Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reading list 2009

Following hot on the heels of my year in reviews post comes the inevitable (go on, you know you want to say that like Kim Jong Il in Team America) list of books I've read throughout the year. Shockingly, while looking back over the list it's become apparent to me that I've read far less than I have in previous years (33 in 2008, and 34 in 2007 if you're interested - and if you're not, too late now!), and waaaaaaaaay less than the 50+ that Dinah taunts us with on an annual basis. Blame Facebook and that damned Bejeweled Blitz.

That being the case, I'm making it one of my New Year's resolutions to read more next year. Not least because there are a ridiculous number of books (admittedly some of which I've read but have been too lazy to move to the bookshelf downstairs) weighing down the little LACK table positioned next to my bed; the poor thing sighs audibly every time I lift one off it.

Don't believe me? Just look at the poor thing.

As usual, all books have been graded in the same way that your old English teacher (y'know, the one who would peer at you sternly over the top of his glasses if you so much as breathed) would mark that essay you slaved over for so long, ultimately returning it to you with a depressing bold red capital letter carved into it for all eternity. And I have, of course, provided links to should any of the books take your fancy. Although, in the aftermath of the closure of Borders in the UK, if you any of these titles do pique your interest, why not support your local bookshop and buy it from them, eh? (that's another of my resolutions)

Shall we begin?

01. Superpowers by David J. Schwartz - the story of five college kids who mysteriously gain superpowers and must learn to live with them in the months leading up to 9/11: B+
02. Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett - The amusing, heartbreaking, and all too human autobiography of Eels frontman Mr E; a truly wonderful book: A+
03. Joker by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo - A solid 'real world' Joker story that shares much with the version of the character established in The Dark Knight, and told from the perspective of one of his henchmen: B
04. Two-Up by Eric Miles Williamson - An enthralling tale of hard-living, hard-drinking gunite workers: A
05. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald - A short tale of a man who lives his life in reverse. Who would've thought you could tell such an epic story in just over 50 pages? Loved it: A+
06. The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck - Not quite as enthralling as East of Eden or Of Mice and Men, but Steinbeck's genius at creating realistic characters once again shines through in this tale of a bus carrying a number of passengers whose lives are full of hopes, fears, and secrets: B+
07. October Skies by Alex Scarrow - The harrowing tale of a wagon train being stalked by something in the woods after being snowed in while crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains in the 1850s, and the ramifications of its discovery by a documentary crew in the modern day. A fantastic and gripping story: A+
08. 1001 Ridiculous Ways to Die by David Southwell - Reading the ever ingenious ways that some people have kicked it could make you paranoid that *anything* you do could lead to an untimely death: C
09. The Complete Peanuts: 1969-1970 by Charles Schulz - The 10th volume of Fantagraphics Books' definitive collection of Schulz's classic comic strip: A+
10. The Complete Peanuts: 1971-1972 by Charles Schulz - More of the same, and every bit as good: A+
11. The Lie by Chad Kultgen - A very dirty, very funny tale of three college students whose relationship woes have devastating repercussions on their lives: A+
12. Star Trek by Alan Dean Foster - Disappointingly lightweight and straightforward adaptation of my favourite film of the year, completely lacking in the extended scenes and obvious love of Star Trek that made J.M. Dillard's previous movie novelizations so memorable. Add in some curious alterations to some of the film's most familiar story points (McCoy's line "all I'm left with is my bones" - which perfectly introduces us to the reasoning behind his nickname - is inexplicably changed to "all I'm left with is my skeleton," for example), and you're left with a book that is sadly lacking: C
13. Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier - Heart-wrenching story of a father and son trying to come to terms with the death of their wife/mother. Powerful stuff, brilliantly written and beautifully illustrated: A
14. Star Trek: Countdown by Tim Jones and Mike Johnson, art by David Messina - A thrilling story that acts as both a sequel to Star Trek Nemesis, and a prequel to the new movie. Does a wonderful job of setting up events from the film, saying goodbye to the characters of The Next Generation, and enhancing your appreciation of what takes place in J.J. Abrams' big-screen smash: A
15. Starbucks Nation by Chris Ver Weil - Disappointing satire of contemporary Hollywood culture that left me feeling like the joke wasn't being shared with me: C-
16. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski - Epic tale of a mute boy who shares a unique bond with the dogs his family trains, but whose life takes a tragic turn when his father dies in mysterious circumstances. Engrossing: A
17. Tomas by James Palumbo - The story of a new messiah appearing amid a grossly exaggerated reflection of our own celebrity culture. The paperback equivalent of taking Ecstasy, I'd imagine: C+
18. Star Trek: Early Voyages Omnibus - Collects all 17 issues of the Marvel comic book charting Captain Christopher Pike's time in command of the Enterprise. The artwork and storyline fall apart a bit towards the end, and it finishes on a never-to-be-resolved cliffhanger, but the first two-thirds of it are stellar, and it's never anything less than entertaining: A-
19. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers - the autobiographical story of how author Eggers raised his younger brother after the death of their parents; inspired, uplifting, incredibly funny, and very touching: A+
20. The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood by Nicholas Meyer - A wonderful, witty, and insightful autobiography from the director of Star Treks II and VI. I've long admired Meyer for his intelligence and contribution to Star Trek, but this book was unexpectedly candid and touching and revealed another side to the man: A+
21. I Lick My Cheese and Other Notes from the Frontlines of Flatsharing by Oonagh O'Hagan - Highly amusing book collecting bizarre, funny, and downright weird real life notes left by flatmates. Makes me glad I've never had to live with strangers: B
22. Let Us Be Perfectly Clear by Paul Hornschemeier - Fantastic collection of illustrated stories by the author of Mother, Come Home and The Three Paradoxes. I particularly enjoyed Ditty and the Pillow Plane: A
23. Lessons from the Land of Pork Scratchings by Greg Gutfeld - Amusing tales of the author's time living and working in London: B
24. The Waiting Place by Sean McKeever (and various artists) - Wonderful collected edition of McKeever's comic book about teen life in small town America: A
25. Groom Lake by Ben Templesmith and Chris Ryall - Enjoyable tale of a 20 year-old slacker who finds himself involved in a plot to engineer an advanced weapon before going on the run with a chain-smoking alien called Archibald: B+
26. Star Trek: The Art of the Film by Mark Cotta Vaz - Beautiful hardback collection of some of the gorgeous concept art created for J.J. Abrams' brilliant new Star Trek movie. A
27. The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks, art by Ibraim Roberson - Brilliant graphic novel collection of zombie stories taking place throughout history by the author of World War Z: A

