2016 Reading List Retrospective

Once again, a crazy goal. This year, I officially set a goal of 50 books. Unofficially, I was still trying to read 100 books. Almost made it.

Overall, I read 91 books, totaling 35,154 pages (an average of ~96 pages per day). Still a bit of a range on length, from The Nameless City at only 23 pages up to 995 in White Sand. An average of 386 per book comes in just 2 shy of last year, so I think the short stories still count. 😄


Coraline

Before I ever read Coraline, I watched the movie and read American Gods. I quite enjoyed the former, while the latter was… not exactly my favorite. So I was cautiously optimistic that I would like Coraline.

Well, consider the optimism well founded. I’ll never know if I enjoyed the book more because of the film or if I would have liked it as much had I read it first. So it goes. As it stands, I got a nice mix of the book’s / Gaiman’s way with words combined with the wonderfully bizarre visuals from the film. It made for quite the experience.


The Light Fantastic

I still feel like The Light Fantastic and The Color of Magic could really be combined into a single larger novel, given that the second takes off running pretty much where there first went off… and promptly dumps Rincewind and Twoflower back onto the disc somehow.

It’s an odd little story, jumping from section to section with a whole cast of new bizarre and amusing character (including the spell in Rincewind’s head and a small pile of trees) and locations.


The Time Machine

The Time Machine is something of a science fiction classic, among the first (if not the first well known time travel stories). As such, it reads a bit differently than more modern books of the same genre. Rather than dealing overmuch with character or plot, it takes an idea (a time machine!) and runs with it, exploring how such an idea might change the world and exploring our own world through the same.

So far as that goes, The Time Machine is an interesting book. We get a look at one possible future, some 800,000 years in the future, where humanity has evolved into two radically different peoples. It’s something of a depressing look at the future, looking into what might be if the gap between the wealthy and the working classes continues to widen and the downfall of both. It’s an interesting read and works either as philosophical musing or as an adventure tale, which is pretty cool.


The Color of Magic

Once upon a time, I tried to read the Discworld books, starting (against several people’s advise) with the first and working through all of them. I made it a few books in and put them down, saying that some day I would give them another chance. Well, this is that chance.

This time around, I’m listening to them all on audiobook. This actually seems to help quite a lot, since it allows me to keep listening while at the same time doing something with my hands and, unless I stop it myself, will keep going without me. It turns out that, given those circumstances, I quite enjoyed the Color of Magic this time around.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

And so it ends.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has some of the most powerful moments in the entire series. There are a number of powerful deaths, made all the worse by how we’ve grown to know and love (or at least know) these characters over the years. We finally get the last few pieces of how everything fits together –why Dumbledore trusts Snape for example; and more backstory on Voldemort. All of that would make for probably outright the best book in the series.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an excellent story and does quite a lot to offset how much I didn’t care for Order of the Phoenix.

First, Harry is not nearly as annoying as he is in Order of the Phoenix. Perhaps he’s growing up, perhaps Rowling realized that she’d perhaps overdone it and turned it down again. There are a few iffy moments around relationships this time around, but they’re much easier to read and feel much more natural, at least to me.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret

That was a cute little book.

Basically, a young boy lives in the walls of a train station, keeping all of the clocks running. He rebuilds a fantastic automaton and meets a toy maker with a bit more in his past than at first meets the eye.


Welcome to Night Vale

DNF at 25%.

While I absolutely love the podcast, there’s just something about the novel that doesn’t work nearly as well.


Calamity

Reading some of the other reviews on Goodreads, I was afraid that Calamity wouldn’t live up to the expectation of the previous two Reckoners books. Luckily, at least so far as I’m concerned, it not only met the expectations I had for it, it exceeded them.

So far as the world building / settings go, each of the Reckoners books takes an ordinary city in the former United States and weirds it. First, we had Chicago made of steel. Then New York, mostly underwater and covered with glowing spray paint. This time around? The city of Atlanta, made of salt and on the move. It’s just such a bizarre visual that it could carry a decent bit of the story just on that alone. All the little details that entails (sweat breaks down the salt, buildings crumble) just make it all the more interesting.