The OF Blog: Final 2009 Reading List: December 2-31

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Final 2009 Reading List: December 2-31

Planning on posting the first 2010 Reading List update either later today or Monday, but here's a list of the final 50+ books I read over the final 30 days of 2009.

507  Pat McGreal, David Rawson, Chaz Truog, Rafael Kayanan, Chiaroscuro:  The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci (graphic novel; decent-to-good)

508  Neil Gaiman, Odd and the Frost Giants (YA; merely OK)

509  Čarls M. Šhulc, Sreća je...toplo kučence (Serbian translation of one of my favorite children's books)

510  Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic (graphic novel; not bad, but not all that great either)

511  Ken Grimwood, Replay (this is one of the better SF novels that I read in 2009)

512  Philip K. Dick, VALIS and Later Novels (Library of America omnibus; spotty)

513  Dan Simmons, Song of Kali (took awhile before I got into it; very good toward the end)

514  Milorad Pavić, The Tale That Killed Emily Knorr/Priča koja je ubila Emiliju Knor (very good story)

515  Javier Cercas, Soldados de Salamina (re-read from 2008; good)

516  Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James, A Short History of Fantasy (uneven, but interesting)

517  Gene Wolfe, Sword and Citadel (re-read; it's GENE WOLFE!)

518  George R.R. Martin, Fevre Dream (better than his ASOIAF novels)

519  Fernando Pessoa, Quadras (Portuguese; poetry; very good)

520  Andrzej Sapkowski, La dama del lago:  volumen 1 (Spanish; penultimate volume in the Saga de Geralt; good-to-very good)

521  Erich Maria Remarque, The Night in Lisbon (perhaps the best of his post-WWII novels)

522  Javier Cercas, La velocidad de la luz (re-read from 2008; good)

523  Paul McAuley, The Quiet War (decent premise, but some of the particulars irritated me, throwing me out of being engaged with the novel.  Decent at best.  Will read and perhaps review the sequel at length in the next month)

524  Hal Duncan, Escape from Hell! (re-read from 2008; not bad, but I didn't like it as much as his earlier novels)

525  Greer Gilman, Cloud & Ashes:  Three Winter's Tales (poetic, with evocative passages.  Recommended.)

526  Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis:  The Story of a Childhood (graphic novel; autobiography; engaging story)

527  James Blish, Cities in Flight (good)

528  Rudyard Kipling, The Mark of the Beast and Other Fantastical Tales (several excellent stories, along with several that were much weaker and perhaps could have been left out)

529  Daniel Wallace, Big Fish (moving tale that reminded me of my own complex relationship with my father)

530  J.G. Ballard, The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard (must-read omnibus of Ballard's short fiction)

531  Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Modern Arabic Fiction (too many short excerpts, but there were several great shorts to balance it out)

532  Apuleius, The Golden Ass (clever tale; very good)

533  Nnedi Okorafor, Long Juju Man (YA, engaging, among the best in YA that I read in 2009)

534  Stephen T. Asma, On Monsters:  An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (already reviewed)

535  Milorad Pavić, Last Love in Constantinople (very good)

536  Erich Maria Remarque, Spark of Life (one of the earliest tales of concentration camp horrors; very good)

537  Robert E. Howard, The Conan Chronicles Volume 2:  The Hour of the Dragon (meh)

538  Leigh Brackett, Sea Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories(dated; meh)

539  Erich Maria Remarque, Arch of Triumph (OK, but far from his best work)

540  George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (eds.), Songs of the Dying Earth (several very good stories, with a sound editorial arrangement)

541  Washington Irving, Bracebridge Hall, Tales of a Traveller, The Alhambra (Library of America edition; good)

542  Gary Larson, Wiener Dog Art:  A Far Side Collection (re-read; classic)

543  A.S. Byatt, The Children's Book (already reviewed)

544  Gary Larson, The Far Side Gallery 5 (re-read; classic)

545  Gary Larson, The Chickens are Restless (re-read; classic)

546  Gary Larson, Cows of Our Planet (re-read; I think you can guess my thoughts by now)

547  Horacio Quiroga, Cuentos de amor de locura y de muerte (Spanish; re-read; excellent)

548  Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (excellent)

