Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Reading List - a Personal Best

Well it’s New Year’s Eve, and that means it’s time to close the books (no pun intended) on yet another year of reading.  2011 was a good year for me.  I read 55 books, my personal best.  Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re saying.  Fifty, shmifty.  That’s nothing.  Well yeah, compared to some of the reading machines out there on my friends list, sure.  But I never claimed to be a fast reader, and breaking 50 was a pretty big deal to me.  Getting there at all was mostly due to the fact that I started listening to audio books on my way to and from work, but I don’t care.  A book is a book, right?

Anyway, the wife is currently three states away attending her nephew’s wedding, and I just put our one year old to bed, so the best thing I have to do this fine New Year’s Eve is sit here and drink my Jack and regale you all with the what’s what of my 2011 reading list.  Get a helmet.  This could be messy.

All set?  O.K.,  let’s do this.

  1. Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas – A contemporary P.I. tale with a vintage twist at the end from the Hard Case Crime (HCC) line.
  2. Naked Came the Stranger by Penelope Ashe – Circa 1969, one of the most famous literary hoaxes evah.
  3. Getting Off by Lawrence Block – The HCC story of a female serial killer/sex addict on her murderous rampage across the country.
  4. With Arrow, Sword, and Spear by Alfred S. Bradford – An overview of warfare in a variety of ancient cultures.
  5. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A lackluster thriller swaddled in art pseudo-history.
  6. Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett – Murder and intrigue in corrupt and utterly Buddhist Thailand.
  7. Scandal at HighChimneys by John Dickson Carr – Vintage locked room mystery set in Victorian England by one of the genre’s very best.
  8. Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carre – Spy thriller involving of international banking and the Russian mob.
  9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre – 1974 classic spy thriller detailing the hunt for a mole within the British secret service.
  10. The Bonded Dead by M.E. Chaber – A vintage hardboiled(ish) mystery of dubious quality.
  11. Murder After Hours by Agatha Christie – A very English mystery from a very English master.
  12. I Was a House Detective by Dev Collans – An exposé on the life of a hotel house detective.  Not as entertaining as you might think.
  13. Quarry’s List by Max Allan Collins – Another crime fiction offering for Collins’ titular hitman.
  14. The Black Company by Glen Cook – Mercenaries of the dark fantasy variety.  Badassery ensues.
  15. Shadows Linger by Glen Cook – More Badassery.
  16. The White Rose by Glen Cook – Dark fantasy mercs get a conscience and save the world.  And yes, even more badassery.
  17. The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming – One man’s attempt to write a le Carre-styled spy novel.  In theory, sounds great.  In practice… not so much.
  18. Leopards Kill by Jim DeFelice – A modern retelling of The Heart of Darkness set in the chaos of post-US invasion Afghanistan.
  19. Honey in his Mouth by Lester Dent – More HCC.  Vintage crime fiction from a pulp master, complete with doppelgangers, femme fatales, and a brutal South American dictator.
  20. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle – The original Sherlock Holmes story.
  21. The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle – The second original Sherlock Holmes story, and my personal favorite of them all.
  22. Blood’s a Rover by James Ellroy – A story about 1960s counter culture and revolution as only Ellroy can tell it.
  23. Michael Shayne’s Long Chance by Brett Halliday – 1940s hardboiled yumminess by one of the best.
  24. Murder and the Married Virgin by Brett Halliday – The yumminess continues, but in New Orleans this time!
  25. The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels by Dashiell Hammett – A collection of short stories from the original author of hardboiled mystery fiction.
  26. The Odyssey by Homer – Do I really need to say anything more?
  27. The Falcon Killer by L. Ron Hubbard – Pulp pulpiness set in 1930s Manchuria before L. Ron became a prophet.
  28. To the End of theWar by James Jones – A returning WWII soldier struggles to come to grips with war time on the home front.
  29. Conan the Magnificent by Robert Jordan – Formulaic sword and sorcery fantasy issued on the coat tails of the Conan movies in the 80s.
  30. Conan the Triumphant by Robert Jordan – More of the same tripe.
  31. Conan the Victorious by Robert Jordan – Basically the same freakin’ book as the other two.
  32. The Good German by Joseph Kanon – Mystery, murder, and adulterous love in post WWII Berlin.
  33. Bloodthirsty by Marshall Karp – The search for a “bloodthirsty” serial killer by a pair of wisecracking cops.  Pulp for a modern age.
  34. Duma Key by Stephen King – A one-armed painter finds a monstrous talent on his island getaway.
  35. The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard – Historical fiction about the age of 1920s banditry (a la Bonnie & Clyde) in the American south
  36. The Burrowers Beneath by Brian Lumley – Cthulhu-mythos horror with a twist—these guys fight back.
  37. The Railway Detective by Edward Marston – A Thriller (contrary to what the title would lead you to believe) set in Victorian England.
  38. The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain – Classic hardboiled crime fiction from HCC.
  39. Money, Money, Money by Ed McBain – Not-so classic crime fiction, but still entertaining.
  40. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy – A damn-fine crime story from one of the best American authors alive today.
  41. The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Post-apocalyptic fiction like nothing else done before.  Stark, visceral, disturbing.  I’m still trying to come to grips with this one and figure out how to review it and actually do justice to the brilliance.
  42. The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir – P.I. fiction set in Orlando, FL.
  43. The Helius Legacy by S. Alexander O’Keefe – Mediocre conspiracy thriller.  You’ve probably already read it before but under a different title.
  44. Black Mask 1:  Doors in the Dark and other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine – The title says it all, really.
  45. Execution Dock by Anne Perry – Thriller and feminist sentiments set in Victorian England.
  46. The Profession by Steven Pressfield – Near-future thriller and startling look at how the state of world affairs could quite easily go.
  47. The Man with Two Wives by Patrick Quentin – Typical 1950s crime fiction.
  48. Hooked by Matt Richtel – A thriller about “love and other drugs.”
  49. Renraku Arcology: Shutdown by Brian Schoner – Shadowrun RPG sourcebook.  Dystopian techno-horror ensues.
  50. The Other Side of Life by Jess C. Scott – Cyberpunk/Urban Fantasy story of love and eco-activism.
  51. That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley – Not only Cthulhu-esque horror, but prize winning Cthulhu-esque horror.
  52. The New Centurions by Joseph Wambaugh – One of the first novels from the master of the police procedural.
  53. The Girl Who Cried Wolf by Hillary Waugh – 1950s P.I. tale.
  54. Memory by Donald E. Westlake – Existentialist/Absurdist novel on identity’s dependence upon memory.  Even more HCC.
  55. A Touch of Death by Charles Williams – HCC for the win with another 1950s crime tale.
And that about does it.  Can you tell I like mysteries?  Hopefully 2012 will be filled with just as much reading.  Cheers to you all, and happy New Year!


