Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Year of Reading

My Year of Reading

Achievement of the Year:  I finished reading all of Donald E. Westlake's/Richard Stark's Parker (and Grofield) novels.  I started reading the series in March 2010 and I finished Breakout, Nobody Runs Forever, Ask the Parrot, and Dirty Money in September 2012.  I'm glad I read NRF, ATP, and DM one after the other as they pretty much could be one big Parker novel.  It was a great run.

Archeological Find of the Year:  Donald E. Westlake's Tucker Coe novels.  Even though I love pretty much everything Westlake does, for a long time I wanted nothing to do with Tucker Coe.  I'm struggling to find a rational reason for this.  I dislike the name Tucker Coe.  I think that has a lot to do with it.  But Existential Ennui started writing about Coe and all of a sudden I had to have these books.  So I bought crappy copies of all five books and devoured them.  Why were they so good?  I think it has something to do with the warmth Westlake handled all of his characters.  Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death was about mobsters.  Murder Among Children was about hippies.  Wax Apple about mental patients.  A Jade in Aries about gays.  And Don't Lie to Me about artists.  These subjects are all easy targets to make fun of but Westlake is largely sympathetic to all of them - and these books are from the  mid 1960s to early 1970s, when I think general attitudes were far different than they are now.  And Mitch Tobin, the former New York City cop turned reluctant private eye is so damaged by his infidelity and the death of his partner that he is reduced to building a fence in his yard or excavating his basement as coping mechanisms.  I did not expect to enjoy these books as much as I did. Wonderful stuff.

Country of the Year:  Japan.  I've read a lot of Swedish crime novels the past few years (including the early part of 2012) but I rediscovered Japan this year.  I've been reading more manga (Osamu Tezuka, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Naoki Urasawa mainly) and this sent me looking for Japanese fiction.  I read and loved The Devotion of Suspect X, Salvation of a Saint, and Naoko by Keigo Higashino, Pro Bono by Seicho Matsumoto, and the short stories of Haruki Murakami.  I am working on Out by Natuso Kirino right now.

Book of the Year:  I have a terrible confession to make about this one.  I own thousands of books.  We rented a storage unit in August and I've started to put most of my books in storage (but don't feel too sorry for me, I still have a few thousand at home).  But I do not own a physical copy of my book of the year, Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette.  I read it on my Kindle.  I was reading about this book in the New York Times and decided that I had to have it at that very instant.  So I got it for my Kindle and never got around to picking up a physical copy.  I saw copies but they weren't first editions.  And not only did I love reading the book, I had a lot of fun talking about the book.  My wife read it, too, and we spent weeks asking each other if we'd seen Bernadette anywhere.  Lots of silly text messages about this, too.  I know this behavior sounds silly but boy did we have fun.  (What wasn't fun was that she read the book in a day or two and it took me two weeks.  She read 90 books this year.  And whenever she asks me how many I've read, she always wants to know if they were all picture books -what she calls my comics and manga- or not.)

Other Notable Highlights:  The Twelve by Justin Cronin, Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin, Broken Harbor by Tana French, and Pocket Kings by Ted Heller.

The Books I Got for Christmas:

Message to Adolf (Vol.1) by Osamu Tezuka, New York Drawings by Adrian Tomine, The Hive by Charles Burns, a set of Peanuts Moleskine notebooks, About Love by Seth and Anton Chekhov, and A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

And a bonus photo:
My interpretation of EE's best books of the year list.


Louis XIV, "The Sun King" (Nick Jones) said...

Haha, excellent! Although that does beg the question: why do you have three copies of Towards the End of the Morning...?

Book Glutton said...

Gluttony. These things just happen.
And so I have copies to give to people. And because my little paperback copy is fragile and I wouldn't want to subject it to another reading. And because I like the way ff looks on the spines. And because I like Michael Frayn a lot.