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corblimey has got too many books

  • 22-01-2013 2:00pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4,475 ✭✭✭ corblimey

    New year's resolution: I've got far too many unread books on my shelf and despite the fact that I've aggressively trimmed the fat over the years, the number creeps ever upward. For the last few years, reading has been relegated to bed time, and depending on the day, this could consist of less than 5 pages before my eyes close, so for 2013 at least, I'm going to turn off the telly for an hour or so every evening, and just read. I reckon I can do about a book every week to 10 days, which should cut down the pile significantly.

    So far:

    1. Friday Night Lights (Bissinger). A christmas present, and since I enjoyed the movie and resulting show, set to work on it straight off. Er, not my cup of tea, apparently. Quite dull, considering the subject matter, and I skip some of the middle to get to the 'climatic' end scenes. Maybe I should stick to movies :pac:

    2. Hostage (Crais). Big Crais fan, but this is I think the first book of his I've read without Elvis Cole. Decent enough story, although the 'twist' is pretty easy to figure out, and the end game feels rushed. Not bad, but no Elvis.

    And that's it so far. I've celebrated this new year's resolution by buying 8 new books. Oh.



  • 3. One Day (Nicholls). I'm not even sure how I had this, I certainly didn't buy it. I think I 'borrowed' it from a friend about 2 years ago. Not my usual cup of tea, but I quite enjoyed it. Interesting take on a timeless genre, and a nice little twist towards the end. It helped that the main characters were only a little older than me, so all the 80s and 90s stuff I was able to identify with.

    One annoying aspect was the tendency to switch viewpoints around the characters seemingly on a whim, but not a dealbreaker. I don't think I'll bother with the movie though.

  • After 2 fictional books, time to delve into my back catalogue of non fiction (my unread collection is split pretty much 50-50 fiction/non fiction).

    4. The Nazis: A Warning From History (Rees). This is a compelling and sometimes disturbing account of the events leading up to the war, along with several eye witness accounts of specific episodes during the war. The chapters on the German-Soviet portion of the war and obviously the Final Solution are particularly powerful.

    I'm going to need find something light and airy to read next to get this one out of my head.

  • Well not exactly light and airy, but at least the people doing bad things to each other in this one are entirely fictional :)

    5. A Darkness More Than Night (Connelly). I'm a big fan of Connelly's Bosch, but can take or leave his other creations (McCaleb, McEvoy, Haller), and unfortunately this is more a McCaleb adventure than a Bosch one, although he does have an interesting role. The plot is faintly ridiculous, but it zips along at a fine old pace, and kept me interested to the end.

  • While I devote an hour (sometimes less, sometimes more) to reading my unreads, I continue to read at night as I've always done. These books will be slow to complete, maybe I'll get through a dozen this year, and tend to be humour collections rather than hard novels, but I might aswell log them here as they all count, right?

    A. The Onion Book of Known Knowledge (The Onion). A tireless A-Z funcyclophedia from the editors of the Onion. I've always enjoyed the extra-curricular stuff they do (like the excellent Our Dumb Century and the pretty good Our Dumb World) and while this has taken me literally months to read - I started reading it before Christmas - it is top drawer stuff, if you like the tone of the Onion generally.

  • 6. The Affair (Child). Recent Reacher novels have been a little dull, with Reacher displaying an almost super-sense for how other people will act and how situations will play out. The innocence of the early novels has been lost; however with this one, we delve into his life pre-handsome stranger and it does harken back to the good old days with Reacher not as infallible as usual. I enjoyed this one.

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  • 7. Bad Science (Goldacre). I've been trying to read this book for years, and finally got around to diving into it, and ooh what a book. Informative, fun, entertaining and enthusiastic - although it does tend gets a little picky for my liking in certain chapters - it made me aware of several instances of dodgy science and iffy journalism that I was previously unaware of; I'm always happy with books that learn me sumpin'.

  • 8. A-Z of Cool Computer Games (Railton). Very misleading title; I was expecting an extended trawl through a compendium of the games of my youth, but in total, there are 1-2 page writeups of just 33 "home computer" games and 15 arcade games. The rest is padded out with opinion pieces on social mores and the various systems. Each writeup is quite dull considering the subject matter (games + retro = ???) and I lost patience with the writing style a lot. Very poor.

