Okay, so I haven’t posted here in quite some time. But how could I let the year end without doing a wrap-up of everything I read in 2017?
Part of the reason for my lack of writing is all the podcasting I did this year, what with my existing podcast (Take Me To Your Reader) and starting up the Hugos There Podcast. You’ll see from my reading selections that my actual extracurricular reading was confined to just a few books and a ton of graphic novels. I just needed a break here from everything else I was reading.
So, without further ado, here’s the list, broken into categories of why I read them:
Extracurricular, non-comic reading (8 books I read because I wanted to):
The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick – I’d wanted to watch the Amazon series, so I blasted through the book. Excellent stuff as usual from PKD. The series is also good (through Season One is all I’ve watched).
Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball, by Keith Law – The subtitle is probably longer than I’d like (or Keith would like), but the book is just a tremendous tour of why the old baseball stats don’t tell us much interesting and don’t lead to good predictions for player or team performance. And then it’s a tour of which of the new stats actually do that. Highly recommended for any baseball fan.
The Caledonian Gambit, by Dan Moren – Great first novel from a regular panelist on The Incomparable. Space Opera, spy novel, military science fiction all wrapped into one. Very good read. (Also, he’s a future Hugos There guest.)
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson – I love short-topic science books, and NdGT is one of my favorite science communicators. Don’t expect it to go into a ton of depth, but the survey of astrophysics set as the scientific story of Creation is very compelling (unless you’re offended by that idea, which I’m not.)
The Switch, by Joseph Finder – I take a vacation, I read a Joseph Finder novel. Man accidentally switches laptops with a powerful person. Intrigue ensues. Standard stuff from Finder, but always enjoyable.
Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold – The aforementioned Dan Moren chose a book in this series and gave me homework to do before we get to it. (audio)
The Bible: English Standard Version – I read the Bible every year. The ESV is my jam.
Children of the Fleet, by Orson Scott Card – Surprisingly enjoyable, definitely more than his latest entries in the Shadow series.
Reading for TMTYR (5 books. Other episodes were short stories):
(Titles link to episodes if you’re interested)
Firestarter, by Stephen King – Definitely a fun read, and only #2 on my Stephen King reading.
Dune, by Frank Herbert – Classic, amazing work. I got two podcasts out of this one, because it was also my second Hugos There podcast.
The Last Starfighter, by Alan Dean Foster – This was a reverse adaptation, because we wanted to discuss the movie. The movie is better.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick – I read this one on the plane coming back from Hawaii. It’s a quick read and quite different from Blade Runner. Definitely worth a look.
The Children of Men, by P. D. James – This was a re-read for me, and a compelling one. My co-hosts didn’t necessarily agree.
A Christmas Story, by Jean Shepherd – Another re-read and just so much fun. Even more fun to check out the movie and the live TV special for our Christmas episode.
Reading for Hugos There:
(Titles link to episodes)
Here I’ll briefly describe the premise, then give a few thoughts.
The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester – Telepathy is a widespread gift. How do you get away with murder in such a world? The first winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and a delightful read, if very of its time. I’d love to see a film adaptation of it, though there are some unique things about the way it describes telepaths that would be hard to translate to a visual medium.
Dune, by Frank Herbert – The planet that holds the most precious resource in the universe is given a change in management. Intrigue ensues. Read it in print for TMTYR, then refreshed with audio for Hugos There. Definitely worth taking in twice in a year. Epic, sweeping, and for me, never boring on a re-read.
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons – The Canturbury Tales in space! Probably my favorite read of the year in novels. I still need to read The Fall of Hyperion!
Neuromancer, by William Gibson – A hacker gets his hacking abilities back and is manipulated by all and sundry. Had a hard time connecting to this cyberpunk classic. Not sure what my problem was. Fortunately, my guest more than made up for my lack of enthusiasm.
Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card – Humanity desperately tries to have a safe first contact with aliens, only to find that their attempt is seen very differently by the aliens. This is my favorite book. I love it. It’s my guest’s second favorite. We gush about it for a long time. I read it, listened to it, and read the graphic novel.
