Reading Challenge Results for 2016

Bookcase of old books

Welcome to my recap of my 2016 Goodreads reading challenge.  In case you couldn’t tell from my book reviews here on Rampant Discourse, I love books of all stripes.  I spend an inordinate amount of my free time reading, especially for an engineer (my day job).  So let’s get to it!

I joined Goodreads in 2012 to track my reading and hopefully interact with other bibliophiles.  While the interaction has certainly been hit or miss, the tracking is still top notch.  And since 2013 I’ve participated in the site’s annual reading challenge.  In case you’re not familiar, early each year Goodreads asks you how many books you want to read during that year.  As the year progresses and you enter books you’ve read on the site your progress bar increases, even telling you if your pace is lagging or jumping ahead to reach your goal.  Then at the end of the year you get to gloat over attaining your arbitrary number of books or wallow in social media shame at being a lazy illiterate.

For 2016, I decided to add my own wrinkle and change my reading focus.  As I laid out on January 4, 2016:

After ramping up my goal (45 in 2013 & 2014, 55 in 2015) I’m bringing down the number to focus more on a select group of books.

Particularly my plan to catch up on a bunch of classic novels I somehow missed during high school and an English degree. I’ve selected six: 1984, As I Lay Dying, In Cold Blood, Lord of the Flies, Moby Dick, and Of Mice and Men. Yeah, that’s a depressing bunch of books to read in a year now that I think about it. And still only scratches the surface of the 35+ “classics” I’ve added to my “to read” pile. And Moby Dick could turn into my white whale, so we’ll see. I’m starting with Lord of the Flies, which reminded me how slim many of these classics are so maybe six is a tad underestimating it.

I’ll counter those classics with reading two complete comic book series I’ve owned in graphic novel form for at least a year: 100 Bullets (12 volumes) and Ultimate Fantastic Four (11 volumes). That should help whittle down the stack of unread graphic novels I own, which at one point was almost to my hip. I’ll also read the five Complete Peanuts collections I already own (two from this past Christmas).

I need to clear out my Stephen King pile but it’s hard enough keeping up with his current output! I’ll read Bazaar of Bad Dreams then the third Bill Hodges book in June. The backlog book is the fifth Dark Tower book because if I don’t get back to that series (which got me into King in the first place) I’ll never finish the bloody thing.

The remainder of my 40 books (all 4, heh) will be whatever I feel like, although I already plan to read Annotated Alice and The Force Awakens.

Obviously I can alter plans as needed or wanted but it actually feels good to have a roadmap to follow. I also plan to put a hold on adding new books to my “to read” pile as there’s already well over 500 books on that list.

So, I’m sure you’re anxious to know how I performed.  Did I manage to read all 40 books I set out to read?  Did I alter my plans or stick to the roadmap?

You can see a neat infographic for my reading challenge results on Goodreads.

The Children are Our Future

Lord of the Flies book coverI started off 2016 reading a true piece of classic literature, Lord of the Flies.  Somehow I missed reading this short novel throughout all my years in school and obtaining an English literature degree.  I was blown away.  Everything from the characters to the setting to the plot to the metaphors and allusions.  It prompted one of my longer Goodreads reviews ever as I examined the symbolism, especially in light of events like the terrorist attack on 9/11.

I followed up a book about school boys descending into savagery being a metaphor for society collapsing with the somewhat more pragmatic non-fiction book College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students.  I’m a big proponent of education reform, particularly higher education.  Much of my non-fiction reading has been focused on how to nurture children to be successful despite the standards and institutions set up in their path.  This book didn’t really teach me anything new since it was mostly about how the rising costs of colleges/universities are driving more students to online courses and less prestigious schools.  Much like the housing market bubble of the mid-2000s, there appears to be a looming higher education bubble.  I cross my fingers for that given the rate I’m currently saving for my own children’s college funds, but also because I’m not quite certain my four years in college truly prepared me for anything except how to learn.

Later in 2016 I read The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups, another book concerned with the current state of education in the United States but unlike College (Un)Bound this one was obviously focused on the other end of the spectrum, early education.  This is where my kids currently find themselves, so this book was very pertinent for me personally.  The book didn’t really offer any solutions, though, preferring to delineate what ails our pre-school system.  It’s sad to think our education institutions are broken from the ground up, but like most things in life it’s also about the people and circumstances.  A child’s natural inclination, a teacher’s skills, and a parent’s care all contribute at this early stage of development.

