Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How To Decide What To Read?

Now that I am reading Game of Thrones, that may hinder the challenge I gave myself this year. I am a regular lurker/contributor to a specific comic book message board. It is the board dedicated to one of my favorite writers (Brian Michael Bendis) and although I don’t read many of his monthly books anymore (I can’t afford keeping up), I regularly go to his website mostly because the posters there are funny and well-informed about most-everything.

One thing they did last year was a challenge of reading 52 books in 52 weeks. Last year I kept track for myself, but fell short of their quota and only read about 40. Remember, I only consider books (novels and non-fiction) to be worthy of being counted. I also read a ton of comic books/graphic novels, but those don’t count. In fact, this year alone, I have read about 50 graphic novels along with the below list.

Luckily Game of Thrones does not appear to be as difficult of a read as I was expecting, but sheer page numbers are going to slow up my needed pace of a book a week. Luckily I am about 2 books ahead of schedule wince we are currently in the 29th week of the year and I have already completed 30 books and may be able to keep ahead of schedule so wish me luck.

But that is not the fully intended reason for this blog post. I was thinking the other day of how much I read and how I decide what to read next. I thought this would be a way of updating my list over the last six months as well as give some insight to my reader on my thought process. For those interested, I normally use the Epiphany Library on 23rd (between 2nd & 3rd).

I have a letter grade next to each book in case anyone is interested on what I thought of the books I read, but this is not a review of each book (a more in depth review of each book is available in the previous months blog posts), but more of why I read that book at that particular time. Warning: Lots of name-dropping ahead.

1. Eating The Dinosaur - Chuck Klosterman 270 B

- A Christmas present from Aubrey’s family. A few years ago I went there for Christmas and they got me Klosterman’s then new book IV. They watched me read the entire book the day after Christmas while lounging in the Arizona winter. I did it again this Christmas, and loved every second of it.

2. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins 391 B+

- Just before the new year I had heard rave reviews of Hunger Games and loved it. I expected to get this series for Christmas, but my requests fell on deaf ears. After I got home from Arizona I picked this up from the library to find out what happened to Katniss next.

3. Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King 368 B

- Stephen King pretty much releases a book every year before Christmas. My brother, Rodge, gets them all. He reads them first, I borrow them. That’s what happened here. I had it for a while, but didn’t want to bring a heavy hardcover to Arizona. Instead, I read this book of four novellas after I got back

4. Endurance: Shakleton's Incredible Voyage - Alfred Lansing 280 A-

- This was a selection by my Mike from my book club that I had to read just in time for the meeting. I put this book off expecting to be bored and loved every page. On top of that, I gave it to my father who not only loved it, but rented every movie ever made of it from Netflix.

5. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins 290 B-

- After giving back my brother’s book, and doing my duty as a book club member, I could now seek out the conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy. I found it waiting for me in the library and gobbled it up.

6. The Vintage Caper - Peter Mayle 225 C-

- When the book club was in its infant stages, my friend Sanjay was going to choose this book before deciding on The Art of Racing the Rain. My apartment’s laundry room has a “give-a-book-take-a-book” section and I saw this in there. I grabbed it one day while doing laundry, and read it quickly, the returned it.

7. Brains: A Zombie Memoir - Robin Becker 182 C

- I had nothing on my to-read pile and wanted something short. I found this book that was given to me for free at Comicon back in October. I had never read it, and it met the criteria for what I was looking for at the time.

8. As God Commands - Niccolo Ammaniti 405 A

-Book club selection from Aubrey. This was recommended to her by her good friend Bridget. I was wary of this book, mostly because of the cover. You know what they say about judging a book by its cover… Lesson learned…. Again.

9. Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro 288 B

- My manager at work mentioned this book to me and she loved it. I also knew I wanted to see the movie. I rarely like reading books of movies after seeing the movie, but don’t mind it the other way. I knew this movie was next on my Netflix queue, saw it in the library and picked it up.

10. Mr. Funny Pants - Michael Showalter 250 B+

- Saw this in the library as well. Being a huge fan of The State from back in the day, I snagged it and devoured it in two days. Hilarious!

11. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak 550 B

- My friend Alyssa has been raving about this book for years. She always told me I should borrow it, and I always forget. I have often seen it in the library and resisted picking it up and when I got Mr. Funny Pants, I decided to offset my comedic book by also getting a Holocaust book. Maybe I should have read them in opposite order so I could have read something funny after something so dire.

12. Cross Fire - James Patterson 350 C

- I read all the Alex Cross books and usually borrow them from my brother. He officially decided to give up since they are all the same (he’s right). I still like reading them even though they are repetitious and when I saw it at the library, I grabbed it.

13. The Big Short - Michael Lewis 266 B+

- Mike from my book club mentioned to me he was reading this on the side. The day he mentioned that to me, I happened to see it at the library and picked it up.

14. South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami 213 A

- I am always on the look-out for another Murakami book. Every time I go to the library I look to see if it’s there and grab it if it is. I lucked out this day by finding a book I never heard of. A hauntingly, beautiful book about one man’s mid-life crisis.

15. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 225 B+

- Chuck’s Book Club choice. I had read it about four years ago, but needed to refresh my memory before the meeting.

