Tag Archives: books

Bizzaro Book Review: Reamde by Neal Stephenson

I struggled for quite some time trying to figure out how to start this review. And I do mean struggled. There were unicorns involved. You don’t want to know.

The problem I face is that while some books are door stoppers, Reamde is closer to being an actual door, and there is much to both love and hate in its vast pantheon of pages. So for the sake of simplicity I’m going to start with the beginning. Not the opening scene, mind you, I’m talking about the first thing you’ll see when you lay eyes on this book. The cover.

Now do my eyes deceive me or does that word there were the title should be say Reamde? It does? So would it then be a safe assumption to believe that something called Reamde is going to be central to the plot of the book? Yes, I thought so too.

But. It. Isn’t. (Due to the sad limitations of typography you’re going to have to imagine me saying this through clenched teeth.)

Reamde, a computer virus designed to infect a World of Warcraft-style game call T’rain is a complete MacGuffin. It’s like a flint that lights the story’s fire, but does not ever actually become part of that fire.

Now normally I wouldn’t mind this so much. But in a sense Reamde is for me an emblem of the biggest problem with the whole book.

See, Neal Stephenson has a niche of sorts. He’s a writer for geeks. There is nothing at all wrong with this. But because he has begun his career as a keeper of the keys to literary nerdvana I imagine he feels some pressure to continue playing to that audience as much as he can. Which is the only reason I can fathom for his insistence on including large portions of his book to detailing the workings and operations of a computer game that has nothing to do with the actual story.

And I’m not talking about a few throwaway references here and there. I’m talking  about nearly a third of a thousand-plus-page book being devoted to something that never advances the story one iota. And the frustrating thing is that because of the bulk of time given to the T’rain/Reamde plotline, it feels like its going to matter. It feels important.

I was ready for it to be important. My writing brain was doing all kinds of geeking out wondering how Neal Stephenson was going to tie all this together at the end. And then he didn’t. Instead after hundreds of pages devoted to T’rain, the whole thread finally peters out with one of the characters actually saying, “Well, that was a colossal waste of time.”

Which is a shame, because if you push aside all that nonsense about digital terrain creation and using gaming for airport security there is a really good book in there. It’s got gangsters and hackers and terrorists; it’s got spies and Russian security consultants and gun nuts so far right-wing that the Tea Party wouldn’t know what to do with them. It’s got twists like you wouldn’t believe, cliff hangers that will leave you gasping for breath, and and the coolest bad guy this side of Darth Vader.

In short, this is a fat book with a skinny book inside trying to get out. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. Just take my advice and skip over anything at all related to T’rain; it’s nothing more than a long and treacherous path that leads to a dead end in a valley without a view.

An Ossuary of Words

The other day Thing One looked in wonder at my bulging bookcases and asked me, “Mr. Al, how did you even read all those books?”

To which I responded, “One word at a time, kiddo. One word at a time.”

But while making pithy and sage comments about books is all well and good, for me the exchange was only one symptom of a significant problem: because of their turbulent background in life Thing 1 and Thing 2 are both decidedly behind the curve when it comes to reading. And because words have played such a vital role throughout my life I feel obliged to do everything I can in the short time I have with these kids to rectify that problem.

Part of that is making sure that they’re diligent in their studies. But just as important is helping them to understand that reading can be fun. Which, for a kid who can barely sound out his words, means showing him that books are pretty dang awesome.

So it was that I found myself digging through boxes of books I hadn’t seen in years. I’m talking about classic works of literature like, The Strange Thing that Happened to Allen Brewster, How to Eat Fried Worms, and Aliens Ate my Homework. And there at the bottom of the box I found a book I had almost forgotten about. Its cover was brown, though it’s difficult to tell what color it once was, and barely legible on a spine that was literally falling to pieces were the words Bolts – a Robot Dog.

When I saw that book, the memories all came flooding back. Bolts! How could I forgotten Bolts? I started reading it to the kids and they were entranced. Because, come on, its about a robot dog with literally razor sharp teeth and a Number Three Bark that can make grown men quiver like jelly. Also he’s telepathic and can talk to any animal he meets.

But like I said, my copy was almost falling apart. So I went on Amazon to see if I could procure a suitable replacement, something I wouldn’t have to worry about falling apart in my hands. Which is where I found this.

