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2006 Books in Review

NOTE: you needn't follow along in my self-indulgent look back on my reading list from 2006. I'm merely trying to process for myself the threads of my reading.

I was a little disappointed with myself when I looked back over what I had read this year. I thought I had read a lot, but then I realized that it was mostly graphic novels and easier reading. I didn't quite challenge myself this year -- I won't be crossing any books off of "top 100" literary lists. I guess one of my New Year's resolutions will be to start picking up some of the more challenging stuff gathering dust on my shelves.

Biggest accomplishment

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I've been reading this since 2004, if not earlier. If feels good to check this one off, though that still leaves Confusion and The System of the World, which are both just as long and heavy. I enjoyed Quicksilver enough to attempt the other two books, but it won't be among my Stephenson favorites.

Recommended

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Fables: 1001 Nights comes at a perfect time for the series. Thematically, it dovetails well with the recent Fables: Arabian Nights release from the regular series, and it also provides a whole lot of character development/origins at a time when the series is ready for it. It also features art by Charles Vess, James Jean, Jill Thompson, Tara McPherson, and more. I'd probably put the other Fables books below on the recommended line, but I this collection stood out.

Old Man's War is John Scalzi's take on Starship Troopers, but instead of the young people going off to fight, it's the old folks. Scalzi provided a comfortable space in which to ponder this twist+homage. I've picked up Forever War as a result of reading this, so that I can continue the thought process.

What the Dormouse Said is a fun book for me, mainly because it pretty much places the companies that I've worked for in an alternate universe: LSD experiments, violent anti-war protests, Rolling Stone, and pot. And all of this lead to the modern computer and Internet.

Fiasco dissects the failures of the current Iraq War from a military strategic point of view. It was a new way for me to look at the failures of the Dubya administration :).

I've already said enough good things about Design of Everyday Things and Thud!.

Not recommended

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I generally like Queen and Country and McSweeney's, but not every release is a hit. I've previously described some of my dissatisfaction with Queen and Country: Declassified Vol 2 as well as McSweeney's 17.

Rest of the Reads

Whole lot of Lemony Snicket

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I'm not sure I felt fully satisfied by the end of Lemony Snicket, and that perhaps was Daniel Handler's intent. It was sadly fun, once it got out of the repetitive rhythm of the first four books and started gaining some continuity. My purchase of the Beatrice Letters falls in the McSweeney's clever packaging gimmick that I repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly fall for.

Whole lot of Usagi and Japanese-themed graphic novels:

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Usagi continues to delight -- Grasscutter I is one of my all-time favorite graphic novels. Soon I'll be caught up all the way through volume 20. Lone Wolf and Cub is dark enough for me that I don't think I will need any more of Tatsumi's depraved Push-Man-like stories.

Humor

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Terry Pratchett keeps filling that humor niche for me, though I'm testing the waters with Christopher Moore. I tried to see if Augusten Burroughs would be a good Sedaris fill-in: I was entertained but not impressed. I wasn't too impressed with Bruce Campbell's novel either, but it knew what it was and embraced it, so I respect that. On the graphical novel front, I've enjoyed filling in my historical knowledge of Penny Arcade, Groo, and Barry Ween. It's amazing how many good graphic novels there are to buy when you take 10 years off from collecting comics.

And the rest (good, possibly great, but no comment right now)

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Comments (2)

Bravo, bravo!! Thanks for your reading list. I'll have to take a look at some of these books. I'm always looking for new books and some of these look pretty interesting.

Some of my favorite books of late: A Map Of The World (Jane Hamilton), The Prince Of Tides (Pat Conroy), The Smoke Jumper (Nicholas Evans), The Dark Tower series (Stephen King), Weaveworld (Clive Barker)...

Too many books to mention here. Also see my books list (that is at least 6 months out of date): http://www.markwallace.net/books.aspx

kwc:

@Mark: Thanks for stopping by and sharing your list. I'm only about halfway through the Dark Tower series, so this is a good reminder that I need to get started back on that one.

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