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2012: The Year in Reading

January 29, 2013

Once more into the breach! Every year, I post a list of all the books I’ve read the previous year. Although these posts receive little fanfare or repeat traffic, I enjoy doing them for myself. Those interested can also read 2011, 2010 and 2009.

I’m going to break out the books into categories, with some brief notes on each. As with last year, I’ve added some tables at the bottom that break down and compare subjects, authors, and series/imprints for every year since 2009 (the year I started recording the date I read a book).

This was definitely the year of Robert E. Howard, dominating my reading with 19 books total. I went on a serious fantasy/sci-fi/pulp binge, and it shows in the numbers.

Fantasy

Patricia Briggs. River Marked. (Mercy Thompson)
It felt like a conclusion to the series, but I doubt a money-maker like this will be allowed to retire. I think there’s more adventures on the way for Mercy. Great series, and although this one started slow, it ended strong.

Jim Butcher. Changes. (The Dresden Files)
A very dark book, with a tragic ending. The action is fairly intense, but it’s the decisions that Dresden makes at the end of the book that leave you gasping for breath. It’s safe to say that every book in the series to this point was prelude, and we are now getting to the meat of the series.

Jim Butcher. Ghost Story. (The Dresden Files)
This is it, the start of the end game for the series. Harry’s life changes in many ways, and I doubt we’ll see much of the supporting cast that has grown in the series from this point forward. At least for a while. The next book in the series will probably be a page-turner. Can’t wait.

Jim Butcher. Small Favor. (The Dresden Files)
The stakes just keep getting higher. A fast book, full of twists and turns. Butcher’s series blends the best of hard-boiled noir with fantasy.

Jim Butcher. Turn Coat. (The Dresden Files)
This is probably the turning point in the series, ending the stories of several characters that were key in the first books. It also sets up the major plotlines that I suspect Butcher will follow as the series progresses.

Nancy A. Collins. Left Hand Magic. (Golgotham)
A good follow-up to the first, but Collins seems to be using up her villians a little too quickly. Looking forward to the third.

Nancy A. Collins. Right Hand Magic. (Golgotham)
A great start to a new series, but very much unlike the splatterpunk ethos of the Sonja Blue novels, her previous series. I liked it, but it took a little too much time setting up the supporting cast. I hope the direction of the series starts to become clearer in the next book.

Gardner F. Fox. Kyrik and the Wizard’s Sword. (Kyrik)
This is the last book in the series, which I’ve managed to read first. Fox is a comics legend, responsible for Hawkman and the first ‘super-group’, the Justice League. He was also a prolific novelist, and this is good, straight-ahead sword-and-sorcery, Conan-style adventure.

Gardner F. Fox. Thief of Llarn.
A decent read, but not much more. Fox gets in quite a few digs on ‘the weaker, fairer sex’ here…it was written for a different reader in a different time. This is probably the most recent of the planetary romance genre, started by Burroughs, but not the grandest.

Gardner F. Fox. Warrior of Llarn.
A fairly predictable read, very much modeled after Burroughs Mars series. While not offering much originality, it does offer a quick pace, a lot of action, and interesting characters.

Robert E. Howard. Almuric.
Muscular, straight-ahead, no-holds-barred sword and sorcery. Lots of heaving biceps and dainty women, with every argument settled with fighting. Lots of fighting. The cultural biases of an earlier age are sometimes hard to deal with, but if you can get past that, it’s a good book.

Robert E. Howard. Beyond the Borders. (Baen Robert E. Howard Library)
A mixed bag of modern fantasy and horror stories. Some good, some bad. This is Volume 7 of a collection that petered out after exhausting the more popular Howard stories in previous volumes.

Robert E. Howard. Bran Mak Morn.
Bran is part of the second string characters that Howard wrote about, which also includes Solomon Kane and Cormac Mac Art. There are some good stories, centered around the struggle to remove Roman rule from the British Isles. While not even remotely historically accurate, Howard knew enough of the real history to make the non-fantastical elements plausible. The action is ferocious, and the stories read fast.

