Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books Read 2009

1. When Will There Be Good News? Kate Atkinson. Really well-written novel, somewhere between a genre mystery and a contemporary work of fiction.
2. The Phoenix Exultant, John C. Wright. Libertarian-oriented, far-future novel. Quite interesting.
3. The Edge of Reason, Melinda Snodgrass. Fantasy novel set in New Mexico. Didn't really work for me.
4. The Ruin of the Roman Empire, James J. O'Donnell. Argues the empire was "ruined" by Justinian's expansion. Not bad, but not great.
5. Little Brother, Cory Doctorow. Excellent novel, written for young adults but a good read for all ages. Won the Prometheus Award. Everyone in the Libertarian Futurist Society was enthusiastic about it, myself included.
6. Saturn's Children, Charles Stross. Science fiction novel about horny robots. A good read.
7. Dilbert 2.0, Scott Adams. Massive collection of Dilbert comic strips.
8. Opening Atlantis, Harry Turtledove (audiobook). Entertaining, average Turtledove novel.
9. Roswell, Texas, L. Neil Smith, Scott Bieser, et al. (graphic novel). Rather interesting look at an alternative Texas.
10. Liberation, Brian Francis Slattery. Unusual novel mixing literary and pop styles. I want to read more by this author.
11. The January Dancer, Michael Flynn. Good far-future SF novel.
12. By Schism Rent Asunder, David Weber (audiobook). Political-military soap opera. Held my attention.
13. The Dead Man's Brother, Roger Zelazny. Lost mystery novel finally published years after author's death. I thought it was quite good.
14. Cosmic Trigger 3: My Life After Death, Robert Anton Wilson. Essays by my favorite writer.
15. Down in the Black Gang, Philip Jose Farmer. Re-read this after hearing about Farmer's death. I think the book proves he was a skilled short story writer.
16. The Cutie, Donald Westlake (audiobook). Fun and fast-moving.
17. The International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical Spying, Jack Barth. Amusing book I picked up at the Washington, D.C., museum.
18. The Spartans, Paul Cartledge (audiobook). Good study by respected scholar.
19. Freakanomics, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt (audiobook). Fun. I don't know enough about economics to really judge this book.
20. The Dream of Scipio, Iain Pears. One of the best historical novels ever. Individuals in three societies in crisis (fall of Rome, Black Death, World War II) in what is now southern France face difficult choices.
21. Hit and Run, Lawrence Bloch (audiobook). Typically entertaining outing by my favorite mystery author.
22. The Book of Lost Books, Stuart Kelly. I would have preferred more scholarship and less commentary.
23. Give Me Back My Legions! Harry Turtledove. Historical novel about the defeat of Varus by Arminius that essentially ended Roman attempts to conquer Germany.
24. The Family Man, Elinor Lipman. One of her best, which means it's really good.
25. As They See 'Em, Bruce Weber. Behind the scenes look at the role umpires play in baseball.
26. The Good Humor Man, Andrew Fox. Enjoyable novel about food Prohibition.
27. Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny (audiobook). I love Zelazny, but I can't figure out why people love the Amber books so much.
28. Prophets, S. Andrew Swann. Enjoyable, fast-moving space opera. First book of a trilogy.
29. Threshhold, Collected Stories Volume 1, Roger Zelazny. Wonderful beginning to NESFA's six-part chronicle.
30. Pallas, L. Neil Smith. Not as good as The Forge of the Elders.
31. Conspiracies of Rome, Richard Blake. Historical novel about Italy in late antiquity. I'm eager to read the sequel.
32. Power and Light, Collected Stories Volume 2, Roger Zelazny. NESFA is performing an excellent service by publishing these.
33. Rocket Men, Craig Nelson (audiobook). Excellent chronicle of the moon flights.
34. Saratoga, John F. Luzader. I read this because I knew I'd be visiting the battlefield. Somewhat revisionist treatment argues that Horatio Gates deserves much of the credit for the key victory.
35. Isle of the Dead, Roger Zelazny. One of Zelazny's best.
36. Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov. Another excellent Nabokov, more political than his usual work.
37. Songs for the Missing, Stewart O'Nan (audiobook). Chilling book about murder of young woman.
38. The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome, Stuart Kelly. Shows role Huns played in Rome's fall. See comments in my 'Best of 2009' posting.
39. Healthy Competition, Michael F. Cannon and Michael D. Tanner. Cato Institute's take on health care reform.
40. The Unincorporated Man, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin. Very political science fiction novel. Interesting and intermittently good
41. By Heresies Distressed, David Weber (audiobook). Not as good as the previous book in the series.
42. This is Me, Jack Vance! Jack Vance. Memoir of one of my favorite authors.
43. Death of a Gentle Lady, M.C. Beaton (audiobook). Funny, very enjoyable mystery. Decided to try Beaton after reading Jack Vance's statement that Beaton is his favorite living author.
44. The Quiet War, Paul McAuley. Science fiction novel about global warming and its consequences. Pretty good.
45. Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories, M.R. James. My Halloween book. He's quite good at ghost stories.
46. The Healing of America, T.R. Reid. Useful look at health care systems in other countries.
47. Transition, Iain R. Banks. Really excellent alternate-worlds SF novel.
48. Makers, Cory Doctorow. Doctorow's tribute to entrepreneurs shows a gift for characterization.
49. Create Your Own Economy, Tyler Cowen. Insightful study of how technology allows each of us to create our own little worlds of education and entertainment.
50. The United States of Atlantis, Harry Turtledove. Dull plot that essentially recapitulates American Revolution, but interesting political insights.
51. A Highland Christmas, M.C. Beaton. Brief holiday novel by the Scottish mystery writer.
52. The Secret Life of Eva Hathaway, Janice Weber. Passionate, energetic and often funny novel by author who is also an acclaimed classical pianist.

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