I’m keeping a list of books I’ve read in 2013 — well, technically I’m counting from Christmas of 2012. But I thought it’d be fun to keep a running tally of what I’m reading and how (or if) it’s affecting my fiction writing. I love to re-read books, though, so I’m mostly counting first-run novels, with one exception.
So, without further ado:
1) The Swords Trilogy — Michael Moorcock: I loved this book when I was in junior high. As an adult, it was much more difficult to finish. I’d like to say I enjoyed it, and in some ways I did. A fun trip down memory lane, but one I won’t need to take again.
2) Cold Days — Jim Butcher: There’s no such thing as a bad Jim Butcher novel. Wait. I haven’t read any of the Codex Alera series, though I’ve heard it’s good if you like swords and sorcery. What I can tell you is that the Harry Dresden novels are fantastic. I’ve loved every one of them, and this one was no different. I’m still hoping Harry and Murphy get together, but Butcher is taking his own sweet time about it, the bastard.
3) Dreaming of Babylon — Richard Brautigan: It’s pretty easy to see that Brautigan was a genius. This caper(?) stars C. Card, the world’s most inept detective. The private dick is too poor to buy bullets for his gun, if that tells you the amount of success he has. Extremely unreliable narrator. Funny to the point that you may not laugh out loud, but you’ll certainly smile and shake your head. A lot.
4) Freaky Deaky — Elmore Leonard: Here’s the thing. Elmore Leonard is a national treasure. His timing, dialogue, and ability to create multifaceted characters in every book is simply amazing. I tossed aside the newest Sue Grafton paperback in favor of this book (sorry, Sue! I’ll get back to you!), and I still haven’t circled back around to her. That’s because Freaky Deaky led me to
5) City Primeval — Leonard, again: I should have read this one before Freaky Deaky, because some of the same characters appear. It’s good, but it’s what I’d call early prime Leonard — this one seems like it was written in that odd time when Leonard was transitioning away from writing Westerns to crime fiction. It’s still extremely good, and its antagonist is incredibly memorable. As with every other Leonard novel, EVERYBODY is working an angle. Great stuff.
6) Moonshine War — Elmore Leonard: One of the worst feelings in the world as a crime writer is to discover that Elmore Leonard has seen the ground you’re attempting to cover. He has seen it and laid waste to it. He’s sacked the cities and salted the earth, so that nothing grows there again. That’s how I felt upon reading the first several pages of this novel. It’s a novel about a bootlegger, set in 1931. I’m writing a novel about a bootlegger, also set in 1931. Thankfully my manuscript (so far) is substantially different from Leonard’s, but there for a minute I was scared to death.
Next up is another Leonard novel, Gold Coast. I’m a paragraph into it, so I won’t count it yet. But six books since Christmas isn’t too bad, I think. My hope is to read 52 new (or at least new to me) novels by the end of the year. One a week ought to be doable, don’t you think?