|By Brandon Watson||
|January 2, 2013 09:06 AM EST||
Since moving over to Amazon, I have been reading quite a bit more than I have been blogging. There’s good and bad to that, but the upside is that I have discovered many new authors, explored many new ideas, and have a seemingly endless supply of suggestions to the inquiry “what should I read next?” During 2012 I did a great deal of reading, but also took advantage of Audible on my phone and Fire HD for my commutes to listen to some great books as well. Here’s my 2012 reading list, approximately in the order completed during the year. The grand total came out to 48 books inclusive of novels, graphic novels and audio books. I put down 2 titles that I couldn’t finish.
|Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Quick Review: Nice throwback to pop culture and video games, but ultimately the story labored under the weight of a lack of a clear focus. This felt like a child’s version of Reamde by Neal Stephenson.
|Title: Wool – Book 1
Rating: 3/5 stars
Quick Review: This book came recommended to me repeatedly on Amazon. The first one was interesting, but…
|Title: The Mote in God’s Eye
Author: Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Quick Review: I did not grow up reading Niven or Pournelle, and discovered Pournelle via his many appearances on TWiT. The story started very well, and captured my interest. Once they were down on the planet surface (2/3 of the way through the book), the pacing and story telling fell apart. I was disappointed with how hard it was to finish the book, but again, given the date of publishing, I give them both a huge nod, and look forward to starting Lucifer’s Hammer this year.
|Title: The Blade Itself
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Rating: 4/5 stars
Quick Review: I had never heard of Abercrombie before hearing his name used on the Sword and Laser podcast. I picked up this book and loved it. It’s a bit long, which is one reason it didn’t rate higher. Than and the strange side love story. The ending was unexpected and pretty awesome, and I look forward to reading book 2 – Before They Are Hanged – this year, as well as starting Red Country.
|Title: After Friday Night Lights
Author: Buzz Bissinger
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Quick Review: Great follow up to the original story. Whenever I read historical retellings, I always wonder what became of those involved. This is a harsh look at life after football for a fallen star with minimal life skills as a result of the high school football machine.
|Title: Love Yourself
Author: Kamal Ravikant
Rating: 1/5/5 stars
Quick Review: I found this title via a blog post, and it was cheap enough that I decided to hear why Tim Ferris thought so much of the title. Given my disdain for Ferris as an author and a self promoter, I should have known better. Shame on me I guess.
|Title: Roadside Picnic
Author: Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Quick Review: Also discovered via the Sword and Laser podcast. What an incredible premise for a story, and I loved it. There is no doubt in my mind that the translation loses something from the native Russian. There were sequences where I could hear the authors voice and I heard Russian inflections in my head. Great story. Some things were a little hard to parse, and I resorted to a wiki page to make sure I was interpreting certain events correctly. The only real issue is the ending which was just…odd. Not Stephen King bad, just odd.
|Title: Kill Decision
Author: Daniel Suarez
Rating: 4/5 stars
Quick Review: The story premise was an interesting one, but this was not as strong an effort as Daemon or Freedom. Very unique and fresh ideas, but it felt like this one relied too much on technological whiz bangery than veering off into the “not there yet” level of technology to allow for a bit of escapism in the story. It almost felt like Suarez was ready to be there by your side as you finished every chapter to say “heh? uh? pretty cool right??”
|Title: Justice League Dark
Author: Peter Milligan, Mikel Janin, Ryan Sook
Rating: 1.5/5 stars
Quick Review: Again, not a big DC Universe guy, but this one failed to capture my interest in any meaningful way. I finished it, but I can’t tell you why.
|Title: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Author: Jack Weatherford
Rating: 4/5 stars
Quick Review: I got sucked into the history of Genghis Khan through the fictionalized accounts of his life by Conn Iggulden, starting with Genghis: Birth of an Empire. The historical fiction was nice, but this was a very detailed, and historically accurate, recount of the life of Genghis. You can tell that there was tons of research effort which went into this title.
|Title: Old Man’s War
Author: John Scalzi
Rating: 4/5 stars
Quick Review: I keep hearing Scalzi’s name. He seems to be everywhere these days. While I slog through Red Shirts, I wanted to give Scalzi a chance at pre-redemption. This story has done quite a bit more to capture my attention and interest than he has done thus far with Red Shirts. I appreciate that he attempts to tackle challenging social issues combined with a post-industrial neo-colonialism.
Author: Brian K. Vaughn, Fiona Staples
Rating: 4/5 stars
Quick Review: After reading Y: The Last Man, I eagerly awaited a next opportunity to read anything from Vaughn. If you haven’t read that whole series, stop what you are doing right now and order it. It’s great story telling with a beginning a middle and an end. Something Robert Kirkman could learn. Pride of Badhdad left me wanting in a major way, so when I heard about Saga, I was hoping for the best. The first trade paperback was interesting and compelling, and I await the opportunity to read book 2.
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Quick Review: I loved the book Seabiscut when it came out. The story came alive, and Laura Hillenbrand demonstrated her talents for constructing a narrative of past events, allowing the reader to relive them as if they were there. She continued this with Unbroken, an amazing tale of survival and hardship of a WWII bomber crew. Simply incredible.
|Title: Unintended Consequences
Author: Edward Conard
Rating: 3/5 stars
Quick Review: An ultimately forgettable economics book which tries to follow in the footsteps blazed by Freakanomics. Maybe it’s because my schooling and work background makes the content of the book a bit pedestrian, but I wasn’t challenged by the content. Unlike The Big Short by Lewis, it lacks characters upon which the story is built, which made covering a known corpus of content all the more interesting because of the players involved.
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