2012 was a very stressful year, especially as I left one workplace to another. Fortunately for me, I am working in a much better environment, and I am getting inspired to write more (part of it is because it is encourage here, and part of it the environment has less stress inducers. This I hope is the last time I refer to the tribulations of 2012. I am finally letting that past go, and looking forward to a new year of many exciting things), so I hope the coming year will have me blogging some more. One thing I may do is share some more of my book reviews as I find things worth sharing. I still continue to read quite a bit in the library literature, even if it is not often the most inspiring thing to read, but I feel that I have to keep up in order to be a good librarian. My first semester at Berea College has gone well, and I am looking forward to the new spring semester. I am also looking forward to reading more. So, let's have a look at how I did in terms of reading in 2012:
The basic numbers:
I read 117 books this year, including 6 re-reads.
Number of books read in 2011: 119, with 3 re-reads (the 2011 list).
Number of books read in 2010: 119, with 6 rereads (the 2010 list).
Number of books read in 2009: 98, with 5 rereads. I believe this is the first time I started to actively track rereads. (the 2009 list).
Number of books read in 2008: 111 (the 2008 list).
Number of books read in 2007: 85 (the 2007 list).
Number of books read in 2006: 106 (the 2006 list).
Number of books read in 2005: 73
I read two books less than last year. To be honest, I was expecting to have read a lot less given, as you will see below, that I had some months where I did not read much. August and September was the time when I was making the transition from Tyler, Texas to Berea, Kentucky, and it shows. I just did not have as much time or inclination to read. I was worried about a whole bunch of other things. Once I settled down, I picked up the reading pace again.
As in previous years, I continue to track any re-reads, which are marked on the list with an asterisk. I am also tracking how many books I borrow from libraries (my library or others, say ILL), and I will go over that and other numbers in the commentary below the list. As always, if a book title is not as clear, I have added small details in parenthesis (say to make clear it is a graphic novel or part of a series). You can find all of the titles reviewed (briefly or not) in my GoodReads profile. I did share some reviews in my blogs, which you can find if you click on the blog tag for "books and reading" in my blogs. My four readers know that if a book is mostly of professional interest, I will post the review at The Gypsy Librarian. Otherwise, I post them over at The Itinerant Librarian.
Without further delay, here is the list of books I read in 2012:
- C.J. Werleman, God Hates You, Hate Him Back: Making Sense of the Bible.
- Clive Barker, The Complete Clive Barker's Great and Secret Show (graphic novel).
- Quino, Mafalda 6.*
- Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Vol. 1: First Shot, Last Call.
- Paul R. Mullins, Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut.
- Drew Karpyshyn, Dynasty of Evil (Darth Bane #3, Star Wars novel).
- José Martí, La Edad de Oro.*
- Veronica Alice Gunter, 400 Wood Boxes: The Fine Art of Containment and Concealment.
- Catherine Friend, The Compassionate Carnivore.
- Marc Lesser, Z.B.A.: Zen of Business Administration.
- Leah Price, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books.
- Anwer Bati and Simon Chase, The Cigar Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide.
- Laurie R. King, ed., A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon.
- Bill Maher, The New New Rules.
- David Hine, District X, Vol.1: Mr. M.*
- Robert Bloch, et.al., Completely Doomed.
- R.A. Salvatore, The Legacy (Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 7; graphic novel adaptation)
- Daniel Way, Deadpool, Vol.2: Dark Reign.
- Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Vol. 2: Split Second Chance.
- Penn Jillette, God No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales.
- Susan Sessions Rugh, Are We There Yet? The Golden Age of American Family Vacations.
- David Hine, District X, Vol.2: Underground.
- Tomas Tranströmer, The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems.
- Paul Dini, Batman: Arkham City.
- Danny Meyer, Mix, Shake, Stir.
- Neil Gaiman, Eternals.
- Wayne Curtis, And a Bottle of Rum: a History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.
- Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Vol. 3: Hang Up on the Hang Low.
