Trina L Short (trinalin) wrote,
Trina L Short

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The Books I Read: 2004 Roundup

Several years ago, in order to force myself to read more of the lovely books which I own, I made a pact to not buy any new books until I'd read 10 that I owned. So I started a list of books that I read and when I finished them. The pact was over before the first month (when one local bookstore went out of business and I bought 3 books, making me 30 books behind in reading!) But I kept the record up ever since. One thing that I do not put in my "Books I Have Read" list are books that I have reread. So all of the New Adventures of Doctor Who which I reread in the past few years didn't make it on the list.

What's really sad is that I used to be a bookaholic. When I was a kid, I'd have numerous books going and I'd have some in every room that I'd be working on. I tore through books the way some people tear through chocolate. But then, sadly, I discovered television. In particular, British television. (Damn that Roald Dahl - he made me into an Anglophile, and what better way to get your fix than to watch The Tomorrow People or Doctor Who?) My voracious reading became a mere pecking of the material. And I think my reading speed decreased too!

When the New Adventures came out, I started to tear through them the way I used to tear through all of my books. Unfortunately, they didn't keep the flame going long enough for me to tear through my other books. But my book buying addiction has NEVER let up, even during the Lean Read years. *sigh* So my library has gotten bigger, but my books read list hasn't. (Damn "read" and "read" being spelled the same and not meaning the same!)

I liked the idea behind my pact, but I lack the willpower to carry it out. However, keeping track of my read books has helped me concentrate on reading books which I've owned FOREVER but have never read. I used to buy books from the Troll Book Club and other school-sponsored book clubs. God, I miss those days! Books like Oliver Twist, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates have sat on my shelves for years. But I'm slowly getting through them. I finished The Old Man and the Sea (a gift from my father to coach me in writing shorter sentences - might have helped if I'd read it) last night. I'm going to tackle Washington Irving tonight. Perhaps I'll sample Jules Verne next week.

Ahem, so many books, so much time putzed away on the computer writing this all up... So anyhoo, I thought I'd compile a list of, say the top 10 books that I read in 2004. And for those of you keeping score at home, I'll include the top 13 books I read in 2003 (from an e-mail I sent to a mostly quiet book mailing list I'm on).

First off, however, my stats since I've been keeping score:

  • From Jun of 2001 to Dec 31 of 2001, I read 27 books.

  • For all of 2002, I read a mere 22 books (eep!)

  • I managed to read 33 books in 2003.

  • And now, for 2004, I managed 40 books. Woohoo!

Top 10 13 Books Read in 2004

(Two Three disclaimers - these books aren't in order of most favorite to least, just in order of when I got 'em read. Secondly, 2004 marks the year when I truly discovered Philip Pullman, even though I'd read a few of his stories in 2003. Thirdly, I found 13 that I wanted to talk about instead of 10.)

  1. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett - every year since I discovered Pratchett, there has been at least 1 book in my top WHATEVER list of read books. His "adult" books in the Discworld, like this one, are still just as fresh, witty, and full of hilarious but surprisingly real characters. And I love his new batch of "children's" books that take place in Discworld. See below.

  2. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman - the book that convinced me to read more Pullman. I'd read two of his not-so-controversial books in 2003 (The Firecracker Maker's Daughter and I Was a Rat) but they didn't really grab me like this one. The trilogy is amazing, but after I finished it, I found another love (also by Pullman)...

  3. Camera Obscura by Lloyd Rose - I love the New Adventures of Doctor Who. But I have found few BBC Doctor Who books to write home about. Lloyd Rose, OTOH, does a lovely job in writing for the 8th Doctor. (You will notice, however, that her 7th Doctor book didn't make it into my top 13 list. I'm afraid it didn't really work for me.)

  4. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde - So far, I have enjoyed every Thursday Next story. I'd already have bought and read Something Rotten if it were in paperback in the US. If you're into Mundane Fantasy, this series is perfect for you. :-)

  5. Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson - thanks to michaellee, I heard about this book. Since my local bookstore keeps it in with the romance novels, I'd've never found it otherwise. It's about a Minnesota woman with a foot fetish (hey, who hasn't got one?) who gets turned into a vampire. And then has to figure out how to deal with being the New Vampire on the Street. This is made even more difficult when she discovers she might even be the fabled Queen of the Undead. It's a real hoot to read, and the smut ain't too overpowering.

  6. Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett - this is one of those "children's" books I mentioned earlier. Best of all, it deals with the witches in Discworld, some of my favorite characters. (It's hard for me to have favorite characters since they're all so cool, but Granny Weatherwax is certainly up there.) If you've read and enjoyed The Wee Free Men, you'll probably love this sequel even more. (Well, I did, at least.)

  7. Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman - remember when I wrote that I'd found another Pullman love? This was it. Forget His Dark Materials. The REAL trilogy by Pullman to read is the Sally Lockhart trilogy. OK, so book two (The Shadow in the North) is rather lame and forgettable, but books 1 and 3 are magnificent! And I love Sally Lockhart. You go gurl! (Come now, when you were a little girl growing up, surely you wanted to read books with Chinese tongs, opium, dirty London streets, and a cool independent young woman???! I know I did!)

  8. Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman - book three of the Sally Lockhart Trilogy. Talk about going out with a BANG! Perhaps one of the scariest stories I've read, simply because what happened to Sally (identity theft) is such a real concern these days. But, damn, to have that happen in the Victorian era - eek! I figured out the villain near the very beginning, but that never once detracted from the story.

  9. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde - my question to you Brits who love Fforde: Did this book include the last chapter for Americans in your copies? I understood why he put it in for us Merkans, and I only wish it were true... (It deals with The Scarlet Letter, one of the most boring books I read in high school...) Funny stuff, and I will get Something Rotten one of these days!

  10. Blood and Hope by Iain McLaughlin - and

  11. The Dalek Factor by Simon Clark - two Telos Novellas for Doctor Who. Both are very tightly written stories. I love Iain's story, told in letters and journal entries, about the Civil War. Lots of emotion in such a small book. I think he handled Peri very well. (It's Doc5, Peri, and Erimem, who's an audio character from Big Finish, and who's black - in this story, at least.) Simon's story has some Doctor (maybe 8?) dealing with a bunch of Thals in a world once inhabited by Daleks. Maybe even still inhabited by Daleks... I really loved the atmosphere and terror of this book. But dammit, I have NO idea what happened there at the end. Hate when the author goes off in one direction and I've lost his trail.

  12. Pure Imagination by Mel Stuart - the making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! WOOHOO! What a wonderful book, with gorgeous photos, and loads of inside information. Thanks, Mel, for finally writing about my most favorite movie in the whole wide world!

  13. Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge - one of those Troll Book Order books from my elementary years. This is actually two books sewn together (badly, I'll admit). The first is a touching story about poor Hans Brinker and his family dealing with poverty and a father who lost his senses years ago in a dike incident. (Get your minds out of the gutter, folks!) The second is a travelogue/history of Holland, told mostly by a group of boys skating along the canal. Separate out the two and you'll have two interesting books. You can read it for yourself thanks to Project Gutenberg.

Also in 2004, I discovered that the Muppet's Christmas Carol is actually a very good version of A Christmas Carol. That Ivanhoe has Robin Hood in it (and barely has Ivanhoe in it). That even Telos couldn't get a good book out of Tucker & Perry (Companion Piece). And many other things.

Gah, I've taken too long as it is. Perhaps tomorrow I'll post my top 13 books from 2003. Or maybe I'll stay offline and just read. *snerk* Come on, who's kidding whom, here?
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