In a usual year, I'd say I read about 40-50 novels. But in 2011 my reading dropped significantly, and I decided to get back into it and read like a fiend in 2012. Last November I created an account at GoodReads, and back in January I signed up to a challenge over at Goodreads to read 150 books this year.
What. The. Hell. Was. I. Thinking.
It's been tough to keep up with my goal because I have a two-year-old at home, I work an almost full-time day job, and I've more than a handful of stories bouncing around in my head. Excuses, excuses, right? But then again, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good read. And I am of the firm opinion that reading is studying my craft.
So far this year I've dropped 127 books (how many words? who knows?) into the dark, subconscial regions of my brain. Which means I've got 23 books left to go, with 60 days to get there. There are a handful of short stories in the READ tally, as Goodreads doesn't differentiate between full-length digital novels and standalone, short story ebooks (thank the web gods that be).
So I'm gonna give you the rundown on the best books I've read--so far--this year. The top 5. In my opinion, the best of the best. They fall in no particular order.
1. "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
I love DiscWorld. But I also love Terry Pratchett, no matter what he's writing. I buy this dude's books in hardcover, bro. And this is a goodie with a mind-bending twist on an ago-old premise that I'm somewhat amazed no one's thought of before. But I'm quite glad that Sir Pratchett (or Mr. Baxter, perhaps) did. I look forward to the sequels. The Long Earth is a tale of dwindling resources, parallel universes, and misguided love—and loss—on an airship, with a robot/supercomputer looking on.
2. "Pines" by Blake Crouch
J.A. Konrath introduced me to Blake Crouch. Not in person, but still. Konrath's blog was my first stop when I began looking into indie publishing. Then I read Draculas, an independently published book Konrath cajoled Crouch, F. Paul Wilson (more on him later), and Jeff Strand into co-authoring with him. From there it was onto Crouch's Andrew Z. Thomas series. And now . . . Pines is a page-clicker for the newborn digital age, an expertly crafted horror thriller with a sci-fi twist. A must-read for horror fans.
3. "The Dirty Parts of the Bible" by Sam Torode
A retelling of the Jewish tale of Tobias and Sarah set in 1930's America. Laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming, Dirty Parts has it all. Love, and fire, on a railcar speeding across the country. This book is one of the good ones, with a Forrest Gump kinda feel to it. Perhaps one of the all-time good ones.
4. "Black Wind" by F. Paul Wilson
Yay, it's historical fiction by horror/thriller/suspense/conspiracy author F. Paul Wilson, who is a doctor in his spare (wait...huh?) time. This is the other guy Konrath introduced me to. I've been reading the hell out of his Repairman Jack series over the last year or so (I'm currently reading the 12th of 15) and devouring just about everything else in his catalog that I can get my digital claws into. I think it's easier to get into authors like this if you own an e-reader. I honestly don't have room on my physical bookshelves for 15 paperbacks, even if R.J. is the best series I've read in years. (You should see the TBR shelf. The horror, oh, the horror. I mean, I've got Lincoln sitting there, and Of Human Bondage, both of which I doubt I'll ever get to.)
5. "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" by Catherynne M. Valente
This is a true fairy tale that kept me riveted to its pages. I believe a sequel just came out or is due out any day now. At some point, I will be purchasing it.
Yeah, you might like these books. But then again, you might hate them. No book is for everybody, as every new author finds out when the reviews start coming in.
I'm still not sure I'll be making my goal, as I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this month and November is going to be write, write, write. So if you know a good fantasy or horror short, let me know, as I may have to cheat a little bit more and read a number of shorties to reach the 150 book goal. Wish me luck! I may need it...