- J. Michael Straczynski, Fantastic Four, Vol. 1.
- Jonathan Gruber, Health Care Reform (graphic novel).
- Sam Keith, Arkham Asylum: Madness.
- Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach, One Nation Under Sex.
- Jeff Somers, The Electric Church.
- Mike Mignola, Hellboy: House of the Living Dead.
- Sara Benincasa: Agorafabulous: Dispatches from my Bedroom.
- Dan Abnett, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Legacy.
- Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.
- Scott Snyder, Iron Man Noir.
- Mike Benson, Luke Cage Noir.
- Ian Lendler, Alcoholica Esoterica.
- Hugh Hefner, ed., The New Bedside Playboy.
- Julia Flynn Siler, Lost Kingdom.
- Marcus Buckingham, First, Break All the Rules.
- Robert Kirkman, Marvel Zombies 2.
- Scott Synder, American Vampire, Vol. 3.
- Sean Michael Wilson, ed., Ax Volume 1: A Collection of Alternative Manga.
- Frank Miller, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Vol. 1.
- Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Book 7 (Hardcover compilation).
- Grant Morrison, Batman R.I.P.
- Aaron Bobrow-Strain, White Bread.
- James Luceno, Darth Plagueis (Star Wars novel).
- Arthur J. Magida, The Nazi Séance.
- Joe Nickell, Secrets of the Sideshows.
- Jay Parini, Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America.
- Kenzo Kitakata, The Cage.
- Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.
- Neil Gaiman: Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader.
- Mike Bender, Awkward Family Photos.
- Aaron Lansky, Outwitting History.
- Kaim Tachibana, Boys Love.
- Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.
- Lesley M.M. Blume, Let's Bring Back.
- Ray Hemachandra, et.al., eds., 500 Raku: Bold Explorations of a Dynamic Ceramics Technique.
- Roy Thomas, Marvel Visionaries: Roy Thomas.
- Ray Hemachandra, et.al., eds., 500 Vases: Contemporary Explorations of a Timeless Form.
- Anchee Min, ed., Chinese Propaganda Posters.
- Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Vol. 4: A Foregone Tomorrow.
- Gustavo Arellano, Taco U.S.A.: How Mexican Food Conquered America.
- Stephen Colbert, I am a Pole.
- Eric Stangel, Goodnight Wife; Goodnight Husband.
- Scott Pasfield, Gay in America.
- Kate Colquhoun, Murder in the First-Class Carriage.
- Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Vol. 5: The Counterfifth Detective.
- Brian Ralph, Daybreak (graphic novel).
- Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Vol. 6: Six Feet Under the Gun.
- Tom Mueller, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.
- Brian Azzarello, 100 Bullets, Vol. 7: Samurai.
- Adrian Gostick, All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results.
- Julia Goldberg, ed. and the Association of Alternative Weeklies, Best AltWeekly Writing 2009 & 2010.
- Brian K. Vaughan, Mystique: Ultimate Collection by Brian K. Vaughan.
- Clay A. Johnson, The Information Diet.
- Mike Carey, Ultimate Elektra, Vol. 1: Devil's Due.
- Don Borchert, Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library.
- Carlos Fuentes, La Gran Novela Latinoamericana.
- Christian Dunn, ed., Legends of the Space Marines (Warhammer 40K).
- Dan Abnett, Horus Rising (The Horus Heresy series book 1, Warhammer 40K).
- Scott Adams, Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy (Dilbert book 5).
- Dan Abnett, Ravenor: The Omnibus (Warhammer 40K).
- Mark Chiarello, Batman: Black and White.
- Anthony Bourdain, Get Jiro!
- Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman.
- Carole Cable, Cable on Academe.*
- Jay Leno, Headlines. *
- Henry Petroski, The Book on the Bookshelf.
- Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean, Generation on a Tightrope.
- Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.
- Derf Backderf, My Friend Dahmer.
- Will Bingley, Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson.
- Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?
- Gary Rivlin, Broke USA.
