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Reading: 2010’s Read Books

This is the sixth of a series of posts looking back at my entertainment consumption over 2010. I’ve already posted about 2010′s gaming backlog, the games I played, what games I played each month, what games I finished, what films I watched and how my film viewing looked across the year, and still to come are posts about the DVD backlog and the TV I watched. There won’t be a game of the year post because that’s an ongoing project with a long way to go.

The Great A'Tuin

The Great A'Tuin, the world turtle. Click the image for a link to the source.

I think I’ve mentioned before that for some reason reading is often the thing I jettison when time gets away from me. Not because I’m ever particularly busy, just because some other frivolous pursuit will place demands on my time. It’s probably because I read in bed before going to sleep, so losing that doesn’t feel like something of much consequence (“I’ll just stay up a little longer.”). In 2010 I didn’t read anything until March, and after getting through a few books that petered out again in May. It wasn’t until I was in fulltime employment (when my free time was greatly reduced) that I managed to find a place for reading again.

As always happens when I get back into reading I’m reminded that at its best reading can provide fantastic experiences, offering something different to any other media, and feel stupid for falling out of the habit. In 2009 I completed just five books (A Clash of Kings, Nation, Bicentennial Man, What Dreams May Come and Cold Mountain) and abandoned a sixth (Eragon). Even with the downtime I did much better than that in 2010, reading the following books in their entirety:

  • A Storm of Swords: Book One – Steel and Snow
  • A Storm of Swords: Book Two – Blood and Gold
  • A Feast For Crows
  • Unseen Academicals
  • Snow Crash
  • The Colour of Magic
  • The Light Fantastic
  • Sourcery
  • Eric
  • Interesting Times
  • The Last Continent
  • Equal Rites
  • The Last Hero
  • Wyrd Sisters
  • Witches Abroad
  • Lords and Ladies
  • Masquerade
  • Carpe Juggulum
  • Small Gods
  • Reaper Man
  • Guards! Guards!

Twenty-one books in total, more than four times what I managed to finish in 2009. There were two others I didn’t finish in 2010, Time’s Eye by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke (which I just couldn’t get into at the time) and Men at Arms (which I started on December 31st and finished a few days into 2011).

The dominant theme in the list above is clearly Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels (all but one of the eighteen books at the bottom of the list). That was prompted by my reading of the newest book, Unseen Academicals. As I said in my opinion post back then I found parts of it disappointing, namely the pointless cameo of Rincewind (main character of six of the above books) and the general sense of how different the newer books are compared to the older ones.

Re-reading the older books has helped diminish those feelings. Towards the end of Rincewind’s starring roles he all but states that what he wants is to be a cameo character, to just live out his days at Unseen University without getting into any more adventures or danger and just slip into the background. Moreover, he’s not really that much of a character himself, his books are more about the places he goes to than about Rincewind himself; he’s not that necessary. The shift away from parody is also less of an issue simply because the very early books aren’t as strong as what comes later and the series probably would not have been able to keep going in that state. There are some things that have been lost in the transition, but a lot that has been gained too.

Looking to 2011, the biggest thing I’d like to achieve is simply to keep reading regularly throughout the year and avoid finding some reason to put that aside again. It’s hardly a challenging goal but we’ll see if I manage to stick with it. As part of that it will also help me work through the fairly ridiculous stacks of unread books I have, which could probably last me several years without buying more.

In fact I should probably do what I’m currently doing with gaming and try not to buy any more books until I’ve made major headway through the backlog, as having all these untouched things isn’t just silly, it’s also a colossal waste of money. I’d like to be better than that.

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