$48.50? Forty-eight fifty? For one measly book? And that’s when I realized the terrible truth. Bolts – A Robot Dog by Alexander Key never got reprinted. The copy I’ve had since childhood, the one I bought from the library’s damaged book sale, was the first and only edition of the book.

Of course I’ve heard of books like this. They’re part of that hulking glob of literary dark matter formed entirely from out-of-print backlist titles. But some part of me just assumed that they weren’t really important. That for some reason those books didn’t deserve to be reprinted. And perhaps from a financial standpoint they didn’t.

But knowing Bolts – A Robot Dog hadn’t merited enough attention to be reprinted made me sit up and take notice in a way I hadn’t before. Maybe Bolts was a comercial flop, or maybe it sold well enough, but not quite well enough to justify the cost of a reprint. But it made me sad to think that there are kids born today who will never have the opportunity to read this book.

And how many other books are there like this? How many titles languish in the backlist, fading away into distant memory, their few remaining copies falling to pieces at the bottom of a box in someone’s shed or sitting unread on some collector’s shelf? My guess is that their numbers are far larger than we would first imagine.

And the saddest part of this is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Scanners and OCR technology are commonplace in most of the civilized world, and many people would be willing to donate the small amount of time it would take to digitize these forgotten works of literature. In this age of ereaders they could find new generations of readers waiting to be enthralled by their words.

Unfortunately, thanks to the Mickey Mouse Protection Act these works of literature will not fall into the public domain for more than a hundred years after their initial copyrights. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for protecting intellectual property, but a hundred years?

Popular titles like To Kill a Mockingbird are reprinted so often the various editions pile up against each other on the bookstore shelves, while books like Bolts slowly rot into pieces, locked away in an ossuary of words, a tomb constructed in the name of their “protection”. And they are protected. Protected from ever being read. Protected from ever being loved.

I don’t purport to have all the answers. This post isn’t meant to be a tirade against copyright laws. Rather, it is a love letter to those all-but-forgotten words. They were all someone’s labor of love. Some writer poured out a piece of his soul onto paper, crafting words into something special. And in their time, these books stirred the hearts and souls of their readers in their own small way.

I can only hope that one day, some of them may be dusted off and brought back to life, that some day the light of day might once again shine into the ossuary of words. And that some day, Bolts’ terrifying Number Three Bark may sound again and thrill the heart of some boy taking his first halting steps into the wonderful world of books.

Addendum: some of Alexander Key’s other books have been made available by a dastardly group of information pirates to read and download here. When I have some free time (ha!) I may scan my copy of Bolts and throw my lot in with this band of miscreants and criminals by making it available to the world.

A Letter to My Grandchildren

Dear Theoretical Future Grandchildren,

Let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat. You had better not be calling me Pop Pop or Pappi or anything like that when you show up. I kinda despise kids that do that. “Grandpa” will do nicely, thank you very much.

But that isn’t what I wanted to write to you about. What I really wanted to say was this:

The future is bound to be a pretty cool place overall. In just the past ten years I’ve seen innovations in technology that seem almost miraculous. I don’t even want to guess what kind of cool stuff is going to come out in the twenty to thirty years its going to take for you guys to show up.

But something about this boom in technology makes me a little sad. See, we have these relatively new things now called eReaders. I’m relatively sure you’re not calling them that in the future, but basically they’re screens you can carry around read books on. They will probably also shoot lasers and teleport you to the moon by the time you read this, but for now they mostly just read books.

I like these eReader things. They’re convenient, and they’ve opened doors for starting out authors like me to find an audience with minimal starting expense. But I feel it is almost certain they’re going to supplant physical books almost entirely by the time you get here.

I’m sure you know what physical books are. You’ve probably seen them in movies and chances are you’ll still be able to buy them in thrift stores and consignment shops and the like.

But I was standing in a book store the other day thinking about you, wondering if you would have the chance to experience the same thing I experienced in my lifetime. Because, maybe I’m just being sentimental or superstitious, but when I stand in the middle of rows and rows of bookshelves, when I look around and see all those millions of pages laid back to back, when I think of all the effort those authors put into their works, I get a little chill that shoots up the top of my spine and explodes in my head like an Independence Day firecracker. It seems almost as if I can feel the raw power of the words around me, multiplied by their proximity to each other until I can almost hear them whispering, trying to tell my their stories directly through the aether that surrounds us all.