Robert E. Howard. Cormac Mac Art. (Baen Robert E. Howard Library)
Cormac is one of the later Howard creations, and he only wrote a few stories about the character before his death. The rest of the book is padded out with a David Drake pastiche, and a few story outlines. This is book one in the Baen Howard library, and was probably not the best introduction.

Robert E. Howard. Eons of the Night. (Baen Robert E. Howard Library)
More blood and guts, this time in mostly ancient times. Very little fantasy, just straight-ahead fighting, “mighty thews”, and cringing women. The racism and female stereotypes make reading his material hard in this day and age, but I tend to side with most Howard apologists…what he lacks in political correctness, he more than makes up for in sheer action, inventiveness, and velocity.

Robert E. Howard. King Kull.
Almost all of the Kull stories in one book. Kull is almost the same as Conan, but with a more sombre, almost existentialist tone. While the adventures are full of plotting, angst, and intrigue, once Kull picks up his sword, all the self-reflection gets washed away by buckets of blood and gore. Not as good as Conan or Solomon Kane, but good nonetheless.

Robert E. Howard and Joe R. Lansdale (introduction). People of the Dark. (The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard)
This series ended up being issued in paperback first, then re-issued in trade, with the stories being broken up across more books. This contains less material than the paperback with the same name. More straight-ahead, kick-in-the-door and kill everything that moves fantasy. Great stuff.

Robert E. Howard. Shadow Kingdoms: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume 1. (The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard)
The series presents the bulk of Howard’s work for Weird Tales magazine. The collection is a little uneven (I could have done without his poetry), but there is a lot of good material here.

Robert E. Howard. Skull-Face and Others: Volume 1. (Skull-Face Omnibus)
The racism of the era comes to the fore in otherwise well-written pulp tales. There are a few stories that are very difficult to get through.

Robert E. Howard. The Dark Man and Others.
A good collection, but the racism rampant in that era comes fully to the surface in a few stories. Not a gentle introduction to Howard’s work. None of his signature characters are featured here, but the stories chosen are no less entertaining for that.

Robert E. Howard. The Hand of Kane. (Solomon Kane) (Centaur Press Time-Lost Series)
A good book, but a few of the stories were left unfinished at his death, and presented as-is. It made the book feel a little half-baked.

Robert E. Howard. The Haunter of the Ring & Other Tales. (Woodsworth Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
A decent blend of long and short stories, mostly set in the modern era. A good introduction to Howard.

Robert E. Howard. The Moon of Skulls. (Solomon Kane) (Centaur Press Time-Lost Series)
A great collection of solid action-adventure with supernatural overtones. Yes, Howard displays the prejudices against women and race common to pulp stories from that era, but it isn’t as extreme as some other writers. Solomon Kane wasn’t his greatest hero, but one of his most popular. A good book.

Robert E. Howard. The Right Hand of Doom and Other Tales of Solomon Kane. (Solomon Kane) (Woodsworth Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
Solomon has become one of my favorite Howard characters. Moody, intense, and obsessed with vengeance…my kind of guy. This is most of the short stuff, and a good intro to Solomon.

Robert E. Howard. The Second Book of Robert E. Howard Volume 2.
I have no idea what the Volume 2 indicates in the title. I imagine that the first book of REH was labelled Volume 1. This ranges over a lot of ground, covering his poetry, western, and boxing tales as well as his straight-ahead heroic fantasy. A decent read, but uneven if all you’re looking for is the barbarians.

Robert E. Howard. The Sword Woman.
A collection about a lesser-known character, and a few unfinished pieces. Good straightforward action stories with historical settings. Probably not the best place to start with Howard.

Robert E. Howard. The Valley of the Worm and Others: Volume 2. (Skull-Face Omnibus)
A good selection, but I have already read most of the stories.

