My Readings of 2019

I saw a friend of mine share a post of all the books he read in 2018. He did it to encourage himself to read more, and I thought it was a great idea! I’ve decided to do it now. Of course, all of my casual reading will be via audiobooks. I’m sure there are some of you who may not consider that actually reading. I really don’t care. I’ll save the reading for my research.

My general updates are ordered from newest to oldest. At the bottom you can see my initial thoughts for books I am currently reading (I have a few ongoing reviews of essays and short stories you can find on their own post). Once I finish a book, I have transferred the complete review on its own post, all linked below in the completed list.

Completed Books

  1. Firestarter, by Stephen King ★★★☆☆
  2. The Time Travelers Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger ★★★★☆ 
  3. The Dry, by Jane Harper ★★☆☆☆
  4. The Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North ★★★★★
  5. The Cabin at the End of the World, by Paule Tremblay ☆ 
  6. Redshirts, by John Scalzi ★★★★★
  7. Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer ☆ 
  8. The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells ★★★★★
  9. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi ★★★★

Ongoing Reviews of Collections

  1. Essays, by Christopher Hitchens
  2. The Time Travelers Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
  3. Religion and Science, by Bertrand Russell
  4. The Devil and the Deep, edited by Ellen Datlow

Books in Progress

You can see ongoing updates of books in progress below.

  1. To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis (3/31/2019, on hold)
  2. The Last Final Girl, by Stephen Graham Jones (8/14/2019)

Monthly Updates

Update 8/12/2019

I recently finished Mapping the Interior (★★★★★). I won’t be including it in my lists of completed books just yet because it is so short. I will probably tack it on to another book by Stephen Graham Jones if I get around to one of his. You can read my thoughts at the link here.

Update 8/8/2019

There are a couple horror anthologies I want to read. They’re a lot shorter than the Time Traveler’s Almanac (TTA), so I think I may try to work them in with the other stories. The goal being to finish them before the year is out! I love Stephen King, and a lot his best works are short stories. That plus the TTA gave me the idea to check out some horror anthologies. It looks like Ellen Datlow is an award winning editor, so I’ve chosen a couple of her works that appeal to me.

End of July Update

Clearly, its been a rough few months for reading. I have spent more time not blogging about reading than I did about reading. Thanks Game of Thrones! It diverged me and I lost some interest, but that isn’t entirely true. I have continued to read short stories from the Time Travel Almanac. I think another problem is with “To Say Nothing of the Dog,” which is an example of a book I feel I need to finish but am struggling to do so. It leads to me doing other things, so maybe I ought to change books. I am not sure what yet. I am rereading 11/22/63 by Stephen King (yet again). I have succumbed to the temptation of returning to an old favorite. I am listening to a podcast that is recapping it too. Maybe I should consider a podcast for other books. It might work as a good follow along.

I am looking over my list and it just feels too ambitious. My interests have changed. I want to go back to casual reading.

Time for a new to do list (updated as I see fit this time)

This is composed of a bunch of fairly new books that all have compelling premises and are recognized as being well done. Hopefully I enjoy this more than I have Connie Willis. Not including incomplete books or short stories or essays, I have read 4 books. That leaves me with 11 to in less than 6 months :-/ . Assume I finish the Willis book, thats ten. Sadly, likely not going to happen, but I will try to set myself up with a good list to work from.

