanov murder, and my fictional character Jon (lost descendant of the Romanovs) has his birthday tomorrow.

I’m still a little slumped in the reading department, which is really demonstrable by the fact that I haven’t touched nonfiction in positively ages. I decided to do something about that, so I’m getting back into Russian history and starting with Richard K. Massie (Nicholas & Alexandra and The Romanovs: The Final Chapter), since he’s the best foundational piece to start with. I’ll get all my context back, and then start branching into the books I haven’t read before.

Massie and I both feel more “authentic” in our obsession with Russia because we came to it sideways. He started researching the Romanovs because his son was diagnosed with hemophilia and he was studying the disease. I got into it from writing science fiction.

Anyway, this post is specifically meant to be a review of the 1971 film Nicholas & Alexandra, based on Massie’s book, so maybe I should get started on it!

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Books Read in 2015

I read 50 books this year. The longest was Vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn (520 pages). I read 44 fiction and 6 nonfiction. Only 11 were books I had read before.

I can’t explain why I stopped caring about reading in the middle of this year. I had nothing to be depressed about; I finally got everything I ever wanted–my apartment, my bookshelves, my books out of boxes. I just felt overwhelmingly tired this year and the act of reading consistently sounded more exhausting than anything else.

I do recognize that the challenge absolutely destroyed my interest in reading. I won’t vow to write reviews anymore, because I realized that committing myself to review everything I read just causes me to stop reading because I hate writing reviews that much. And I’m going to take a break from arbitrary reading for awhile, because my desire to pick up new books has been cramped by the fact that 90% of everything I read for these challenges, I hate. I’m tired of reading books I end up hating. It makes reading a chore, something to get through as quickly as possible so I can do something interesting. No more.

In better news, Martin Cruz Smith has become my second still-living favorite author and I’m completely obsessed with Arkady Renko. So that’s nice.

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Mr Spock’s Clean Adventure

Another week down, another day of Indian Summer II, and another checkpoint in my nesting process reached! A lot of feathering yet to accomplish, but the shape is there.

I haven’t necessarily gone into a lot of detail about every step of furnishing the place, but I thought I’d do this one because it did involve a bit of something I can give you a recipe for. That is, I’ve now embarked on making my own detergent! But what’s that got to do with my building my nest? Well, I’ll tell you.

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