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My 2011 Reading

The end of the year means it’s time for a summary of my last year’s reading. Thankfully Goodreads keeps it easy for me to track things; I don’t have to remember to do much more than log my books when I’m done with them (on the handy Android app) and at the end of the year I have this nifty list.

By the Numbers
I finished 51 books this year, which made it an average year for me. 19 of those were non-fiction, leaving 32 as fiction. (You can see the whole list on Goodreads if you really want to.) As usual, my non-fiction is basically theology, with a little bit of science and history thrown in. The fiction is essentially scifi, fantasy, and legal/political thrillers.

Best fiction
I gave 5-star ratings to 3 novels this year that were first-time reads. They were:

  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. This is a futurist masterpiece of a novel that reads really fresh even though it was written back in 2000. Really good stuff.
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. A fantasy novel that doesn’t get so lost in the fantasy world that it forgets to have a plot. This is basically your favorite con-man story set in a fascinating fantasy world. I understand that the second book in the series is out now, so I need to get on it.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This one has been at the top of a lot of year-end lists, and while it may not deserve that, it was very entertaining. Set in the future, but full of 1980’s nostalgia, this was a fun, engaging read. (Stephen Granade has a good post outlining some ways that Ready Player One could’ve been changed to be a much better novel.)

Best non-fiction

There are two books that deserve mentions here.

The Stinker

There was only one book that I gave just one star to this year, and I won’t even give it the honor of linking to it on Amazon: Abyss by Paul Hagberg. I can do no better than to quote my review from goodreads:

I should’ve known just from the cover and flyleaf that this particular bit if genre fiction was going to be a train wreck. And yet, like a train wreck, once I started I couldn’t look away.

Ridiculous plot premise, unbelievable protagonist (former CIA director turned bodyguard?!?), uninspired prose and underdeveloped characters fill the 400+ pages of this tome. The author seems contractually obligated to describe each female character in terms of breast size, but mishandles the interpersonal scenes so badly that you wonder if he’s actually ever had an interpersonal relationship.

The cover of the book proclaims it to be “A Kirk McGarvey Novel”, leading me to believe that there are more books out there starring this ridiculous character. My advice: avoid them. Avoid this one, too.

So that’s my 2011. Here’s hoping that 2012 finds me reading the best of books new and old. (Leave any recommendations in the comments below!)

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