Every book you've read in 2014


Gareth
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Does anyone read books anymore? I've already knocked out two quick reads.

The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson

What a great read. While written in third-person the novel is told from Eleanor's point of which allows Jackson to take the reader through the incredible journey of her mental deterioration throughout the novel. While not the creepiest novel I've ever read, the stark view of a character’s instantly did make me uncomfortable at times. A brilliant use of the unreliable narrator. I highly recommend reading the book over simply watching the inferior Robert Wise adaptation.

Mockingjay (2010) by Suzanne Collins

Boy, was this lame. I enjoyed the first two novels in the series but this one was just a bore honestly. Never did I get involved in the story the way I did with the first two, despite Collins' many attempts with lame "hooks." The writing seemed exceptionally juvenile, even when compared to the first two novels. I'm just glad this was the last one in the series, I don't think I would read another one.

Novels: 2

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  • 3 weeks later...

THE LIVING SHADOW by Maxwell Grant: The first novel in Maxwell Grant's pulp hero Shadow series. It is remarkably fresh for being almost 100 years old. Other than frequent use of the word "chink" it could have been written in modern times.

PAST PRIME by Greg Rucka: Rucka's novel inside the Grendel universe by Matt Wagner bizarrely sits in the middle of Dark Horse's fourth and final Grendel Omnibus. Though, it does bridge those last two stories.

Novels: 3

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Vanguard 0: The Event by Percival Constantine-a superhero novella I read as a beta reader. It will be available for free soon as it introduces the world of Percy's Vanguard series. I was interested to read it specifically because I'm working on some superhero fiction myself. Good stuff.

Novels: 3

Novellas: 1

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  • 1 month later...

The Best of Xero - An anthology of pieces from the influential and Hugo-winning sf fanzine of the 1960s. Contributors include Harlan Ellison, James Blish, Roger Ebert, and Otto Binder. A fascinating look into the culture of fandom of the era, and as informative and skillfully written as this is, these are terrible people. Anyone who thinks that sarcastic and entitled fandom is new with the internet would do well to read this book. By nature of being science fiction fans (or "stf", short for "scientifiction", a term from the 1920s that absolutely no one used except these people), they are clearly more intelligent and entitled to their opinions than the rest of the world, and anyone who disagrees is liable to face withering, blistering (but rather well-written) contempt. Even the introduction by publisher Dick Lupoff had me rolling my eyes at his self-importance.

Xero featured a lot of comics articles, and they are collected in the much more enjoyable All In Color For A Dime and The Comic-Book Book, where legitimate joy for the subject matter (primarily nostalgia for the Golden Age) is in clear evidence.

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  • 1 month later...

Going After Cacciato (1978) by Tim O'Brien

Fascinating war novel, it's going to take me a while to wrap my head around all of it. Before reading it I didn't know a whole lot about the war in Vietnam and the book didn't tell me much except that the soldiers fighting didn't really know much about it either. There is so much going on in the novel, I'm definitely going to need to do some research. You can see a lot of O'Brien through the pages of this book and I'll be interested in reading his better known autobiographical war book, The Things They Carried. A definite recommendation.

Novels: 3

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  • 5 weeks later...

I stopped updating here because I'm updating in a Facebook group, but I'm halfway through Sean Howe's MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY and holy fuck, it's good. Definitely lives up to, and exceeds, the hype.

This is such a terrific book. LOVED it. Very warts-and-all without reducing anyone to a villain.

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1970-1976 are the single most bizarre years in the history of comics. Proven conclusively in this book.

I want to write an HBO series based on Steve Englehart, Don McGregor and Jim Starlin during this period, maybe with Gerber as their wacky pal.

ORRRR I want to write a screenplay for a coming-of-age film based on Jim Shooter's life.

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ORRRR I want to write a screenplay for a coming-of-age film based on Jim Shooter's life.

I'd watch the hell out of that. Shooter was (is) a fascinating guy and his story would make a hell of a film. Pro writer at fourteen, editor in chief at the number one comics publisher at twenty-six, he legitimately cleaned Marvel up and kept it viable at a time when it was in serious danger of flying apart, but was a true megalomaniac and became completely incapable of working with anyone by the time he was done.