Reading with Friends

In late 2015 my wife and I started a four person in real life book club with another couple, which started with The Martian.  Our first book of 2016 was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which, like Lord of the Flies, was a classic novel I somehow missed.  Twain’s sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is much more prevalent and was my main exposure to his writing after reading multiple times across multiple years of school.  Tom Sawyer isn’t nearly as academic as Huckleberry Finn.  Instead it’s simply a romp through the life and times of a young boy and his friends.  There’s still some pretty obvious social commentary but it’s not very overt and it’s usually hidden behind the facade of conversations between Tom and Huck.

Furiously Happy book coverOur club’s next book was my introduction to the wonderful Jenny Lawson, her memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.  I am not mentally ill like Jenny, but I totally related to many of her anxieties and oddball notions.  Unfortunately, I was the only member of our reading group that even finished the book and the only one that identified at all with it.  Later in the year I read Lawson’s second book, Furiously Happy, which you can read about here on Rampant Discourse.  I thoroughly enjoy Jenny Lawson’s writing style and stories, but I do admit it appears to be a highly personal acquired taste.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex was the third book we read as a group.  We selected it partially because everyone know I was interested in attempting to read Moby Dick.  Everyone enjoyed this one and it sparked some good discussions.  The true events that served as the inspiration for Moby Dick are more fantastic than most fiction, which lends credence to the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction.  Nathaniel Philbrick’s account of the whaling ship’s encounter with the whale and ensuing aftermath are mesmerizing and it’s easy to forget you’re reading history based on first person accounts.

One fun aspect of our reading group was we attempted to prepare a dinner that matched the book thematically.  Tom Sawyer and his friends eat fish and bacon on the island when they pretend to be pirates.  So for Tom Sawyer we had an awesome fish with eggs and bacon dish my wife learned from the show Top Chef.  Since Jenny Lawson had some funny stories about turkeys and she’s a bit unstable, we had spicy baked chicken followed by Dole whip.  And given the seafood diet of the sailors on the Essex we prepared a dinner of mussels for In the Heart of the Sea.  It was a neat little tradition and made the gathering that much more special and personal and entertaining.

Sadly, our little book club had to call it quits when the other couple moved across the country.  It was disappointing to lose such literary friends.  Then they went and took the Stephen King tour vacation without us, just to rub it in (just kidding guys!).  Being in a reading group with close friends was nice and provided a good reason to meet face to face once a month, a much more frequent schedule than I keep with most of my real life friends.  My experience with online book groups on Goodreads, though, has been less than stellar.  I participated in several group reads for a Stephen King group and a Star Wars group.  Neither group sparked much engaging discussions.  And given my reading goals for 2016, it was tough to fit the groups’ books into my schedule, which is most people’s reason for avoiding groups in the first place.

The White Whale; or, My Attempt to Read Moby Dick

"Moby Dick swam swiftly round and round the wrecked crew."
Illustration of the final chase of Moby-Dick. (Photo: I. W. Taber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
On December 30, 2015 I delcared to Facebook

“Well, it’s official. 2016 will be the year I finally read (or fail to finish) Moby Dick. I bought a used copy this afternoon with the best annotations from the editions at the store.”

Like Ahab’s quest for revenge ends in tragedy, my quest to read one of the most (in)famous American novels was dead in the water.  That might be a spoiler for the novel but since I only managed to read the first four or so chapters I can’t really tell.  I did manage to read the account of the event that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick, though.  In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex was an incredible book, all the more because it’s a true story.  Immediately after reading In the Heart of the Sea I devoured Why Read Moby Dick?, also by Nathaniel Philbrick.  Philbrick certainly makes the novel seem super interesting and intense.  But it’s like watching the trailer for a movie.  It’s easy to make a mediocre two hour movie fantastic when you splice together the best two minutes and set it to pulse pounding music.  After reading Why Read Moby Dick? I felt like I had experienced the best Moby Dick had to offer.  When I eventually returned to the novel itself I had a far greater appreciation for its prose and allusions and references, but it all felt like a lot of words to get somewhere I already knew.

