This is my annual summary of books that I have read during the year. First some statistics:
I read 39 books this year, significantly lower than last year’s 77. Not only did I read less, I posted almost no blog entries (reviews or otherwise) during the year. Shame on me.
Breakdown by genre (my definitions only)
I read a number of acclaimed young adult series this year and was rather underwhelmed. The Hunger Games trilogy was rather awful — posting some notes here from April. The Witch & Wizard series (I have only read the first two) was poorly written, plotted, and the young adults in the books didn’t speak or act like real people.
I very much enjoyed The Phoenix Legacy (Sword of the Lamb is book 1) by M.K. Wren which had some Dune-like elements to it. Politics, intrigue, and an underground revolution, as well as an interesting narrative style. I’ve had the books for awhile but had never read them before.
I’m not sure what to think about A Confederacy of Dunces, which was on a reading list that I am slowly completing. I suspect it is a better book than I’m qualified to “get”. I think it is hard to like a book when you don’t like any of the characters.
Also really enjoyed the Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. Not sure why I had never read it before.
By media type
Surprisingly, there was a rough even split across all of the media types this year. I read a higher percentage of physical books this year because I either re-reading some series (some of the newer Dune books, for example) or catching up on some books which I’ve had for awhile, or weren’t available in an electronic format (such as The Phoenix Legacy).
For audio books, I listened to almost 275 hours during the year, which again, was lower than last.
- The Ballad of Beta-2 by Samuel R. Delany (science fiction)
- The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (science fiction)
- The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (science fiction)
- Children of Dune by Frank Herbert (science fiction)
- The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (science fiction)
- Don’t Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis (mythology)
- (I Samuel)
- (II Samuel)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (science fiction, young adult)
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (science fiction, young adult)
- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (science fiction, young adult)
- Sword of the Lamb by M.K. Wren (science fiction)
- The Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (fantasy)
- The Dark Lord’s Handbook by Paul Dale (fantasy, parody/humor)
- The Changeling by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (fantasy)
- The Rival by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (fantasy)
- Shadow of the Swan by M.K. Wren (science fiction)
- The Resistance by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (fantasy)
- House of the Wolf by M.K. Wren (science fiction)
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare (classics, play)
- Witch & Wizard by James Patterson (fantasy, young adult)
- The Gift by James Patterson (fantasy, young adult)
- Victory by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (fantasy)
- The Black Queen by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (fantasy)
- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (fiction)
- Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (science fiction)
- In Conquest Born by C.S. Friedman (science fiction)
- The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (classics, fiction)
- The Wilding by C.S. Friedman (science fiction)
- Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes (fiction)
- Midshipman Henry Gallant by H. Peter Alesso (science fiction)
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (fiction)
- The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron (fantasy)
- The Spirit Rebellion by Rachel Aaron (fantasy)
- The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron (fantasy)
- Dune by Frank Herbert (science fiction)
- Witch World by Andre Norton (science fiction/fantasy)
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (fantasy, young adult)
- Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (science fiction)
- Children of Dune by Frank Herbert (science fiction)
- The Tudors: The Kings and Queens of England’s Golden Age by Jane Bingham (history)
These are some belated notes on The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, which I made back in April, but am just posting now.
I was very underwhelmed by the story and the series got worse as it went on.
- I didn’t buy the main plot point of using children for the games and glorifying their deaths. I could buy something closer to The Running Man with criminals, but not children.
- I did think it was a good move to have some breaks in time between the books — it doesn’t have to be a continuous narrative
- I appreciated the fact that not all characters are going to make it through alive (although I’m not sure there were any characters that I cared enough about)
- The world building, for me, was too light. A bit of mystery left to the imagination is good but I would have liked to have seen a few more glimpses into how things got to be how they were.
- The second book was essentially a rehash of the first, just worse. The plot for book three was messy, chaotic (not in a good way) and seemed to just fizzle out as if the author ran out of ideas and just decided to stop.
- The love triangle was weak. It went on so long and so angst-y, that I didn’t care anymore.
- For me, it’s easier to read first person narratives with the main character being male, which may be one reason that female readers (including those that may not typically read in the genre) may find it appealing.
- So many of the characters had little depth to them.
- I liked the idea of some of the Machiavellian politics and intrigue, but thought it was underdeveloped in the books
- I think the author needed to introduce a bit of humor from time to time
- What might be interesting is if the author wrote a few additional books or short stories from another point of view — perhaps President Snow, one of the gamemasters, or just someone else in the know — and find out that much of what Katniss though was going on is actually wrong à la the Ender books (Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow are prime examples) by Orson Scott Card.
I haven’t seen the movies yet and might watch the first one if it shows up on Netflix Instant.
Average 2 out of 5 stars (finished April 2011)