And I wonder, will you have the chance to experience that? Maybe you will. Maybe the thought of having all the great works of literature (and most of the bad ones) literally at your fingertips will give you a thrill of excitement that could rival my own experience.

But I think it far more likely that you will have grown so accustomed to the wonders of technology that it will all mean very little to you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just human nature. Our sense of wonder turns to boredom far too quickly.

And that’s why I’m writing this letter. Because I want you to be able to close your eyes and imagine what it must have been like to be able to stand in a place where a myriad words huddled together like frightened refugees, waiting to be read, waiting to be brought alive in the mind of some boy or girl, man or woman.

Your future may be a wonderful place, but always remember that when something wonderful is found, something equally wonderful is often lost.

With love,

Your Theoretical Future Grandfather

Bizzaro Book Review: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt

You know that movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where Jim Carry has his memory of a bad relationship erased? Only as he travels backward through his memories he realizes that there were some genuinely good times that came before the bad, and that those times were worth enduring the bad for?

Oh you haven’t seen that one yet? Um…spoilers?

Anyway, that’s exactly how reading The Kingdom Beyond the Waves was. In the end it left a bad taste in my mouth, but thinking back over the whole experience there were some genuinely wonderful things to be found.

The book’s strength is in it’s plot and structure. As a writer still grappling with good structure myself, reading this book was something of an education. Each chapter raises the stakes to a new level in such a compelling manner that you find yourself wondering how the author could possibly top it.

The writing is…there. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. Hunt uses words like a framer uses wood. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to hold the house up. And in a sense his minimalist approach to prose serves the story well. Once you let yourself become enveloped in the plot the words don’t distract from it.

Of course possibly the greatest strength of the book is the sheer force of creativity brought to bear in creating a world with a thousand miriad wonders. This book has dragon things, steam powered self-aware robots, a hive-mind forest, and…well I won’t go on for sake of time, but trust me: there’s more.

The problems arise in the latter parts of the book. After spending more than four hundred pages on one quest, the protaganists goals are completely reversed. Worse yet, one character who’s delightfully ambiguous moral position made him one of my favourites, is turned into a cartoonish villian with the speed of flipping a switch. Because of these issues I was scarely able to enjoy the climactic third act at all, which is a shame, because, as I said before, the vast majority of this book was excellent.

Let this be a lesson to all of you writers out there. Endings matter. A lot.

Craft a compelling story, but tack on an unsatisfying ending and you’re going to end up with disappointed readers.

Ultimately, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves was good. I don’t regret reading it. As a writer I found it held valuable lessons for me, both positive and negative. As a reader I really enjoyed the story and the fantastic world Mr. Hunt created from the spare parts of a hundred other mythologies. But then there’s that ending.

I won’t make any definitive recommendations here. Instead I’ll just say that if this sounds like the kind of book you might enjoy you probably will. If not, then give it a pass.

Bizarro Book Review: The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

Where to start with The Raw Shark Texts? Where to start?

There’s something about this book that defies explanation. Something slightly…off about it. Not in a bad way mind you, but rather in such a manner that once you’ve read it you can’t quite define what it is you’ve just experienced.

The setup for the book is this: a man wakes up with no memory and a note from an individual who describes himself as The First Eric Sanderson. Through a series of clues left by his previous self, the current iteration of Eric Sanderson learns that his mind is affected by a strange disorder that causes his memory to wipe itself clean from time to time.

If you think this sounds interesting, trust me, we haven’t even gotten to the cool stuff yet.

As Eric receives more and more clues he starts to realize something strange about the world. There is something hunting him, something not quite real, and yet altogether deadly. A creature made of ideas searching through the conceptual universe, trying to devour Eric’s memories.

Was that last sentence too much for you? Did it make you sit up and go “Huh? What did he just say?” Well this is where the book really gets interesting.

The premise of the book is that the world is not entirely real, but rather is constructed out of the concepts and ideas that live in our minds. For instance, when you think the word “couch” there is something that comes to your mind. The word is linked to the idea in your mind. There is no reality beyond our collective perception of reality.

Too confusing? Let me try it this way: it’s like the Matrix, but there are books instead of computers. Sort of.

There’s a bit of a meta flavor to this concept too, because in the book reality really is made out of concepts. Fiction depends on us being able to translate dead words into living situations in our minds, so within the context of the story itself the premise makes perfect sense.

