Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The books I read in 2012 (and some backstory from 1982)

My grandparents never threw anything useful away. My grandfather worked in a machine shop and my grandmother was a school librarian. Their home was always full of great stuff that still had a potential purpose. What I remember most about this was that there was always plenty of paper for us grandkids to draw or write on whenever we came for a visit. A great deal of that paper came from leftover journals or ledger books, and one item in particular has been in my life since 1982.

That was the year my grandmother gave me an old library binder full of pages that were designed to log in books acquired by the library. I -- a geeky kid if there ever was one -- started using it to keep track of every book that I read.

Here's a picture of that wonderful journal (a bit worse for wear, but not too bad for something I have owned and used for more than 30 years and transported from one home to another at least a half-dozen times):

And here are the first few entries from 1982. (As you can see, this was during my science fiction phase.)

(I should scan all of these pages one of these days -- some of the ink is starting to fade with time -- but they're much bigger than my current scanner, so that will have to wait.)

Anyway, a few years ago, I transitioned from this hand-written journal to using Goodreads, a great website (I'm sure many of you already use it) that lets you log in, rate and review any books you read and/or own. I still refer to the journal fairly often -- most recently to figure out which Max Allan Collins and Joe R. Lansdale novels I have read in the 1990s and which ones I still need to read -- but for the most part, Goodreads has now taken its place.

Yes, that's sad, but the good news is that both Goodreads and the old ledger have a big role in my life and are pretty tightly linked to my reading life, which remains as important me as ever.

Looking at Goodreads this New Year's morning, I find that read an amazing 115 books in 2012. That's way, way, way above the number of books I have read over the last few years and much closer to the number of books I was reading in the 1980s, when I often approached 100 books a year.

(I think you can see all of the books I read here. I'm not positive that Goodreads will share it with you if you're not my friend there, but give it a shot.)

I credit a few things with this massive increase in books. First, we moved in 2011 to a bigger, brighter house where it's just physically easier to read. Second, I read a lot of graphic novels, which are shorter and can usually be read in one or two sittings. Third, I read most of the physical books I acquired this year as soon as they came into the house, rather than letting them sit around for years like I used to. Fourth, my Kindle -- which I bought shortly after we moved here -- made reading novels a hell of a lot easier. The vast majority of my physical books are still in boxes after several moves and a lack of space to display them. Even though I still own hundreds of physical books that I haven't read, sorting through those boxes to find any of them is next to impossible. With the Kindle, I can quickly find the next book I want to read and dive in.

Oh yeah, and fifth, we live kind of in the middle of nowhere and we never go anywhere, so that leaves plenty of time to read. And sixth, I just flat out made more time to read in 2012. Go figure.

So what were my favorite books of 2012? Here are a few I would highly recommend:
  • Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert
  • Simon's Cat: Beyond the Fence by Simon Tofield
  • My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
  • Stolen Away by Max Allan Collins
  • The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake
  • Horrors! Cults, Crimes and Creepers by Stephen R. Bissette
  • The Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli
  • Here Comes Trouble by Michael Moore
  • Snarked (volumes 1 and 2) by Roger Langridge
  • Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French
  • All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky by Joe R. Lansdale
  • Available Dark by Elizabeth Hand
  • Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
That's a pretty good list. I could go on, but 14 is enough.

I don't know what 2013 will bring, but I'm sure that my future holds more than a few books, for which I am eternally grateful.


  1. So awesome. I'm requesting a bunch of Kindle samples from your list now. Thanks!

  2. Cool. I look forward to seeing if any of them grab your interest!