Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Reading List 2012

The book I enjoyed most of the 66 I read this year was China Mieville's The City and the City, followed by Charles Stross's The Apocalypse Codex and Hugh Howey's Wool. The worst thing I read this year was Charlaine Harris's Deadlocked, which demonstrated to me that it is a very good thing HBO's True Blood is increasingly diverging from the books that inspired it.  Easily the most disappointing book, however, was the collective effort that is The Mongoliad.  I thought the idea and the subject matter sounded brilliant, but it turned out to be surprisingly tedious.

On the non-fiction side, while I quite enjoyed both Machiavelli's Discourses and Keen's Debunking Economics, (and got more than a few chuckles out of Krugman's latest), Game Mechanics, Advanced Game Design was actually very useful to me this year.  Sam Harris's Free Will, on the other hand, was a short and poorly-reasoned extended essay that fell well short of his previous effort in the subject matter.

Keep in mind these ratings are not necessarily statements about a book's literary quality, they are merely casual observations of how much I happened to enjoy reading the book at the time.  When I review a book and rate it for quality as well as enjoyment, I rate it out of ten.

The City and the City, China Mieville
The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross
Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, Niccolo Machiavelli
Kraken, China Mieville
Pegasus Bridge, Stephen Ambrose
Debunking Economics, Steve Keen
Wool Omnibus, Hugh Howey
Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design, Adams and Dormans
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L'Engle

Cold Days, Jim Butcher
War Room, Michael Holley
Feast of Souls, Celia Friedman
Wings of Wrath, Celia Friedman
The Discoverers, Daniel Boorstin
The Devil's Brood, Sharon K. Penman
A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham
With the Old Breed, E.B. Sledge
Stalingrad, Anthony Beevor
Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis
The Conglomeroid Cocktail Party, Robert Silverberg
Vanished Kingdoms, Norman Davies
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, PG Wodehouse
End This Depression Now!, Paul Krugman

Absolute Monarchs, John Julius Norwich
The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson
Lionheart, Sharon K. Penman
A Betrayal in Winter, Daniel Abraham
An Autumn War, Daniel Abraham
The Price of Spring, Daniel Abraham
Legacy of Kings, Celia Friedman
NFIB v. Sebelius: Five Takes, Reynolds and Denning
White Moon, Red Dragon, David Wingrove
I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett
Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett
A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L'Engle
Faded Steel Heat, Glen Cook
Whispering Nickel Idols, Glen Cook
Cruel Zinc Melodies, Glen Cook
Sharpe's Tiger, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Triumph, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Fortress, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Prey, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Rifles, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Gold, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Escape, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Fury, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Trafalgar, Bernard Cornwell
Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth, Simon Green
Hell to Pay, Simon Green
The Unnatural Inquirer, Simon Green
Just Another Judgment Day, Simon Green
The Good, The Bad, and The Uncanny, Simon Green
A Hard Day's Knight, Simon Green
The Bride Wore Black Leather, Simon Green

Tongues of Serpents, Naomi Novik
The 100-Yard War, Greg Emmanuel
The Mongoliad: Book One, Neal Stephenson
Songs of Love and Death, George RR Martin, ed.
Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting, David Reed
Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold
Cryoburn, Lois McMaster Bujold
Deflation and Depression: Is There an Empirical Link, Atkeson and Kehoe
Beneath the Tree of Heaven, David Wingrove
An Acceptable Time, Madeleine L'Engle

Deadlocked, Charlaine Harris
Free Will, Sam Harris



Anonymous Idle Spectator January 01, 2013 6:17 AM  

One star for Sam Harris? Bold.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 01, 2013 6:31 AM  

4 Star

The Fourth Turning
~William Strauss and Neil Howe

Anonymous JohnS January 01, 2013 7:05 AM  

Yup, I've got to second your opinion on The Mongoliad. It's kind of shocking how much more entertaining Dan Carlin's Hardcore History series about the mongols is...

Wrath of Khans

Anonymous Outlaw X January 01, 2013 7:22 AM  

I organize my bookshelf from let to right and then top to bottom. Starting at the top are all my books on Physics, Math and astronomy, followed by Non-fiction such as TIA, The Fourth Turning and Return of the Great Depression and on the Second Shelf down are Lewis, Chesterton, Aquinas and such. Then On the third shelf down are Poe and Classics. Then the bottom shelf is Summa Elvetica and other fiction. That is my go to shelf, my walls are covered in them.

Call me Monk. I have a book collecting disorder. Books are my treasures even as a dyslexic slow reader.