The ultimate villain in the story is a thing that used to be a man named Mycroft Ward. Mycroft Ward found a way to manually transfer his consciousness into the mind of another. I would explain what that means, but I think it would make more sense if you just read it for yourself. By the time Eric Sanderson hears about him, Mycroft Ward’s consciousness has become obsessed with survival and his trying to download itself into every mind on the planet.

I’ve tried to give you a picture of what this book is like, but the truth is I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the wonders it contains. It has the uncanny ability to create imagery that sticks in your mind like bur. The red file cabinet, biro world, the Ludovician, they all manage to take a hold on your memories.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this book is not for the casual reader. This book will make you think. It will tickle at the back of your brain and subtly change the way you look at the world.

And that, I think, is the best thing I can say about any book.

Long Write The King (And Boy Does He Ever)

Last week as I was sailing through the Twitterverse in my DataCruiser Ultrathon 2000 I came upon a flurry of tweets clustered around a single topic. I turned the DCU2K around and swung back by to take a closer look at the landscape of this factoid planetoid. I peered out the porthole in shocked amazement at the news that had everyone gasping with excitement.



Stephen King had written a new book! Within only six months since his previous release the master of horror had crafted a work of almost a thousand pages.

My fellow tweeters were ecstatic. To their minds this news was the greatest thing possibly since the creation of the Twitterverse itself. To think of it: a thousand pages in only six months!

But I did not join in their frivolities. I sat back in the captain’s chair of the DCU2K and pondered within myself what it all might mean. It was tempting, very tempting to join in the chorus of shocked wonderment that such a long work had been completed in such a short amount of time, but something held me back.

This is the problem. I have read some Stephen King novels. Not all. But some. Some of them were good. Some of them I would go so far as to say they were great. But some were not.

Now before I go any further I want to make one thing clear. This is not, “Pick on Stephen King because he’s the biggest target around day.” I have a fantastic amount of respect for Mr. King. In some respects I could even say he has inspired me. His short stories in particular completely rewired the way I think about written language.

But.  Some of his novels meander on and on circling the idea of cohesion like buzzards circling a dead mule in the desert. And the reason I think this is a problem for Stephen King is because he’s a lot like me.

Hey, you in the back there, stop rolling your eyes. I’m not saying I’m as good as him; I’m saying from what I’ve read the way we think about writing is very similar.

Stephen King loves words. He does not love to outline.

And it shows. The way he says things is incredible. But what he says often is not. Sometimes he manages to meander his way into a fairly well structured story, but even then he’s got tangents and side-plots out the whazoo.

The thing that gives me pause is the hulabaloo about the length of his work. But the simple truth is that long books are not better books. They aren’t worse books either. They’re just longer.

The Old Man and the Sea is exactly as long as it needs to be. Can the same be said for King’s latest work? I don’t know.

It may be that every single one of those thousand pages contains vital words, words working in cohesion together toward a synergistic whole. But my suspicion is that some of those pages are fluff, uninspired tangents King penned while trying to figure out exactly where the story was going.

Maybe I’m nitpicking here, tearing down an idol to make myself feel better. After all, I’ve been known to suffer from *ahem* “length envy” when it comes to fiction. I do not naturally write long stories. My longest work so far is a 90,000 word book called In the Shadow of Doubt. It’s a story about a holy war in a tribe of anthropomorphic squirrels who live in a giant tree that fills the world. No. I am not making that up.

So maybe I’m out of line here. Maybe this is all the result of some subconscious jealousy. But all I really want is to be the best writer I can be. I want to understand what works for others and what doesn’t work.

There isn’t any core lesson to this blog, no deep moral to my ramble. I’m just trying to spark a little thought.

Stephen King wrote a giant book in six months. Is this a good thing?

Bizzaro Book Review: Bye Bye Baby by Allan Guthrie

It’s my belief that, in a way, every story is a mystery. In a romance the mystery is, “How will our romantic leads end up together?” In an adventure the mystery is, “How will the hero get out of this alive?” In general we keep reading because we want to know how that mystery is going to be resolved.

Allan Guthrie’s book short story novelette Bye Bye Baby is a little different. In Bye Bye Baby the mystery is “Which one of these mysteries is real?” Bye Bye Baby is a mystery about mysteries.