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He thought he was over the hill and done by 24...

The very idea of a thirteen year old writing Superman and Mort Weisinger calling him at night to yell at him is story gold. GOLD JERRY! GOLD!

I've just gotten to the point where he's gotten the EIC job. You're right, Dan, about not villainizing anybody (other than upper management). In fact, there is a very clear point where Stan Lee can be made the villain, but then they talk about how he's basically just heralding other people's properties and he doesn't own any of his own characters either. Very cool.

I don't say this often, but if you enjoy comics in any way, this book is a must read.

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The very idea of a thirteen year old writing Superman and Mort Weisinger calling him at night to yell at him is story gold. GOLD JERRY! GOLD!

Yeah, when your role model for how an editor should deal with his writers is Mort Weisinger, you are going to be a very controversial editor someday.

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  • 3 weeks later...

When I read, it's mostly on bus rides/vacations these days. As such, the last few weeks have been very fruitful.

MaddAddam and The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood: read in the order listed. MA is an interesting end to the trilogy, but I'm not entirely satisfied with it, as it had a lot to wrap up, while introducing new plot points (some of which you could see coming a mile away). Year of the Flood is probably going to be my favorite of the trilogy, just for the world building and the alternate views on what was going on in the original book (Oryx and Crake, which I should reread soon).

Let's Pretend this Never Happened, Jenny Lawson: Aka the Bloggess got a book. Fucking hilarious, and all if it is true, as insane as it is. Read if you're looking for a good laugh, and for a wholly unique memoir. Or the chapter titles, one of which includes And That's Why Neil Patrick Harris Would Be the Most Successful Mass Murderer Ever, about meeting her husband.

Underground, Haruki Murakami: One: don't ever read this on public transport, it's terrifying if you do. Two: Murakami's only venture into nonfiction that I know of. First hand accounts of the Aum attacks from almost 20 years ago now, and additional perspectives from current/ex Aum members. It's a hell of a read, but definitely an interesting one.

The Amber Spyglass, Phillip Pullman: One of my all time favorite trilogies, and this particular book was pretty formative growing up in the WELS and starting to have my first doubts about God. He gets a lot heavier on the anti-organized religion hammer than he did in the other two books, but the story and all the branching plots still come together in an amazing way. And Will and Lyra make me bawl even more now that I'm older.

I need to put more of an effort into reading this year.

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In the "Books without pictures" thread I may sound like I hate everything by Margaret Atwood, but I there were parts in "Year of the Flood" that I actually found enjoyable. I could not help but think she was being satirical with things like "painball" and "secretburger".

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  • 3 weeks later...

Currently reading "Console Wars: Sega Nintendo and the Battle that defined a Generation." Even Nintendo fans enjoy this read. I especially liked the part where one of the people behind He-Man wrote a 17 page paper to Sega of Japan explaining all the things that needed to be changed with Sonic the hedgehog.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sparrow Hill Road, Seanan McGuire: one of Seanan's newest books, and honestly, one I would not have expected to like this much. A non-linear ghost story with a blend of new and old multi ethnic folklore surrounding America's roads, and the sixteen year old ghost who navigates them. Not entirely satisfied with the ending, as I was expecting the main antagonist of the piece to be dealt with, as that's where it's building to for most of the novel, but definitely getting the sense that there's a continuation coming. Plus, turns out it ties loosely into another one of her universes, which I'm starting now.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Focus on Howard Hawks, edited by Joseph McBride - The first collection of film criticism on the director, mostly articles from the 60s and 70s. Quite a few are rather critical of Hawks, which I appreciated as most of what I've read on him has been praise. The pieces on Red Line 7000 and Rio Lobo didn't change my negative opinion of them, but they did give me things to look for when I rewatch them.

