The second half of 2017 turned out to be very haphazard for a number of reasons. This resulted in a sort of chaos bubbling up into my coveted reading time. So much like 2016, I didn’t consume nearly as many books as I’d hoped to. And while I’m doubling down the expectations for my 2018 reading accomplishments, that’s a concern for the future. Until then, these are the …
… 26 Books I Read in 2017.
- Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling // Tony Cliff — A follow-up graphic novel to Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (which I’d read way back in 2014). We learn a little more about the enigmatic and capable Ms. Dirk and enjoy some rollicking good swashbuckling adventures.
- Day of the Locust // Nathanael West — One of those classic novels about people trying to make it in Los Angeles. It’s referenced so often that anyone living in L.A. should read it. It took me awhile but I finally did. And man, is it bleak.
- Baldur’s Gate II // Matt Bell — I spent way too much time playing Baldur’s Gate II back in the late ’90s. So when I saw this slim little book on sale at Stories in Echo Park, I snapped it up. If you’ve ever spent time inside Baldur’s Gate, this book offers a revealing, insightful, and entertaining slice of nostalgia.
- Company Town // Madeline Ashby — I was looking forward to reading this book from the first moment I heard about it. I’m glad to report it lived up to (and even exceeded) my expectations. It’s a dystopian neo-noir mystery tale set on an a giant oil rig in Canadian coastal waters. A fast-paced adventure with great characters and a compelling plot.
- The League of Seven // by Alan Gratz — My daughter, who’s quite the reader, discovered the public library this past year. On one of our many trips there, I stumbled across this book. It looked interesting so I checked it out. Alas, I wanted it to be more interesting than it was. Still a fun read, though.
- The Sixth Gun, Vol. 3: Bound // Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt — The next volume in this saga of a set of six mystical six guns in post-Civil War America. This time, our team splits up with harrowing consequences. A lively blend of westerns and mysticism.
- Saga 7 // Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — I still get mighty enjoyment from this deep tale about a space-faring family on a generational adventure. It’s jammed full of an endless cast of strange alien creatures with more than a few bounty hunters thrown in for excitement.
- Conan the Barbarian: The Complete Collection // Robert E. Howard — I thought I’d read these Conan stories as a young man. As it turns out, I didn’t read as many as I’d thought. Most of what I’d read had been written by other authors (mainly L. Sprague de Camp) after Howard’s death. I should have devoured this book book quickly, yet it took me an oddly long time to finish this collection.
- Rushing to Paradise // J.G. Ballard — I bought this book way back in 1996. I know this because the receipt was still inside. I’m not sure sure why it took me 21 years to read this quintessentially Ballardian tale of an island settled by a band of oddball eco-warriors that goes horribly awry.
- Wothwood: A Broken Cities Novella // Natania Barron — A short, tightly crafted tale about a mysterious wooded grove in a wholly original fantasy world. An intriguing story chock full of strong characters.
- Annihilation // Jeff Vandermeer — I’d been meaning to read this for some time, but I was spurred into action when I found out it was going to be a movie. I really wanted to love this book, but I just sort of liked it.
- The Handmaid’s Tale // by Margaret Atwood — Another book that had been on my “must read” list for too long. Again I was spurred into action by the imminent release of the series on Hulu.
- The Emperor’s Blades // Brian Staveley — I’m not sure what prompted my to pick up this fantasy. Even though I had some issues with the story, overall I enjoyed the read. It’s a dense tale in which three royal siblings scattered to the far corners of the world must overcome numerous obstacles in their respective paths when they learn their father, the Emperor, has been assassinated.
- Norse Mythology // Neil Gaiman — I’ve always been fond of the Norse gods, but most of what I knew came from the old AD&D Deities & Demigods handbook. I realized I knew very little about the actual stories of these gods. This book rectified that. And just let me say—these are some weird stories. The Norse mythos is … strange.
- The Kill Society // Richard Kadrey— Book nine in the highly entertaining Sandman Slim series. A perfect read for a road trip across the United States.
- American Gods // Neil Gaiman — Another great book to read during a trip across America.
- All-Star Batman Vol. 1 // by Scott Snyder & John Romita Jr. — Batman goes on a road trip with Two-Face, pursued by a countless people trying to kill them. Why? There’s a bounty on their heads, of course. Enjoyable if you like Batman stories.
- Good Clean Fun // Nick Offerman — This book helped me up my woodworking game this year—I even built a picnic table. I didn’t read every page of the book, but I did consume a great majority of it and returned to it often.
- Ariel // Steve Boyett — A nostalgic look back at a book I’d read many years ago. A young man and his unicorn traverse a magic-filled post-apocalyptic world. It’s got some flaws (which Boyett cops to in an essay written for this edition) but also a lot of heart. A fun read.
- The Satan Factory // Tom Sniegoski — Another book I’d bought many years ago and never read. This one features Lobster Johnson, pulp-era vigilante crimefighter from the pages of Hellboy. Sniegoski channels Burroughs and Dent in a solid pulp story.
- Compass South // Hope Larson & Rebecca Mock — A brother and sister find themselves embroiled in a perilous adventure on the high seas when the search for their missing father.
- Knife’s Edge // Hope Larson & Rebecca Mock — The siblings from Compass South are still sailing the seas, and while they’ve solved some of their problems, larger ones loom on the horizon.The first volume was so good, I bought this in hardcover. And that’s something I normally won’t do with graphic novels.
- The Best of Henry Kuttner // Henry Kuttner — This collection features some great 1950s era science fiction from one of the early masters of the genre, including “Mimsy Were the Borogroves,” (the basis for the movie The Last Mimzy) and “The Proud Robot” featuring the drunken genius Gallegher, a sort of proto-Rick (from Rick & Morty).
- Horizon // Scott Westerfeld — With only two days to go until 2018, I was getting stressed out about my low book count. So I snapped this up off the large to-read pile in the living room. I found it appealing because of the survival aspect of the plot, but I don’t think it’s Westerfeld’s best. It had some nice ideas, but it didn’t really come together for me.
- James Bond: VARGR // Warren Ellis & Jason Masters — A better James Bond story than most films produced from 1970 through, say, 2005.
- Tools of Titans // Tim Ferriss — Like Good Clean Fun above, I didn’t read every page of this book. However, I did read (and heavily annotate) a good portion of it during the course of the year. There is quite a bit of good advice and techniques to improve personal efficiency within these pages. If you’re into exploring how to get the minimum effective dose in your various pursuits, this book is worth your time.
Books I Didn’t Finish
Battle Cry of Freedom // James McPherson — A solid account of the events of the American Civil War, starting with the final days of the Mexican War. It’s a very dense read, jammed full of information and history. I started reading it in late April and cracked it open on and off during the year, annotating as I went. It’s an important book, especially considering the state of things these days, and I’ll finish it in 2018.
As you can see, I fell way short of my goal of 48. This was partly because of a confluence of events later in the year that limited my reading time and partly because Battle Cry of Freedom ate up a lot of the reading time I did have. I will do better in 2018. I hope.