Trying to read Moby Dick highlighted a problem I often run into with all media but especially books.  I get so wrapped up in finishing a book that I don’t slow down to fully appreciate the work itself.  Instead of soaking up the rich prose and dissecting the complex characters, I zoom through the plot and fly through the footnotes.  Obviously this was supposed to be part of my reason for paring down my reading list in 2016.  I wanted to slow down and really dig into each book.  That certainly worked with some other books but Moby Dick failed to grab me enough.  Its length is no deterrent to me given I read Stephen King doorstops.  I think the book’s reputation precedes it too much, so new readers approach it too fearfully.

Much like other celebrated novels like Ulysses by James Joyce or Don Quixote by Cervantes, Herman Melville’s classic novel is likely remain on my “to read someday” list, in reality never to be read but lurking in the back of my mind.

The Purple One

Prince as The Little PrinceWhile I didn’t achieve my original reading goal of reading the classic novels 1984, As I Lay Dying, In Cold Blood, or Of Mice and Men, I did read some other classics.  I already covered Lord of the Flies and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  But while those were premeditated reads, The Little Prince was  a total whim.  I had heard the title but knew nothing about the book.  For some reason it was on the display rack in the children’s section at the library so I picked it up and devoured it.  All the acclaim heaped on this short, sweet, poignant tale is well earned.  Its lessons and social commentary are still applicable and meaningful today, perhaps even more than when it was originally written given the charge toward adulthood pushed down to our youngest in school.

Of course, my introductory reading of The Little Prince was cosmically timed as the musical artist Prince passed away just a month afterward.  I was not the first person to make the connection between the book’s theme and ending and the passing of a mercurial cultural icon.

First Shots and a Last Call

One of my original goals was to read two complete comic book series: Ultimate Fantastic Four and 100 Bullets.  Both are big contributors to my tower of unread graphic novels and trade paperbacks.  I acquired all eleven trade paperback collections of Ultimate Fantastic Four for a song at my local comic book store.  I snapped up the first 11 volumes of 100 Bullets at my local used book store.  A superhero comic and a modern noir crime comic were undoubtedly different than the depressing batch of classic novels I planned to read.  And both series had noteworthy authors.

Alas, Ultimate Fantastic Four was so sub-par I was forced to give up after six volumes.  I rarely stop reading a book once I’ve started it, so it has to be an egregious waste of time to finish for me to call it quits.  Ultimate Fantastic Four starts out… wait for it… fantastic!  Brian Michael Bendis recasts Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm as contemporary celebrity scientists.  The change in origin opens the door to more story telling later.  Then Warren Ellis (more on him in a bit) improves upon that start with his updated version of Doctor Doom.  After those first twelve issues, though, the series starts to nosedive.  Ellis’ second arc delves into the N-Zone and contains some awesome set pieces but is ultimately empty.  Volumes four, five, and six were pretty much dreck.  Terrible stories, uncanny valley illustrations, and uninteresting characters make for a terrible comic book.  After the “jump the shark” crossover with the Marvel Zombies I couldn’t take any more and wound up selling the entire series back to my local comic book store.  The last I saw the store was right back to offering the stack for the same price I paid.  I wonder what poor sap picked it up and ended as disappointed as me.

100 Bullets cast
Eduardo Risso / Vertigo Comics

100 Bullets is a different story.  I am not in love with the series but I still find it interesting enough to continue reading.  Part of the problem was the constant introduction of new cast members as Agent Graves hands out his untraceable guns and bullets.  The series picks up steam as the story coalesces and characters start returning and getting even more fleshed out.

But then some real life events made my reading take an unexpected turn.

This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You

In late May I broke my nose.  I know your first question is “How’s the other guy look?” and I wish it was a manly story.  Instead it involved a low hanging set of monkey bars and a daddy leaping up to join his son on the playground platform.  Amazingly I didn’t harm my glasses in the process, so small favors.  Given the potential concussion from the impact and my generally dazed state of mind (due to the injury in the immediate aftermath, due to pain medicine over the next few weeks) I wasn’t exactly in the head space to read something like 100 Bullets.  Enter the comic strip Baby Blues.