549  Catherynne M. Valente, The Labyrinth (re-read; very good)

550  Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City (very good)

551  Gene Wolfe, The Best of Gene Wolfe (see above comment about Wolfe)

552  Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan (eds.), The New Space Opera 2 (not bad, but space operas rarely appeal to me and most of the stories here did not overcome my natural antipathy)

553  Ellen Datlow (ed.), Lovecraft Unbound (very fine original anthology)

554  Mike Allen (ed.), Clockwork Phoenix 2 (best original anthology I read in 2009)

555  Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics (excellent)

556  G. Willow WIlson and M.K. Perker, Air:  Letters from Lost Countries (graphic novel; excellent; want to write more about their series shortly)

557  Milorad Pavić, The Inner Side of the Wind or The Novel of Hero and Leander (creative way to tell a story of two kindred souls separated by time and space)

558  Lope de Vega, Obrad Completas:  Poesía I (challenging, but worth the read to see how his epic poems stacked up)

559  Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois (eds.), The Dragon Book (OK anthology, but few stories that grabbed my attention)

560  John Layman and Rob Guillory, Chew Volume One:  Taster's Choice (graphic novel; very odd crime/procedural story with some strange twists.  Oddly enjoyable)

561  Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness (story collection; would have made my year-end roundup of story collections if I had read it earlier; excellent)

562  Bradford Morrow (ed.), Conjunctions 47:  25th Anniversary Issue (another fine issue from one of the better lit journals I've read in some time)

Well, that concludes the 2009 reading list.  Almost 200 more than 2008.  Something like a quarter of the books were read in languages other than English and a little over one-sixth were novels, graphic novels, collections, or anthologies (co)written or (co)edited by women, a slight improvement over the previous few years.  Will be keeping more detailed notes of the backgrounds of the authors I read in 2010, just to see if there are changes due to an increased awareness on my part.


The Mad Hatter said...

Grimwood is one of the best Time Fantasies in my opinion. Second only to The Time Traveler's Wife if only because Replay is somewhat dated. Grimwood's death before finishing the sequel is one of the greatest losses to the genre in recent memory.

Fabio Fernandes said...

Agree with you on The Quiet War - I didn´t like it, and it positively irritated me at times. I´ll write a review soon.

Taranaich said...

"537 Robert E. Howard, The Conan Chronicles Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon (meh)"

Meh? Meh is all you have to say? Good grief, now I'm very concerned about the review...

Lsrry said...

Sad news indeed about Grimwood not being able to finish the sequel.


Will read that review once posted.


Probably not going to be writing a full review of this, as it was just similar in tone (and my reactions to it) as was the first volume, which I did expand my thoughts some back in the summer.

Taranaich said...

Larry: I posted my thoughts on your thoughts under my own name (Al Harron).

I'm disappointed you couldn't look past the period trappings, especially since the second volume has a much better cross-section of stories: most of Howard's mediocre tales were out of the way. Outside the distinctly average "Jewels of Gwahlur" and the incomplete "Wolves Beyond the Border," all the stories are belters. In particular, "Beyond the Black River," "Red Nails," and "The Black Stranger" are some of the finest stories Howard put to paper.

I guess my problem is that you're accusing Howard's perceived sexism as being indicative of his "sexist world view," (which it most assuredly isn't) when the sad fact is that for much of history, women were only playthings or damsels to be rescued, if they weren't goddesses to be worshiped blindly. The Hyborian Age is not 21st Century America, or even 20th Century America. It is reflective of the dark periods of world history where women were second-class citizens, and the women who break that mold are all the more remarkable for it (Belit, Valeria, Zenobia etc).

Still, I won't hold it against you. Howard isn't for everyone.

kakaner said...

This is *horribly* daunting. The more blogs I look at, the more books people have read in the past year. Congratulations! Quite an accomplishment.

And, I completely agree with you on the books I have read, namely GNeil, Dick, and Satrapi.

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