2016 Stats

In 2016 I read forty-two books, eighteen of which were nonfiction, twelve fiction, seven comic (or image-based) and five poetry.

I averaged 0.8 books a week, but the most books I read in a single month was nine (March).

I read 2 books written in the 11th century
1 book written in the 1700s
3 books written in the 1800s
4 books written between 1900-1949
17 books written between 1950-1999
15 books written between 2000-2016

Books that I rated 1 star: 3 (~7%)
2 stars: 5 (~12%)
3 stars: 7 (~17%)
4 stars: 14 (~33%)
5 stars: 13 (~31%)

So why did I read only half as many books as last year?  Martial arts.  I now spend about 14 hours a week doing kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA, which not only cuts down on my free time but also makes me too tired to read much in bed!

The Essential Spider-Man

essential spider man lee ditko rosen marvelThe Essential Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, 3/5

Reading this collection was a fun, new experience and I loved the artwork, but the writing is atrocious–so much of it consists of characters talking to themselves so that the reader can tell what is going on, e.g. “Good thing my spider powers enable me to jump out of the way as Doctor Wombat attacks with his furry, robotic claws of death.”  Perhaps this is just inherent to the medium, but I do not remember encountering a similar problem in Watchmen (the only other comic series I’ve read).  Still, the corny writing and unsophisticated plots do have an undeniable charm especially, I imagine, for people who grew up reading comic books.

Why I read it: I like trying new genres of literature and my sister’s boyfriend offered to lend me his well-worn, childhood copy.

Miracles

miracles c.s. lewis harpersanfrancisco 2001Miracles: A Preliminary Study by C.S. Lewis, 5/5

It’s like no one told C.S. Lewis that you can’t prove the existence of God, so he just does.  And that is merely to lay the foundation for his main topic, which I actually found much less interesting and convincing than the preliminary discussions–the man does not shirk an intellectual challenge.  Though I have occasionally sensed some antagonism from him towards science, in this book he cheerfully tackles both the known and unknown with the grace, focus and rigorous logic that make me sometimes fear that I tend to put more faith in him than in God.  Of course, no matter how hard one tries to be open-minded and logical, it cannot be too difficult a task to convince someone of something they already believe.  With that in mind, I would love to know how this book is perceived by people with different backgrounds and beliefs than me.

Why I read it: C.S. Lewis is one of my favourite authors and thankfully, every time I think I’ve read all his books I come across a new one.

Film Directing

film directing shot by shot katz michael wiese productions 1991Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen by Steven D. Katz, 4/5

This book offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the film director’s craft, laying out the many tools, visualisation strategies, camera angles, movements and stagings that are available to the person intent on transferring a story from script to film.  The book format is obviously not ideal for the topic and it is up to the reader to imagine how a shot might flow between the still images that are provided, but the author is a clear communicator and most of the concepts are not difficult to understand.

Why I read it: I came across it while browsing through books at the thrift store and thought it looked interesting.

Four Novels of the 1970s

four novels of the 1970s leonard library of america 2014Four Novels of the 1970s: Fifty-Two Pickup, Swag, Unknown Man No. 89 and The Switch by Elmore Leonard, 1/5

I made it most of the way through the first novel in this collection and, while I admired the film-noir mood and punchy dialogue, eventually gave up because it was just too R-rated for me.  Given that I enjoy watching a lot of R-rated movies, this might seem strange, but there’s just something about books–I get a bad feeling from reading things in print that wouldn’t phase me to watch on film.

I suspect that Fifty-Two Pickup might be one of Leonard’s roughest books and I might have had better luck with some of his more comedic works, but I just don’t feel motivated to give them a try at this point.

Why I read it: Got a batch of Elmore Leonard books out of the library to read, starting with his 10 Rules of Writing.

Mr. Majestyk

mr majestyk leonard william morrow 2012Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard, 3/5

This is no literary masterpiece, but it’s got a likeable good guy, a hot girl, a selection of mean bad guys and plenty of gun play, so it seems petty to complain.

Why I read it: I needed a break from some of Leonard’s darker work and I enjoyed the Charles Bronson movie which served as inspiration for this short novel.

The Works of Oscar Wilde

works of oscar wilde abbeydale press golden heritage 2000The Works of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde, 5/5

Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite authors and I have read (and re-read) his major works, such as the entrancing novella, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the impossibly witty play The Importance of Being Earnest.  However, there were a few of his short stories, plays and poems that I’d never encountered before, so this collection was a delightful mix of old favourites and new discoveries.

Why I read it: this collection was a birthday present from my dad.