  • 9. Drop Shot (Coben). A couple of sick days off work allowed me to read a few books more speedily than usual. Unfortunately the first of these turned out to be a book I'd read before, which is kinda wasteful given what I'm trying to do here. I had a vague sense of deja vu from the start, but was about 90 pages from the end when I suddenly remembered who the killer was, which sort of sucked the joy out of reading the rest of it. Great book nonethless.

  • 10. I Can Make You Hate (Brooker). Charlie's latest collection of writing breaks the mould of the 2 previous collections as he quit his newspaper column during the collected period, so they've padded out the writing with scripts from The 10 O'Clock Show and the various Wipe incarnations. Honestly, I skipped through a lot of the politics-related ones - I have no interest in Irish politics of the day, English politics of a few years ago is even less interesting - and unfortunately Mr Brooker started shying away from reviewing TV as much as he had done in the past (possibly because he's now at least as famous and on tv as much as the twonks he used to ridicule) so definitely not as good as previous volumes, but still very good.

  • And a second night-time book too, although I must confess I read this during the day too.

    B. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America (Bryson). I picked this up last year as I was taking a long road trip around the States. However, I never got a chance to read it, so only opened it recently. It's a travelogue as Bryson does so well, detailing a late 80s trip around the small towns of America, eschewing tourist destinations for the most part, and looking for that perfect place that only exists in movies. It wasn't bad, nothing will beat the heights of Niether Here Nor There or A Walk in the Woods, but it was a fun little book.

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  • 11. Edge (Deaver). Took me a while to read this one, I just found it quite meh. Like a rip-off 24 at times, like a bad 007 at others, I struggled to get to the end. Twists and turns throughout, but in no way even half as riveting as it should be, given the subject matter and the plot, which spurted to a stop several times. It's my first Deaver and considering it's one of his better reviewed novels on Amazon, I don't think I'll be back anytime soon.

  • C. The Confession (Grisham). I've not read a Grisham novel in about 13 years - the last being the brutal "The Brethern" - and it'll be another 13 years before I go back. This is a bland and inconsequential novel sort of about the death penalty, but not really. The reason I stopped reading Grisham (and to a lesser extent, King) is still evident; he drowns you in details, but where a skilled author would use these details to paint a picture, Grisham is merely filling the page with words. Bad book, just bad.

  • 12. I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan (Partridge). Oh Alan. If you don't like Partridge, nothing I say will convince you. If you do, I assume you've already got this book. Liquid football.

  • 13. A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bryson). The problem with reading a book like this is that you quickly realise how little we actually know about... well nearly everything. Planets, solar systems, our own bodies, our history, the seas, the mountains, it's all basically still theoretical. Plus the book itself is about 10 years old, so even some of the facts contained herein have probably changed or been disproved since. Still, I learned a lot, and that's good enough for me, great book.

  • 14. The Little Prince (Saint-Exepury). Based solely on Queen Mise's review and the fact that it was 3 quid on Amazon, a nice quick read after the Bryson book. I can't say I totally get it, but a day after finishing it, I'm still thinking about it, so that's a good sign. To be honest, if I'd read the blurb before I bought it, the phrase "an allegory of the human condition" would have put me right off. No robots explodin' nor nothin'. But a good read, and I'll pass it onto the kids in my life very soon, see what they think.

  • A nice little weekend break to the UK afforded me a good few hours of solid reading on planes, trains and... er hotel rooms.

    15. Indigo Slam (Crais). Back to Elvis Cole novels and one I'm fairly sure I read before, but long enough ago not to remember the story. This one fair nips along, and the connections that are made as Cole investigates what appears to be a fairly normal plot are very good. I've never read a Cole novel I didn't like, and this continues that streak.

  • 16. Killer's Wedge (McBain). My dad turned me onto McBain a few years ago, and I read a few hard boiled detective novels before losing interest, but this one was very good. Two nice little stories interwoven together, and a quick read that despite being written more than 50 years ago in 1959, it still has a contemporary feel to it, betrayed only by the references to typewriters and femme fatales.

  • 17. Tipping Point (Gladwell). Pretty interesting book all about how ideas, concepts, products, etc gain that "tipping point" into success or acceptance or whatever. Really though, it could be an article on Wikipedia, once you understand the initial concept, the case studies don't offer anything further and there's zero discussion about whether the concepts themselves are in any way flawed. I had a couple other Gladwells on my to-read list, but I may not bother now.

