Thursday, January 21, 2016

10 Years of Book Reviewing

On October 14, 2013, I passed my ten years of blogging mark, and jotted down a few thoughts about the whole experience.

Today marks 10 years since I started regularly reviewing books on this blog.  (It's taken me a few years to figure out exactly what this blog is best suited for, so I didn't start regular book reviews until I was a few years into my blogging.)

So, I thought I'd write down a few notes on this project as well.  Starting, with a list of all the books I've reviewed:

1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky January 26, 2006
2. All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque January 28, 2006
3. The Debacle by Emile Zola February 5, 2006
4. I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe February 7, 2006
5. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett February 12, 2006
6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo February 18, 2006
7. The Truth With Jokes By Al Franken February 20, 2006
8. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett February 22, 2006
9. A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book 1 A very Bad Beginning By Lemony Snickett February 23, 2006
10. On Writing Short Stories by Tom Bailey February 26, 2006
11. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett February 27, 2006
12. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald March 9, 2006
13. The Iron Heel by Jack London March 16, 2006
14. Tristram Shandy (abridged) by Laurence Sterne March 24, 2006
15. In Search of British Heroes by Tony Robinson April 3, 2006
16. The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King April 8, 2006
17. Harry Potter And the Goblet of Fire By J.K. Rowlings April 10, 2006
18. The Notebook By Nicholas Sparks April 11, 2006
19. The Gods Will Have Blood by Anatole France April 12, 2006
20. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain April 13, 2006
21. Vampire Blood Trilogy by Darren Shan April 14, 2006
22. The Stand by Stephen King (Complete and Uncut Edition) April 15, 2006
23. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling April 16, 2006
24. This Gun for Hire by Graham Greene April 16, 2006
25. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle April 20, 2006
26. East of Eden by John Steinbeck April 26, 2006
27. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling April 27, 2006
28. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner April 29, 2006
29. Shanghai Baby by Zhou Wei Hui May 9, 2006
30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller May 12, 2006
31. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett June 10, 2006
32. Babbit by Sinclair Lewis June 11, 2006
33. U.S.! By Chris Bachelder June 18, 2006
34. Seek My Face by John Updike  June 19, 2006
35. Karl Marx: A Life by Francis Wheen June 20, 2006
36. The Regime By Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins June 21, 2006
37. Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney July 2, 2006
38. Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain July 7, 2006
39. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway July 12, 2006
40. Paris Babylon by Rupert Christiansen July 19, 2006
41. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow July 21, 2006
42. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein July 30, 2006
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand August 7, 2006
44. DC Universe: Inheritance by Devin Grayson August 12, 2006
45. Rabbit, Run by John Updike August 16, 2006
46. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett August 23, 2006
47. 1632 by Eric Flint September 3, 2006
48. Rosa by Jonathon Rabb September 20, 2006
49. Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman September 27, 2006
50. Caesar by Colleen McCullough September 30, 2006
51. Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles October 2, 2006
52. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein October 10, 2006
53. The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer October 19, 2006
54. Rabbit Redux by John Updike October 31, 2006
55. It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis November 1, 2006
56. The Dragon and the George by Gordon Dickson November 2, 2006
57. Infinite Crisis by Greg Cox November 8, 2006
58. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett November 9, 2006
59. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy November 30, 2006
60. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis December 4, 2006
61. The Revolutionary by Hans Koningsberg December 5, 2006
62. The October Horse by Colleen McCullough December 7, 2006
63. Imperium by Robert Harris December 8, 2006
64. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis December 19, 2006
65. Crash by J.G. Ballard December 22, 2006
66. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro December 28, 2006
67. Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min January 1, 2007
68. The Martian Tales Trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs January 3, 2007
69. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse January 4, 2007
70. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle January 9, 2007
71. The Time of the Dragons by Alice Ekert-Rotholz January 14, 2007
72. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain January 17, 2007
73. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis January 18, 2007
74. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard January 19, 2007
75. Ilium by Dan Simmons January 22, 2007
76. Watership Down by Richard Adams January 29, 2007
77. Revolution and Reaction: The Paris Commune 1871 by John Hick and Robert Tucker February 17, 2007
