Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I've read so far in 2012

LibraryThing has a 75 Books in 2012 Challenge. Before I went back to work full time when my daughter was 18 months old, I used to read 125-150 books a year. Since then, I haven't counted, because I've been afraid the number would depress me with its smallness. But this year I decided to shoot for 75. Surely that's doable.

Anyway, here's what I've read so far in 2012, shamelessly copied from my LibraryThing thread. Lest you think, "Of course you'll make 75. You're on pace for around 200," I was home sick with a bad cold for a good chunk of last week and had more reading time than normal.

1) Chain Reaction, by Simone Elkeles. It's the third book in a YA trilogy. Unusually gritty, sexy, and violent for its genre, but in a good way--at least to read. When I reflect that my daughter will be the age of the main characters in just 10 years, I hope that her life, like mine, will be tame, peaceful, and boring by comparison!

2) The Hundred Days, by Edith Saunders. This is only one of several Waterloo books I plan to read in the next couple months, since my current novel-in-process is partially set there. Saunders takes more of a big picture view than a lot of the Waterloo books on my shelves, so you don't get a play-by-play of the battle, but she includes more of the behind-the-scenes political machinations in France before and after the battle, which gives you a better sense of the context. And during the battle sections, she does a good job of showing what was happening with the Prussians, the French under Marshal Grouchy, etc. throughout the day, so you see their impact on the final outcome. She's no great lover of Napoleon, but neither am I, so that didn't bother me.

3) How Few Remain, by Harry Turtledove. An alternate history of a world where the South won the Civil War that held my interest, though somehow the characters (all real historical figures re-imagined) never quite hooked me. I don't know if there were too many point-of-view characters and plot threads or what, but instead of looking for the next book in the series, I was satisfied to find plot synopses online to see how Turtledove's version of the world plays out.

4) Heat Rises, by "Richard Castle." Castle is my current favorite TV series (mm, Nathan Fillion), and I've enjoyed the three "Nikki Heat" tie-in novels for all the meta references to the show. Obviously not the deepest book I've ever read, but in my view there's nothing wrong with reading purely for entertainment (I won't call it a guilty pleasure, even, because AFAIC there's nothing to be guilty about), and this was a perfect read for a day spent curled up in bed between doses of DayQuil.

5) Eat that Frog, by Brian Tracy. As a writer not yet in a position to quit my full-time day job, I tend to collect time management books. This one, picked up on the cheap a few days ago as a Kindle Daily Deal, is nothing I haven't heard before, but it was a quick read with some useful tips. Its focus is on identifying your most critical tasks and doing them first, since you really DON'T have time to finish everything.

6) Waterloo 1815 - Captain Mercer's Journal, by Cavalie Mercer, edited by WH Fichett, introduction by Bob Carruthers. Almost every nonfiction work on Waterloo I've read contains quotes from Cavalie Mercer, a British artillery captain with a gift for vivid, descriptive writing who took part in the battle. I didn't realize when I bought this book that it's an abridged version of his journal, and I'll probably keep digging around until I find the whole thing. For research purposes I was hoping for more details of day-to-day life in the weeks and days leading up to the battle than the abridgment provided.

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