As noted last February, I decided to follow the lead of a couple of friends and see if I typically read 100 books a year. First, here are the books I've read since my last updates:
Ready Player One (Ernest Cline, 2011): See my review here.
Infernal Devices (K.W. Jeter, 1987): An early steampunk novel and worth reading to see the first appearance of several of the genre's tropes.
He Walked Among Us (Norman Spinrad, 2009): Black comedy about a possibly insane, possibly prophetic TV host. Spinrad pokes a lot of fun at science fiction fandom and himself, weaving in quite a bit of his own personal history in clever ways.
Cryoburn (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2010): The final (so far) Vorkosigan novel, in which Miles unravels an intriguing mystery.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (Charles Yu, 2010): Metafictional odyssey of the author's search for his time-lost father.
11/22/63 (Stephen King, 2011): See my review here.
Dark Messiah (Martin Caidin, 1990): Baffling sequel to the equally terrible The Messiah Stone. An aggravating waste of time.
The Curse of Chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2001): I enjoyed Bujold's SF so much, I thought I'd try her fantasy work, and she doesn't disappoint. As always, the strength of her characters sustains her work.
Paladin of Souls (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2003): Sequel to The Curse of Chalion, even better than the original.
The World Inside (Robert Silverberg, 1971): Old-school SF that builds a premise and plot by extrapolating present-day trends, in this case, overpopulation. Most humans - tens of billions of them - live in gigantic skyscrapers in a free-love free-for-all in which having children means everything.
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Plus...(Cory Doctorow, 2011): I haven't read much Doctorow, an SF writer and Internet personality, but I've certainly enjoyed what I've sampled so far, including this short volume that includes the title novella and some non-fiction writing on current issues.
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925): I've foolishly put this one off for decades only to discover there's a reason this is called one of the great novels. I found it surprisingly readable despite its thematic complexity. One of the great narrative voices.
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B (Ben Bova, editor, 1973): Excellent collection of some of the best early SF novellas, though some of the stories seem a little overbaked now.
The Complete Peanuts, 1975 to 1976 (Charles M. Schulz)
The Complete Peanuts, 1977 to 1978 (Charles M. Schulz)
The Complete Peanuts, 1979 to 1980 (Charles M. Schulz)
The Complete Peanuts, 1981 to 1982 (Charles M. Schulz): Schulz' genius will endure, if there's any justice, for centuries. Sublime.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Thornton Wilder, 1927): Tremendously beautiful book with lyrical prose and timeless themes.
For Your Eyes Only (Ian Fleming, 1960)
Thunderball (Ian Fleming, 1961)
The Spy Who Loved Me (Ian Fleming, 1962)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Ian Fleming, 1963)
You Only Live Twice (Ian Fleming, 1964)
The Man With the Golden Gun (Ian Fleming, 1965)
Octopussy and The Living Daylights (Ian Fleming, 1966): What a pleasure to finally explore the literary Bond. I remain a fan of the films, even the worst of them, for their hyperbolic charms; the same, I find, is true of the books, which feature a more vulnerable, more human protagonist, much more grounded in reality. Intentionally or not, Fleming's Bond novels and anthologies wind up forming a very satisfying arc for the lead character and his adventures, though perhaps the denouement doesn't quite measure up to the bulk of the series - if only because Fleming died before completing the final draft of the final novel.
Once Upon a Time in the North (Philip Pullman, 2008): A prequel of sorts to Pullman's more famous His Dark Materials trilogy. The story itself is fun, but what really sets this book apart is its physical charm; its beautifully illustrated and comes packaged with a whimsical board game.
Flatland - A Romance of Many Dimensions (Edwin A. Abbott, 1884): I've been aware of this book's general concept since junior high, but only this year did I crack open this slim, satiric volume; it's as much a commentary on class and Abbott's political surroundings at the time as it is a treatise on physics.
That's 27 books. Combined with my previous tally of 52, that means I read only 79 books this year, considerably short of my stated goal. Still, it was a useful exercise, and I'll continue to track my reading again this year to see if 2011was simply an off-year for me, or if my reading really has slowed down in middle age.