78. Olympus by Dan Simmons February 28, 2007
79. Karl Marx: His Life and Environment by Isaiah Berlin March 7, 2007
80. The Truth by Terry Pratchett March 18, 2007
81. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev March 25, 2007
82. The Insurrectionist by Jules Valles April 14, 2007
83. The Child by Jules Valles April 20, 2007
84. History of the Paris Commune by Prosper Oliver Lissagaray April 27, 2007
85. Justice League of America: Exterminators by Christopher Golden May 14, 2007
86. Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo May 22, 2007
87. Magician by Raymond E. Feist (New Revised Edition) May 23, 2007
88. Louise Michel by Edith Thomas June 12, 2007
89. Justice League of America: Superman--The Never-Ending Battle by Roger Stern July 11, 2007
90. Karl Marx: An Intimate Biography by Saul Padover July 13, 2007
91. The Voice of the People by Jean Vautrin July 20, 2007
92. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King July 21, 2007
93. Challengers of the Unknown by Ron Goulart July 22, 2007
94. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling August 5, 2007
95. 52: The Novel by Greg Cox August 18, 2007
96. The Long Good-Bye by Raymond Chandler August 25, 2007
97. The Outsider by Albert Camus September 29, 2007
98. Kingdom Come by Elliot S. Maggin October 28, 2007
99. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins December 13, 2007
100. The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson December 14, 2007
101. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman December 15, 2007
102. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett  December 19, 2007
103. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson January 7, 2008
104. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman January 9, 2008
105. The Last Card by Hans Hellmut Kirst January 22, 2008
106. Osugi Sakae: Anarchist in Taisho Japan by Thomas Stanley January 23, 2008
107. The Last Shogun by Ryotaro Shiba January 24, 2008
108. Shinsengumi by Romulus Hillsborough January 26, 2008
109. Samurai William by Giles Milton February 6, 2008
110. The Plum-Rain Scroll by Ruth Manley February 12, 2008
111. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman March 13, 2008
112. A Hundred Years of Japanese Film by Donald Richie March 18, 2008
113. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson April 1, 2008
114. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson June 20, 2008
115. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett July 29, 2008
116. Fire Across the Sea: The Vietnam War and Japan by Thomas Havens  August 13, 2008
117. Shogun by James Clavell August 18, 2008
118. Learning from Shogun, edited by Henry Smith August 20, 2008
119. The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore August 24, 2008
120. Robespierre by S.L. Carson August 29, 2008
121. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy August 31, 2008
122. Danton by Frank Dwyer September 2, 2008
123. Napoleon by Leslie McGuire September 8, 2008
124. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett September 17, 2008
125. Bakunin, An Invention by Horst Bienek September 19, 2008
126. Paine by John Vail September 23, 2008
127. Clemenceau by Ted Gottfried October 3, 2008
128. Talleyrand by Robin Harris October 12, 2008
129. Lenin by John Haney October 22, 2008
130. The Judgment of Paris by Ross King October 31, 2008
131. A People's History of the World by Chris Harman November 8, 2008
132. Queen Victoria by Deirdre Sherman December 1, 2008
133. The Great Upheaval by Jay Winik December 13, 2008
135. For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette and Their Revolutions by James R. Gaines February 16, 2009
138. Napoleon's Egypt by Juan Cole March 24, 2009
140. The First Total War by David Bell April 6, 2009
142.  Napoleon by Felix Markham May 24, 2009
144.  The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm July 10, 2009
146.  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy October 25, 2009
148.  Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton by Edward Rice January 8, 2010
149.  The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson February 19, 2010
150.  Three Empires on the Nile by Dominic Green March 10, 2010
152.  Down Under by Bill Bryson March 24, 2010
154.  Kim by Rudyard Kipling April 7,  2010
156.  Flashman by George Macdonald Fraser May 2, 2010
158.  The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope July 12, 2010
160.  Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes August 3, 2010
162.  The Butterfly in Amber by Kate Forsyth September 29, 2010
164.  Turn Right at Istanbul by Tony Wright [Abridged] January 23, 2011
166.  The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg (Abridged) January 27, 2011
167.  King Richard III by William Shakespeare January 31, 2011
168.  Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser February 2, 2011
169.  Free-Born John by Pauline Gregg March 17, 2011
170.  Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser March 29, 2011
172.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll April 21, 2011
174.  Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser June 12, 2011
176.  To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams July 11, 2011
178.  The Game by Neil Strauss October 27, 2011
180.  The French Presence in Cochinchina and Cambodia by Milton E. Osborne November 10, 2011
182.  Flashman on the March by George MacDonald Fraser March 2, 2012
184.  The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng April 10, 2012
186.  Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson June 13, 2012
188.  The Magicians by Lev Grossman September 26, 2012
