Falling Behind: My Reading Backlog

I was recently looking at my Amazon wishlist, it has quite a few books on it, and wondering when, if ever, I’d get around to purchasing and reading them. See, I made a deal with myself, and I’ve mostly kept it, that I won’t buy anymore new books until I finish all the ones I already have on my shelves. But, it doesn’t seem to matter how many of the books I take off the shelf and read there are always unread ones sitting on the shelves waiting for their turn. If reading wasn’t so enjoyable the task might be Sisyphean…

So, I decided to sit down and see just how many books I have to read before I can get to those new ones… It took awhile but here it is:

171 books

Roughly, I didn’t count a lot of the genre fiction collections I have lying around (Dune, Stross, Stevenson, Weeks, etc…) If you want to get a glimpse at what I’m interested in go ahead and click through to the spreadsheet, I didn’t list authors but some simple googling should lead you to these books.

Anyone have any suggestions on whittling this down to something manageable?


Books Read in 2013

I did quite a bit of reading in the last year. I’m hoping to do just as much if not more this year!

January (6)
John Dies at the End by David Wong
Our Gleaming Bones Unrobed by Grant Loveys
Justinian’s Flea by William Rosen
Bad Machinery: The Case of Team Spirit by John Allison
Boom! by Thomas Richard Harry
This Book has Spiders in it by David Wong

February (6)
The Enlightenment Vision by Stuart Jordan
Tarzan the Centennial Celebration by Scott Tracy Griffin
The Adventurer’s Handbook by Mick Conefrey
Budget Travel through Space and Time by Albert Goldbarth
Not Buying It by Judith Levine
In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation by Melinda L. Pash

March (3)
It’s Even Worse than it Looks by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
The Girl in the Flammable Skit by Aimee Bender

April (2)
Overheated by Andrew Guzman
Going Clear by Lawrence Wright

May (4)
The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

June (2)
City of Quartz by Mike Davis
Faust Eric by Terry Pratchett

July (1)
Escape Velocity by Mark Dery

August (1)
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

September (1)
Alas, Poor Yorick by Ryan North

October (12)
All Your Yesterdays by John Conway, C.M. Kosemen, Darren Naishi
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
The Son I Never Had by Kevin Wolf
Make me a Sandwich by Jemma Salume
Moses and Bean: School Bus Sex Ed by Matt and Jeanie Bryan
All Yesterdays by John Conway, C.M. Kosemen, Darren Naishi
The Men Who Lost America by Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy
Skin Deep: Orientations by Kory Bing
Please Don’t Give Up (1 of 4) by Thien Pham
The Adventures of the 19XX: Rise of the Black Faun by Paul Martinez
Murder and Magic by Randall Garrett

November (3)
Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett
Lord Darcy Investigates by Randall Garrett
The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer

December (1)
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Total: 42

If I have any reading goals for 2014 it is to complete book review books in the month I get them, to read more “classic” texts, and to finally read through J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, Francesco Colonna’s  Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, and maybe, maybe Spengler’s Decline of the West.

2012 Completed Books

Kinda looks like my library…

Here’s my list of books read for the year! Not bad, but not my best either.

January (3)
Swanzues by Gronk
Tuk Tuk by Will Kirkby
Necropolis by Michael Demprey

February (4)
The Information by James Gleick
Dance of the Damned by Alan Bligh
Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey
The Information Diet by Clay A. Johnson

March (3)
Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World
Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future by John MacCormick
Sixth Column by Robert Heinlein

April (3)
The People’s History of the United States of America by Howard Zinn
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

May (5)
Reap the East Wind by Glen Cook
Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht
Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft drawn by Jason Bradley Thompson
The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity by John W. Loftus

June (6)
Not the Impossible Faith by Richard Carrier
Where’s my Cow by Terry Prachett
Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey
Reinventing Life by Jeffrey Scott Coker
Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
The Witch Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Alice Murray

July (3)
Threshold by Caitlin Kiernan
The Color of Magic by Terry Prachett
The Light Fantastic by Terry Prachett

August (5)
God and the Folly of Faith by Victor J. Stenger
1493 by Charles Mann
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Johnny Mnemonic by William Gibson

September (4)
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
Wyrd Sisters By Terry Pratchett
Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

October (1)
Several Short Sentences about Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg

November (2)
Meaning and Value in a Secular Age by Paul Kurtz
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

December (9)
The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer
1493 by Charles Mann
Guards, Guards! by Terry Pratchett
The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus
Bhavagad Gita trans. by Sir Edwin Arnold
New Atlantis by Francis Bacon
The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
All my Friends are Still Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John

2012 total: 48

2011 total: 50
2010 total: 69

Not a Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I picked this up on the Kindle either right at the end of November or the beginning of December last year. I knew enough from friends and acquaintances that the book heavily referenced video games and 80’s pop culture. I didn’t know much beyond that though. I dove in and quickly discovered just what Ready Player One is all about.

The book tells the story of Wade Watts, a destitute nerd barely ecking out an existence on a dystopic Earth where climate change and government inability to successfully manage a global economy has created vast disparities between people and where a fully immersive internet coupled with an addicting, and free, MMO called OASIS (think Second Life but fun(?)) that serves as most people’s panacea. Life sucks here so zone out and tap into a digital life that has more meaning. The co-creater of this digital utopia has died and left his controlling shares in the company that controls the game to whoever can solve the puzzle he’s designed within OASIS. Wadd Watts with the help of some friends end up claiming that prize and in doing so saves the OASIS from the evil corporation intent on turning the game into a cash cow.

Ready Player One is a fun nerd thriller; is nerd thriller even a genre? It should be one, there are enough of us… That deftly manages to use the tropes of the thriller genre to lead the protagonist and the reader through the mystery at the heart (the puzzles and riddles that need to be solved in order of Wade Watts to win the contest and claim control over OASIS) of the story without boring the reader. I didn’t have any issues with the story line. My complaints come largely from the lavish, and near constant, praise of 80’s pop culture and nerd culture (if it can even be called such a thing…) which quickly overwhelms every other aspect of the book. In fact, less than half way through the book I became suspicious that the whole story was a thinly constructed excuse to nostalgically ejaculate about the 80’s. I was there too, I remember those years. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t amazing either. A perfectly good book ruined by the author’s enthusiasm for a very niche subject area…


Final complaint: In the end, I couldn’t enjoy this book because it rewarded someone who wasted their life. It rewards this disturbing kind of obsessive compulsive expertism. That a decent, no, great substitute for making something of your own life is to catalog the minutia of someone else’s. Mr. Watts has no real skills. In this world he can not DO anything. What he can do is tell you, in excruciating detail, all about  the songs, movies, and video games of the 1980’s. I have hobbies and obsession too; but, I’m not kidding myself. I’m not deluding myself into thinking that those are a substitute for hard work and useful skills. It’s the latter and not the former that are going to feed and provide for my wife and I. I just seem to have a real issue with these kind of characters.

Maybe, because I see a little too much of myself in them? Maybe, because I can’t delude myself anymore that I’m not wasting my time?


%d bloggers like this: