The Account of a Lifetime

December 31, 2012

Reading Digest & Review: 2012

I’m primarily a BL reader. That’s the ‘main side’ to my hobby of reading, if you will. Or rather, it’s the hobby component of my reading – I love reading generally, but Black Library gets a special place in my heart. Is it convenience? Is it their happy-go-lucky, whimsical charm? Who knows. In any case, I decided to root-out the BL books and keep only the top ones of those, one each from their Fantasy and 40,000 settings.

The rest, however, are ‘merely’ books which I read this year, and given how few there are it’d be churlish to try’n pick out highlights. I’m fortunate, to a large extent, in that the non-BL books I have read this year have all turned out to be pretty decent in one way or another – certainly all have been worth the read, almost all much more than merely ‘worth’ it.

So, in reading order and without further ado:

Legion of the Damned by Rob Sanders.
Warhammer 40,000 at its best and most vividly imaginative.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.
A thoroughly enjoyable & readable handbook for everyone who has an interest in critical thinking. Or even just having your brain poked. There’s always many somethings to be said for stimulating reads.

Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren.
Thoroughly imaginative and strangely engrossing, almost dreamlike speculative fiction.

Paradise by AL Kennedy.
Life through the eyes of a fictional alcoholic – witty, grim and compelling.

Dead Winter by CL Werner.
Sedate, thorough and striking. This is Warhammer with politics, an awful sense of everything unravelling and an excellent exploration of slow-moving plots masquerading as natural disaster.

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov.
There’s little I could say that’s not been said better except: I wish I’d read this much sooner!

Slights by Kaaron Warren.
Weird & disturbing, it’s very nice to be wholly out of my comfort zone and still impressed.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.
Beautifully written & deeply thoughtful. It’d be a lie to say less than ‘I loved this book’.

The 34th Rule by Armin Shimmerman.
A welcome return to Star Trek for me, makes good use of good characters and pits them into an intriguing story.

They Shall Have The Stars by James Blish.
Again, like F&E, I wish I’d read this long ago. The vision it displays is quite remarkable.

Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov.
It ran with all the details and thoughtfulness of F&E, then added in a much tighter story, much more engaging characters and, critically, perhaps one of the most memorable would-be Galactic Overlords known in fiction.

A Life for the Stars by James Blish.
Somewhat less visionary than the first “Cities in Flight” book, but nevertheless you feel the story going places much more quickly.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
Really, what can I say? I can see why it’s on so many curricula.

The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen J Gould.
Simply an excellent and well-crafted tour through the history of the study of intelligence (or rather: the measure of intelligence).

God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.
Preaching to the choir, certainly, I always enjoyed listening to and reading this Hitchens. He was a powerful writer, perhaps moreso than anyone else I’ve read. Certainly not someone I always agree with but… deary me.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.
An absolute hoot, albeit decidedly disturbing whilst keeping me entertained, stimulated and informed. Psychopaths, they’re a very strange ‘breed’.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.
Well now. Endearing, much tighter and less bloated than its big cousins, this has charm, wit and innovation brimming up to and out of the pages.

And with that, I’ll peruse some of the other things sitting about my house. What to read on the final day of the year, hmm?

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