Jake Conrad

Jake Conrad
Blog dedicated to my writing and whatever else I want: movies, games, books, electronics, music, ... anything Jake. The interior of my mind is a mixture of grindhouse, steampunk, Lovecraft, and 80's pop. Be very afraid.

Monday, January 3, 2011

So I Read 76 Books This Year - That Doesn't Mean I'm Obsessive and Other Lies

It is pretty popular to do a "best of" list on your blog when you start a new year.  I made a conscious decision at the beginning of 2010 to watch fewer movies and to read more.  I set what I thought to be a lofty goal of reading 52 books in 52 weeks and started to keep track of the books as I read them.  I also tried to through in a few books I hadn't read before and even a few that would be considered, "classic" or "important" books.  My blog post halfway through the year:

I not only read 52 books this year, I read 76.  Granted some of them were short, but just as many of them were very long.  Most of them were audio books.  I commute 2 hours a day so reading this way is pretty easy.  I had someone tell me recently that listening to audio books wasn't the same as reading them.  That is stupid.  I only listen to unabridged audio books, never the crappy abridged versions.  I have exactly the same feeling of understanding and completion when I listen to an audio book as when I read it myself sometimes more depending on who is reading it. 

The list below are the books I read in 2010 in the order I read them.  If there is an * at the end of the author's name, it means I had already read this book before.  Those books that I highlighted are books that I think of as "classic" or "important" books.

1)      Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – Suzanna Clarke
2)      The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History – Jonathan Franzen
3)      The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouc
4)      20th Century Ghosts – Joe Hill - Audio
5)      Genius – Jesse Kellerman
6)      Evidence – Jonathan Kellerman
7)      Bones – Jonathan Kellerman
8)      Empire – Orson Scott Card
9)      Hidden Empire – Orson Scott Card
10)  Under the Dome – Stephen King
11)  Fiddlers - McBain
12)  Black Dogs – Ian McEwan
13) Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
13)  The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
14)  Light in August – William Faulkner
15)  Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
16)  The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
17)  Night Shift – Stephen King*
18)  Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
19)  Complete Tales and Poems - Edgar Allan Poe
20)  Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
21)  A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare
22)  Siddhartha – Herman Hesse*
23)  An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England – Brock Clarke
24)  The Trial – Franz Kafka
25)  The Colorado Kid – Stephen King*
26)  A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
27)  The Regulators – Stephen King (Writing as Richard Bachman)*
28)  The Art of War – Sun Tzu
29)  Common Sense – Thomas Paine
30)  Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
31)  The Nightmare Factory – Thomas Ligotti
32)  Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
33)  The Stranger – Alber Camus
34)  The Final Solution – Michael Chabon
35)  Puddin Head Wilson – Mark Twain
36)  Short Stories of Saki – H.H. Munro
37)  The Age of Fable Part 1 – Thomas Bullfinch
38)  Turn of the Screw – Henry James
39)  Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card*
40)  Abraham Lincoln – A Presidential Life – James McPherson
41)  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce – Ambrose Bierce
42)  The Tommyknockers – Stephen King*
43)  Night Crew – John Sandford
44)  The Hanged Man’s Song – John Sandford
45)  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
46)  The Breathing Method – Stephen King*
47)  King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
48)  The Age of Fable Part 2 – Thomas Bullfinch
49)  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
50)  Billy Budd – Herman Melville
51)  The Body – Stephen King*
52)  Dark of the Moon – John Sandford
53)  The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin*
54)  Horns – Joe Hill
55)  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream – Hunter S. Thompson*
56)  Four Past Midnight – Stephen King*
57)  Heat Lightning – John Sandford
58)  The Unnamed – Joshua Ferris
59)  20th Century Ghosts – Joe Hill*
60)  Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman*
61)  Dead Watch – John Sandford
62)  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Frank Baum
63)  The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane*
64)  Xenocide – Orson Scott Card*
65)  The Shining – Stephen King*
66)  Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill*
67)  Horns – Joe Hill*
68)  Silas Marner – George Eliot
69)  The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver*
70)  The Gingerbread Girl – Stephen King*
71)  Stationary Bike – Stephen King*
72)  Full Dark, No Stars – Stephen King
73)  Works of H.P. Lovecraft – H.P. Lovecraft
74)  Children of the Mind – Orson Scott Card
75)  The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells*
76) No Country For Old Men - Cormac McCarthy

If you are interested in book reviews, I reviewed many of these books through my Goodreads account, which were then posted to Facebook.  Somehow when I linked my Goodreads account to Facebook, it set up a second account and my posts were scattered over 2 accounts.  I got so frustrated that I stopped reviewing them altogether.  I don't think this was a Goodreads problem, I really like Goodreads.  I think this was a Facebook problem.  If you would like to "friend" me on Goodreads, look me up.  If you want to read a couple of my book reviews found elsewhere on this blog, here are a few:

Light in August, Picture of Dorian Grey, Black Dogs Reviews:

Top 10 Lists

Let me break down my top 10 favorite books from 2010.  These are books that stayed with me long after I read them - books that resonated.  These were books that I read that made me happy to be a reader:

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
Light in August – William Faulkner
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – Suzanna Clarke
Puddin Head Wilson – Mark Twain
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
Xenocide - Orson Scott Card
The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin

As you can see all but Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell were books I consider to be "classic" or "important" books.  I have committed to myself to read a number of these each year.

That being said, 10 of the best guilty pleasure books I read this year were:

Full Dark, No Stars – Stephen King
 Xenocide – Orson Scott Card (maybe a little to thought-provoking to be categorized as a guilty pleasure
Empire – Orson Scott Card
The Gingerbread Girl – Stephen King
The Body – Stephen King
Horns – Joe Hill
 Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
Genius – Jesse Kellerman
 Heat Lightning – John Sandford
Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman

A few books I wouldn't read again because they bored or annoyed me:

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The Art of War – Sun Tzu
Silas Marner – George Eliot
Billy Budd – Herman Melville

Special mention goes to Stephen King's boy Joe Hill.  I read his 2 new novels and short story collection 2x this year as well as his Locke and Key graphic novels.  He doesn't write like his dad exactly.  The content is similar, ghosts, demons and the like, but the style is very different.  He is like a glam-rocker version of his pops, but I'm hoping to see great things from him in the future.

Along with the books I read above, I'm a voracious comic reader (graphic novels is what I call them to make them sound more impressive).  The best graphic novels I read this year in no particular order are:

The Escapists  - Brian K. Vaughan
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 1 - Alan Moore
Wanted - Mark Millar
Kick Ass -  Mark Millar
Locke and Key Vol. 1, 2, and 3  - Joe Hill

So what does the 2011 hold for my obsessive hobbies?  I already know I won't be reading as much.  I have a list of books I'm going to pick at and they do include some of the high-brow stuff.  I'm sure I will read the annual submissions from John Sandford and Jonathan Kellerman.  I would like to read the Dragon Tattoo series and the Hunger Games series.  Other than that I'm not going to worry about it.  I've never had a hard time reading.  I would like to write a short story or two, but I really don't feel like I'm very good at it.  It is hard.  I think I'm going to get back into video games and beat a few games this year.  I really don't know... I've never had a hard time finding obsessions.


  1. Oops, I listed Xenocide as both an important book and a guilty pleasure. I guess in a way it is...

  2. Great list. Very nice. I kept my list up to date but I need to go back and categorize my favorites.

    I love the way you've broken out guilty pleasures, important books, etc. Cool idea. :)

  3. I just read some of your Personal Rant section. You are such a great writer. You are very talented. Obsessive and talented. Keep up the great writing.