Robert E. Howard. Trails in Darkness. (Baen Robert E. Howard Library)
A decent selection of horror and fantasy tales set in North America in the 1930’s. While the quality is not completely even, some of Howard’s best modern shorts are represented.

Robert E. Howard. Wolfshead.
I actually bought this book twice, each edition with slightly different contents. Either is a good choice, with a mix of fantasy/horror tales that are sharp, quick and engrossing reads.

Abraham Merritt. The Ship of Ishtar.
A great book, full of highly imaginative fare. The women get short shrift, and it drags in many places, but you can see the chrysalis of many modern fantasy tales in this book. This may not be ‘the’ Merritt book to read, but anyone interested in fantasy should at least read one of his books.

C. L. Moore. Jirel of Joiry.
The first few stories were very difficult to get through, but it improves noticably towards the end. Jirel was one of the first female leads in the realm of swords-and-sorcery fantasy, and she would give Conan more than a fair fight.

J. F. Rivkin. Silverglass. (Silverglass)
A good story, with strong female leads who may or may not be in love with each other. This books is apparently on many LGBT reading lists. Lots of action, and a very subtle and different magic system. Worth the price of admission.

J. F. Rivkin. Web of Wind. (Silverglass)
A good second book. The series is not epic, with worlds hanging in the balance, but it’s better for that. The two heroines are three-dimensional and quirky, and the world is very well thought-out.

Science Fiction

Leigh Brackett. The Big Jump.
A great book, combining a gritty noir detective story with science fiction. Brackett wrote a lot of mysteries, and it shows here. A great concept for first contact sci-fi, and a ton of compelling characters.

Leigh Brackett. The Ginger Star. (Skaith)
The Planet Skaith trilogy prominently features Eric John Stark, Brackett’s answer to Burrough’s John Carter. This is very well-written, but I found myself a little wearied by the pace. It’s a story that feels artificially expanded to trilogy-length that could just as easily have been a single book.

Leigh Brackett. The Secret of Sinharat / People of the Talisman. (Eric John Stark)
Brackett created a whole mythology surrounding the exploration of the solar system, and this features adventures on Mars. Stark was her barbarian foil for many adventures, and he hacks his way across the Martian desert and polar regions with equal relish here. Great fun, tightly written, and a great cast. This is two different novels marketed by Ace in their “Ace Double” line.

Leigh Brackett. The Sword of Rhiannon.
A great read. Another of the many Martian swords-and-sorcery adventures that came out in the early-to-mid twentieth century. Brackett keeps the action moving and although the female lead is a little wooden, the books is grand.

Edgar Rice Burroughs. A Princess of Mars. (John Carter of Mars)
Not quite as fast-paced as Robert Howards, but good science-fantasy from an acknowledged master. A bit too many coincidences for my tastes. Generally, though, a good book.

Edgar Rice Burroughs. Beyond the Farthest Star.
This was one of the last stories that Burroughs started, but never lived to complete. Near the end of his life, Burroughs was asked to cover the Pacific Theatre as a journalist. It radically changed his attitude towards war, and this book captured his feelings perfectly.

Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter of Mars. (John Carter of Mars)
The last book in the ‘mars’ series, but the stories are placed outside of the normal chronology, with the last starting a new series with John Carter on Jupiter. A hint of what could have been if Burroughs hadn’t passed away.

Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Gods of Mars. (John Carter of Mars)
As much adventure and strangeness as in the first, but much of the plot hinged on almost-absurd coincidences. A fast read, ending on a cliff-hanger.

Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Warlord of Mars. (John Carter of Mars)
Concludes the first trilogy in the series. All the bad guys die satisfying deaths, all the good guys get the girl. While I can see why the series is so popular and imitated, you can probably get away with more modern series that leave the colonial and victorian anachronisms behind.