Baby Blues, October 24, 2006

I vaguely recalled reading some Baby Blues back when I read comic strips in the newspaper.  I never found it particularly amusing or humorous.  Revisiting the strip as a parent of two young children makes a world of difference.  Now all the jokes made sense because I had lived through the same scenarios.  Daryl and Wanda were suddenly totally identifiable as tired, loving, sometimes befuddled parents.  I checked out every collection my local library systems had available and read them all throughout the rest of the summer.  By then I had been away from 100 Bullets for so long I didn’t return.  Plus, another major event was shaping up in the United States of America.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

The 2016 United States presidential campaign was one for the ages.  No one truly expected a man as reviled and ridiculed as Donald Trump to actually run for president let alone win the election and become our president-elect.  But as the series of unfortunate events started with the Republican National Convention, I found myself with a sense of déjà vu.  I had read a story just like this back in the early 2000s.  A story of a presidential election involving an evil incumbent politician with staunch opinions and an evil outsider willing to do whatever it takes to win office.  Which fictional character you choose to stand in for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton likely says as much about you as it does about them.

Spider Jerusalem smoking
Darick Robertson / Vertigo Comics

The series, of course, is the inestimable Transmetropolitan written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Darick Robertson.  If you’ve followed my reviews here on Rampant Discourse you know I hold this series in high regard, especially the first six volumes.  Warren Ellis struck gold with the character Spider Jerusalem.  The amalgam of journalists such as Hunter S. Thompson and H. L. Mencken was just what was needed in the crazy year of 2016.  The real life election needed a tough reporter like Spider to cut through all the bullshit and call out each candidate on his or her false claims.

It’s rare for me to reread anything nowadays.  My knack for rushing through books to finish them is mostly a result of my desire to start on the next book.  Like I said about Moby Dick, sadly that means I don’t often take the time to appreciate what I’m currently reading.  So if I’m always rushing to get to the next thing, you can imagine what a pain it is to read something I’ve already read.  That’s a double whammy of taking precious time to not experience something new while also delaying the next new thing.  But revisiting Transmet was totally worth the time and effort.  I even find myself more involved in keeping up with real world news now, to protect myself from fake news and uninformed opinions.  I’m by no means a political aficionado, but Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan, and Warren Ellis have impacted my life more than most characters or books or authors.

I also snuck in the Doonesbury book, YUGE!, which collected every strip from the series that even mentioned Donald Trump.  It was eerie reading strips from almost 30 years ago showing the same behavior and antics from the man soon to be our president.  Also downright scary to know Trump has been lambasting critics, particularly satirists, from the beginning, which does not bode well for censorship in the next four years.

Religion, Politics, and the Great Pumpkin

Peanuts Great PumpkinOne goal I did achieve was reading the four volumes of the Complete Peanuts Collection I already owned.  I’ve always liked the strip but only read it in bits and pieces in random little collections.  When Fantagraphics set out to publish every Peanuts strip in chronological order I was totally on board.  I’m slow to acquire each volume and still don’t read the volumes in original publication order.  But my interest in the strip and understanding of its themes and characters continues to grow as I experience more of the strips.
In the Peanuts TV special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” Linus states “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”  But it wasn’t until one of the strips in the 1963-1964 collection that I fully realized how symbolic the strips about the Great Pumpkin actually are.  Charlie Brown and Linus are debating the merits of believing in Santa Claus versus the Great Pumpkin when Charlie Brown is forced to conclude “We are obviously separated by denominational differences.

Also be sure to read the introduction the 1989-1990 collection.  Written by Lemony Snicket, it provides one of the best synopsis of Peanuts’ heart and soul while citing specific examples.  Most of the introductions to these collections are top notch and provide excellent insights by each individual author.

Inner Fanboy

I spent a fair amount of my reading time in 2016 on familiar series and characters.

My fascination with Wonderland and Alice was satiated by Christina Henry’s second novel in her Chronicles of Alice series, Red Queen.  The first entry in this series was a bit brutal with its constant depictions of a male dominated underground society but still offered a refreshingly dark take on Wonderland’s inhabitants.  The second entry was a much different tale and had a few problems (such as a lack of chapters) but overall continued Alice’s adventures, with a promise for even more divergence from the original Alice books.

