Jan 02 2017

Taking Stock of 2016

In reading, as in so many things, 2016 did not end quite the way I had reckoned it would. About halfway through the year I noticed I was near the end of several series, with more on the to-be-read shelf that I could knock out and clear space. That bookcase nearly full, double shelved, so I clearly need to get with the reading and do less of the buying. I had visited Goethe’s and Schiller’s houses in Weimar earlier in the year, and figured that reading about one Schiller play per month was a good and achievable way of closing up an odd gap in this German major’s education. I also figured that a Discworld book per month would be both fun and a way to make steady progress through the series.

Not much of that happened.

A death in the family, the electoral crisis, this that and the other, all put reading and writing toward the back of the queue.

I did finish some series: Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books, Jo Walton’s Thessaly trilogy, re-reading Barry Hughart’s tales of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus, Ferrol Sams’ trilogy about Porter Osborne, Jr. I’m almost there with Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland books. I’m up to date (save one, which is not out in paperback) on the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, current on Dave Hutchinson’s Europe books, and on Charles Stross’ Laundry chronicles. Looking forward to what happens next in all three of those. I’ve got two more Witcher books to catch up with what’s been translated into English. I may yet read the last Fandorin books in German, since he never caught on enough for the final volumes to be published in English. Grr. My Russian, to say the least, does not extend as far as reading full books.

Filling in gaps turns out to have been a theme of 2016. I finally read The Left Hand of Darkness, and was amazed. I finally read part of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and will pick up some more as the opportunity presents itself. I finally read one of Schiller’s major works, and can see how it shaped German drama. I finally read Catch-22, and agree that it’s a modern classic.

This past year, I read two books in German, four graphic novels, eight Discworld books, and one book-length work-in-progress by a friend. I read one book about the history of Fascism, and joked that my picking it up again was a sign of zeitgeist. I re-read three books. I read three books in translation (one from Russian into German).

Best Hamilton mention by someone other than Lin-Manuel Miranda goes to Naomi Novik, on page 157 of Blood of Tyrants. Best application for asylum goes to Charles Stross, at the end of The Nightmare Stacks. Best Victorian sentimental novel of cannibalistic dragons goes to Jo Walton, for Tooth and Claw. Best musical contest also goes to Jo Walton, for the dramatic climax of The Philosopher Kings. Best Discworld book is a close contest between Men at Arms and Maskerade. Best non-fiction were Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and The Vanquished by Robert Gerwarth, although I enjoyed arguing with The Collapse by Mary Elise Sarotte as I went along. In the second half of the year, I spent a lot of time with Postwar by Tony Judt and Landscapes of Communism by Owen Hatherly but did not finish either by the end of 2016.

Full list, roughly in order read, is under the fold with links to my reviews and other writing about the authors here at Frumious.

Mirabile by Janet Kagan
Through the Shadowlands by Brian Sibley
The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Sculptor’s Daughter by Tove Jansson
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Mussolini’s Italy by R.J.B. Bosworth
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Einstein by Walter Isaacson
Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith
Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart
Dshamilja by Tschingis Aitmatow
Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Sandman: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Balkans by Mark Mazower
The Collapse by Mary Elise Sarotte
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson
The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein
Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross
Authoritarian Russia by Vladimir Gelman
Blackout by Connie Willis
All Clear by Connie Willis
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
Moscow in Movement by Samuel A. Greene
Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith
When All the World Was Young by Ferrol Sams
Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Die Räuber by Friedrich Schiller
The Vanquished by Robert Gerwarth
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski
Necessity by Jo Walton
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Judenstaat by Simone Zeltlich
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Making Book by Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle
Moonshadow by John M. DeMatteis and Jon J. Muth
Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold
Shadowlands by William Nicholson

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