Lin Carter. Thongor and the Wizard of Lemuria. (Thongor)
All the ingredients, but unfortunately a not very satisfying book. Almost every plotline hinged on almost superhumanly absurd coincidences and flimsy excuses. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

Harry Harrison. Homeworld. (To the Stars)
Author of the Stainless Steel Rat series, Harrison is known for tight plots and lots of action. Homeworld is a good start to this series, if a little slow.

Harry Harrison. Starworld. (To the Stars)
Not the best conclusion to the series. The buildup seemed to require more action, and a more satisfying end to the villian. The series is a quick read, and has it’s good moments.

Harry Harrison. Wheelworld. (To the Stars)
A good second book that sets up for the climax.

Henry Kuttner. The Creature From Beyond Infinity.
A horrible name for a fairly enjoyable book. Written in the 1940’s, many of its assumptions regarding technology are dated, but the storytelling isn’t.

Henry Kuttner. The Dark World.
A good book that moves fast. Maybe too fast. The book ends so quickly, you hardly have time to get introduced into the world. Even so, it’s a great blend of mythology and sci-fi.

Adam Lebowitz and Robert Bonchune. Star Trek: Starship Spotter.
Hey, I love the technical manuals. Found this at Goodwill for a toonie, and had to get it. This isn’t one of the better technical manuals, but had some deets on some of the more obscure ships you see in the background of the big battle scenes.

Fritz Leiber. The Big Time.
It felt too long, like a short story that was artificially stretched to be a third longer than it needed to be. A good read, with lots of good ideas.

Roger McKenzie and Ernie Colon (artist). Marvel Comics Group Presents: Battlestar Galactica.
This was the first few issues of the Marvel Comics adaptation of the original 1970’s film, cut to fit into paperback format. Badly cut. A lot of the panels make no sense, and it’s hard to follow the story, even when you know what it is. There’s also a set of essays on the television show. It’s a bit of 70’s nostalgia, bought for a dollar at Goodwill.

C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner. Earth’s Last Citadel. (Ace Great Years)
Nothing exceptional, but a decent, quick read.

Joanna Russ. Picnic on Paradise.
This is supposedly ‘feminist’ sci-fi, but I have to admit that I can’t see it that way. It does have a very strong, three-dimensional female lead, both aggressive in defending herself and going after what she wants, but there isn’t anything specifically political about that. The story didn’t seem to have much point, beyond a lot of sex and drugs. Well-written, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it.

Clifford D. Simak. The Trouble with Tycho.
This was really a novella, padded out to book length by adding blank pages between chapters and other typographical tricks. No less entertaining for that. Simak is a great author, with a clear ear for dialogue, and a love for his characters. It did feel, though, that this should have been part of a collection.

Clifford D. Simak. Worlds Without End.
A good collection of longer work, two novellas and a short story. “Full Cycle” is the standout in this collection, depicting a future America where the population has become entirely nomadic. It seems more relevant now, in an age where all you really need to pack is your laptop, and you can work anywhere.

Jack Vance. The Dragonmasters.
A good book. I’m a bit surprised, as the few other books I’ve read from Vance have been mediocre at best. This is a novella that you can get through quickly, but it’s good.

Jules Verne. Master of the World.
This is a sequel to an earlier work. I can’t say it was brilliant, but it is an example of some of the earliest science fiction to be written. Victorian-era morals come through clearly in the text. If you’re a steampunk, you’ll love it.

Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff (illustrator) and Chris Trevas (illustrator). Millennium Falcon: Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manual. (Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manual)
I found this to not be as satisfying as the Star Trek manuals. But that’s probably because Star Wars is more science fantasy than it is science fiction. The illustrations were awesome, and while it lacked in ‘science’, it more than made up for it in history and choice tidbits.

Poetry

Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Landscapes of Living and Dying.
A little bland. This is a later book, and there isn’t much thematic difference between this and his earlier poetry. While he gets an ‘A’ for consistency, there isn’t much reason to choose this over earlier, more dynamic collections.