190.  Flashman and the Angel of the Lord by George MacDonald Fraser December 18, 2012
191.  The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton January 1, 2013
192.  The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible by Robin Lane Fox January 27, 2013
194.  The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine February 16, 2013
196.  Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener [Second Edition] March 2, 2013
197.  Rebels and Traitors by Lindsey Davis April 17, 2013
198.  Understanding Second Language Acquisition by Lourdes Ortega May 1, 2013
200.  Procrastination by Jane B. Burka, PhD and Lenora M. Yuen, PhD [25th Anniversary Edition] June 5, 2013
202.  Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman June 24, 2013
204.  From Reader to Reading Teacher by Jo Ann Aebersold and Mary Lee Field August 11, 2013
206.  Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser August 16, 2013
207.  Mr American by George MacDonald Fraser September 11, 2013
208.  SLA Research and Language Teaching by Rod Ellis October 13, 2013
210.  The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (Revisited) November 8, 2013
211.  Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas November 10, 2013
212.  Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing by I.S.P. Nation November 13, 2013
213.  Destination Cambodia by Walter Mason November 21, 2013
214.  At War With Asia by Noam Chomsky December 3, 2013
215.  Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore December 11, 2013
216.  Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens—Retold by Richard Rogers December 25, 2013
218.  Kings and Queens of Britain by Tim Vicary December 29, 2013
219.  Ireland by Tim Vicary December 31, 2013
210.  Mutiny on the Bounty by Tim Vicary January 2, 2014
212.  Pocahontas by Tim Vicary January 5, 2014
214.  The Vicomte De Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas January 17, 2014
216.  The English Verb by Michael Lewis February 10, 2014
217.  Black Ajax by George MacDonald Fraser February 14, 2014
218.  The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper—Retold by Coleen Degnang-Veness February 28, 2014
220.  An Introduction to Language by Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, Peter Collins, and David Blair [Third Edition] March 19, 2014
222.  Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas March 27, 2014
224.  Beyond the Sentence by Scott Thornbury April 8, 2014
226.  The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson May 12, 2014
228.  Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching by Diane Larsen-Freeman [Second Edition] May 22, 2014
230.  The Language Teaching Matrix by Jack C. Richards July 3, 2014
232.  Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein July 31, 2014
233.  The Time Machine by H.G. Wells August 2, 2014
234.  The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel August 22, 2014
236.  The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth September 7, 2014
238.  Kidnapped and Catriona by Robert Louis Stevenson September 24, 2014
239.  George Orwell: Essays September 26, 2014
240.  Conspirata by Robert Harris September 29, 2014
241.  The Quiet American by Graham Greene October 1, 2014
242.  The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells October 7, 2014
243.  Cambodia’s Curse by Joel Brinkley October 16, 2014
244.  Hothouse by Brian Aldiss October 20, 2014
246.  Burmese Days by George Orwell October 27, 2014
248.  The Malayan Trilogy by Anthony Burgess October 30, 2014
249.  An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris November 18, 2014
250.  Rubicon by Tom Holland November 19, 2014
252.  A World On Fire by Amanda Foreman November 25, 2014
253.  The Way of the Kings by Andre Malraux December 1, 2014
254.  Alexander: Child of a Dream by Valerio Massimo Manfredi (Alexander Trilogy Book 1) December 4, 2014
255.  The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay December 12, 2014
256.  Tonoharu (Parts 1 and 2) by Lars Martinson December 18, 2014
257.  The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns December 26, 2014
258.  Anno Dracula by Kim Newman January 3, 2015
259. Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman January 20, 2015
260. Anno Dracula 1918: The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman January 22, 2015
261. Alexander: The Sands of Ammon by Valerio Massimo Manfredi,February 9, 2015
262. The Natural Approach by Stephen D. Krashen and Tracy D. Terrell, March 5, 2015
263. Alexander: The Ends of the Earth by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, March 6. 2015
264. About Language by Scott Thornbury, March 7, 2015
265. The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow March 17, 2015
266. Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault March 28, 2015
267. Grammar for English Language Teachers by Martin Parrott, April 2, 2015
268. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault April 30, 2015
269. Funeral Games by Mary Renault May 13, 2015
270. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain June 23, 2015
271. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, August 10, 2015
272. Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain, November 13, 2015
273. Tom Sawyer Detective by Mark Twain November 20, 2015
274. The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse Retold by Sue Arengo and Illustrated by Kate Aldous January 9, 2016
275. Peace At Last by Jill Murphy January 12, 2016
276. Jungle School Tales (Reading Heroes) by Tina Barrett January 14, 2016
277.  My First Fairytales: The Three Billy Goats Gruff Retold by Gaby Goldsack and Illustrated by Kim Blundell January 15, 2016

And Some Random Thoughts
* The actual number, 277, is misleading, and makes me look way more literary than I actually am.  In reality, within this 277 are several graded readers, two graphic - novels,  several short novellas, lots of children's books (including 7 Books in the "World  -Leaders: Past  - and  -Present" Series --a series of picture books about world leaders intended for children) and lots and lots of audio books.

* Given how little I actually read, I sometimes feel guilty about maintaining a blog dedicated to book reviews.  "Who do I think I'm kidding?" I sometimes ask myself.  "I'm trying to appear cultured and literary by maintaining a book review blog, but I barely get through a book a month!"  (Although most likely I'm the only one who's losing any sleep over this issue.)
On the other hand, if I was the kind of person who knocked off a book every few days (like some of my friends are) then I would never have time to write detailed book reviews on each one.  So in that sense, this type of blog is only possible for someone with my reading habits.

* I discovered audio books in my early 20s, and I've had a number of positive experiences with them (both before and after starting this book review project).  A number of books I've done only by audio book, and yet I feel like I've absorbed them every bit as well as if I had read the actual pages.  In some cases, I think I might even get more out of the book if it's an audio.  (My eyes can tend to glaze over sometimes when reading the printed page, but a skilled voice actor can bring the words to life.  And also something about the spoken word tends to stick in my mind more than the written word.)
However, over the years my opinion on audio books has evolved, and I've decided that they're not ideal for every situation.
There are external factors that can detract from audio books of course (how noisy it is outside, how distracted I am).
But there are also just some books that can't be absorbed as easily orally--books where the author's prose isn't so straightforward and simple, for example.  Also books with lots of characters to keep track of.
There are a few books on this list that I did on audio book that I now have to admit I got very little out of.
The one I feel most guilty about is Anna Karenina .  I did it as an audio book back in 2006, and today I can remember just about zero of it, and I feel really guilty having it on my list of books that I've read.  I haven't really absorbed it, so I shouldn't really be claiming that I've read it.  At some point, I need to go back and re-visit that book.  Until that point, I'm living a lie by having that book on my list.

As time went on, I started to get more anal retentive about my audio books.  Instead of just listening once and writing a review, I would try to listen to them 3 or 4 times before I truly counted them as "read".  But even in this case it should be noted that there are certain authors I still have trouble absorbing audibly, even after 3 or 4 listens.
I've also decided to try to be more forthright about which books I did as audio books, and to make this explicit in the review now.  (Something that was absent from the first few years of this project.)

* In my 10 years of blogging retrospective post, I mentioned how embarrassed I am by all the bad writing on this blog over the years.
This is true with my book review project as well.
As I type the words onto the screen, I think everything I write is absolutely brilliant.
When I re-read old posts after a few years have gone by, I'm appalled by how clunky the writing style is.  I often have difficulty following my own train of thought, because the sentences are so mangled, and the transitions between ideas are unclear.
And all the typos!  So many typos!
There's also the problem of a intelligent commentary--or lack thereof.
When I first started this book review project, I didn't have a lot of intelligent things to say about the books I was reading.  For example, my review of The Postman Always Rings Twice is so vague and aimless as to be pretty much just a waste of cyberspace.  (I can't imagine anyone getting anything out of that review.)
In more recent years, I think I've gone to the opposite extreme, and started writing way too much about the books I've read.  There are several examples of this, but I guess the most infamous one is my review of The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, which totals 46,375 words.  That's an exceptional example, but there are plenty of others.  This review on The Age of Reason was pretty dense.  This one on At War With Asia went on forever.  And many more examples.

* I like having all the books listed in order of date read (as opposed to alphabetically) because they form a bit of a biography over the last 10 years.  As my interests and ambitions changed, so did my reading list.
When I thought I was going to go to graduate school in Japanese studies, my reading list was all books about Japan.
When I thought maybe I would go to school for modern European studies, my reading list was all books from this period.
As with most people who like history, I like pretty much all of it, and I do kind of skip around from period to period.  But the area that I thought I wanted to specialize in was early modern European history.  At my Alma Mater, the early modern period was defined from the start of the French Revolution to the First World War, and I've kept those dates (1789-1918) as a rough guide for my history reading.  Also, since literature and history or always very inter-related, I tried to tackle a lot of literature from the same period.
Now that I've decided my career is in English Teaching, I've been trying to read lots of books related to the English Teaching Profession.
When I first started this book review project, however, I still had literary ambitions--I wanted to be a writer.  And I was under the influence of Stephen King's book On Writing (A).
I never reviewed it on this blog (I read it a few months before I started the book review project), but it influenced my reading choices for the first few years of book reviewing.
In his book, Stephen King wrote at length about the importance of reading for anyone with ambitions to be a writer.  All writing comes out of reading, and if you're not constantly devouring books, King said, you'll never make it as a writer.
What to read, then?  Anything and everything, King said.  All written works can help you develop your literary technique.  A good book shows you what to do.  A badly written book, however, is equally as valuable, because you can get a very clear sense of what not to do.
In other words, there is no such thing as a book that's a waste of time.
 "If you're looking for permission to read all those trashy books that you've always wanted to read, but that you thought were a waste of time, then I'm giving you that permission," King said.  (Or something like that.  I'm paraphrasing because I'm quoting from memory.)

For someone of my temperament (a geek) the idea of being able to read all sorts of trashy pulpy novels AND get to feel like I was being productive at the same time was a gift from heaven.  And so I jumped head first into all those wonderful trashy pulpy novels: Vampire Blood Trilogy, The Stand, Harry Potter, The Left Behind series, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Starship Troopers, The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu, The Princess of Mars, Conan The Barbarian, Magician, The Golden Compass, Ilium & Olympus, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Eventually, I dropped my literary ambitions.  Much like my flirtations with going into graduate school for history, or for Japanese studies, it was just not a realistic career path.
(And much like graduate school for history, or Japanese studies, it took me far too long to realize this.  Boy, is it embarrassing to realize how long it took me to grow up!)

So, for the most part, the pulpy sci-fi/fantasy books that dominated the early part of this book review project are over now.  Although, (once a geek, always a geek), I still relapse back into them once and a while.  (Just last year I reviewed Anno Dracula, and Hothouse for example.)  And I'm still enough of a geek to enjoy the sheer imagination that comes from the better writers in this genre.

The one thing that I am really and truly over, however, is superhero comic books.
10 years ago when I started this book review project I still had a fondness for the comic books of my youth.  I had long ago stopped reading them because they seemed like a huge waste of time.  But, based on Stephen King's advice that this was no longer a waste of time, I dove back in to comic books in the form of tie-in novels based on the DC Universe (52: The Novel, Infinite Crisis: The Novel, Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Novel, DC Universe: Inheritance, Justice League of America: Superman--The Never-Ending BattleJustice League of America: Exterminators, Kingdom Come: The Novel, Challengers of the Unknown.)
Sure, I knew they were terrible, but I loved the pulp cheesiness of the superhero world.
Now, however, I'm tired of it all.
It's a bit hard to pinpoint exactly where my disillusionment with comic book superheros began.  And, as with all ex-lovers, once the spark has gone out of the relationship, it's hard to identify what went wrong, because the question changes from "Why did I stop loving her?" to "What did I ever see in her to begin with?" And it's almost impossible to get back into that old frame of mind to remember what the original attraction had been.
It's possible that after an extended adolescence, I just finally grew up.  (I usually think of myself as fully cognitively mature at 27, but maybe tastes can still change between 27 and 37).
It's possible that with all the superhero overload in the media the past few years, I just got sick of the whole thing.
It's possible that with all the resets and reboots in the comic book publishing world, the thing that attracted me to comic books in the first place was no longer valid. (I used to be fascinated by the idea of one long continuous story going all the way back to the 1940s.  But in the past 10 years alone DC comics has reset it's continuity several times.  It's now clear that any advancements or developments that happen in any issue is just temporary until the next reset a few years later, and that takes all the investment out of the story.)
But whatever the case, I'm over it.  Comic book superheroes seem stupid and juvenile to me now.  And to be quite honest, I'm embarrassed to have these book reviews in my blog archives.


Anyway, those are all my thoughts on this project in general.
Over the next few days, I'll post some top ten lists:
Top Ten Worst Books: Fiction
Top Ten Worst Books: Non-Fiction

(I'm doing the worst books first because it's very easy to identify the books I hated.  Because this book review list is mostly elective pleasure reading, I don't read a lot of books I don't like.
The books I really enjoyed, on the other hand, are so numerous that it's going to be difficult to pick favorites, but I'll give it a try.)

Top Ten Best Books: Fiction
Top Ten Best Books: Non-Fiction

Stay tuned for all that.


Darrell Reimer said...

You read more, and more widely, than I do. More admirably, too. It's hard for me to gauge my own reading habits -- the "books read" category has taken a precipitous decline. But on the other hand, I still treat the internet as 98% a reading resource. Never really caught the YouTube bug, I'm afraid (until it's time to repair something -- then I'm on it).

One oddity I've noticed about myself -- if I'm in another country, my book-reading rate suddenly sky-rockets. Even one short week in Amsterdam, with easy access to wifi -- five books. I vow to protect this rekindled (arf!) passion when I get home, but nope -- the internet long-reads take over, once again.

Joel Swagman said...

I suppose we all have our own oddities and inclinations.

The Internet has completely ruined my reading. When I'm in any sort of domicile with Internet access, I can not get any reading done. The quick rewards of the Internet, and the fact that it is constantly updated, are all too much for me to resist. I am constantly on the Internet in any place that it is available.

For years now, I've been going to coffee shops to get all my reading done, since I can not do any reading at my apartment.

In that respect I guess we're similar.

On the other hand, the type of articles you link to are usually long reads that require a bit of reader investment. It's online, sure, but it's still genuine reading. 30 years ago, it would all have been on periodicals.

I, on the other hand, fall prey to all the usual clickbait and listicles on the Internet. (, for example, is pretty much my all time favorite website.) Which just further ruin my attention span even more.