Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Annual Books Post

I just finished writing the entry below and realized I hadn't posted the list of books I read in '09. Usually I remember/get a chance to do that before the end of the year or early in the new year, but not this time around because of all the traveling and whatnot.

It looks like I did better than the last couple of years and actually made it through almost eight novels this year. I finished World War Z just after the holidays, so I'm throwing it on the list for '09. I should also note that I don't include any of my gaming books, comics, or graphic novels on this list. That would be a much, much longer list.

Ah, also, the list is chronological with the books I read earlier in the year appearing at the bottom and the most recent books at the top.

World War Z by Max Brooks
Since this came out in '06 people have been telling me how good it is and now I can join their ranks. It's not schlocky. It treats the subject matter intelligently. And it's actually pretty damn interesting and thought-provoking. I've never been a big zombie fan, but this and Kirkman's Walking Dead comics are just plain excellent. If all zombie fiction were as good as these two examples you'd be reading them, too.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I enjoy Gaiman's stuff and even though this was a Young Adult novel, it's probably my second or third favorite of his prose work behind American Gods and, maybe, Neverwhere.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I like Vonnegut the man and hadn't ever read anything he'd written, so I picked up a dog-eared copy of Slaughterhouse Five and read it. I'm always surprised at how fast-paced and almost stream-of-consciousness novels from this time period are, but it worked well in this case since the main character was jumping around through time and took you along for the ride. I wish I'd actually read this in college. When I was supposed to.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Seth recommended this to me, uh, maybe a dozen years ago and I finally got a chance to read it. It was a very enjoyable novel with some nice characterization and an interesting setting both in terms of the world and in terms of the place the main character was raised and spent most of the book. It has a lot of great political, social, and physical action in it, which was a nice change from some fantasy fiction.

I read this for research and familiarization because of the work I'd done on the Dragon Age RPG for the folks at Green Ronin -- plus I wanted to read it in preparation for playing the Dragon Age computer game (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) that came out in the Fall. I thought the book did a good job of introducing some of the major places and characters that then appeared in the computer game and still managed to tell a fairly interesting story. Even if is was highly derivative of the legend of Arthur in the broad strokes. Even so, I liked it well enough.

Sacred Flesh by Robin D. Laws
I've worked with Robin, like him, and like his writing. This book is set in the Warhammer universe and is the second of his Angelika Fleisher novels. The main character and her sidekick are fun, but there were far too many characters to keep track of -- even if they did mostly all die during the course of the novel. That said, I think Robin handled the large cast as well as he could and told a very interesting story unlike the standard fantasy fair. This isn't high fantasy, this is grim and gritty fantasy in which the characters are constantly on-guard and in over their head. Fun stuff.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
I don't remember when this book was released, but I do remember hearing about it for the first time, mostly from serious readers and book editors. After reading it I understand why. Mieville writes fiction like some people write poetry. The book's language is . . . thick and meaty and the similes are incredibly unusual. So much so it was a bit distracting. Thankfully he's a very good writer and he never let the language get away from him. And the story was interesting, different, and very good. If you're looking for something "different" in the SF/F area, give this a read.

Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust
I love Brust's stuff. Love it. This is the second book in his Khaavren Romances, which were inspired by the writings of Dumas, but set in Brust's Dragaeren setting (from the Taltos novels). These books are both slow and fast in terms of pacing, but they feel so right. The characters are great, the action is always exciting, the situations dire, and yet there's always room for a little comedy. Great book.

And there you go. My books from this year. Hopefully I'll read even more this year.


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