Irving Layton. Droppings From Heaven.
A later book, and although it had a few good moments, it wasn’t for me. I had the feeling he was going over the same ground he had covered in previous books (at least, the ones I had read), and it didn’t hold my interest.

Irving Layton. The Pole-Vaulter.
My interest in Layton has cooled, and I didn’t get much out of this collection, other than it’s possible to write poetry with a lot of foul language. I’m not ready to right him off, as most of the work I’ve read is from his later period, and I think the gold may be from his earlier years.

Dorothy Parker. Death and Taxes.
Not as satisfying as Enough Rope, but just as acerbic. Both are very quick reads, available in omnibus editions, and recommended.

Kenneth Patchen. The Love Poems of Kenneth Patchen.
Not a particularly good collection. I like the Beats, but the quality is notoriously uneven. Given their penchant for very little editing and revision, this is a given you have to accept. However, I was hoping for more from a ‘cherry-picked’ collection of choice cuts.

Tomas Tranströmer. The Sorrow Gondola. (Green Integer)
Not very satisfying. I think you have to be in a certain frame of mind to appreciate this type of work. It was written shortly after Tranströmer had a stroke, and the themes of mortality, aging, and loss are apparent.

Politics

Noam Chomsky. Occupy. (Occupied Media Pamphlet Series)
A brilliant set of speeches, essays, and interviews on the Occupy movement, curent politics, and the methods of resistance. While Chomsky’s trademark avoidance of offering solutions continues, his lucid analysis and optimism feel right for this moment. I highly recommend the book.

Terry Eagleton. Why Marx Was Right.
Eagleton is slightly less acerbic in this book, but not necessarily at his most convincing. He’s very clear regarding his bias, but his love for the subject matter sometimes gets in the way. His argument would have carried more force if he delved deeper into the causes of Stalinism and other failed experiments in communism.

Oliver Stone (interviewer) and Tariq Ali. On History.
Stone interviewed Ali during and inbetween several of his documentary projects. I’m not sure I agree with either of them regarding their conclusions, but this is a great book regarding Latin American politics.

The Invisible Committee. The Coming Insurrection. (Semiotext(e) Intervention Series)
A bit hard in places, and there’s a lot of half-baked politics. It’s longer than it ought to be, but it raises a lot of good points. This is the primary ‘evidence’ against a group charged with terrorism in France, and it’s only till you get to the last few chapters that there is any talk of weapons or insurrection. This has been labelled as ‘ultra-left’, but the politics discussed are more clearly part of the anarchist tradition than socialist.

Howard Zinn. The Bomb. (City Lights Open Media Series)
A series of brief essays regarding Zinn’s involvement as a WWII airman, and his thoughts regarding nuclear weapons. Zinn is candid in the level of destruction he was responsible for, and it informs his later decisions regarding passive resistance and anti-nuclear stance. A quick read by an American legend.

Photography

Robert Adams. Along Some Rivers: Photographs and Conversations.
A collection of (very) short interviews with Adams, which didn’t feel very compelling. Adams is a tough nut to crack, as he is as well-known for his essays on photography as he is for his photography, and both seem to have divergent fan bases. He is a calm voice of reason in a sometimes very callous and ephemeral art and culture industry. This is a very brief introduction that includes a collection of his photographs.

Eugène Atget. Paris.
Atget spent almost the entire latter part of his life photographing Paris, and this is a representative cross-section of his prints. While it’s compelling architectural photography, it didn’t generate much feeling for me. For anyone interested in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, this is a great book.

Jeremy Kai. Rivers Forgotten.
Kai charts the sewers and drainways of Toronto. A lot of what looks like HDR photography here, and well done. It’s a portrait of Toronto that most rarely see. Maybe not worth the price of admission, but I’d still recommend a trip to the local library for some quiet perusal.

