Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 year-end wrap-up

Reading is cool picture

A little late with this baby. Next year, I resolve to get my last few books written-up and posted before the holidays are over!

Overall, I'm quite happy with my performance this year. I really wanted to ensure that I would reach 50, as I had slipped the two previous years. I pushed hard early in the year and was well on track, actually cruising to easily break my record. But I got derailed. Mostly by gaming (Draconis is in the beginning of October and caused a big flurry of one-shots afterwards), though perhaps other bad habits got in the way as well (hello, internet!). But I pulled through in the end and have achieved my goal. Not that the quantity of books is so important, but having that goal really helps to remind me when I'm not reading and need to get started again.

It was an excellent year for Post-Apocalyptic literature. I (or others, especially Lantzvillager) found and read a lot of lesser-known works to the extent that I feel that I have a decent grasp of the genre now. In particular, I devoured a lot of John Christopher. For some reason, his weird mix of British sexual anxiety and social criticism really appealed to me. I have a couple more of his books on deck and I will continue to seek him out, but my burning fire has reduced itself somewhat to more of a glowing coal. He will be someone I'll continue to read from time to time, but I won't actively seek out.

I also gained a greater appreciation of the hard-boiled genre, particular through August West's excellent blog. I had the perception that most of those pulp crime books were of a less quality than the really well-known names, enjoyable but more for the genre elements than any innate excellence. I am glad to have been disabused of that notion, discovering that there is a world of top-notch writing and storytelling buried in those (sadly) crumbling and hard to find old paperbacks. The only real problem is that they really are hard to find and becoming more and more recognized as having collection value, thus also more expensive.

My other highlight was my trip to Winnipeg which really revived my used books hunting instinct. I've been to the used bookstores in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal so many times now that it was all becoming a bit boring and dissatisfying. My trip to Winnipeg and the awesome used bookstore scene there created a feeling not unlike the jaded hunter the first time he decides to make man his prey. How it raises the blood! I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to visit any other middle-level city this next year. Halifax suggests itself as having potential...

Donald Westlake's death at the end of the year was quite shitty. It coincides with the re-publication of his stellar Parker series, 3 at a time, in order by the University of Chicago Press. I may buy those and re-read them (it will be the third time) in order to honour his life and work and help spread the word about their awesomeness.

Other than that, I don't have any particular goals for this year. I may not even push strongly to achieve the 50. I would just like to read a little more consistently and perhaps absorb a bit more. For the 50 books community, I hope for continued activity and participation among all the blogs. I think we are all more motivated when we received comments and I thought we had a strong year this year. Great work everyone!

Onward to 2009!


Unknown said...

Well done on the 50 this year. There are so many great books out there to read so keep it up.

Doc said...

I think the highest praise I can give you is that it was YOUR 50 book blog that inspired me to do my own 50 book blog this year. Thanks for the idea and the indirect kick in the pants. Also, thanks for the recommendations. I have picked up several titles from your blog this year and enjoyed every one.

meezly said...

excellent work, babe.

but I think you meant "2008 year end wrap up" :-)

(no I am not a geek)