- Christopher Yost, et..al., Ender's Game: Battle School.
- Christian Dunn, ed., Victories of the Space Marines (Warhammer 40K).
- Kelley Puckett, Batgirl, Vol. 1: Silent Running.
- Mick Harrison, Star Wars Dark Times, Vol. 1: Path to Nowhere.
- Mark Millar, Red Razors.
- Jean-Claude Carrière and Umberto Eco, This is Not the End of the Book.
- Frank Warren, The Secret Lives of Men and Women; A Postsecret Book.
- Thomas Andrews, Boba Fett: Man with a Mission (Star Wars).
- Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson, Collaborative Information Literacy Assessments.
- Daniel Wallace, The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force (Star Wars).
- Graham McNeill, False Gods (The Horus Heresy series book 2, Warhammer 40K).
- C.B. Sebulski, X-Men: Fairy Tales.
- Walt Crawford, Open Access: What You Need to Know Now.
- Allan Moore, Saga of the Swamp Thing, Vol. 1.
- Larry Hama, G.I. Joe: The Best of Hawk.
- Anthony Giglio, Mr. Boston Holiday Cocktails.
- Kurt Luchs, Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: A Wiseguy's Guide the Workplace.*
Comments and thoughts:
- I still read primarily in print. I still have not made the transition to an e-reader, and I have no interest or intention of doing so. My workplace this year provided me with an iPad to help with teaching as well as help me learn the technology. I may try to download a book or two from the library collections to see how the process works. Overall though, given the small amount of time I have spent using the device so far, I can say I am probably not going to transition to e-books as my primary form of reading any time soon. To be honest, I just don't see the big deal with tablets. I can appreciate what they do, and I will admit I may need more time to see all it can do, but so far, I am a little less than impressed. I am trying to keep an open mind regarding the device. In addition, I don't like reading big chunks of text on a screen. Books in print are still preferred by this librarian and reader.
- I still keep track of my books on GoodReads. It has served me well to keep track of what I read and review, or at least make a brief commentary, on items I have read. It is also a pretty easy tool to use to keep the TBR list growing.
- I still read a lot by serendipity. That is not likely to change, and I am perfectly at peace with that. In addition to using GoodReads to keep track, I do keep reading lists, some of which you can find over at Alchemical Thoughts (just click on the "books and reading" tag when you get there). I also browse a lot, and I make notes. Carrying a pocket notebook has worked well for me because it is great for reminders, including jotting down books I want to read, which I then add to a list on the scratch pad, or borrow or buy depending on mood.
- Number of books read in the best month: 16 in February.
- Number of books read in the worst month: 3 in August. Again, this is when I resigned from UT Tyler, and I was moving to the new job in Berea.
- Fiction: 61. A bit more fiction than nonfiction this year, but not by much. In this category, I do include graphic novels and mangas, unless those happen to be memoirs and other forms of nonfiction narrative. I did read 15 fiction books less than last year. I think part of it may be that I read more nonfiction this year. Another reason is that I did pick up one or two big books, including at least one omnibus (the kind that contains at least three novels in it, but I count it as one book in the tally. These usually take me quite a while to read).
- Nonfiction: 56. I read 13 books more in nonfiction this year when compared to last year. I wanted to learn things this past year, and reading books is a way I do it. Plus, I did have some pleasant discoveries when it came to nonfiction books. I only read 2 books that can be labeled as dealing with LIS. I tend to prefer to get a lot of my LIS reading material from articles and some select LIS blogs. I feel I get the information I need a bit quicker that way, plus to be honest, LIS books don't impress me a whole lot given they often regurgitate or repackage stuff I have read before in the literature or they are just terribly written. As I have said before, writing skills are something that a lot of librarians as well as library school students need to cultivate. Now, I have read other books that may be of interest to librarians, especially books about books and reading, an area that I do enjoy reading quite a bit. I also enjoyed some art books this year, and I hope to discover some more in the coming year. Sometimes, I just enjoy looking at pretty photos and art pieces in books. And yes, I keep reading microhistories when I can.