The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson – How might nanotechnology affect a future Earth society? Really a pretty amazing accomplishment, as Stephenson surveys so many implications of nanotech. One of these days I need to get back and read more of his work.
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu – First contact with aliens who hail from a star system very different than ours. The most different thing I read this year. Fascinating science fiction mixed with interesting commentary on the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny – Humans have used technology to gain immortality and apparently magical powers. They take on the guise of the Hindu pantheon and lord it over the population of their planet. One of the immortals rebels. Another very different title as you can see, but a great read (read it in Hawaii, and that’s always nice.)
Cyteen, by C.J. Cherryh – A very large, very interesting book about cloning and genetic manipulation. But it’s large. Very large.
Redshirts, by John Scalzi – Another re-read for me. Galaxy Quest-ish in book form. Don’t want to give much more away, but if you were ever into Star Trek, you’ll enjoy it.
Gateway, by Frederik Pohl – We found a space station left behind by aliens. It’s the Gold Rush in space! Such a fun read and a great episode (posting first thing in the new year.)
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury – Classic dystopian work. Books are banned, and society is the worse for it. I read it primarily because my son was reading it for school, then found someone to record it with (posting in February).
Books I read because my son was reading them for school:
I like to read along with my teenager so I can quiz him and make sure he’s paying attention.
Animal Farm, by George Orwell – Another dystopian classic. Animals stand in for the rise of communism. Still powerful and a quick read. The boy liked this one.
Slaughterhouse-five, by Kurt Vonnegut – Very timey-wimey as Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. Unlike any other book I’ve read. The boy gave up on this one after reading his assigned 100 pages. So it goes.
The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald – Not sure why this is a classic, because literally nothing happens, but I enjoyed it all the same. The boy categorizes this book as the worst one. Ever.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury – Mentioned above. It was a pleasure to read. The boy loved this one. I am relieved.
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel – Vivid imagery, and I’m still not sure which story I believe. The boy found this one a bit of a chore, but not the worst thing ever.
Graphic Novels, or how I padded my reading numbers!
I won’t comment on all of these, so I’ll lead with my favorites:
All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison – Classic Superman origin and ending(?) story.
Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman – Classic that takes me back to reading comics as a kid. So many DC characters I just love.
Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid – Definitely the most different, done in a watercolor style, and an interesting Elseworlds story.
The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, by Marv Wolfman – Another flashback to an arc I read over and over as a kid.
Aaaaand all the rest:
(You’ll notice it’s basically all DC. I’ll admit it, I don’t care much for Marvel comics. Never have. DC has the characters I grew up with. And I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve read from DC Rebirth.)
Batman, Volume 1: I Am Gotham, by Tom King
Batman, Volume 2: I Am Suicide, by Tom King
Batman, Volume 3: I Am Bane, by Tom King
Countdown to Infinite Crisis, by Geoff Johns
Deathstroke, Volume 1: The Professional, by Christopner J. Priest
Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death and Life Of Oliver Queen, by Benjamin Percy
Green Arrow Vol. 2: Island of Scars, by Benjamin Percy
Justice League, Volume 1: The Extinction Machines, by Bryan Hitch
Shazam Vol. 1, by Geoff Johns
Superman, Volume 1: Son of Superman, by Peter J. Tomasi
Superman: Action Comics, Volume 1: Path of Doom, by Dan Jurgens
Superman: Action Comics, Volume 2: Welcome to the Planet, by Dan Jurgens
Superwoman Vol. 1: Who Killed Superwoman, by Phil Jimenez
Tag & Bink Were Here, by Kevin Rubio
The Final Days of Superman: Road to Rebirth, by Peter J. Tomasi
The Flash, Volume 1: Lightning Strikes Twice, by Joshua Williamson
Titans, Volume 1: The Return of Wally West, by Dan Abnett
My total, including audio (which totally doesn’t count), was 54 books. But without graphic novels, it would’ve been a very pedestrian year for me.