02 January 2010

2009 In Review

I looked at 2009 as a challenge right from the start. Could I read 50 books in a year? I had no idea. I had not read 50 books in the previous ten years. I was able to always have a book in progress during the year. There were a few points where the actual reading of the book slowed to a crawl, but it was always in progress.

I did reach the 50 book goal. I am surprised I reached that goal as early in the year as I did, but then kind of slowed to a more "normal" pace. I think the 50 books is a good goal for the future. It seems like one book per week with two weeks off is quite doable though is not easy. It takes dedication to maintain that kind of reading.

I really enjoyed reading this year. I read books in all kinds of genres. I looked at it like I was exploring the world of literature and trying to catch up with many of those books I should have already read at some point in life, yet somehow failed to complete. It was not only fun, but it allowed me to put check marks in some blocks that I had ignored in the checklist of stuff to do before I die.

So, to finish up 2009 and put it behind me I am going to do a little review. I read some books that still are in my mind (they were that good), some that were just plain stinky, some that had scenes that still haunt me, and some big surprises in both the good and bad categories.

So, here goes:

The book that really surprised me at how memorable it has been: The Iron Tracks by Aharon Appelfeld. I read this book a year ago and it is solidly stuck in the forefront of my memory.

One of the best books I have ever read is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I was surprised because it was a "best seller" and those can be quite the disappointment.

In The Cobra Event by Richard Preston there was a scene where the man was stuck in a tunnel that still gives me nightmares.

July was the best quality reading month overall. That month I read ten books including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, Night by Elie Wiesel, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Ivan Denisovich is one of the best books I have ever read. Right there with The Kite Runner.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was nothing like I had expected and was awesome.

I had heard of Kurt Vonnegut and had only ever read Slaughter-House Five. Mother Night kicked it's ass. I have since purchased eight more Vonnegut novels and will go on a Vonnegut tear probably this year.

Lolita was an outstanding work about a subject matter that was difficult to read about. It really tore me up inside emotionally. Sickness? Hate him? Sympathy? Empathy? Morality? Arrgghhhh! It was quite a book.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave was an amazing book that everyone should read.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and Anthem by Ayn Rand were also outstanding and very memorable.

Then there was that horrific Oliver Stone piece of shit that I could not finish. Very memorable, but not in a good way.

The biggest waste of time may have been Head Count by Brian Duffy. I chose this one because when I think about what book was the stupidest use of my reading time...this one always comes to mind first.

The biggest disappointment had to be On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I have heard about this book repeatedly in my life. I have heard how it was so influential...and I think it stunk!

So, that's it for 2009. Now on to 2010. I doubt I will maintain the pace set in 2009, but I will still try to reach the 50 book goal.

Also, in 2009 I tried to spread the wealth a little and not repeat authors. That left me with some books sitting on the shelves that I really want to read. Vonnegut for one. A Thousand Splendid Suns has been sitting on the shelf for almost a year and taunting me. Atlas Shrugged has been doing the same. Faulkner, Hemingway and Sherman Alexie got caught in that no repeating problem I created also. I am lifting the self-imposed no repeating authors clause for 2010. :-)

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