The French New Wave: An Artistic School by Michel Marie - This book sets out to do a couple things. First, it provides background on the French film industry of the 40s and 50s, examining why Cahiers du Cinéma and the French New Wave reacted to it. Second, it argues that while the term was a buzzword coined by journalists, the films of the French New Wave represent an artistic movement. The French New Wave is one of those aspects of film history that has reached mythic status and this book makes the period more grounded. For example, while one of the tenets of the auteur theory was that directors would write their own scripts, quite a few directed from scripts with a co-writer or by another person entirely. Also, while the first few films were big hits, financial reception was up and down for the films afterward and there were a number of failures. The book doesn't go in depth into the films, but it provides necessary context that adds to the experience of watching them.

Hawks on Hawks, edited by Joseph McBride - Assembled from interviews with Hawks during the last seven years of his life, this book was a treasure to read. It covers everything: his early career in screenwriting, working with actors and actresses, coaching Lauren Bacall, comedy, westerns, his reflections on specific films such as Scarface and Twentieth Century, and what he thought of current cinema at the time. Having been in Hollywood for fifty years, and directed almost as many films, he has a lot of insights into filmmaking to share. The one that stuck with me the most was his approach to comedy. Rather than starting with gags, he let the comedy come out of situations and people's inflections, which is probably why his comedies have aged so well. He also made an interesting comment on directing, that he strove to get through the scenes between the great scenes as quickly as possible so as to "not annoy the audience." He's bluntly honest, leading to some great lines such as how he could have "killed five people in the time it took Peckinpah to kill one" in The Wild Bunch and being up front that he did A Song is Born for the money. Though, that also means some sexist remarks, including that he shot the bookstore scene in The Big Sleep because "the girl was so damn good looking." Nevertheless, this is one of the best books on film I've ever read.

A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma by Emilie Bickerton - When people talk about Cahiers du Cinéma, nine times out of ten they're talking about the magazine during the 50s, As it's still being published today, there's quite a bit of ground that isn't covered. This book fills in that gap, from the auteur theory and celebration of American film in the 50s to the growing politicization in the 60s, the transformation to a Maoist pamphlet in the early 70s, the collapse and attempt to find its footing in cinema again in the late 70s, and the slide to a mainstream film magazine in the 80s. In addition to the kind of articles being run, Bickerton keeps track of the writers and editors that strongly influenced the journal and places it in the larger context of film and film criticism. While she maintains an objective tone in most of it, there are places where her personal feelings come through, most noticeably in describing Cahiers' decline into the mainstream and the hijacking of the auteur theory. Given how sad a state of affairs that was, I appreciated it.

Bride of Monster Serial, edited by Wallace McBride - I got this for free, so I'll leave it at being glad I did.

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Discount Armageddon, Seanan McGuire: Imagine Buffy as a cryptozoologist/ballroom dancer and with the sass turned up to 11, and you've got our protagonist. Add in a family that uses hide and seek to have the kids practice survival skills on each other and a band of mice that have formed a religion around her family, and you have an idea of the kind of crazy you're dealing with it. Pretty fantastic book, looking forward to more in the series.

Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, Late Eclipses: Seanan McGuire: Seanan does urban fantasy Faeries. October is our changeling protagonist, and the fact that she was a fish for fourteen years after the prologue of the first book is a great way to introduce us to the world of Faerie via her absence. The circumstances of the transformation set up lasting consequences for most of the series, that especially come to a head in book 4. Each book also has its own self contained story, which definitely helps things. Books one and two are pretty solid, but Artificial Night (aka Toby v Blind Michael) and Late Eclipses is where Seanan really starts to come into her own in terms of storytelling and what she's been building in the last two books. There are three more books in the series (soon to be four) as things are currently, and I'm thinking of tackling them for the Las Vegas/NYCC travel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally finished the book. It has been one of the largest books I have read in years (and I am a graduate student). However I enjoyed every page of it.

I now want to learn more about the business styles of Tom Kalinske. He is the hero of the story. The first part talks about how he took risks Sega of Japan (SOJ) wouldn't dream of. As a result Sega became a contender for Nintendo. The second part talks about his downfall. SOJ turned down his proposed hardware developer (He gave them Nintendo's phone number and they made the N-64 with that hardware). Kalinske was supportive of Olaf Olafssons idea to make a video game console. Even when Olafs peers at Sony thought that was a bad idea.

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