  1. The Cabin at the End of the world – ★★★★☆ (Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (2018), Locus Award for Horror Novel (2019))
  2. The Calculating Stars (Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2019), Nebula Award for Best Novel (2018), Locus Award for Science Fiction Novel (2019), John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee for Best Science Fiction Novel (2019))
  3. Redshirts – ★★★★★ (Hugo Award for Best Novel (2013), Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2013))
  4. Annihilation – ★★★★☆ (Nebula Award for Best Novel (2014), Locus Award Nominee for Best Science Fiction Novel (2015), Warwick Prize for Writing Nominee for Longlist (2015), Shirley Jackson Award for Novel (2014), and a decent movie) (maybe book 2 and 3)
  5. The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2017), Locus Award Nominee for Best SF Novel (2017), Arthur C. Clarke Award (2017), among others)
  6. The City & the City (Hugo Award for Best Novel (2010), Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2010), Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (2010), World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2010))
  7. Dreams Before the Start of Time (Arthur C. Clarke Award (2018))
  8. Children of Blood and Bone – ★★★★☆ (Hugo Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Book (Lodestar Award) (2019), Nebula Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book (Andre Norton Award) (2018), Locus Award Nominee for First Novel (2019), Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year (2019))
  9. Children of Time (Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (2016))
  10. The Murderbot Diaries ★★★★★ 
    1. All Systems Red★★★★★ 
    2. Artificial Condition ★★★★★ 
    3. Rogue Protocol ★★★★★ 
    4. Exit Strategy – ★★★★★
      (Series of Novellas [4], Hugo, Nebula, Lucas, and Philip K. Dick Awards)
  11. A Head Full of Ghosts (Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (2015), World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2016), This is Horror Award for Novel (2015))
  12. The Three-Body-Problem (Hugo Award for Best Novel (2015), Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2014), Locus Award Nominee for Best Science Fiction Novel (2015), John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee for Best Science Fiction Novel (2015), Prometheus Award Nominee for Best Novel (2015))
  13. Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) Hugo Award for Best Novel (2014), Nebula Award for Best Novel (2013), Locus Award for Best First Novel (2014), Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (2014), British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel (2013), Philip K. Dick Award Nominee (2014), John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee (2014), British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer (Sydney J. Bounds Award) (2014),

P.S. This is how my reading list gets so long. I get the urge to read certain kind of books. Then I pivot, and end up with a bunch of others. I think at least half this list is viable.

End of March Update

I am finding my 5hrs per week goal an easy target to meet. I am not keeping up with all my podcasts :-/, but I am enjoying what I am reading. I’ve begun reading short stories and essays. Although, I am doing it in my podcast app, jumping between stories, and that makes it more difficult to track my time. I am pretty sure I did at least, probably more, 24 hours of listening/reading. The goals are going well, but I like to set myself up to fail. I am going to bump my weekly reading to 6 hours. The summer is coming, so its doable.

I am enjoying the essays and short stories. They are an easy way to pick something interesting without needing to dedicate a huge amount of time to it. It also means I am reading a large diversity of things which I love. It may mess up my yearly goals just because they are large collections. Obviously, I can’t count them each as a book, but I am reading them individually and may not read the entire volumes.

With that in mind, I am trying to make sure I give myself some time dedicate to single book/story. To Say nothing of the Dog is my current read. See that section for more.

Update 3/11/2019

As I ended the first week, I found myself with ~.5 hr to go for my 5hr per week goal. I did that last night as I cooked and cleaned. Although, this is on the week of the book club where I rushed to finish to the Dry, so we will see how well I am able to stick to it. I still like the 5hr goal. It is a good motivator because I know how well I work with a clear quota and/or outline to follow. I am over an hour in this week which is a good start, but I think part of that has to do with how great the 15 lives of Harry August is.

End of February Update

February was not a great month for reading. I did a good bit towards the First 15 Lives of Harry August in the early parts, but I’ve since not gone back. I started the Dry only recently because I know the book club is coming up. The Dry, I’m pushing through it at 1.6 times the regular speed. That’s how little I like it. For a bit of context, I am listening to The 15 lives of Harry August (a book I am loving) at 1.3 times the regular speed, which I try to do to get through them more quickly.

As we get closer to April, my audiobook time is waning. In addition to my game of thrones rewatch, I am pushing through the several recap shows I listen to along with it. When it finally arrives, I will be listening to 4-5 different recap shows of GOT, so I am going to have to try extra hard not to forget about my reading time. That’s really my listen so far here; I need to be aware of how much I am reading and make a point to do it when I am going a long time without it.