Paolo Roversi. Paolo Roversi. (Thames & Hudson Photofile)

Philosophy

Jean Baudrillard. Passwords.
Actually a good book. A series of small essays, written shortly before his death, with no notion of being a summation. Instead, a selection of topics that have interested him throughout his career in ideas. A little expensive for the amount of material, but the writing is surprisingly clear, conversational, and full of ideas.

Simon Critchley. The Book of Dead Philosophers.
A great book that covers a lot of ground, geographically and temporally. Critchley looks at philosophy by studying their deaths, revealing that sometimes a person’s last act can tell us more about living than their lives. Often riotously funny, always humane, this is a highly recommended book.

Terry Eagleton. Figures of Dissent: Reviewing Fish, Spivak, Žižek and Others.
A collection of Eagleton’s book reviews. This was a little uneven, but it shows the things Eagleton pursues on a regular basis. Much of what you see here is recast in longer (and more compelling) form in his books over the last 10 years. While an introduction to his thought, you would be better served diving in to one of his longer works.

Paul Virilio and Bertrand Richard (interviewer). The Administration of Fear. (Semiotext(e) Intervention Series)
Not as turgid as I would have thought. Virilio is normally a horrible stylist, this book of short interviews clears some of the cobwebs. He ranges over many of the ideas he’s developed in other books, and I came away feeling this was an honest attempt to communicate to the general public.

Computers

Dan Cederholm. CSS3 for Web Designers.
The book largely focussed on practical applications of CSS3 that can be applied now, and as such, it didn’t cover a very broad range. What it did cover was well-written, and adds a few more tricks to a developer’s arsenal that are quick and relevant to daily tasks. While I was hoping for a bit more coverage, it’s still a good book. Maybe not worth the price of a print edition, but well worth the price of a digital edition.

Paul E. Ceruzzi. Computing: A Concise History.
The book’s title is very accurate, as the author ranges across over a hundred years of history, from The Difference Engine to Facebook. Although brief, the overview is very useful and mostly unbiased. A quick read that gives the basic high points of the history of computers.

Cory Doctorow. Context.
A series of reprinted posts from his blog. Doctorow fails to seize the opportunity to enlarge his original discussions by expanding them with the room afforded in a book. There are enough smaller gems to give this teeth, but they aren’t very sharp. I also tend to disagree on many of his conclusions regarding copyright.

Book Arts

Jacques Bonnet. Phantoms on the Bookshelf.
A short and wonderful about the pleasures (and addiction!) of building a personal library. The author ranges through centuries of history as he discusses the books on his shelves. While our tastes in authors share little overlap, we share his love of books and mania for collecting.

Gary Lovisi. Dames, Dolls & Delinquents.
A book on soft-core, romance, crime and generally lurid paperbacks from the 1950’s and 60’s. It’s surprising how many connections between sci-fi, fantasy, comic books, pulp and porn there actually are. There’s very little in this book that would be considered shocking today. Except the prices. The men and women who bought these in good condition back in the day and kept them that way are sitting on a small fortune. I, alas, can only afford this book.

Architecture

Doug Patt. How to Architect.
A very short book on architecture, with 26 chapters, each a letter of the alphabet (“A is for Asymmetry”, “J is for Juncture”, etc). Although not as good as Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, it’s a respectable read, and everyone in the field of software or internet\mobile development owes themselves a favor by reading both. Recommended.

Ma Yansong and Jérôme Sans (interviewer). Bright City.
A quick read. Yansong is one of the few Chinese architects operating internationally, and some of his work is being completed in Mississauga. It doesn’t quite scratch far enough below the surface to warrant a second read, but some of his notions regarding traditional architecture are interesting enough.

Art

Marc Leverton. Banksy Myths and Legends.
A series of shaggy dog stories, statistics, and hearsay regarding Banksy. A lot of the information is suspect, but it’s a fun read, with a lot of supporting photographs. A pocket book of Banksy art and bollocks. Maybe not worth buying new, but great fun, nonetheless.

