Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Reads 2008-2010

Somehow I have read over 150 books in the last three years.  As it may be my last serious attempt to read 50 books a year (which takes a lot more concentration than you might think), here is my highly subjective list of my favorites since 2008:

Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delany

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami 

Lunar Park by Brett Easton Ellis

The Keep by Jennifer Egan

The City and The City by China Mieville

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

54 Books in 2010

For three years running I have managed to make my goal of reading 50 books a year; so I guess I have that one knocked down and perhaps it's time to try some new challenge (although I will continue to keep counting on this blog).  I did vow to read a little smarter this year, though I still read a mountain of trash and pulp.  But I read some really good books, and here are my favorites:

1.  The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

2.  The Keep by Jennifer Egan

3.  The City and The City by China Mieville

4.  Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

5.  The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

6.  Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks

7.  Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

8.  Clans of the Alphane Moon by Philip K. Dick

9.  Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem

10.  The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

As always, happy reading!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#54: Trap for Buchanan by Jonas Ward

Buchanan, a drifter heading towards San Francisco, ends up helping an old friend protect his mine from crooks, owlhoots, Mexican bandits, Indians, and other challengers in Jonas Ward's Trap for Buchanan.

This was another book featuring an author I had never heard of that I nabbed in a big handful from a flea market and have worked through sporadically.  Jonas Ward was a pseudonym used by a handful of writers in the 60s and 70s in westerns featuring the honorable cowpoke.  There was also a good movie starring Randolph Scott as the lantern-jawed Buchanan.  Trap for Buchanan was apparently written by William R. Cox, who seemed to have penned the lion's share of the series.

It is a nicely sturdy western with a hero who doesn't like fighting but, naturally, can only be pushed so far before fighting back.  Although not outstanding, it is certainly more serviceable than many Westerns and I will look for more by the phantom Jonas Ward.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#53: The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

An evil wizard called Flagg subverts the noble Prince Peter and installs a puppet in his place, setting sinister plans in motion in Stephen King's fantasy novel The Eyes of the Dragon.

This unusual departure for horror master King was one I somehow missed when it came out in the 80s.  I am glad I found it as an audio book read by Bronson Pinchot, quickly becoming one of my favorite audio book readers.  It is a very credible fantasy, probably most reminiscent of William Goldman's The Princess Bride, but enjoyable in its own right.  Both share a bright, funny narration that carries the story along.

For fans of King's larger body of work, there are definitely threads and themes that appear or re-appear in other novels, probably most notably The Stand and The Dark Tower series.

I checked this out from the Morrison-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

#52: The Reversal by Michael Connelly

DNA evidence seems to spring a child-killer from prison after many years, but defense attorney Mickey Haller jumps over to the prosecution to ensure that doesn't come to pass in Michael Connelly's The Reversal.

Connelly is perhaps best known for his novels featuring L.A. police detective Harry Bosch, in my mind one of the milestone mystery series of the late 20th Century.  He has sometimes branched out to feature other characters in Bosch's world, and this is I think the third featuring Haller.  At the end of the last novel Haller and Bosch were revealed to have a family relationship that ties the two characters closer together.

Connelly is equally adept at writing straight-up courtroom drama, and this one moves at a quick pace with solid plotting.  Fans of Connelly will be satisfied to see appearances from Harry Bosch, FBI profiler Rachel Walling, and other characters seen previously.

I checked this one out from the Farmland Public Library in Farmland, Indiana and would have consumed it in a single day if I had a day free to do so.