- Books borrowed: 76. Basically, this year I borrowed more books to read than I read books that I own. I have not stopped buying books, but the TBR shelf is a lot bigger at home, so I may need to work on that this year. As I have noted before, I read a lot by serendipity. So, when I come across a good title in the library, whether it is my library or my local public library, I will add it to my list, and if it catches my eye right away, I will read it. In fact, every book I read during the month of May was borrowed. Borrowed includes from the library as well as via Interlibrary Loan. I am a big fan of Interlibrary Loan, and I make use of it whenever I can. I tend to borrow nonfiction books, especially if they are books I know that I want to read, but I would not want to own. Most nonfiction falls into the I want to read but not own category. Also, as I am getting more selective in what I keep, given books do take a lot of space and are hard to move, I am borrowing some fiction.
- Graphic novels and comics: 45. This category includes all graphic novels and comics from the traditional superhero stuff to the more literary or nonfiction types. Graphic novels and manga I still tend to buy given finding them in libraries can be rare. I will note my local public library does have a decent selection of graphic novels and mangas, plus they seem a bit more open to taking requests for them from patrons, a sharp contrast to Tyler Public's poor and embarrassing lack in this regard. I have borrowed a few from the local public library, and I can use ILL at work to get others I may want to read but not add to my collection. This was also a very good year of pleasant discoveries in this area.
- Mangas: I only read 1 this year, and it was an anthology collection. In some cases, it was a bit difficult to find the next volume in some series I follow. Manga publishing in the United States, to be honest, is a crap shoot. You have to wait til the publishers here get a license from Japan (main source of mangas, but consider also items like Korean manwhas) and then they decide whether to translate and publish it here. What they often do is they publish small runs, and often if a series does not stick, they cancel it. So, with mangas, it is kind of hard to get attached if you know something may get cancelled down the road. Also, bookstores and comic stores are not that great in terms of carrying the titles in the first place, especially in areas of the country that are more conservative (this is likely due to local ignorance and intolerance, the usual crap). So I read these when I can get them, and I stock up when I can. Right now, I have quite a bit of mangas waiting to be read, so I am not totally out. However, this does explain a bit why I have more borrowed books read this year: I tend to read what I borrow first, after all, if I own it, it is not going anywhere. Something to work on this year, reading some of those mangas on my shelves. I did buy two new titles at the end of the year to try out, which I hope to share in GoodReads soon.
- As I mentioned above, finding manga is not easy. Kentucky, at least the area I am in, is not that much better. Berea lacks any decent or substantial bookstore, so this means a trip to Lexington for book runs. However, Lexington is only 45 minutes away, so it is a heck of a lot easier than the longer runs I had to do to DFW when I wanted to see better bookstores. However, I think that is a small price to pay to live in a nice, relatively quiet and safe place. I'd rather do the small run up to the "big city" than to live in it.
- Other categories: As I mentioned, I did read some nice art books. I read five of those this year. I read three books written in Spanish, which is two more than last year. I read one poetry book.
- Book challenges: I did not participate in any reading challenges in 2012. I may or not sign up for one in 2013 if I find one that is not too restrictive. I am not a big fan of being told what to read.
- The Walking Dead series. This year I read volume seven of the hardcover compilations. This volume covers comic book issues 73 to 84. I did enjoy this volume, and I will be looking forward to the next compilation when I can find it. I will note that I am sticking mostly to the book; the television series has just lost its luster for me, so I am not bothering with it much. I may glance at an episode, but overall, the show feels more like a chore to watch. The comic book, at least at the point I am in reading it, is a lot better.
- The 100 Bullets series. This was a great discovery for me this year. If you like shows like X-Files (think the part of the show that dealt with large shadow organizations or government conspiracies) or other conspiracy-type shows, you will probably enjoy this. The basic premise: Agent Graves shows up with a suitcase. Inside is a gun, 100 bullets, and irrefutable evidence of someone who did you wrong. The gun and the bullets cannot be traced, so you can kill them without any concern for punishment or retribution. What do you choose? And that is just for openers. As you make progress in the series, things get deeper.