Mark Munson and Steve Cardwell. Skateboard Stickers.
I love patches, and stickers are a close cousin. While I’ve never been able to learn how to skate in any form (ice, roller, blade, board), I’ve always loved skateboards, BMX’s, and the 80’s counter-culture, DIY ethos they generated. This is a great collection of trivia, history, and plenty of stickers. Great book.

Business

Paul Krugman, David Rosenberg, Lawrence Summers, Ian Bremmer, Rudyard Griffiths (editor) and Patrick Luciani (editor). North America’s Lost Decade?. (Munk Debates)
A slim book that has some meat. The topic of the debate was whether North America was facing a decade or more of stagnation, similar to Japan’s experience since the early 90’s. Although the Summers/Bremmer team managed to convince the audience that it wasn’t, I felt that Krugman/Rosenberg had the better arguments. Neither side was willing to directly address whether the digital economy changes the economic game. And neither was willing to discuss the topic of military and weapons spending. I don’t think these are minor quibbles, as continued military spending and market deregulation in support of new industries form the backbone of conservative fiscal policy. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear the arguments.

John Quiggin. Zombie Economics.
This is a great book that ties together all the ideas that have dominated economics and government policy for the last four decades, and then summarily demolishes most of them. Although Quiggin uses a lot of jargon, which causes the book to slow down in many places, he strikes a good balance between writing for a technical and general audience. I think the biggest fail point is the almost non-existant discussion of post-industrial economics, and whether it has any effect on traditional Keynesian economics (I think it does). Other than that, it`s a fascinating read. Highly recommended.

Essays

Sven Birkerts. The Other Walk.
A series of quiet essays. Meditations on life, writing, and aging. Birkerts takes the pains and pleasures of small moments and crystallizes them with a simple, direct style that keeps you interested. A good book for lazy days.

Interview

Simon Critchley. Impossible Objects.
A collection of interviews (some previously unpublished) that span Critchley’s career, this is a good introduction to his thought. The selection could have included a few longer interviews, as many end just as the conversation becomes interesting. This book covers a lot of modern philosophy in an accessible style, and is recommended.

Travel

Paul Gauguin. Noa Noa.
Gauguin spent the last years of his life in Tahiti, and this is one of his travelogues. Full of local colour and, unfortunately, the prejudices of the age of empire, it is a great book and a quick read.

Literary Criticism

C. S. Lewis. An Experiment in Criticism.
A good book, if a little half-baked. His argument that there are good readers and bad readers, and that a good reader can pull more meaning out of a bad book than a bad reader can from a good one is interesting. I’m not sure I agree, but his defense of genre and pulp fiction is better argued than many others.

Memoir

Geoff Nicholson. The Lost Art of Walking.
I wasn’t sure whether to place this in memoir, essays, or sports. This is a collection of inter-linked meditations on walking for pleasure, competition, sport, and sometimes even art. The author ranges over a lot of territory, but ultimately doesn’t scratch very far below the surface, opting for reportage rather than conclusions or synthesis.

Military

Trevor Paglen. I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me.
A book of patches that have been unofficially leaked from classified US military projects. The author is the first to note that almost all the information in the book could be false, but the book is still compelling. For patch buffs, owning even a few of these would be awesome.

Science

C. P. Snow. The Two Cultures: and a Second Look.
This book is legendary in regards to it’s subject matter, but it left me cold and feeling antagonistic towards the author. He had some good points to make, but his endlessly optimistic tone and assertion that all science and all technology are inherently good and contain nothing but the truth has been called heavily into question in the decades since this book has been written. To be fair, Snow didn’t live to see the last few decades. But I can’t but feel his attitude would remain the same. If you are interested in how technology and science effect culture, this book is a must-read, even if you disagree with it.