Moving forward, I am going to set a 5 hour per week quota, with a ~24 hour monthly quota. I’ll adjust that as I start to get a better feel of how much I am currently listening (as I begin to track it quantitatively).

End of January Update

I’m nearly done with The Time Traveler’s Wife, and I finished Firestarter. That puts me well on track to finish 10, but not quite the 15 I’m hoping for. I may need to find more times to listen. The problem is I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I don’t really want to stop. I listened to a bit of Harry Potter too :-/ (guilty pleasure); that’s something I’m trying not to do. I could listen to something new. Plus, Harry Potter is a slippery slope. A chapter turns into a book, turns into a rewatch of the entire series. It’s a tough one for sure :-p.

Beginning Reading (January)

I really want to read at least 10 books. I’ve got a list of ~15 ready to tackle, but I often find my tastes change fairly quickly. Part of what keeps me from reading is that I listen to days worth of podcasting every month. I tend to alternate between podcast binging and audiobook binging, and sometimes a lot of music. My goal is to fit in a decent amount of books this year. Furthermore, my goals are to read more new books. There are a lot of books I love to reread. Harry Potter is the most common; I’m currently on book three again. While I read, I hope to make note of how I enjoyed (am enjoying it). I also really want to make sure I expose myself to a broad field of fun reads to books that make me think.

To do list (books I am currently hoping to read this year)

I have a list of ~15 books [edited] I am hoping to read this year, organized and ready to go. My goal is to read fun books, though provoking books, and educational books. I’ve tentatively ordered them to keep myself from growing tired of one.

  1. Firestarter ★★★☆☆
  2. Time Travelers Wife ★★★★
  3. Religion and Science (started, see above)
  4. To Say nothing of the dog (started, on hold) (book two of Oxford time series; very long; highly regarded)
  5. The first 15 lives of Harry August ★★★★★
  6.  [redacted a bunch of non fiction stories and other literary fictions because  I am not going to read these this year]

See complete list above

I think I have 200+ books marked as wanting to read on goodreads for a variety of reasons, and that can be intimidating. This list i composed of 1) am intrigued by and 2) be uniquely thought provoking (I’ve dropped the idea of reading nonfiction science books. I have enough science in my life). My assessment is sufficiently hand wavy that it is very subject to change (update: it did).

My attempt to work in some science books is already being undermined by my choice of The 15 lives of Harry August. Even Religion and science was a lazy choice being super short. I also don’t know if I’ll be able to manage several of this non SK fiction stories for the simple fact that I only have so much attention with an audiobook. I suppose that list is more than 15, but I throw in extra SK as something to fall back on in if I feel tired of books that make me thing :-p . Another common theme is my desire to finish the Oxford Time Series (OTS). It was one of the highest regarded scifi stories, every book winning a nebula I think with Connie Willis being one of the top sci fi writers (and of the few major female scifi writers, see Octavia Butler as an even rarer black women scifi writer).

Updates on Books in Progress

The Last Final Girl, by Stephen Graham Jones – 8/14/2019

the-last-final-girl-stephen-graham-jones-9781621050513

Introductory thoughts 8/14/2019

I’m back to stories off my list (but not forever). I am feeling the need to delve into more horror. It is almost Halloween after all. You can see my nearly finished review of the anthology the Devil and the Deep, and I’ve already started another anthology that I haven’t posted yet. Then there are so many more after that! I am falling in love with short horror fiction. I have at least one other horror story on my to do List (A Head Full of Ghosts), but Graham I came across him as I reviewed all these new anthologies. I can’t help but be intrigued (check out my review of his unique novella.

Of course, that is not this (well not exactly). We are looking at a novel that is practically a novella (~200pgs, less than 6hrs), but I am going to cheat in my tally and count this as a book of its own.