Anonymous The Great Martini January 01, 2013 8:22 AM  

Off topic for this post, but I was checking back to see the response to the Eric Idle video and noted a comment at the end of the post this blog may want to take note of:

Anonymous VD January 01, 2013 8:33 AM  

Thanks, TGM. I put up a new post on it.

Anonymous Susan January 01, 2013 9:01 AM  

I noticed you enjoyed the Sharpe's series. Do you think Sean Bean did okay with the character in the BBC series? Other than that, an impressive and diverse list of reading. Looking forward to seeing what you choose for 2013.

That is, if there is anything left on the store shelves after this list/s

Anonymous Susan January 01, 2013 9:04 AM  

Love that helmet and totally agree with the sentiment. I hope it stays there for a while.

Anonymous Tad January 01, 2013 9:13 AM  

A bit surprised that you found time to peruse "Five Takes" by Reynolds and Denning. I've never been that impressed with G. Reynolds, but this paper is entertaining, if only because a couple of their "takes" were relatively undiscussed. But the 3 Stars pretty much approximates my take in "Five Takes".

Having found myself with more free time this year, I indulged in some recommendations by others and found many of them nice distractions form the norm and surprisingly fun reads, including:

-Golf In The Kingdom
-Enemies: A History of the FBI
-The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
-The Long Earth
-World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
-The Tesla Bequest

Blogger TJIC January 01, 2013 9:31 AM  

@Outlaw X:
> I have a book collecting disorder.

I had a basement storage room full to the rafters with 18 gallon blue Rubbermaid bins of books. This fall and winter I carried all 10,000 books up to the living room, sorted them, donated half, and restored the other half.

Later this year I need to (finally!) get around to building more shelves in the house proper.

Blogger Doom January 01, 2013 9:45 AM  


Out of 10, a five is tops? I know you are busy, being a super brain, psychic fencing with half-wits and some full blown thinkers, writing books, making games, playing games, keeping teeth-proof socks in order for the ankle biters, being a family man, attending to God's will, and all, but... Would you be willing to give a few samples of each category from all your readings that are in the 9/10 range, for clarity?

Besides, what is one more thing, innit? :p

Blogger Nate January 01, 2013 10:02 AM  

Speaking of beloved... highly entertaining books...

My wife was out shopping for mats to put in front of our door. I said... "It can't say 'welcome' on it."

She immediately knew exactly what I meant and said, "of course not."


Why must welcome mats never have "welcome" on them?

Anonymous AmyJ January 01, 2013 10:05 AM  

The Bobby Singer book made me laugh! Didn't see that one coming.

And very much agreed on The Mongoliad. Huge disappointment - and I made the mistake of slogging through the second one!

Blogger JACIII January 01, 2013 10:07 AM  

I still have my "GET LOST" mat. It did occasionally work...

Anonymous Feh January 01, 2013 10:09 AM  

I enjoyed the Apocalypse Codex, but couldn't give it five stars due to Stross's increasingly unrestrained smug anti-Americanism and anti-Christianism. He practically wrote the book in order to vomit on those two groups.

You bash Scalzi for writing books derived from classic SF novels. Stross is a better writer, but nonetheless the entire Laundry series is derived from classic spy novels.

Blogger JACIII January 01, 2013 10:10 AM  

Whoever got you started on the Sharpe's series is proof of the adage, "misery likes company".
Nothing like being stuck in a Napoleonic war timeloop to mess up one's calendar.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 01, 2013 10:13 AM  


Did your wife get rid of the broom to beat the women away?

Blogger JACIII January 01, 2013 10:53 AM  

Mostly insurance salesmen, Outlaw X, and what the message didn't convince the dogs did.

Such are the joys of rural life.

Blogger Nate January 01, 2013 11:26 AM  

I need a sign on the driveway that says "No tresspassing. Deadly force authorized beyond this point"

Blogger Nate January 01, 2013 11:31 AM  

ok.. you all suck...

Monster Hunter International. Welcome mats give the vampires and such permission to enter your houses.

Not the sparkly gay dancing vampires either... the nasty ones that keep you penned up like cattle to drain every so often.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 01, 2013 12:10 PM  

"Mostly insurance salesmen, Outlaw X, and what the message didn't convince the dogs did."

Had a salesman come a few springs ago asking me if I knew what (those weeds were) dandelions. Told me I needed for him to spray. I asked him if he ever had boiled eggs and dandelion salad with vinegar and oil?

He looked at me like I was crazy. We have it every spring. I then asked him would he like to spay my vegetable garden as well? Bet he don't come back. Try living in the city.

Anonymous Tarmogoyf January 01, 2013 12:35 PM  

Four stars for Cold Days? How does it stack up against the rest of the series?

