December 6, 2013

Book Club: Year in Reading

Over at The Millions they're doing their annual year in reading asking authors what they have read the past year. Since books are a big part of my life I've decided to go over some of the books I've read this year as well. And after looking back at some of the reviews I posted this year, I've decided I shouldn't review a book until sleeping on it for a few days or even weeks because damn did I miss on Thomas Pynchon's new book 'Bleeding Edge' because after thinking about it I enjoyed that book much more than my original review. Oh well here are the books I've read and some of them I even reviewed. Enjoy.

Well let's start with Thomas Pynchon's book 'Bleeding Edge' (my review) which at first I didn't enjoy as much as I should have. After thinking about it some more I in fact did enjoy this book about the dot com bubble in New York pre-9/11 and the detective story that revolves around these events. Sticking with Pynchon I re-read 'The Crying of Lot 49' this year. The original paranoid satire by Pynchon still holds up strongly in my view. And finally I haven't finished it yet, but I've started reading 'Against the Day' Pynchon's massive book that he published a few years ago. I've enjoyed it so far.

This was also a huge year for myself and David Foster Wallace. Earlier this year I read his collection of essays called 'Consider the Lobster' (my review) and greatly enjoyed this collection. Read his story on the porn awards show and his thrashing for a John Updike novel. In that same review I also mentioned that I read his first short story collection 'Girl with Curious Hair'. Now with short story collections it always feels like there's 1 or 2 stories that just don't fit in with the group. I can't say that about this book because every short story is incredible and I consider that book a masterpiece.

Sticking with Wallace, my friend @kt1000 suggested I read Wallace's other essay collection called 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again' and indeed I did. That collection includes his pieces on attending the Illinois state fair and his trip on a cruise liner that are both funny as hell and also a little depressing. Wallace's classic essay on TV and fiction is also in this collection called "E Unibus Pluram". And finally I finished my year in Wallace reading by reading D.T. Max's biography on Wallace called 'Every Story is a Ghost Story' (My Review) which I enjoyed but thought it should have been a little bit longer to explain how Wallace's last book 'The Pale King' was published.

Sticking with the 1 author theme, I read three books from the late Chilean author Roberto Bolano. His masterpiece '2666' (my review) is an outstanding but long read but in the end it's highly satisfying. I also read his other long book 'The Savage Detectives' which I didn't enjoy as much as '2666' but nonetheless is still a good book. And finally I read Bolano's novella 'By Night in Chile' just recently and found this book to be hilarious and depressing in one small package.

Continuing with the one author theme I read two Denis Johnson books over the summer. The first one I read was 'Train Dreams' (my review) which I enjoyed and wondered why more novellas aren't published. I also read Johnson's short story collection of drug addicts called 'Jesus' Son' which I highly recommend.

I didn't just read books from a couple of author's I did read other books. Over the summer vacation I read Chuck Klosterman's book 'I Wear the Black Hat' (my review) which was another empty exercise by Klosterman relating villains both real and imaginary.

I also read James Jones' book 'The Thin Red Line' (my review) which I enjoyed but it wore me down with it's long chapters and multiple characters.

With the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination being this year I attempted once again to read a Don DeLillo novel, this one being 'Libra' the book on Lee Harvey Oswald and the conspiracy to kill JFK. I say attempted because I got about 100 pages into that book and stopped. For whatever reason DeLillo is just not my cup of tea. That's something I should get into another day.

Once again by suggestion by @kt1000 I read Max Hastings' book 'Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War'. Great book on the great war which delves into how the trench warfare came about and the little talked about fighting between Austria-Hungary and the Balkans.

Finally I went digital this year when I won a Amazon Kindle as part of a work deal. The first two books I read on that device, which is great for big books because then you don't have to lug them around, was Andrey Kurkov's detective novella 'The Case of the General's Thumb' (my review).  I highly recommend this book if detective books are your thing. I also read on the Kindle David Shoemaker's ask "The Masked Man" book 'The Squared Circle: Life, Death, & Professional Wrestling' (my review) which I found disappointing because most of the chapters are just reprints of his original "Dead Wrestler of the Week" columns over at Deadspin.

Looking back I'm surprised how much I've read this year. I read 16 books which just seems incredible to me. And most of them were read during the summer which tells you have no life during the summer months and also how much I hate the heat because I definitely didn't read these books outside. Maybe I can get up to 20 books next year.

Here are some of the books I'm going to attempt to read in 2014:
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
Wolf Among Wolves by Hans Fallada
Harlot's Ghost by Norman Mailer
The Centaur by John Updike
The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
The Insufferable Gaucho by Roberto Bolano


  1. I see you didn't read any Orhan Pamuk this year. Disappointing.

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