I am roughly ~10% into it (so hardly at all), and I am growing to like it. I went in to this pretty blind. I knew it was about horror tropes and cheesy horror films but exactly how it was satirical was beyond me. It seems to be told like someone is narrating a movie they’re watching. That’s tough to adjust to at first, as a mode of story telling, but I am adjusting. It is a fun way to look at the story. From my understanding, it is about a girl, the Final Girl, you know, the one that always survives (see the Cabin in the Woods or the Final Girl).

The trailer for the film, the Final Girl (2015), NOT an adaption of the book (which came after). Instead, it is another satirical look at horror tropes and the Final Girl (great film).

The story begins where the movie usually ends. We jump into the story right as the villain is about to kill the final girl, but she survives and defeats the monster! From my understanding, the story will follow the final girl as she gains new friends, friends that will end up competing (in some form) for the lucky spot as the final girl when horror returns to this small town.

I really hope this is a good book. The concept has me thrilled, even if the opening was a little shaky.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis – ON HOLD

2

Introductory thoughts 3/31/2019

I started this book around the 20th. I thought I had already written some initial thoughts here. This book is on my list. I am venturing into other territory with the book club, short stories, and essays, but I am trying to stick to the list the best I can.

Connie Willis is a well known Science fiction writer. She is known for her Oxford Time Travel Series which has continually won the Hugo award for each book in the series and won the Nebula 3/4 times, the other one being nominated as well as the Lucas award. There is clearly very high praise. It is one of those cases of how can I not read these series.

To Say Nothing of the Dog follows Doomsday. The books are pretty much stand alone even though they exist in the same universe. It is about a part of Oxford university in the future that uses time travel to study history. Her stories are good. They are very intricately told. I enjoyed Doomsday. I would probably give it 3/4. They are big books, and I think its one of those cases where I found it difficult to become engulfed right away by audiobook. I don’t think its as bad in the sequel.

I am 27% through the book. I think I am following along. The premise is the same (historians and all), but the scenario they are in is original. I say they, the characters are new, I think. I honestly don’t remember the main characters names in the first iteration or in the sequel so far. I am not entirely sure what the title is supposed to mean. In the first one, the black plague was at risk of returning. Here, its more to do with the laws of time and whether a naive student may have overstepped their bounds. Except, the dog really isn’t a crucial part of that (I think?). I googled it, both this and the first book are references to other stories. It also appears that only one of the characters in this book is in the first book. I am glad I am writing about it because I’m realizing there are bits I wasn’t getting, and this will help me follow individual characters a bit better.

Update 7/30/19 Time to Put it on hold?

Connie Willis is one of the best science fiction authors of out time. It is reflected by the long list of literary acknowledgements she has earned herself. That is why I feel somehow at fault when I struggle through her books. She puts so much effort into ensuring every detail is historically accurate, and at times, I get lost. A part of this is undoubtedly the medium that I am consuming the book through (audiobook). Nevertheless, I am not finding myself desperate to keep listening. I am 46% through the book, and I think I am going to put it on hiatus.

The book was at a disadvantage from the start. Game of Thrones returned soon after I started this, and with it came my obsession with GOT podcasting, monopolizing my time. By the time it was over, my interest wasn’t exactly focused on this book. In fact, I find myself more often turning to the Time Travel’s Almanac for its much shorter offerings.

I have been in Atlanta for the summer, and my schedule is all over the place. Perhaps I should come back to this in the fall, when things lighten up. Hopefully, that will do the trick. I have this problem where sometimes books become a chore. I live in this world where I see books on an objective scale, so if I am not getting into something, thats often my own fault. At least for something as well renowned as this. If this was the Dry, and I were reading it on my own I would give up. However, it is renowned for reason, so I feel this obligation to put forth the effort to focus in on the story and find out why it is so well respected. I don’t know if that is me wasting my time. I’d honestly like to know what others think.

2 Replies to “My Readings of 2019”

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