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Books Read 2012

I had a crisis of faith regarding reading at the latter end of 2011. But that seems to have passed. So, I’m tracking my reading once again!

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The Sojourn, by Andrew Krivak. A sparse and quiet little book, but a powerful story. The life of a sniper is lonely. Living through war is terrifying. Krivak shows you this without preaching, letting the story guide your emotions.
The How of Happiness, by Sonja Lyubomirsky. How to up your happiness level using activities tailored to your interests and personality. Turns out, I’d rather do a random act of kindness than write a letter of gratitude. (Sounds good to me!)
The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie. Three days in a battle (hmmm, starting the year with multiple books on war, what does that mean?). It isn’t all songs and heroics, you know. I enjoyed this pseudo-fantasy novel, and my favorite character was Whirrun of Bligh. (I almost didn’t read this, once I noticed that this was the same author who wrote Best Served Cold a book I began last year and then dropped once I saw how bad it was. I’m glad I gave Abercrombie a second chance.)
The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains, by Nicholas Carr. Just feeding my preconceived notions here. Yep, the Internet is shortening our attention spans (back to our natural state, though) and changing the landscape of learning and intellect. I’m not really happy about it.
Victory of Eagles, Book 5 of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. I really liked the first book of this series — a retelling of the Napoleonic wars, if dragons were part of the typical battle arsenal. It sounds corny, but it definitely isn’t. Books 2 and 3 dragged, but I so enjoyed dragon banter and dragon psychology that I kept on. Book 4 was OK, but the whole thing was just a way to get from Point A to Point B (new drama for book 5). THANKFULLY, Book 5 was worth my tenacity. Sorry to paint such a dreary picture, because I highly recommend starting the series. Just go in warned, that’s all.
Blood Music, by Greg Bear. I got a Kindle. I am a miser. I quickly figured out how to read free books on my Kindle. This was a download from my local library (slim pickins, especially in SF). But Bear is a renowned author, so I gave it a shot. It’s your typical early 1980s biochem world takeover story. Pleasant enough read.
State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. I enjoyed this. I don’t normally read current fiction, because I have been burned too often by Jonathan Franzen-style crap; I feel badly that I placed Ann Patchett in with that group of literary parasites. And I like that there is a completely unspoken but real possibility set up at the very end, which she never addresses. Because sometimes books are better if you think they live on after the last page,
cain, by Jose Saramago. I love Saramago’s sparse style and cutting wit. This is a slim volume, and it takes a little while to warm up — but once Cain starts on his peregrinations, I didn’t want to put it down.
The Pyramid, by Henning Mankell. I only recently learned of Mankell’s Swedish detective Kurth Wallander, so instead of starting with the first novel, I decided to go with the ninth book, which are prequel stories to the series. I enjoyed them (although the translations were uneven, but the last one, Pyramid, was certainly much better) enough that I plan to read the series. But not all at once, and not just right now.
Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles 1), by Kevin Hearne. I followed a link, to another link, and found myself at a list of the top 20 best fantasy books of 2011. The second of this series (it’s one of those 3-books-all-published-the-same-year series) was on the list, but again, I wanted to start with number 1. It was funny (his Irish wolfhound is hilarious), but it’s a bit of a mish-mash of celtic gods, vampires, werewolves, witches, and more. Sometimes, though, one needs a bit of mental candy to read.
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Impera is reading this for her literature class this spring. Thanks to my new best friend, the Gutenberg Project, I was able to download a free copy to my Kindle. I’m just into Book 2, and I have to reiterate what I said when I was reading War and Peace: These Russian novelists have an unjustified bad rep. Just because their works are LONG, doesn’t mean they are INSCRUTABLE. Very entertaining so far.

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