That's yer lot then - 27 books ranging from the awesome to the … not so awesome. I'm back off to the stack of books beside my bed, not only so I can fulfil my New Year's resolution and start filling out next year's list, but because while sorting out the links to Amazon in the list above I've already spotted a few other books I'd like…

Anyway, that just leaves me to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year - may it bring you everything you wish for yourself! I shall see you all in space year 2010!


Tara said...

That "Superpowers" book sounds interesting!

I want you to also have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010! You, Sparky Bro and the Sparky parents as well.

Dinah said...

To be fair, as a Librarian I have to do a lot of reading for work. So I try to make those count as well.

That change to the Star Trek novelization makes me perplexed. Why would anyone change that? Unless the original line was skeletons and the actors changed it on the reminds me of my Pretty in Pink novelization that ends with the original ending of Molly Ringwald choosing Duckie over Blaine.

But I digress.

This sounds like a pretty great list overall, I'm going to come back to this and read some of them! And I will be trying to support my local bookstores, there are two great independent ones where I live...but Chapters is so much closer....

Happy New Year!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Happy New Year!

Well, in a couple of hours...

I loved 21.I lick my cheese.., and 14.Star Trek: Countdown. I can't say that I've read any others, but, apart from the obvious - Star Trek: Art of the Film - I'm intrigued by Superpowers, Benjamin Button & The Zombie Survival Guide.

If it makes you feel any better, 27 books is a hell of a lot more than I managed to read.

wordless words said...

im going to add some of those books to my list of must reads! thanks so much Tim. :) I wanted to wish you a happy NewYear. I was going to leave you a comment on your myspace then realized you dont really ever check it...thought itd be better to leave it here! Glad I got the pleasure of meeting you in 2009 :) was a great hour spent chatting. Hope to meet again one day! Hope 2010 brings you wonderful things! xx

CyberPete said...

Happy New Year dearie!

I have the I Lick My Cheese book but haven't gotten to it yet. As far as I can remember in my in...briated state I have only managed to finish 5 books and my goal was 12.

Tim said...

Tara - It was quite an entertaining read … made a change to be reading a superhero story in prose rather than as a graphic novel!

And a very happy and healthy New Year to you, you mom, Skittles and Joshua, too! Have a good one!!

Dinah - It's weird isn't it? That line was so perfect, and the scene completely set for it, so I really have no idea why it was changed. Bizarre. There were other things like that in the book that just took me out of the narrative a bit.

As for book stores, I actually can't think of any independent shops near me, so I'm just going to settle for anything as long as it's (where possible) not online!

Happy New Year to you too!

Inexplicable Cheese - And a Happy New Year to you! Look - we left comments without being rude to each other! Benjamin Button was a great read - very different to the film, and I polished it off in 25 minutes in Starbucks in Westfield. I was almost tempted to take it back for a cheeky refund, but then I figured it was the sort of story I'd like to go back to now and then.

Wordless Words - Bless you! Happy New Year to you too; it was an absolute pleasure meeting you this year - I mean last year! - and next time you're over this side of the pond, or if I ever make it over there, we should definitely do it again!

Cyberpete - Is Pete a little bit tipsy? Ha ha - have a good one Sir!

Ponita in Real Life said...

None got tossed in a corner as a complete bomb? I'm lucky to read one a year... just no time.

Happy 2010, Tim. Good luck with the reading and best wishes for a fab New Year!

Tim said...

Surprisingly not - although Starbucks Nation came perilously close!!

Happy New Year to you too, Ponita!!

CyberPete said...

I think the Champagne had gotten to me, yes.

I read 9 books last year.

Hope you had a great night.

Tim said...

Nine's not so bad…

CyberPete said...

No, I'm Quite impressed.

I started reading the I Lick My Cheese book. There are some seriously deranged people out there