When the story opens like a fairly standard mystery story: a police officer is called upon to investigate the disappearance of a young boy. Only it quickly becomes apparent that the real issue at hand isn’t the missing boy at all. Or is it?

This is a book with twists and turns out the wazoo, and I don’t want to spoil a single one of them for you. In fact there are so many twists that the narrative almost begins to feel cluttered. Almost. Guthrie does a fantastic job of keeping his narrative threads straight, meaning that while the mystery itself it confusing, the story is perfectly clear.

Guthrie’s style is simple and understated. Slightly too understated for my tastes actually, but not so much that it detracted from my enjoyment of the story. He delivers his story almost completely ungarnished, inviting us to savour the natural flavours within.

But the characters are what make this book truly remarkable. They are the glue that holds the story together. The mystery by itself with all of its improbable complexities might appear contrived and stale if not for the strikingly believable characters that inhabit it. This is not a long story, and there are a number of players that take the stage for mere moments before being whisked away again by the next plot point, but somehow none of them feel contrived or flat in any way. They all shine through as believable and complete people whose part in the story is only a fragment of a larger more complete life.

All in all Bye Bye Baby grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. It managed the trick of being both cerebral and intense, which is why I am awarding it [&] out of [%] stars.

You can (and should) buy it here for the paltry price of one dollar.

Bizzaro Book Review: Room by Emma Donohughe

The problem with writing a review of Emma Donoghue’s book Room is that it’s so hard to know where to start.  There is so much here, so many great and terrible wonders within these pages that it seems that to start with one would do disservice to the others. Room is a book of such scope and such brilliance that any overview of it would necessarily fall far short of what the work deserves. But because I am writing a review, and since I can’t fit it all in here I’m going to have to start somewhere.

Room is a book about identity. It tells the story of a young boy who is desperately trying to understand his place in the world. But the world as he knows it is far different from our world. His world is Room, a small space inhabited by him and his mother and visited every night by the mysterious Old Nick. In five years of life it is the only thing he has ever known.

Room is a book about love. It tells the story of one woman fighting against the darkness and pain in order to make the world an interesting and joyful place for her son. It is a story of the ultimate human triumph over fear, and it demonstrates that in the darkest places the light of the human soul shines brightest of all.

Room is a book of unparalleled voice. The five-year-old narrator feels real and alive. His words arrange themselves in the strange and wonderful patterns of a mind still learning the complexities of language. It is the voice above all that gives Room it’s strength. It allows the reader to fit himself inside the mind of a child and see the world through different eyes. It gives us a glimpse of a psyche still forming itself, trying to make sense of a world that does not make sense.

Room is a book that makes you want to believe. The characters are fully realized with flaws and foibles that color them with the dusty tones of reality. These are people you’ve met before. The overwrought mother, the precocious child, the frighteningly believable old man holding both of them prisoner. All of them come to life in a way that few fictional characters can dare to grasp at.

Room is a triumph of storytelling. Nothing else I’ve read recently comes close to touching the gut wrenching emotion that Room managed to pull out of me. By the time I got to the end I was nearly in tears.

Room is a book you need to read. But it is not without its flaws. For me the most important problem was that the second half of the book lacked much of the primal punch the first half of the book delivered. In the first half of the book the story is focussed on escaping from Room, while the second half of the book is focussed on our protagonists trying to adjust to normal life after the escape. The central conflict of the first half of the book is visceral and basic, while the conflict of the second half of the book finds itself in far more cerebral territory. Nevertheless, it’s easy to see why Donoghue wanted us to see the aftermath of escape. In spite of being less tangible, the problems faced by mother and son in the second half of the book require the same strength of will to face as their imprisonment. The continuing conflict within serves as a potent reminder that every happy ending is really the beginning of another story.

In the end there simply aren’t enough good things I can say about this book, so I will summarize with this: read Room. It will shock you. It will amaze you. It will change you.

Differently Normal

I always used to pick on my friend [name omitted], because he’s very particular about the things he likes. Specifically, if a lot of other people like it, he doesn’t like it. I never used to understand this.

“But [name omitted]*,” I’d tell him. “If it’s good, it doesn’t matter how many people like it. Good is good right?”

But he’d always stick to his guns, and I’d always leave feeling a little confused.

Well, yesterday I got a little taste of his perspective.

