12 book challenge, 2011

I’ve been trying to hit the 50 book challenge for the past few years, which basically requires me to read at least one book a week. Not happening. My average is around 25 in a year, and that’s often the result of reading a bunch while on break or vacation, and not paced throughout the year.

This year, I’m going to try something different. In addition to reading as many books as I can, I’m making a list of the twelve books that I want to try to read this year that are currently sitting on my shelves or wishlist. In no particular order, here they are:

books read: 2007

I tried and failed once again to complete the 50 book challenge last year. However, I did a little better than the year before, and probably would have read at least two more books if I hadn’t made a cross country move.

  1. The Empty Chair by Diane Duane (fiction)
  2. A Librarian Is To Read by Betty Vogel (non-fiction)
  3. Wordplay: The Official Companion Book by Will Shortz (non-fiction)
  4. Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  5. Puss ‘n Cahoots: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown (fiction)
  6. So Say We All: An Unauthorized Collection of Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica (Smart Pop series) edited by Richard Hatch (non-fiction)
  7. Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip (fiction)
  8. Gauntlet by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  9. Progenitor by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  10. Reunion by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  11. The Valiant by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  12. Three by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  13. Oblivion by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  14. Enigma by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  15. Maker by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
  16. Journey Between Worlds by Sylvia Louise Engdahl (fiction)
  17. Orphan’s Quest by Pat Nelson Childs (fiction)
  18. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (fiction)
  19. Towards Zero by Agatha Christie (fiction)
  20. At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie (fiction)
  21. Nemesis by Agatha Christie (fiction)
  22. Ordeal By Innocence by Agatha Christie (fiction)
  23. First Have Something To Say by Walt Crawford (non-fiction)
  24. Social Software in Libraries by Meredith Farkas (non-fiction)
  25. Beer & Food: An American History by Bob Skilnik (non-fiction)
  26. Guinness – The 250-Year Quest for the Perfect Pint by Bill Yenne (non-fiction)

—————-
Now playing: FarPoint Media Live Feed
via FoxyTunes

#1

I’m starting over on the 50 Book Challenge. Last year I read 23 books. This year I hope to get closer to my goal. To assist in that, I’m trying to change the way I read books.

For most of my life, reading a book meant reading the book cover-to-cover in one go. I don’t have the time or energy for that anymore. My body won’t let me read until dawn and still function at work. So I stopped reading because I didn’t have the hours set aside to do it.

Now I’m trying to keep a set sleep schedule: 10pm-6:30am. I need eight hours of sleep in order to be fully rested, and this gives me enough time to dink around in the morning before going to work (as I am doing right now). This means that if I want to read, I have to do it before 10pm and stop at or around 10pm. I didn’t know if I had enough discipline to put down a book when the time came, but I was able to do it with the first book of 2007, so I’m hopeful.

The Empty Chair is the fifth book in Diane Duane’s twenty-two year long tale of the Romulans. The first four books (My Enemy, My Ally, The Romulan Way, Swordhunt, and Honor Blade) have been collected and published in an omnibus entitled Rihannsu: The Bloodwing Voyages which was released last month along with The Empty Chair. I have been eager to read this final book ever since I finished the cliffhanger Honor Blade in 2005, and I was quite frustrated with my local bookstores for not carrying it. However, I was able to pick up a copy during my holiday travels.

The plot is complex and well-executed, but as with most Duane books, it isn’t as much about the plot as it is about the characters. She is one of few authors who writes Kirk so sympathetically that he doesn’t come off as an arrogant ass. I have particularly enjoyed the character development and insight into Rihannsu (Romulan) culture that this series of books has provided, and The Empty Chair neatly brought everything full circle to end the adventure with sufficient closure.

It’s much longer than the other books, clocking in at 421 pages (mass market paperback). I suspect that Duane would have preferred to split it into two novels, since there are a few minor plots that were not fully played out, and the ending battle seemed a bit rushed and anti-climactic compared to other events in the book. However, it is still a satisfying read.

Any interested readers should pick up copies of the previous books first before tackling this one. Although it can stand on its own, there are many references to previous events, and it would help to know the details and the weight they carry. Even though I have read those books in the past couple of years, I found myself struggling to remember exactly what happened and who was involved.

I’d like to go back and re-read the entire series without the long gaps between books, but that will have to wait. I still have 276 unread books in my house that await my attention. Sigh.

#21

by Diane Duane

I finally made myself read this book, despite being a bit intimidated by the 446 pages. I should have known that it would be an enjoyable read and not seem to be nearly that long. Diane Duane is a word weaver, and a very good one. This book is part of the Errantry universe that began with So, You Want To Be A Wizard. It wasn’t until I was well into the book that I realized there were others that came before it. However, Duane has set this one up to stand on its own, so while I suspect the reader might have a broader picture of wizardry in general by having read the other books first, it doesn’t detract from enjoying this one.

The main characters are New York cats that also happen to be wizards. Their job is to maintain the worldgates that are located in the New York subway system. Something is interfering with the workings of the worldgates and it’s up to Rhiow and her team to find out who and how to stop them before they open the gates to allow the sentient dinosaurs from ancient days to pass through to modern Earth.

The story is well-told. Read it, and you won’t look at cats in the same way you did before.

blog day 2006

So, apparently yesterday was Blog Day and I’m supposed to recommend five other blogs for you to read. I could come up with only four I’m really keen on at the moment, aside from the ones everyone else reads, too. In any case, I’m a day late.

  • Thinking Out Loud – This is Jenica Rogers’ sometimes library but mainly personal blog. I really like the way she writes.
  • A Year In Pictures of Working – I went to high school with Arnie, so I was thrilled to find his old photo blog last year. This is a new one, but still the same daily pictures with entertaining commentary from Arnie. Even after all these years, he still makes me laugh in a way only he can.
  • WWdN: In Exile – Not quite the same as the original, but I think he’ll be leaving exile sometime soon. I’ve been reading Wil Wheaton’s blog for over three years now, and it just keeps getting better.
  • Out of Ambit – Diane Duane is quite possibly my most favorite Star Trek author. Her blog is worth reading, too.