Star Wars logoMy Star Wars fanboy shined through with The Force Awakens novelization, the Rogue One prequel novel Catalyst, the Princess Leia comic book trade paperback, and the esoteric and poorly conceived World According to Star Wars.  While The Force Awakens didn’t offer nearly enough new material to be worth reading after watching the movie, Catalyst provided a much needed introduction to the Rogue One movie.  I had tons of issues with the Princess Leia comic book from Marvel, which made me feel bad given all the glowing feminist reviews.  And World According to Star Wars had some insightful nuggets but the majority wasn’t convincing, and its attempt to provide a nutshell history of the series was far too abbreviated to be of much use.

I scratched my Warren Ellis itch even more with the first two volumes of Trees along with his latest novel Normal.  Trees is a slow burn series, but in a much better way than the old “wide screen” comics Ellis himself helped popularize in the 1990s and 2000s.  I just hope the story starts to coalesce a little in the next volume.  Speaking of story, Normal doesn’t offer much of a plot but contains staggeringly unique and strongly conceived characters.  The protagonist’s string of interactions with his fellow inmates is highly reminiscent of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.  But the short novella is worth the price of admission for all the futurism Ellis drops on the reader.

I even returned to my cyberpunk roots with William Gibson’s superb short story collection Burning Chrome.  All of the stories are fantastic and seeing the origins of a wonderful writing talent like Gibson is a joy.   The eponymous short story is on par with any of its author’s novels.  If you’ve never read cyberpunk, this is a good introduction to the sub-genre.  So help yourself to some “high tech low life” adventures.

Stephen KingAnd I continued my odyssey through the works of Stephen King with Dreamcatcher, End of Watch, and Bazaar of Bad Dreams while also starting the fifth Dark Tower installment Wolves of the Calla.  Dreamcatcher was more entertaining than it had any right to be, although the unfavorable comparisons to King’s It are totally fair.  End of Watch closes out the Bill Hodges trilogy, which was really more of duology with a middle chapter, Finders Keepers, added in the middle.  Bazaar of Bad Dreams was the usual mixed bag of large short story collections, with the poems standing out as low points.  King’s stories have gotten more personable lately, which is saying something for a master of the conversational tone story.  The first part of Wolves of the Calla can move at a relatively glacial pace during some scenes, but King enjoys the journey to the Dark Tower more than the destination.

Two of my favorite crime characters also got some love in 2016: Batman and Quarry.  I reread the modern classic The Long Halloween featuring Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s holiday themed tour de force through Batman’s rogues gallery.  I also snapped up Dark Detective after reading the back cover proclaiming Joker’s gubernatorial election shenanigans, only to be grossly disappointed by the story and characters.  Although Joker’s announcement of his intention to run for public office was hilariously and disturbingly similar to Donald Trump.  Max Allan Collins’ Quarry is a breath of fresh 1970s air in an overly politically correct world and the latest novel, Quarry in the Black, was very zeitgest-y in the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath.

The Final Countdown

The remainder of the books I read in 2016 show a wide array of interests and topics.

I rounded out my non-fiction reading with a wide array of topics.  Marie Kondō’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is easily mocked by those focusing on some of its more symbolic notions but the core concepts are key for maintaining an orderly house and life.  The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator by Steven R. Hemler was a decent attempt to rationalize (not necessarily prove) God’s existence using actual scientific theories.  Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto initiated some interesting discussions with people glancing at the cover as I read.  And you can read my take on Brian “Head” Welch’s exodus from the band Korn in his pursuit of Christ, recounted in his first autobiography Washed by Blood: Lessons from My Time with Korn and My Journey to Christ.

I took a couple of real detours with Fuminori Nakamura’s noir Gun and Avi’s The Most Important Thing: Stories about Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers.  Both authors are apparently well known and celebrated in their respective circles but each book was my introduction to each writer.  I was mostly underwhelmed by both.  At least both books were short so didn’t involve much time investment.

