Dear fellow book lovers!
Another year has been filed away into the great expanse we solemnly call history, and it’s due time to commemorate and talk about the books we did read. Please feel free to add your thoughts and links to your own lists. I’m doing this blog post in English because I read many books in English, and I will like a lot more people to be able to participate.
I started last year (as I did this year) with a King novel. January 1st 2014 I kicked off with Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining (1977). Throughout the next twelve months I finished another 19 books, and signed off 2014 with Peter F. Hamilton’s brilliant sci-fi/fantasy fusion epic The Abyss Beyond Dreams. Here are some numbers in list form:
Number of books read: 20
Pages total: 8,729
Best novel: Kill Decision
Worst novel: N/A
Daniel Suarez was a big surprise to me. I discovered him while attending a Mandarin Chinese school in Beijing, and it was my good friend Bjørn who recommended him. I read his debut novel Daemon just after arriving to China’s capital, and followed up with Freedom in February of 2014. Even though those two books were awesome, I still feel that his third—Kill Decision—is the best one. It’s a techno-thriller of the likes worthy dining with Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton, and it’s about drone warfare, now and in the near future. I gave it 10/10 because it managed to be realistic and technically correct, while still having excellent character development and being very entertaining.
Another great newcomer as of 2014 is the “author” James S. A. Corey—which is actually an amalgam of two writers: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. They collaborated on the sci-fi series The Expanse, starting with Leviathan Wakes (2011). Really impressive hard sci-fi with elements of horror. I loved them and can’t get enough.
Stephen King, Alastair Reynolds, and Neal Asher are three of my steady authors. I read everything they can deliver. I finished Asher’s recent The Owner Trilogy in 2013, so I only had the ReConditioned The Engineer to read in 2014 (a collection of short stories) while waiting for his new novel coming this year (2015). Of King I read three books in 2014, including Mr. Mercedes and Joyland. And while waiting for the third book in the Poseidon’s Children trilogy, I devoured Merlin’s Gun, a short story.
Welcome newcomers Joe Haldeman and my good friend Martin Fyrileiv to the list, which stretches all the way back to (and including) 1994. Joe Haldeman is a veteran in both sci-fi and Vietnam, but this is the first time I read one of his books. The Forever War was an impressive piece of work, but I don’t think all his predictions about the future hit very well. I felt that it was often vague and repetitive, at times also boring. It only got a 7/10 (which of course is also very good).
Bergtatt: Portvokteren, which can be translated to Spell-bound: The Guardian at the Gate (to the mountain), is one of the three pure fantasy books I read in 2014. The other two being Stella Gemmell’s The City and Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves. Coming from a role-playing background (Rolemaster, AD&D, MERP, Space Master) I really enjoy this kind of literature; indeed it’s a genre I myself aspire to dabble in. Portvokteren really impressed me. It’s a well-written fusion between the classic tale of elves and trolls (Tolkien) and the Norwegian/Norse myths set into Jotunheimen, a very awe-inspiring mountain range with tall peaks and massive rock faces plunging deep into the glacier-formed fjords. It mixes past and present in a clever way, with many plot twists and cliffhangers (pardon the pun). Written for young people, evident from the easy language, but still very fascinating and entertaining (and exciting!). If you can read Norwegian, I strongly recommend it, and I gave it an 8/10.
I did not nominate any books for the Worst Novel category, simply because there were no bad ones this year. They were all good—lucky me.
As for the number of books and pages read, while far from good, it’s a better result than back in 2013 (16 books and 5679 pages). And I did go to school for nine months in 2013 and 2014, learning Chinese, while also finishing my own novel: Skyggespinneren, which was released to very good reviews in Spring 2014. All in all I’m quite pleased, and I think 2015 will be a good year for reading.
Happy New Year!