  1. Hello Jonathan,
    My goal is to read at least 50 more books and I hope to have a least ten before this month is out.
    I am now a follower.
    follow my blog as well.

  2. @Miss. M

    It's a pleasure to meet you. Good luck with your reading list!

    Oh yeah, and I'm following you too. Thanks ;)

  3. Jonathan,
    That is quite the list! I actually think The Odyssey should count as two or three books! Kudos to you for trudging through that beastie. I tried to read Vanity Fair, got half way through, was bored to tears and finally set it aside. Maybe that should be my goal this year .. to knock out that old classic. Maybe not. LoL
    Audiobooks definitely count as books! I love them!

    Dorothy - The Alaskan Bookie
    Blog ~
    Twitter ~

  4. Great list. I did enjoy The Trinity Six though :)

  5. You've been busy. I started reviewing in April and managed 34 I think. I just counted and forgot. Oh well. I'd rather be writing than counting any day! Happy New Year! Donna

  6. @Squeak Torres

    Thanks, Squeak. Actually The Odyssey wasn't that bad. I just had to take it in small chunks while reading other stuff. Then when I got tired of it sitting on my nightstand I just powered through the last 1/3. If you do decide to take up Vanity Fair again, I'll be in your cheering section yelling "you can doo eet!" at the top of my lungs.

    @Man of la Book

    Thank you, sir. Sorry about The Trinity Six, though. To each his own, I guess. The premise was good, the plot structuring was decent, but I just didn't see that much technical skill on the part of the author (the writing style seemed kind of dull). It also felt like he was trying to write like le Carre, and any time that happens that's exactly what you get--someone trying to write like someone else. It's never the same as the real thing, and I was just kind of... 'meh. To each their own, though, right?

    @Donna McBroom-Theriot

    Thanks, Donna. You're totally right about that. The writing is the most important part; the counting is the mild OCD coming out in me. ;)

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