In Conclusion

I didn’t attain my goal of reading a specific set of books, but I did have a very entertaining year between the pages.  And I did manage to read 17 of the 37 books on my original list.  I’m proud of myself for cutting my losses with Ultimate Fantastic Four and for revisiting Transmetropolitan.  Reading shouldn’t be about running through a checklist.  All too often in our media and content saturated world its easy to be constantly looking at the next item instead of focusing on the current one.  I had hoped to force myself to slow down by reading more difficult classic novels, but books like Transmetropolitan and In the Heart of the Sea and even Baby Blues made me think and appreciate the joy of reading.

So that was 2016.  Here’s to a new set of books and literary adventures in 2017.

books photo

And Now the Reading Challenge Lists!

Here’s my original reading list for 2016.  The books are grouped into classics, Stephen King, comic books, Peanuts, and extras.  Books I actually finished in 2016 are marked in bold.  Books I started in 2016 but didn’t finish are marked in italics.

  1. Moby-Dick by Melville, Herman
  2. Lord of the Flies by Golding, William
  3. 1984 by Orwell, George
  4. As I Lay Dying by Faulkner, William
  5. In Cold Blood by Capote, Truman
  6. Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, John
  7. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by King, Stephen
  8. End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #3) by King, Stephen
  9. Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, #5) by King, Stephen
  10. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 by Bendis, Brian Michael
  11. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 3: N-Zone by Ellis, Warren
  12. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 4: Inhuman by Carey, Mike
  13. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 5: Crossover by Millar, Mark
  14. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 6: Frightful by Millar, Mark
  15. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 7: God of War by Carey, Mike
  16. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 8: Devils by Carey, Mike
  17. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 9: Silver Surfer by Carey, Mike
  18. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 10: Ghosts by Carey, Mike
  19. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 11: Salem’s Seven by Carey, Mike
  20. 100 Bullets, Vol. 2: Split Second Chance by Azzarello, Brian
  21. 100 Bullets, Vol. 3: Hang Up on the Hang Low by Azzarello, Brian
  22. 100 Bullets, Vol. 4: A Foregone Tomorrow by Azzarello, Brian
  23. 100 Bullets, Vol. 5: The Counterfifth Detective by Azzarello, Brian
  24. 100 Bullets, Vol. 6: Six Feet Under the Gun by Azzarello, Brian
  25. 100 Bullets, Vol. 7: Samurai by Azzarello, Brian
  26. 100 Bullets, Vol. 8: The Hard Way by Azzarello, Brian
  27. 100 Bullets, Vol. 9: Strychnine Lives by Azzarello, Brian
  28. 100 Bullets, Vol. 10: Decayed by Azzarello, Brian
  29. 100 Bullets, Vol. 11: Once Upon a Crime by Azzarello, Brian
  30. 100 Bullets, Vol. 12: Dirty by Azzarello, Brian
  31. 100 Bullets, Vol. 13: Wilt by Azzarello, Brian
  32. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5: 1959-1960 by Schulz, Charles M.
  33. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 19: 1987-1988 by Schulz, Charles M.
  34. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 20: 1989-1990 by Schulz, Charles M.
  35. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 22: 1993–1994 by Schulz, Charles M.
  36. Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Foster, Alan Dean
  37. The Annotated Alice: 150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition by Carroll, Lewis

And here’s my complete list of books I read in 2016, in the order I read them.  I think listing them in reading order is more informative than grouping them like I did my original reading list.  You can see the ebb and flow of my reading interests as 2016 progressed.  Books on my original reading list are marked in bold.