16. On Writing - Stephen King 300 B+

- I’ve been trying to finish up reading every Stephen King book he’s written. I had started this book back when it came out 10 years ago, but didn’t finish it (or so I remembered). I saw it at the library and wanted to read it since it was unfinished before that. Turns out, I just reread a book.

17. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland - Patton Oswalt 191 D+

- I heard Patton Oswalt on a few podcasts around that time. He was on WTF with Marc Maron, and Bill Simmons’ podcast and this book sounded great. I was never a fan of his comedy, but liked the concept of this book. Turns out the concept I liked was about 10 pages of the entire 200 page book and the other 190 pages sucked.

18. Everything Is Going To Kill Everybody - Robert Brockway 260 C-

- My friend Chris enjoyed this book and since he had recently read about 3 books I enjoyed, I decided to read a book he was talking about. It was decent, but I don’t expire any energy worrying about what’s going to kill me or how (anymore—that’s what my teenage years were for) so this book became repetitive hypothetical nonsense to me. That said: I actually enjoyed learning about these crazy things that may happen. I just don’t care how I’m going to die (I’m more curious about what/what won’t happen after.)

19. House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski 710 B

- Jessica from Book Club was going to choose this over a year ago as her book club book, but it got vetoed due to length. I’m very happy she brought this book to my attention, and I’m equally happy we didn’t read it for Book Club. Although, it could have been a great discussion, I think most people would have quit reading the book once it turned into latin (or earlier)

20. 20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill 310 B+

- Back in October, I bought this book because I had just read Horns and wanted to read Joe Hill’s book of short stories. I never found the right time, until I needed a book for my trip to New Orleans. Something spooky was in order and the book was a paperback which is always preferred for flights.

21. Jar City - Arnaldur Indidason 285 D

- Aubrey bought this book after we went to Iceland a few years ago since it was marketed as Iceland’s answer to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. She read it and said it wasn’t good. I had to find out for myself that she was correct.

22. The Day I Turned Uncool - Dan Zevin 172 C+

- Last year my friend Jen was giving away some books she didn’t want anymore. This was in the group that Aubrey chose. Since then I have seen it. Once again, I wanted something short and this was sitting on the bookshelf.

23. Flatland - Edwin A. Abbott 118 B+

- About 3 years ago my Economics professor at grad school mentioned this book in passing. I filed it away in the back of my mind to keep my eye on. Then while reading 20th Century Ghosts it was referenced in a short story and my brain made a mental note. I put it on reserve at the library and when it finally came in I read it. A very old, clever satire.

24. Room - Emma Donoghue 322 A-

- Had seen tons of people on the train reading this and heard it was disturbing. Being someone that needs to attempt to be disturbed, and seeing it on the New Release bookshelf meant I had to read it.

25. A Visit From The Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan 342 A

- Another book club book this time from Sanjay. I had to read it, but my favorite part was when I saw him after he chose the book and looked him in the eye and said “You just looked at the titles for every book on the NY Times Best Seller list, saw the word ‘Goon’ and decided that’s the one, didn’t you?” His response: “Almost exactly!”

26. Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart 332 A-

- I spent the night with my friends Dan and Casey a few months ago. In conversation Casey asked me if I ever read this book. I said I never heard of it. She went into the other room, came back with this book and said “Enjoy”. It took me a few months before I got around to it do to its length and my other books, but after Aubrey read it and told me it had a lot of similarities to Goon Squad, I decided to read it.

27. The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan 516 C+

- My brother woks for Disney publishing. This series is their number one seller. He gave me this book months ago and I forgot about it. He gave me the sequel in June and that reminded me I had the original. I had just read three HEAVY books, I wanted something lighter, and this was there.

28. The Throne of Fire - Rick Riordan 450 C

- Even though I didn’t love the first book, it was a quick read. So I decided to knock out the second one as well. Afterwards I donated them to my laundry room and whoever had kids that might enjoy these fun tales.

29. An Object Of Beauty - Stever Martin 293 A-

- You guessed it. I saw this at the library and knew I liked Steve Martin, but had never read any of his novels. I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

30. Tell-All - Chuck Palahniuk 179 D+

- While at the library I usually do a pass of my favorite authors just to see what might be in. I’ve read most of Palahniuk’s books, but had not even heard of this one. Upon completion, I wish I never checked it out. Only saving grace: It took 2 days to read.

31. The Imperfectionists Tom Rachman 265 A-

- Another book I’ve seen people reading on the train, and the font on the book always jumped out at me while in the library. Also, I confused the author with Tom Perotta and thought this was his newest one. So, this was one of those happy accident books since it was very similar to Goon Squad and quite good.

I know this is probably more information than anyone ever wanted, but it’s a peek into how I think. For anyone that stumbles upon this blog, but more importantly for me in 10 years when I look back.


Much to My Delight said...

As your reader, I found this very informative as I have often wondered how you came about choosing (and affording) all the books you choose. Looks like I need to give the old public library a visit. Of the ones you listed, I am most intrigued by the Steve Martin book and The Room. Must read soon.

MitchyMitchyMitchy said...

Thanks reader.