Writing

Mindi White. Getting Past Me: A Writer’s Guide to Production Company Readers.
I would love to say I have a screenplay in me, but, frankly, I don’t. I thought this would be a little more informative, but it’s actually a collection of personal preferences and irritations from someone who feels bitter and defensive. This may be the only book to exclusively cover the subject, but there are better books on writing screenplays, and this has almost nothing of value. Not recommended.

Subjects

Subject 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
Fantasy 6 17 9 33 65
Photography 13 29 6 4 52
Science Fiction 9 0 15 25 49
Poetry 14 10 7 6 37
Politics 17 2 6 5 30
Philosophy 11 9 4 4 28
Fiction 4 10 3 0 17
Book Arts 7 2 5 2 16
Essays 1 6 7 1 15
Literary Criticism 8 1 4 1 14
Business 5 3 4 2 14
Interview 7 2 3 1 13
Computers 1 3 4 3 11
Religion 4 3 1 0 8
Biography 3 2 2 0 7
Art 3 0 2 2 7
Sociology 0 4 1 0 5
Comics 0 0 4 0 4
Cooking 3 1 0 0 4
Quotations 1 1 2 0 4
Travel 3 0 0 1 4
Memoir 3 0 0 1 4
Psychology 2 1 0 0 3
Architecture 0 0 1 2 3
Design 0 1 1 0 2
Film 1 1 0 0 2
Sports 0 1 1 0 2
Science 1 0 0 1 2
Childrens 1 0 0 0 1
Drama 0 1 0 0 1
History 1 0 0 0 1
Humor 0 1 0 0 1
Music 1 0 0 0 1
Mystery 0 0 1 0 1
Military 0 0 0 1 1
Writing 0 0 0 1 1
Unsorted 1 6 0 0 7
Totals 117 131 93 96 437

Series and imprints

Series or imprint 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
A Very Short Introduction 1 10 3 0 14
Thames & Hudson Photofile 9 4 0 1 14
Peter Pauper Press 9 4 0 0 13
The Dresden Files 4 1 1 4 10
Massey Lectures 2 3 2 0 7
Vlad Taltos 1 4 0 0 5
Foundation Novels 0 5 0 0 5
Witch World 0 0 5 0 5
Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series 2 1 1 0 4
John Carter of Mars 0 0 0 4 4
Baen Robert E. Howard Library 0 0 0 4 4
The Adventures of Han Solo 0 1 2 0 3
Penguin Great Ideas 0 1 2 0 3
Mercy Thompson 1 0 1 1 3
Semiotext(e) Intervention Series 0 0 1 2 3
To the Stars 0 0 0 3 3
Solomon Kane 0 0 0 3 3
Penguin Classics 2 0 0 0 2

Authors

Author 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
Robert E. Howard 0 0 0 19 19
Lord Dunsany 13 0 0 0 13
Terry Eagleton 2 5 1 2 10
Jim Butcher 4 1 1 4 10
Anonymous 2 4 1 0 7
Andre Norton 0 1 6 0 7
A. E. van Vogt 0 0 6 0 6
Isaac Asimov 0 5 0 0 5
Steven Brust 1 4 0 0 5
Edgar Rice Burroughs 0 0 0 5 5
Clifford D. Simak 0 1 2 2 5
John Berger 2 2 0 0 4
Robert Adams 1 1 1 1 4
Patricia Briggs 2 0 1 1 4
Irving Layton 0 0 2 2 4
Simon Critchley 0 2 0 2 4
Leigh Brackett 0 0 0 4 4
Robert Bringhurst 2 0 1 0 3
Brian Daley 0 1 2 0 3
Gardner F. Fox 0 0 0 3 3
J. K. Galbraith 0 0 3 0 3
Harry Harrison 0 0 0 3 3
Scott Kelby 3 0 0 0 3
André Kertész 0 3 0 0 3
Jean Baudrillard 0 2 0 1 3
Henry Kuttner 0 0 0 3 3
Howard Zinn 0 2 0 1 3
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