[Photo by Savannah Walters on Unsplash]
I love reading. It is such a part of who I am that it seems silly to even mention it. But apparently there are a lot of people out there who don’t. That always surprises me, though at this point in life, it probably shouldn’t.
I read a fair amount in 2017, and I plan to read over twice as much this year. I would love to be in a book club. But the problem is I have a huge queue of books lined up already, so I don’t feel like I can take the time to read things that aren’t already on it.
I’ve thought of starting my own completely dictatorial book club, where I choose the book every time. Then I could just go down my list. Of course I would likely miss some great books that others would suggest. But right now, I don’t feel I have time for that. I have a list. Each book is on it for a reason.
So if you want to be in the King Tristram Book Club, just check my Now page. You’ll see what my eyeballs and ears are currently devouring and can join in!
I might post some thoughts when I finish each one … or I might not (My mother always said if I don’t have anything good to say, then don’t. Sound advice, I say.). But if I do, then we can discuss like good humans do. That’s the part I crave: the discussion afterward. So feel free to hit me up.
I have already finished three books this year but haven’t posted any thoughts yet—not for the above reason of nothing good to say. I enjoyed them all. They are It by Stephen King, The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams, and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
So here it is: a list of a majority of the books I consumed last year as physical books, ebooks, or audio, with comments after. It’s not EVERY book (See my mother’s advice above). I left out half a dozen or so for different reasons.
*And yes, those are affiliate links. See the notice on the side bar.
Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn (writer) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)
Yes, I include graphic novels in my list when I read one. I figure they balance out the times I read 1200 page books, such as any book in A Song of Ice and Fire. I am not normally a graphic novel reader, but I loved both Saga Vols. 1 & 2. Beautiful art and a thoroughly engaging, unique story of love and war. I look forward to reading more.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I had never read this and was excited to pick up a classic (it had been a while), but I hate to say it was a bit of a slog, particularly in the beginning, and I found myself not very invested in most of the characters or the story. Sydney Carton and Madame Defarge were the most intriguing and well-developed, I thought, and the historical elements of the French Revolution were interesting. It did pick up about a third of the way in, and there were a couple of surprising twists near the end. I think I may need to pick this one up again at some point and see how I feel about it after a second reading.
Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie
Of all the times I read, heard, or watched the story of Peter Pan, I had never read this classic original text. It was a fun read, but more violent than expected (as are many classic children’s tales) after only being exposed to the sanitized versions. There were also some oddities such as the nanny who is actually a dog. All in all an entertaining story that encourages us to dream and imagine, two of my favorite things.
The Crystal Shard (The Icewind Dale Trilogy #1) by R.A. Salvatore
Streams of Silver (The Icewind Dale Trilogy #2) by R.A. Salvatore
The Halfling’s Gem (The Icewind Dale Trilogy #3) by R.A. Salvatore
Homeland (The Dark Elf Trilogy #1) by R.A. Salvatore
Exile (The Dark Elf Trilogy #2) by R.A. Salvatore
Sojourn (The Dark Elf Trilogy #3) by R.A. Salvatore
The above six books are all part of the multi-book saga that is the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden’s life. I enjoyed all of them. They are not amazing literature, but they are very entertaining fantasy stories that brought me back to my younger years when I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons with my brothers and friends. The series continues and I look forward to more adventures with Drizzt.
Also, I want to note that I read the books in the order I listed them. Some fans might claim this is the wrong order because The Dark Elf Trilogy is further back in time than The Icewind Dale Trilogy, and even the author recommends reading them sequentially by time. But they were written in the above order. Icewind was first and Dark Elf was a prequel.
To me, it’s like this: we don’t know everything about a person when we first meet them. We only know them at that moment. Later, we might learn about their past. I think this story works best in that very way. Although, not having read it the other way, I will never be able to say with certainty that I’m right. But as a writer, I also wanted to take the author’s journey. So although I’ve learned this is somewhat of a debate amongst Salvatore fans, there was no question for me.
Tales From Little Lump – Alien Season by Jeff Folchinsky
This was a fun diversion, a humorous romp about what happens when the aliens finally decide to land but unfortunately pick redneck territory for first contact.
Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders
The beginning of the book is all about the campaign trail, which is at times interesting, but often not so much. The second part was much more inspiring and educational, a powerful message about what we need to do now in regards to the economy, climate change, immigration, health care, education, and so on.
Confessions of a Yakuza by Junichi Saga
This wasn’t quite the look inside the yakuza that I wanted, but it was an entertaining and educational read. It is a series of vignettes of one man’s experiences becoming involved in and rising through the ranks of the yakuza. It takes place almost entirely pre-WW2. So if you’re looking for a more modern take (like I was), this is not it. Still, it’s a good book, written in an interesting perspective. The stories are compiled and introduced by the gangster’s doctor, as they were told to him. They are written conversationally, as if you were the doctor listening to the patient relate the stories to you. There’s no overall plot, and some of the tales are more interesting than others. Still, it’s certainly worth a read if you’re interested in Japanese culture and history with a focus on the criminal side of things.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
I read this book twice. It’s my favorite non-fiction book of the year. I have a tendency to give too many fucks and about the wrong things. So I needed this one. It’s not a guide for how to stop caring and be useless. Rather, it’s a guide for how to care about what’s important and let the rest of it go, and therefore be far more effective and much happier in life.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
An inspiring message about how to live from a dying man. He says, “Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.” This message hits me hard because of the personal tragedy that our family suffered late last year, although I read this book before it happened. The tragic truth about the author of this lecture makes the book hard to read at times, but in spite of (or because of) his condition, he teaches us to live our childhood dreams and encourages us to help others achieve their dreams as well—something I very much want to be able to do. It’s a passionate lesson and another one that I’m sure I’ll revisit again.
Did you read any of these books? What was your favorite book from last year? Let me know in the comments.