What I Read in 2015

Well, another year is in the bag. My year finished fast and great. I hope yours did too. Right around the end of the summer life put its foot on the gas and it took off with a roar, but thanks to the folks at work, my family and some wonderful book finds, I’m feeling good heading into 2016.

I just wanted to share a few highlights and recommended reads. If you get the chance, please share something you read this year that you think I’d enjoy. I’m always looking out for something new-to-me.

First, the digits: 15, 265 pages in 55 books. Thanks to the cool folks at LibraryThing.com I know that:

  • if laid end-to-end, these pages stretch 0.0003% of the distance to the moon.
  • I would need 3.1 U-Haul boxes to pack these books;
  • I would need 2.17 IKEA Billy bookcases to store them;
  • and, the value of their weight in gold is currently $203,351,975.

Also, if stacked on top of each other (end-to-end) then my 2015 list would be taller than Stonehenge.

Stonehenge

That’s a pretty good year for me.

I also track where I “first heard of a book”. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years and it’s the first time that “Podcasts” came in at #1. “From Friends” dropped to #3 and “Blogs” is #2. I think this means I need to get out more.

I was also a very “current reader” as (when averaged) most of my books were only 2 years old when I read them. This is something I’m going to change in 2016.

Without a doubt the best book I read this year was Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. It impacted me more than anything else I read and it is the book I most recommended last year.

Best Fiction
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey
Fates and Furies: A Novel by Lauren Groff

Best Non-Fiction
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Evenings at Five by Gail Godwin
The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel

Anyway, please share any 2015 finds you had. And most importantly – Happy New Year to you and yours!

Capitol Book & News is CLOSING

If you’re near Montgomery, AL, in the next couple of days, it would be worth your while to swing by Capitol Book & News as they are closing this month. For good.

This little indie bookstore is the last in Montgomery. It’s been in business for 65 years. I didn’t realize it has not always been in its current location in Old Cloverdale. But according to the Montgomery Advertiser is used to be owned by someone else and located downtown. Downtown shops are fun, but man Old Cloverdale is one of the more idyllic spots for an indie shop.

Capitol Book reminds me of some of the great little book shops over in Savannah, GA that are so fun to walk around and visit.

So take a peek at the Advertiser article. I echo the owners’ hopes that someone else will step in and open an indie bookshop in Montgomery. The city would be better for it.

National Science Fiction Day 2016

So yesterday was National Science Fiction Day for 2016. It’s not exactly a major holiday… yet… but it’s fun to celebrate nonetheless. An hey – if enough blog posts start mentioning it and the right publishers get behind it we could have us a real holiday one day. Though January 2nd would be a tough sell I have to admit. It’s just a little too close to the Christmas & New Year’s Eve to be of any fun.

But it’s the day that the grand poobah of the galaxy Isaac Asimov was born back in 1920. So it’s probably as good of a day as any to celebrate science fiction writing.

So in honor of Asimov’s awesome encyclopedic legacy, I’d like to share my three favorite science fiction books I read last year. I have to admit that it’s getting harder to figure out what is “science fiction” these days. So many books have elements of the future, time travel, dragons, etc. that science fiction is teetering on becoming mainstream. But that’s a post for another day.

If you’re looking for a good sci-fi read to kick off 2016, then check these out:

TimeSalvagerTime Salvager by Wesley Chu I thought this book was great fun. It does fall in the time travel category. It has a couple of common sense and unique solutions for dealing with many of the common issues with time travel, which I thought clever. Also, it’s the first in a series so it’s a great time to jump on board.

 

 

BoneClocksThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell I finally got around to reading this and so glad I did. While I’m not one for “psychic powers” stuff, the writing is incredible and the way Mitchell loops everything together is almost a superpower. It’s a big book. So if you want to dip your toes then I’d recommend reading Slade House. It’s set in the Bone Clocks universe, but no necessarily a sequel. I think you’ll enjoy Slade House more if you read it second, but no harm in using it as an appetizer to see if it’s for you.

SevenevesSeveneves by Neal Stephensen – this book might very well be the most epic science fiction book I’ve ever read. It is Asimov-like in scope and skill. So very good. There definitely falls in the hard sci-fi column. So expect pages of scientists and engineers debating orbits, trajectories, etc. but you can skim that stuff if your eyes start to gloss over. The story is huge. It tracks humanity thousands of years into the future after the Earth is made uninhabitable.

That’s it! I am a huge fan of science fiction and speculative fiction. So please let me know of any fantastic reads that you’ve found. I’ll add them to my list.

Happy belated National Science Fiction Day!

2016 Tournament of Books

It’s January and that means it’s time to kick off another Tournament of Books competition. The folks over at The Morning News have been running this beauty pageant of books for 12 years. No matter if you agree with the final winner or not, I guarantee the conversation is worth following.

2016_TournamentOFBooksLast year Station Eleven took home the top prize (which I thought was a great read). You can read last year’s Championship Matchup’s play-by-play here.

Now that you see how it went down,  click over and read the long list of “players” on the roster for this year’s contest. There are 86 works of fiction in the 2016 Tournament of Books. Quite a few books you’d expect to be there, but there are even more that never popped up on my radar last year. I’ve already added three titles to my “be on the lookout for” list.

How many of the 86 have you already read? Anything on there you’d recommend?

You can keep up with the contest by following The Morning News on Twitter or by watching this category/archive thread on their site. The brackets and schedule will be published soon enough as folks start trash taking and picking the faves.

May the best book win!

 

Books, Publishing and Birmingham