Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Books I Read in 2018

I read one hundred and sixty three books in 2018. I'm not saying this to impress anyone, as though the ability to sit for long hours and read should be considered an accomplishment. If anything, the sheer volume of my 2018 reading should be an alarming statistic to anyone who knows me, because it is clear evidence of all the things I wasn't doing. I typically read around a hundred books a year (I count graphic novels and the fantasy & SF art books I collect, and I also give myself credit for books I toss after fifty pages, like I did eight times in 2018), and so to hit a "personal best" in quantity is really just an indicator that I was either dealing with Oumuamua (see my year-end blog post) or engaging in aggressive avoidance strategies. An article from April of this year suggests the average American reads 12 books a year, so I did the work for another twelve people. Your welcome.

I read a number of series detective novels, which I love, and they go down easy enough that I could sometimes read two a day. I read the entire Stephen Greenleaf Marshall Tanner series, a bunch of Donald Westlake novels, and about half of the K.C. Constantine Mario Balzic novels, a few of the John Connolly Charlie Parker books, and two Doc Savage novels. I read the entire Patrick O'Brian Aubrey & Maturin series over the summer, mostly floating in my pool, which I think is twenty novels and one that he died before he could complete.

In July I went to NECon, and came home with a massive book haul, most of which I read before the leaves even started to turn. A whole bunch of Ramsey Campbell, a couple from Michael McDowell, three or four Dean Koontz books from the eighties, Clive Barker's first and third of the Books of Blood. At NECon I donated to and won an auction to benefit Trans Helpline, and the prize was a nice collection of fifteen or so screenwriting books, most of which I read over the September and October, and promptly got to work on my first screenplay in November.

I didn't read many books by friends and acquaintances this year, shockingly, but all of those I read were stellar (thank Cthulhu). Michael Rowe's Wild Fell, Gemma Files' We Will All Go Down Together, (I buy many Chizine books; I also read David Nickle's Volk but we've never met), Laird Barron's The Croning, and John McIlveen's Hannahwhere, all excellent people I've met at NECon. I also read Joe Hill's The Fireman last year and I went to a NECon he attended but I was too shy to introduce myself. I read three of his dad's books this year--Creepshow, Carrie, and Elevation, but I've never been in the same room as him. I did trade a couple emails with Owen once, though. I read two of Kim Newman's books, and those always are among my reading highlights of the year, and I read Patrick McGrath's fantastic new book The Wardrobe Mistress.

I read less science fiction this year than usual--one each from Thomas Disch (who, like McGrath, I met when I was at UConn), Doris Piserchia, Roger Zelazny, Bruce Sterling, and Norman Spinrad. I reread Patricia Geary's Strange Toys, and a couple of those really thin old Richard Matheson short story collections. 

I read some nonfiction as well, some business books, Philip Pullman's--scratch that, Sir Philip Pullman's--excellent essay collection Daemon Voices, What Makes a Masterpiece, a couple books on true hauntings and urban legends, Beyond the Map, and all the aforementioned screenwriting books. 

The last book I read last year was John Hodgman's Vacationland which was the funniest book I read last year.

The most affecting work I read last year was the one whose photo I posted above, Book of Souls by Jack Ketchum, who died in January of this year and who I was very fortunate to have known by his real name, Dallas Mayr, having met him at a Borderlands Bootcamp and also having been able to spend time with him at various NECons. I'd read much of Jack's fiction, but had somehow missed this short collection of his personal essays, which I bought and read the week he died. He was a generous, gracious man and I will miss him.

If you've never read Dallas's work before--and shame on you--read Book of Souls and then read The Girl Next Door back to back, and please send me the selfie of your head exploding.

No comments: