Goodreads gives you a little tool to track the number of books you read over the course of a year. In 2021, I wanted to read 52 books—a book a week—but that proved a little ambitious. Who knew that infants were so much work? I got half way. A far cry from my 2020 peak of 62 books.
This year I’ve set my goal at a more reasonable 26 books, or one every other week. That is the same number I managed last year, so I feel pretty good that I should be able to make it happen. And if I don’t? Well, that’s how the cookie crumbles, I guess.
I try to read a variety of things, but the reality is that I end up actually reading a bunch of SFF, horror, and technical stuff. A scan through my previous years’ lists confirms this. The examples I’ve considered for this post are all in line.
What *do I have in the list for this coming year? Let’s look.
Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson – I’ve already started this one. I anticipate that I am going to finish it some time in September. Sanderson is not known for his brevity. Coming to this after finishing John Langan’s The Fisherman was a bit of a shock. Their two styles of prose could not be more different. Langan is dense and literary while Sanderson is like watching a comic book movie. Both are good. Both have their places. But, dang, are they different.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I started this book like two years ago during my writing class at Cabrillo. Fortunately, it’s a collection of essays. Picking it back up will not be difficult. Lamott is charming, hilarious, and just enough of a pain in the ass for her writing to resonate strongly with me.
Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo – I’ve read the entirety of Akira before when it was first collected into five volumes in 2000. A long time ago at this point. I purchased the 35th anniversary collection last year and it’s been sitting on my floor waiting to be read. This is the year. Akira is massive and, along with the film version, a formative work for me.
The Terror by Dan Simmons – I’m about 45 hours into the 50 hours of the audiobook of Simmons’ Carrion Comfort and I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it. I’ve read the Hyperion series, but didn’t know until Carrion Comfort that Simmons also wrote novels that weren’t just love letters to John Keats. Further, the audiobook version of The Terror I spent an Audible credit on is produced with background music. This is going to either be a big hit or a big miss. Either way it is going to shine some light on an idea I’ve had for The Black Laser Reads about doing audiobooks with more production elements than just voice. Also, it’s another horror novel that is well regarded. I am sure it will be a fun one.
Piranesi by Susannah Clarke – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was one of the best books of the year in whichever year I read it. Goodreads tells me I finished the Kindle version in 2016. It is so rich and such a fun adventure that I felt pretty bummed that it was her only novel. One hell of a one-and-done, you know? Shortly after moving to Delaware, Sarah and I went into the bookshop in Bethany and I saw she had a new book, Piranesi, available only in hardback. Instant purchase. My copy is signed by the author, too, which is fun. Piranesi has gotten a lot of good chatter around it, which makes me look forward to it even more.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – This was one of the suggestions by my friend Mike when I solicited Facebook for horror novel recommendations a while ago. The format of this book doesn’t lend itself well to e-reading, which is my preferred way of consuming novels. I hesitated a long time until I finally just bit the bullet and picked up a paper copy. I know almost nothing about what happens in House of Leaves, only that people whose opinions I respect think it is fantastic. That is enough.
The Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne C. Booth – My understanding is that this work gave us the name for the “unreliable narrator”. It’s dense. It’s academic. He writes about a lot of works I’ve never read. Seems like the perfect thing to shift my brain into a different gear.
Books of Blood, Vols 3-6 by Clive Barker – I find that toggling between horror shorts and other books is a good way to break things up without getting distracted from the main text much in the same way as how I like to have one nonfiction and one fiction book going at any one time. So, really, I guess it’s actually one fiction, one nonfiction, one collection of short stories, and one audiobook in progress at all times. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood fit in perfectly with any combination of things I’m reading. It’s nice to have that short, sweet, horror fix. Palate cleansers.
Off the top of my head and a quick glance around my desk that’s it for now. Certainly I will think of some other things I intend to read this year. I’ll revisit this in a few months and we can check in on my progress. Completing these books will get me 15 books further toward my goal of 26. Not all the way, but not too bad either.
Did I miss anything you think I should definitely read this year? Is something on my list so stupid I should give it a pass? What are you reading (besides this post)? Suggest a book that is outside my normal consumption and tell me why I should read it.