- And a Bottle of Rum. An excellent microhistory on the history of rum in the world. History buffs as well as fans of rum will enjoy this book. It is an easy to read book, and it even has some recipes to try out.
- Guardians of the Galaxy. This was a fun comic series from the Marvel folks. I picked it up because Dan Abnett was the writer, and I knew his work from Warhammer 40K. It is a tale of reluctant heroes coming together, and it features a wisecracking raccoon.
- I continue to enjoy the Marvel Noir series. This is the series that takes Marvel heroes and places them in a Prohibition-era, early 20th century setting. This year I read Iron Man Noir and Luke Cage Noir. I found them both good and entertaining, and the art does add to the feel of the books.
- Lost Kingdom. A good, solid history of Hawaii and its last monarch. The book covers from Cook's landing to annexation by the U.S. As I wrote in my GoodReads review, "that the U.S. can brag it has a royal palace on U.S. soil does not convey the conflicts and imperialistic schemes that came to pass for that to happen. In this regard, the book also provides a lesson in early American imperialism." I think this is a very good book for anyone wishing to learn more about this period in U.S. History.
- American Vampire, Vol. 3. The series continues, and I read volume 3 this year. In a time when most vampires suck (and I don't mean they suck blood), this series keeps the vampire genre alive and well. This time, our vampire heroes (or anti-heroes) find themselves in World War II. The volume features two stories: one in Europe and one in the Pacific. The Pacific tale did leave me wondering given a certain twist in the story. However, for now I am still intrigued, and I will seek out the next volume.
- The Nazi Seance. I knew a little about the Nazis' fascination with the occult. I had no idea that some Nazis kept a Jewish psychic in their inner circle to consult. Then again, the 1930s were a period when psychics and mentalists were popular. This book has a bit for many readers: World War II and Nazi-era buffs, readers who like more obscure topics in history, and those interested in performers such as mentalists and clairvoyants. This was definitely one of the most interesting books I read this year, and I highly recommend it.
- Outwitting History. This is the story of Aaron Lansky, a man dedicated to rescuing Yiddish books, one book at a time. This was one of the best books I read this year. It is a moving book, and it is one that may also make you want to read some Yiddish writers. As I wrote in my review on GoodReads, "when Lansky started out, experts believed that fewer than 70,000 Yiddish-language books still existed. Twenty-five years and 1.5 million books later, the organization Lansky founded, the National Yiddish Book Center, is one of the largest and fastest-growing Jewish cultural groups in the world."
- The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. A book that more people will read, but it is also a book that I know a lot of people who should be reading it will ignore. The authors argue convincingly that poverty in the U.S. is not just an issue; it is a national security threat, and it needs to be treated as such.
- Gay in America. Author Scott Pasfield travels across the U.S. documenting through photographs the lives of gay men in the United States. The photography in this book is excellent. The stories presented are moving; some are happy, others sad. The men featured come from all walks of life, and they show that gay men are as diverse as any other group. They represent a broad range of Americana from hobos to lawyers and from farmers to entrepreneurs. This is a book that I say every library in the U.S. needs to own. It not only fits into LGBTQ studies. It also fits in books of Americana as well as art and photography books.
- The Horus Heresy series (Warhammer 40K). This was the year I finally decided to give the Horus Heresy series a try. I can say I am hooked now. The books provide a fascinating look at the world of Warhammer 40K ten thousand years or so before the "present day." It is the 31st Millennium, and things seem to be going well for the Great Crusade launched by the Emperor of Mankind to reunite the worlds of man. Horus is named Warmaster and given command of the expedition; the Emperor then goes back to Terra, leaving Horus in charge of the crusade. But things are not as they seem, and soon a great civil war will come. To Warhammer 40K readers, a lot of this basic premise is already known, but seeing the events come to life is fascinating. I have read the first two books in the series, and I am in the middle of the third. The three books form an opening trilogy, which means there will be new characters and events. In the first three books, we see much of the events, including the rise of Horus and his turn to Chaos from the eyes of Space Marines Captain Loken. So far, it has been good to see that different authors can keep and maintain the setting created. I hope this continues in the series.
