Daily Archives: December 31, 2009

Ending The Year; Books Read

Yesterday and today were a pretty nice way to end the year. Indeed, the decade(!). Wednesday was highlighted by a nice long session of disc and a Nebraska win in their bowl game. Added value, we watched the game at Majerle’s with Reif (poor Arizona fan), Sean, Laura, Casey and Jeff. I had a tasty buffalo chicken wrap and a couple Kiltlifters. Today, I mostly spent the day cooking and reading. I made Baja Chicken Enchilada Soup. It came out fairly good, though thick. I had halved the amount of chicken and therefore broth, but not the amount of rice. Still, tasty enough that I had a two bowls and an associated amount of corn bread. And finished reading Book #22. (I mis-spoke at the Christmas party a few weeks ago. I had only read 21 books, not 22…)

Book #22 – Faith & Fire by James Swallow

I chose and continued to read this book for two reasons: I’m interested in how authors write military sci-fi, and I wanted to get a better feel for the Warhammer 40K setting. Swallow is a decent writer on the detail level. The combat scenes in particular are very well done. If I take something away from this book, it’s that the language of combat itself needs to be dynamic. Strong verbs are especially important. I tend to write combat in the same manner that characters take tea. This does not work. Swallow also does a lovely job of describing the 40K tech in all its gothic baroque-ness. Unfortunately, the plot of this book isn’t very good. The ending especially was painful. There were too many  cases of convenience and coincidence for me to suspend my disbelief.

But still, time spent reading. How much better does it get?

—###—

Here are the stats for what I read in 2009:

22 "books" read.
Included a free-form handful of short stories, a graphic novel, and a group of essays on short stories by Poe.
Doesn’t include Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which I checked out before gifting
to my niece.

Only 4 of them had Amazon.com word counts and other stats, so I won’t bother with those.

Only 3 of the novels were by female author. The essays on Poe were by a female author (I believe), and 5/9 of the short stories were by women.

Excluding the short story authors, I read works by 18 different authors.
8 of those authors were new to me.
Only 2 of the works were rereads.

12 were books I own(ed).
2 were PaperBackSwapped after I read them.
3 (including the short stories and the Poe essays) were in electronic form.
7 were from the library

In the category of books acquired:

Acquired 15 books.
Not including text books or computer books.

3 were gifts.
6 were from PaperBackSwap.
2 were from the library’s sales corner.
1 of the remainder were bought new and 3 were bought used.

I read the book I bought new.

For 2010:

My intention is to read 30 books, and to not purchase new books.

I’m considering the goal of reading a book every ten days with the reasonable exception of something like Return of the King, which will be read in conjunction with Tor.com’s read-through. I’m also considering an established reading list. The problem is that as soon as I set these sort of rules, I take glee in breaking them. It might be a nice challenge though.

If I were to generate a reading list, it would start out with:

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (on loan from Tyler)
On Basilisk Station by David Weber (on loan from the library)
The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu (shiny and new…Christmas present!)
Hart & Boot & Other Stories by Tim Pratt (also shiny and new)
A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin (on its way to me via PBS)
Stephen King Goes to the Movies (also on its way to me via PBS)
Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin (low-hanging already-started fruit)
And chapters of The Return of the King

A Decade

Since 2000, I:
(in rough chronological order)

  • Finished my first novel.
  • Got married.
  • Finished two sprawling fantasy novels that are not good.
  • Taught myself HTML.
  • Gained 10 pounds
  • Learned to play ultimate fribee.
  • Threw my back out.
  • Realized I really loved playing ultimate frisbee.
  • Came to love Arizona.
  • Attended my first genre/writing convention.
  • Finished two other novels that *are* good.
  • Bewilderingly became the webmaster for VOTS.org.
  • Lost 15 pounds.
  • Realized I probably have RA.
  • Began to actively try things to manage my arthritis.
  • Started running.
  • Started playing less ultimate frisbee.
  • Drafted three other novels.
  • Weathered my husband quitting his job to go back to school.
  • Started occasionally having conversations with people other than my husband.
  • Saw my first novel published.

The list could be longer. The one thing I’ve learned over the past decade (a lesson I will continuously relearn) is to not be satisfied. When the novel seems good, it’s time for another edit. Even though the throw was caught, the throw could have been more on-target. When an explanation is given, verify that the explanation makes sense. This is not the easy route. Too often, I slap the "Good Enough" label on things. This is something to work on in the coming decade.