Allow me to set the scene. I was shopping in Target a while back when I came across a book simply titled Room. I picked up the book, read the synopsis, and thumbed through the first few pages. In that span of time, I was hooked. I knew I had to own that book. So I went home and logged on to Amazon to order it with the gift card my parents gave me for Christmas. I thought I might even feature it in the Bizzaro Book Review since it was such a wonderfully unique concept.

Fast-forward a few days. I was walking into Walmart to clock in with the book in my hands and some random stranger stopped long enough to tell me “That’s an amazing book.”

Okay, cool. Most of the people I see at work don’t strike me as reading types, so it’s nice to connect with another librophile.

Then on my lunch break I checked my tweets and there wass one from someone talking about how much they were enjoying reading Room. Okayyy. Coincidences happen right? I mean I’m not the only person reading the book in the world.

But when I’m going to clock out the big bomb dropped. One of the girls who works the night shift saw the book in my hand and said, “Oh hey, I heard on the news that was supposed to be a great book.”

The news? They’re talking about it on the news? At this point I started to get a sinking feeling. I didn’t know this was going to be a popular book. I mean, If everyone is reading it, it means I’m not special anymore, right?

It took me almost until I got home to realize I was taking the exact same position my friend [name omitted] had taken about various movies and comic books, and I further realized that I needed to take the same advice that I had given him. I didn’t fall in love with the book because it made me unique or special. I fell in love with the book because it seemed like a really interesting story told with a unique voice. If everyone in the world was reading the book, it shouldn’t make a difference. Twilight aside, popularity does not automatically imply poor quality.

But it is easy to fall into the lone wolf trap from time to time. We all like to feel like we’re discovering something that everyone else is too blind to see; we love feeling special and unique. But the truth is we’re not special or unique. Well, I’m not anyway. I’ve got my quirks, and I don’t see eye to eye with everybody on everything, but when you dig right down the the core of my humanity I’m not that much different than anyone else out there.

Maybe that’s why I like Room so much. Because I want to be different, just like everyone else.

*Conversing with [name omitted] is an exercise in verbal gymnastics. It’s really hard to pronounce those brackets.

On the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Librophilia

This year I resolved to read one book for every week of the year.  Not every book had to be read within a week’s time but they all had to be finished before the end of the year.  Today I am proud to report that as of this morning I have completed my goal.  Below is a list of all the books I finished this year listed in the order in which I read them.

1. Dark House by I. A. R. Wylie

2. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

3. History in English Words by Owen Barfield

4. Field of Dishonor by David Weber

5. Of Grammatology by Jacques Derrida

6. Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield

7. The Terror by Dan Simmons

8. Flag in Exile by David Weber

9. Towards Morning by I. A. R. Wylie

10. The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes

11. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

12. Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones

13. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway

14. The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz

15. World War Z by Max Brooks

16. Beasts of New York by Jon Evans

17. One Good Turn by Witold Rybcynski

18. Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield

19. Writing Blunders and How to Avoid Them by Alfred Noble

20. Group Theory in the Bedroom by Brian Hayes

21. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

22. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

23. The Strange Case of Mortimer Fenley by Louis Tracey

24. Blindsight by Peter Watts

25. The Confession by Mary R. Rinehart

26. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume

27. The Art of Making Money by Jason Kersten

28. Echo Park by Micheal Connelly

29. The Stuff of Thought by Stephen Pinker

30. In Enemy Hands by David Weber

31. Horns by Joe Hill

32. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carol

33. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

34. The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

35. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

36. When Graveyards Yawn by G. Wells Taylor

37. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

38. Caught in the Web of Words by K. M. Elizabeth Murray

39. Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour

40. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

41. The Truth by Terry Pratchett

42. John Dies at the End by David Wong

43. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

44. The Variant Effect by G. Wells Taylor

45. The Machine of Death by Various Authors

46. The Bog Monster of Booker Creek by Wayne Miller

47. Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

48. Probability Angels by Joseph Devon

49. Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede by Bradley Denton

50. Menagerie by G. Wells Taylor

51. Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod

52. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

I’m not sure if I’ll do something like this again next year.  As satisfying as it is to have read all those books, there were some times when the pressure to keep up with my goal took away from the enjoyment of reading.  Having said that, I’m really glad I completed my resolution.  Looking back on all I’ve accomplished helps me to remember how valuable one year really can be.