  1. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis
  2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  3. College (Un)Bound by Jeffrey J. Selingo
  4. 100 Bullets, Vol. 2 by Brian Azzarello
  5. Princess Leia by Mark Waid
  6. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 3 by Warren Ellis
  7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
  8. 100 Bullets, Vol. 3 by Brian Azzarello
  9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō
  10. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 4 by Mike Carey
  11. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  12. The Reality of God by Steven R. Hemler
  13. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  14. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 5 by Mark Millar
  15. Ultimate Fantastic Four, Volume 6 by Mark Millar
  16. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
  17. 100 Bullets, Vol. 4 by Brian Azzarello
  18. Trees, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis
  19. In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
  20. Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
  21. Briefcase Full of Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman
  22. Eat, Cry, Poop by Rick Kirkman
  23. King of the Comics by Stephan Pastis
  24. Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
  25. The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura
  26. We Were Here First by Rick Kirkman
  27. The Most Important Thing by Avi
  28. Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman
  29. 100 Bullets, Vol. 5 by Brian Azzarello
  30. BBXX by Rick Kirkman
  31. Ambushed! In the Family Room by Rick Kirkman
  32. 100 Bullets, Vol. 6 by Brian Azzarello
  33. Cut! by Rick Kirkman
  34. End of Watch by Stephen King
  35. The Importance of Being Little by Erika Christakis
  36. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis
  37. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
  38. A Baby Blues Treasury by Rick Kirkman
  39. A Baby Blues Treasury by Rick Kirkman
  40. Red Queen by Christina Henry
  41. The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein
  42. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 2 by Warren Ellis
  43. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 3 by Warren Ellis
  44. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
  45. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5 by Charles M. Schulz
  46. Burning Chrome by William Gibson
  47. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 4 by Warren Ellis
  48. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
  49. Washed by Blood by Brian “Head” Welch
  50. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 6 by Warren Ellis
  51. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 5 by Warren Ellis
  52. Quarry in the Black by Max Allan Collins
  53. Batman: Dark Detective by Steve Englehar
  54. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 19 by Charles M. Schulz
  55. Trees, Vol. 2 by Warren Ellis
  56. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 7 by Warren Ellis
  57. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 8 by Warren Ellis
  58. Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb
  59. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 9 by Warren Ellis
  60. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 20 by Charles M. Schulz
  61. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 10 by Warren Ellis
  62. Yuge! by G.B. Trudeau
  63. Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
  64. Normal by Warren Ellis
  65. I’m Only in This for Me by Stephan Pastis
  66. Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
  67. Atomic Robo: The Ring of Fire by Brian Clevinger
  68. The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 22 by Charles M. Schulz
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Travis Hudson
Chief Editorial Officer at Rampant Discourse
Software developer by day. Member of the literati by night. Full time father of one son and one daughter. Music enthusiast. Comic book defender. Cultural deconstructionist. Aspirant philosopher. Zen but not Zen.

This article has 5 Comments

    1. Yes, I do have a list but it’s not an interesting selection method for 2017. I’m going to try and only read books I already own but haven’t read yet. Considering that’s a pool of at least 115 books, I’m not going to be lacking for choices! But I figure there’s no real story to tell behind that list.

      1. I think having posting the list of choices is still interesting. You can even let people put in input on what you read…

        I wonder how my number of books I have read this year stacks up against yours, I would not be willing to post what books I have read but I might try and see if I could check the number. Do you keep a running list throughout the year? Ah, you said you do goodreads. Do you like goodreads?

        Also I think having a real life book club is fantastic! Paul lets join one!! Then you can read with me, finally… I am not entirely sure you know how 😛

        1. I enjoy Goodreads but I don’t fully utilize its features. I originally signed up back in 2012 to get book recommendations based on books I have read. I barely, if ever, use that to find new books to read. I also joined a few book groups (Star Wars, Stephen King, Hard Case Crime), but none of those groups really offered much to me. The Hard Case Crime group is essentially dead. The Star Wars group has a very sporadic reading schedule and the discussions tend to be rather sparse. The Stephen King group is very active but not very focused on the current book of the month, and again the monthly book discussions tended to be rather shallow (one lady really tried to elevate the questions and discussions but people so rarely rose to her discourse that she got fed up). So the groups are a bit of a bust, in my opinion, especially compared to IRL book clubs with actual friends. Those types of clubs do require more negotiation and compromise on which books to read since the group is going to be much smaller than an online virtual group. So the feature I use most are the reviews and the shelves. I enjoy shelving books, which is essentially just making up categories for books. So I have a shelf containing all 135+ books I could read in 2017, along with all my genre shelves and such. My review writing has slowed down considerably since starting Rampant Discourse, but I think I also haven’t read as much stuff that I’m motivated enough to write about in depth.

          As for listing my 2017 book pool, if I could figure out a good, easy way to link my 2017 shelf on Goodreads I’d do that. Otherwise it’s a pain to strip out all the extra stuff that comes along from copying and pasting off the web site.

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