I like to read, but I read far too little in 2017. Woefully. Pitifully little. Embarrassingly little. In 2017 I had a reading challenge that I tried to complete, but it didn’t go well.
Well, this year I’m back with a new and improved list that eschews silly things like page count and instead is designed to get me to read things I might not otherwise read. I tend to fall into genre holes for months (or, hell, years) at a time, so hopefully that won’t be the case in 2018.
See the categories below. As I finish books I’ll plug them into the appropriate slots, and I’ll also add a brief review at the bottom of the list. I’m not going to count books I read for a second (or third, or forth, etc) time because of school.
Have you read anything good recently? Want to make a suggestion for my “something recommended by a friend” or “read something you know nothing about” categories? Let me know in the comments.
Read a book that supports a stance you disagree with
Read a book with pictures in it (but isn’t a comic book)
Read a book that contains a famous quotation
Read a book that’s been on your to-read-list for more than a year
Read a book originally published in a language you do not know
- A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
Read a book written by a controversial or “bad” person
Read a book that was written over 1000 years ago
Read a book recommended by a friend
Read a book from the Horror genre
Read a from the Romance genre
Read a book in the Science Fiction genre
Read a book in the biography, autobiography, or memoir genre
Read a book in the political or religious genre
- Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Read a book in the thriller or suspense genre
- Origin by Dan Brown
Read a book in the history genre
Read a collection of poetry
Read a collection of short stories
- Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Read a graphic novel
- Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin
Read a book written by a woman (For some reason I didn’t last year)
Read a nonfiction book
Read a nonfiction book about something you know absolutely nothing about.
Reviews, Listed as Read
Origin by Dan Brown
At this point, you should already know what you’re going to get when you pick up Dan Brown novel, and the author’s fifth tale professor of symbology Robert Langdon is more of the same. It’s not unfair to call Dan Brown a one trick pony, but, the thing is, I really like that one trick. Origin finds Langdon finds himself in Spain for a mysterious grand reveal from a totally-not-a-young-Steve-Jobs tech genius that promises to shake the foundation of religion, science, and humanity. As things always do, something goes wrong, people die, and it’s up to Langdon and a beautiful female sidekick to unravel the mystery of what’s going on. There’s political intrigue. There are strangely long tangential rants about history. There are shady secret societies and religious offshoots. You’ve seen it all before, but it doesn’t make the ride any less fun, and it’s an easy recommendation for some popcorn-fun.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
As influential and permeating as mythology is, it’s actually fairly difficult to find good, straightforward collections of most mythologies. Outside of the Greek and Roman stories, most collections that even scratch the surface of being comprehensive read more like dry textbook analyses than narrative stories and rob the lessons of their intended charm. By compiling the stories Gaiman has in this collection, telling them in an easy-to-read, “short story” format, and leaving out footnotes, explanations, etc., it becomes something easy for anyone to pick up and enjoy without coming off as dumbed-down. I sincerely wish he would give some other cultures the same treatment.
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
I won’t say A Wild Sheep Chase is the weirdest book I’ve ever read, but it’s definitely number two. A lowly everyman that co-runs an advertising agency is called to the estate of one of the most influential business moguls in Japan in regards to a photograph of some sheep that he published in a magazine ad. As you’d expect, one of the sheep in the photograph may or may not have possessive powers and entered the body of the mogul decades ago, helping him rise to the position of power he’s in. Now, with the sheep out of him and the mogul in a coma, our nameless protagonist has a matter of months to find the sheep and help get it back in the mogul- or else he’ll be blacklisted from ever working in Japan again.
What follows in a batshit-crazy tour of Japan that simulateously feels grand and incredibly intimate. What Murakami does exceedingly well, and what has launched him up into the tier of my absolute favorite authors, is the meandering, down-to-earth style that permeates the entire story, making even the most absurd, surreal moments seem incredibly human. Read this book.
With the Infinity War movie coming out I wanted to read the story that inspired it. Coming from the early 90s, the comic suffers from a lot of the things that all comics kind of suffered from back then (emotions don’t really land, a lot of the characters look pretty goofy, the story has some strange pacing). Thanos is also a pretty bad villain, without any depth. He does all the bad things he does to win over the emboiment of death, and that’s about it for character motivations. More is hinted at, but never delved into, and the actual Death plotlines kind just fizzles out without a proper climax.
All that being said, though, I still enjoyed it. It’s a quick read, and the pentultimate showdown, in which dozensof heros assault Thanos, was very cool. I’ll definitely keep reading some of the other stories that tie into Thanos and the gauntlet.