  • D. One Day in the Life of Television (Day-Lewis). On 1st November, 1988, the BFI commissioned thousands of people in the UK to record their feelings, their viewing habits and their general experiences on that day, as it related to tv. Members of the public, politicians and a lot of television people all got involved. This was just before the notorious white paper that deregulated UK television, ushering in the age of satellite. What is presented is a fascinating glimpse into a world of 4 channels and still nothing on. The bits involving 'personalities' are great, but for my money, most of the fascination is with the banality of the lives of the normal members of the public.

  • 18. Horror in the East (Rees). Tracing the shift in attitudes in Japan after World War I and leading up to the brutal and unsettling events of the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Focusing mostly on the shocking acts performed by Japanese military on others, it does attempt to make it more balanced by describing some of the actions of the American war machine once the tide had turned in their favour. Nevertheless, it is a fairly harrowing catalogue of horror, and once again I find myself looking for something shallow and meaningless to read after a Rees novel.

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  • 19. Promise Me (Coben). A faintly ludicrous plot and could stand to be about 100 pages shorter, but not bad enough to totally put me off the continuing adventures of Myron Bolitar. Yet. Another one like this, though, and I might just give it up.

  • 20. The Closers (Connelly). I've read the Bosch novels in a random order, so it gets a bit confusing working out where he is and who he's p*ssing off in each one, but I enjoyed this nonetheless. A nice plot with good pacing, a few twists and turns, and very little filler about Bosch's own demons.

  • 21 Getting to Yes (Fisher, Ury). A few stop starts on this one, a book recommended to me when I was doing a project management course in 2010. Not the most engaging of books, and the one thing that was really annoying me was in my edition (red cover), the font kept changing :). It was okay, but it smelled of "school text book" from the start, a book that has to be read rather than want. Will find out tomorrow if it helped.

  • Had 10 days away, but thought I'd get more reading done.

    22 Liar's Poker (Lewis). This is an amusing - and at times horrifying to the socialist inside me - account of working for the brokerage firm of Salomon Brothers in the 80s. It contains a fascinating account of how it basically invented the mortgage backed security market. I only realised about halfway through that it's actually quite old and predates a lot of the subsequent problems on Wall St, but it's still a nice little book.

  • 23 Unbroken (Hillenbrand). And this is probably the reason. 500 pages of a gripping and harrowing account of a POW in Japan during WWII. I'm not sure why I bought it, but I'm glad I did. Things just go from bad to worse for the protagonist, and at times I just had to put it down and go do something fun to get it out of my system. But it always dragged me back. Top notch.

  • 24 The Drop (Connelly). This book was a little bit annoying. There are 2 very distinct stories that I was hoping would tie up together in some way, but they don't, and in fact one is resolved far too early and far too easily. I'm starting to lose interest in Mr Connelly's Bosch.

  • 25 Bits of Me Are Falling Apart (Leith). I really tried to like this, I usually like this sort thing - but it's just not as funny as I thought it would be. It's not terrible, it's just not the "hilarious and touching" the blurb on the back thought it was. It's just a sort of stream of consciousness from someone on the precipice of a mid life crisis and although we're quite close in age, I just couldn't relate to the author (or the main character if this was made up) at all. Shame.

  • 26 The Color of Law (Gimenez). Ugh, dreadful book, just dreadful. I've never read a book before where I basically hated every character. There was far too much filler (I see where he gets the 'next John Grisham' moniker) and the plot was wafer thin. I've been looking for a good courtroom drama for a while, and this is not it. Avoid.

  • After 3 disappointing books in a row, I was careful about my next choice and had heard good things about Cormac McCarthy, so I plucked No Country For Old Men off the shelf. To be fair, I didn't think much of the 2008 movie, and McCarthy's writing style (convoluted 'explanations' notwithstanding) compounded the issue - it just didn't work for me, and I abandoned it after about 50 pages (The Road quickly followed into the charity bag), so I started on Scotland: History of a Nation instead.

    27 Scotland: History of a Nation (Ross). To be honest, I was a little lost for a lot of it. The first 100 pages boil down to a list of names and places which was quite difficult to follow - I had google maps opened for some of it - but it settled down once it reached more recent history. Still reads something like a school text book though, and not what I was looking for in terms of Scottish history.

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  • 28 The Templar Legacy (Berry). Didn't enjoy this one at all. Too reminiscent of the unpleasantness that was the DaVinci Code, the 'puzzles' are ridiculous, the characters are 2 dimensional, there's nary a twist to be had, and it all just sort of ends. Rubbish.

    This is the problem when you try to read so many books, but I didn't expect to hit so many bad ones all in a row.