Anonymous bob k. mando January 01, 2013 1:30 PM  

Welcome mats give the vampires

had you WAITED i'd have answered you.

tsk, tsk, tsk.

patience doesn't seem to be an Alpha attribute.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick January 01, 2013 1:36 PM  

Can you do a list for all the games you play?

Blogger RobertT January 01, 2013 2:29 PM  

Next I'll read China Mieville's "The city and the city." The first critical review was more compelling than the positive reviews. But first I'm about a third of the way through Quicksilver by Stephenson. Another great read. Thanks for that author and Stross and others as well. Every now and then I run out of authors. After stumbling around for a month or so I take a look at your reading list, and pow, there's another one.

Blogger jamsco January 01, 2013 4:55 PM  

So Vox, not the Bible?

Anonymous VD January 01, 2013 6:31 PM  

I have read parts of numerous other works throughout 2012, including the Bible, but I only count those that I have completed during the year.

For example, I've read parts of Il Cemeterio di Praga as well as An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, but I haven't finished reading either.

I'll count the Bible should I ever be done with it....

Anonymous Outlaw X January 01, 2013 6:51 PM  

"I'll count the Bible should I ever be done with it...."

Oh, that one star no account fiction fish story. Yeah, Tried to get through it once myself but got stuck on the fish story. :-)

The most accurate and misunderstood best seller of all times. Probably better than The Throne of Bones.

Seems never to make the NY Times best seller list.

Vox, You have an excellent sense of humor by the way.

Anonymous ivvenalis January 01, 2013 7:04 PM  

Mieville's political views are a bit of a pity, but they really don't get in the way of his writing too much (granted, I've only read Perdido Street Station and a few of his short stories) since he's actually honest and that kind of skill forgives an awful lot anyway. E.g., the city government and its having to consort with unsavory or occult powers in PSS could be clearly read as a direct response to the city's diversity. I've really got to read more of his novels, I've heard nothing but good things. The grotesqueries don't bother me too much, and it's probably got something to do with his creativity anyway.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 01, 2013 7:11 PM  

"Guinness Records reports an estimated 2.5 billion Bibles were printed between 1815 and 1975 and The Economist estimates more than 100m new Bibles are printed every year making a staggering total of over 6 billion in print. The New Yorker also pointed out that in 2005 the number of Bibles sold in the US alone was conservatively estimated at 25 million and Barna research indicates that 92% of all American households have at least one Bible and typically own three. That means most of the 25m Bibles are being sold to homes that already have at least one and likely more.

By comparison the Harry Potter series – 7 books in all – sold only 400 million copies total and no one expects it to keep pace. Also, there is nothing to suggest it will become a classic and I doubt existing owners are buying second, third or even fourth copies of each book in the series.

It even beat Harry Potter?

Anonymous Outlaw X January 01, 2013 7:19 PM  

Forgot Link, probably some thumper wrote it.

Blogger Doom January 01, 2013 8:43 PM  

I've read the bible, NT, a half dozen times or more, starting young. The OT at least three times, but only started that as an adult. I finished the OT, KJV, the first time, before I was 12 for sure. It... isn't that bad of a read. I... do skip over the ...and begat... who fathered... who was the brother of then bore... *zzz* But the rest of it is pretty good, with a few dry spells. It's an excellent read, in my book. Even if I didn't believe a word of it, I find it quite a nice little tale.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 02, 2013 2:21 AM  

do skip over the ...and begat... who fathered... who was the brother of then bore... *zzz*

Abraham-David-Jesus. Just use Sign up today for free.

Blogger Doom January 02, 2013 8:21 AM  

hehehe Man, I don't even want to know my OWN heritage, mostly. Like I know any of those old, mostly white, guys, anyway. :p

(by the way, I have read those, as well as able, the first few times)

Thanks for the chuckle though. Oh, and the cheat-sheet.

Blogger Giraffe January 02, 2013 10:24 AM  

Surprised to see Krugman got 4 stars.

Anonymous Orion January 02, 2013 1:00 PM  

No Garret PI book for the year? I read it and had the impression the series was being wrapped up. I'd have to rate it as near the bottom if not the bottom end for the series quality wise. Strangely enough there is another title slated for this year... Likely to be my last Garret book until I hear of improvement from others.

Anonymous Anonymous January 03, 2013 3:02 PM  

What? No Scalzi?

Blogger Unknown March 18, 2013 5:02 AM  

Microsoft points and Xbox Live

Blogger Unknown March 18, 2013 5:02 AM  

Red Lobster vs Olive Garden

Blogger Unknown March 18, 2013 5:02 AM  

Starbucks Gift Card

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