Books Read in 2018

I read 63 books this year, so I did better than last year. I’d made a goal to read one nonfiction per month, and while I didn’t manage one in each month, I did read 15 nonfiction in the year, so yay. That made the goal for the year 64, so I guess being one short isn’t terrible.

MY YEAR IN BOOKS: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2018/4779544

JANUARY (1:6)

Old Yeller by Fred Gibson
Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
Dawn of the Jedi by John Ostrander
The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

FEBRUARY (1:4)

Homicide Trinity by Rex Stout
Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny
Once a Hero by Michael A. Stackpole

MARCH (4:5)

Once Upon a Galaxy by Alan Arnold
I Signed My Death Warrant by T. Ryle Dwyer
The Big Fellow by Frank O’Connor
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero

APRIL (0:2)

A Company of Stars by Christopher Stasheff
Havana Bay by Martin Cruz Smith

MAY (0:5)

Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole
Mossflower by Brian Jacques
Wedge’s Gamble by Michael A. Stackpole
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

JUNE (0:6)

The Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackpole
The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
The Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelazny
The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny
The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny
I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

JULY (4:7)

Of Parrots and People by Mira Tweti
The Bacta War by Michael A. Stackpole
Death’s Acre by William M. Bass
Shrinking Violets by Joe Moran
Is That a Fish In Your Ear? by David Bellos
Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn

AUGUST (0:3)

The Last Command by Timothy Zahn
Isard’s Revenge by Timothy Zahn
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

SEPTEMBER (2:6)

Archery Fundamentals by Teresa Johnson
Basic Illustrated Archery by Beth Habeishi
Mortimer Says Nothing by Joan Aiken
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
buni: Happiness is a State of Mind by Ryan Pagelow
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

OCTOBER (0:5)

Strike Your Heart by Amélie Nothomb
The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Dracula by Bram Stoker

NOVEMBER (1:6)

Helping Hooves by Janet Burleson
Room by Emma Donoghue
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

DECEMBER (2:8)

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
The Ghost Writer
by John Harwood
Tales of the Bounty Hunters
This House is Haunted
by John Boyne
Daily Readings: The Early Church Fathers
Synopsis of the Four Gospels
We Open On Venus
by Christopher Stasheff
The Absolutist by John Boyne

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

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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Returning in Style

It’s been a long strange three years. But I am back with big plans for tiny cooking — while I make zero promises about constant or even regular updates, you should know that I’ve got a dozen new recipes to try, mugged and un-mugged, and there’s even a vintage 90s EZ Bake Oven in the mix.

This evening, I would like to introduce you to a fresh Mug Madness original: the Kahlua Dark Chocolate Mug Cake.

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You will need —

  • 2 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • ¼tsp baking powder*
  • pinch salt*
  • 1 Tbsp Kahlua / coffee liqueur
  • 1 Tbsp strong fresh coffee
  • 2 tsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • Drop of vanilla**

* omit salt and baking powder if you’re using self-rising flour
** optional

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First thing, I put the butter in the microwave for a few seconds to soften up. It makes it easier to mix. Then I combined with the egg and sugar until mixed. Add flour, a little at a time, and baking powder and salt if you don’t have self-rising.

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Another advantage to my new spoons? Bet you didn’t know pinch had a technical amount — that’s 1/16th of a teaspoon to you, sir!

Once batter is smooth, add cocoa. I add it in small amounts because it’s hard to get mixed in thoroughly. You might want to use a scraper around the sides as well to make sure none of the batter gets left out. Then add your Kahlua and coffee. (To make this nonalcoholic, or if you don’t have any Kahlua, simply use two tablespoons of coffee.) I added just a splash of vanilla for the cocoa. I don’t think it makes a difference.

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Then into the mike! I did two minutes and I think that was slightly too long. 1:45 would probably do it, but watch it for yourself.

If you’re one of those people who needs icing (I’m not), you could throw some together with 3 tablespoons heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of Kahlua, and a pinch of cocoa powder.

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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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