2009 Reading Roundup

I’m diving into a new pile of books, but thought I’d take a moment to look back at some of the reading I did in 2009. Sadly, I didn’t read as much as I would like to have. That seems to be a perennial complaint for me of late. Maybe it’s because I am writing more, but I’d like to find a way to balance the two. What follows will not be in any particular order, just as things occur to me.

By far, the standout book of 2009 for me was Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson. It was the first fantasy I’ve read in a long time that pulled me in from the beginning and offered something different. In fact, it’s the first fantasy I’ve read in a long time, period, because I’ve seemed to put them down almost immediately for lack of those elements. The characters in Elantris were highly engaging right from the start, and the situation and conflicts very involving. Sanderson is part of the Writing Excuses podcast team, which I’ve also only recently started following, and I’m really enjoying that as well. It’s like a master class in genre writing, in 15-minute lessons. Highly recommended!

Near the end of 2009 I read The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. This was also a very enjoyable read, in the Steampunk genre, although I found the author’s frequent use of passive voice somewhat distracting. This is probably the writer/editor in me coming out, as most readers likely wouldn’t even notice it, but I found it especially strange since Mann is an editor himself. At any rate, I’ll be looking for future stories about these same characters, as the other elements of the book were good enough to overshadow that one complaint.

In the summer I devoured a batch of Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich. These books are just plain fun, if some of the jokes do get to feel a bit old if you read too many of them at once. Before those, I caught up on some Sue Grafton mysteries, with Q, R, and S in her Kinsey Milhone series. I wonder, when she began writing these, if she thought they would take up so much of her writing career? They’ve certainly been good to her, I think, and I am still enjoying them; she has done a good job of keeping the main character interesting and evolving over so many books. Grafton has made the choice to keep them all in the same time period, though, instead of keeping pace with the times, and I also wonder if this is difficult. Anyway, I hope to keep reading them to the end of the series.

Other good reads from the year included Into the Green by Charles deLint and Marvellous Hairy by Mark A. Rayner. I met Mark at WorldCon in Montreal and heard him do a reading, then had to read the book! It was fun and funny and kind of strange (in a good way!). I’ll be interested to see what he writes next.

In non-fiction, I read most of (still reading) The Language of the Night, by Ursula LeGuin. This is a collection of her essays and lectures on science fiction, and really excellent reading for anyone interested in the genre. Some of them seem a bit dated, but are still very relevant in many ways.

I also listened to some audiobooks last year, including three notable ones: Murder at Avedon Hill by P.G. Holyfield, Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty, and Space Casey by Christiana Ellis. All very different books, but all very enjoyable. And I really love being able to “read” this way when I can’t read, if you know what I mean.

Rounding out the field are a few short story anthologies. I am always surprised at the number of people who say they don’t like reading short stories. I am very fond of them. Last year I read three collections that I really liked: Many Bloody Returns, edited by Charlaine Harris (all stories about vampires and birthdays), My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, edited by P.N. Elrod (all stories about, well, weddings and the supernatural), and Extraordinary Engines, edited by Nick Gevers (steampunk).

And I think this post is long enough now. I’ve just added a new page to the site, The TBR Shelf (see the new link in the right sidebar), to try and keep track of what’s on my to-be-read list, so you can follow along with that if you’d like, and by all means friend me over at Goodreads if you’re a member. Happy reading in 2010!

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