- Get Jiro! This is Anthony Bourdain's graphic novel about a young, renegade sushi chef who insists on cooking to the highest standards no matter the cost. Jiro will not compromise his integrity as a chef. And this happens in a not-so-distant future Los Angeles where celebrity chefs rule the city like mob bosses. The book is a great send-up of the chefs, cooking culture, and its idiosyncrasies. Plus it is a pretty fun book to read.
- My Friend Dahmer. This is another excellent graphic novel, and one of the best books I read this year. The author was a friend of Jeffrey Dahmer, the teen who grew up to become the notorious serial killer. The author brings to life his high school friendship with Dahmer in high school to show us Dahmer as a complex, alienated teen that not even his parents could be bothered to care for. But that is not the most disturbing question the book raises. People who remember the Dahmer case, as I do, will appreciate the book. However, anyone seeking to read a good, complex, and moving tale that also brings to life the high school environment of the 1970s (a very different environment than today's high schools) may enjoy this book as well.
- Broke USA. This was a hard book to read, but it is one that is worth reading. It is also a book that more people need to be reading. There is a poverty industry in the U.S. dedicating to feeding from and exploiting the poor, and in the bad economy, it is an industry that is doing extremely well. Sure, the news may mention the scandals and crimes of the rich fat cats of Wall Street, but these poverty tycoons in many ways are the real criminals. If you are a decent human being, this book may anger you. Maybe it will move you to do something.
- Open Access: What You Need to Know Now. Walt Crawford's concise explanation of what Open Access is, its importance, and why we should care is a must-read for librarians and college faculty and administrators. Crawford's title says it all: this is what you need to know now. It is not meant to be the end all, be all. It is meant to be the book that educates readers on the topic, then leads them to seek out more and act. A strength of the book is that is written in a clear, concise way. I wish more LIS books were as substantial yet easy to read.
- Kagan McLeod, Infinite Kung Fu. I think the only reason I am not done with it already is that I picked up the Counter book. It is a good book so far of a former soldier and Kung Fu student who must bring balance in a world where the Emperor rules with a tyrannical fist and has five armies to enforce his will. As Lei Kung, the soldier, seeks enlightenment, he also learns that he is the one destined to overthrow the Emperor. Oh, and there is a lot of great Kung Fu action in this graphic novel.
- Ben Counter, Galaxy in Flames (The Horus Heresy, Book 3. Warhammer 40K). The saga continues as Horus' treachery is going to be revealed. Captain Loken finds himself alienated from the other Space Marines, and a saint gives rise to a new cult among the Emperor's troops.
- Pascale Le Draoulec, American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America's Back Roads. This falls under the "stunt book" genre, where the author picks one thing to focus on for a certain period of time. This time, the author, who lives in California, gets a job in New York. She chooses to drive across the country, and along the way, she will sample locally made pies she finds during the journey. The book does have some slow moments, but it is still interesting.
- Walt Crawford's report. He seems to like John Scalzi a bit, but he makes it clear he is no pushover for the author of Old Man's War. For the record, I have read Old Man's War, which I enjoyed. I was just lukewarm about The Ghost Brigades, which led me to stop reading the series. I do read Mr. Scalzi's blog on my feed reader, and I'd be willing to try out some of his other books sometime down the road.
- Mark Lindner's report is here. He does mention number of books he dropped, something I don't really do. Now and then if a book is one I want to remember (for how bad it was) or it was one I dropped hoping to pick up later (not likely, but hey, could happen), I may put it in GoodReads on my "dropped" shelf. Otherwise, I don't worry about it.
- CW's 2012 reading list is here. For her, it was the year of reading series.