Books Read in 2017

Well, that time of year again, where I reset my Currently Reading / Books Read section in the sidebar below, but first give a quick summation of what I read, liked, and really liked, for posterity, at least until the Great EMP Attack wipes out all the servers some day.

I didn't get as many books read this year for a couple of reasons. First was that I, Scott Goudsward and David Price co-edited another NEHW anthology: Wicked Haunted, and Anthology of the New England Horror Writers. A lot of reading through stories (every story submitted, actually), deciding the final TOC, then I was tasked again with final layout, story order etc). It's sold quite well, and garnered some great reviews, but took time away from plain old reading.

Speaking of anthologies, my G. Daniel Gunn story appeared in Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, edited by Laura J. Hickman and P.D. Cacek and published by Necon Ebooks.I had a chance throughout the year to read the other stories and they're all amazing (and quite dark for the most part). Some very big names in this one, all for a good cause (The Jimmy Fund / Dana Farber Cancer Institute)

Another reason my "read" list was light is I'd begun earlier in the year some long books which had been critically acclaimed, but ended up stopping partway through because they were not resonating with me. For example The Passage by Justin Cronin and Red Rising by Pierce Brown - all well-written but not really clicking with me and after a while I put them down. As well, I'd gotten a decent way into The Fireman by Joe Hill, and I found the story fascinating, but I think I was suffering from long-book phobia at that point and put it aside for another day. One book I got hooked in the first chapter was Neal Stephenson's  Seveneves, where the moon breaks into pieces and will eventually lead to the destruction of humanity - the book tracks how we begin building stations in space to save as many as possible, but after a while (I read quite a bit of this one) it was just too this-happened-then-that-happened and though I really wanted to know how it ended, the long journey (Stephenson doesn't write short books) there would have been a little too forced for my liking.

So, to highlight a few of my favorites from last year, in order of reading:  

I Have A Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand was the first book of the year and had me laughing all the way through. Aimed towards, I assume, tween boys, it will resonate with everyone. Funny, goofy book about a group of boys at a psychotic summer camp. 

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller completely blew me away. A memoir of sorts, it presents the true meaning, in my opinion, of the Gospel and explains it in such simple, basic terms. "Explains" is probably not the best word. This is all "showing" - one man's search for God. Deep, funny and very, very entertaining. 

A Book Without Dragons by Olivia Berrier: this unique sci-fi-ish novel appeared in my "goody bag" at the Necon writers conference this past summer. My daughter picked it up, devoured it in a week, then my wife read it and loved it, so I finally got it back - and decided it was brilliant. A unique twist here, is that every character's perspective - chapter by chapter - is written in a unique style, for example first person, second person, third person omniscient, etc. You'll have to check your old English textbooks to know what I mean, but it works. It shouldn't have, but it did. Looking forward to whatever young Berrier has for us in the future.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman. Such an original horror novel. Otherworldly entities which will drive you mad to the point of death if you even glimpse them, people are forced to blindfold themselves to stay alive. Very well written and scary, scary, scary. Great book.

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson is another Christian non-fiction book which really resonated with me. Being on the prayer team at my church, I've truly seen first-hand the power of prayer, and the peace it brings (not to mention the occasional miracle). Batterson's aim here is to pray big or go home. Don't underestimate what God can do, and ask with confidence, and persistence. Really well-written book with some amazing real life stories.

Other books I really enjoyed this year were: 

Stranded by Bracken MacLeod - was up for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel and this was a great story. I've really enjoyed Bracken's writing in the past and this one didn't disappoint.  
 City of Wonders: Seven Forges Book III by James A. Moore - the third installment of Moore's Seven Forges series and is as good as the first two. This one was tough sometimes - the bad guys (whom we have been with since the beginning and as such can't quite hate because we are in their heads as much as the others) pretty much decimate entire cities throughout. Expecting a major climactic closing to this series when I get to The Silent Army.
My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir by Dick Van Dyke - a memoir from someone whom I have enjoyed watching throughout the years. It's an honest, simple and often amusing recap of the life of America's favorite showman.
A Perfect Machine by Brett Savory - picked this up from the author at Necon and really enjoyed this science fiction - somewhat cyperpunky - story. Very original concept of people who live under the radar from normal society, one group hunting the other, and the latter hoping for transcendence some day into a new existence from so much bullet lead trapped in their bodies. A head trip, but very cool.
Wool (Omnibus Edition) by Hugh Howey - this book is famous for having been self-published originally before being picked up by a major publisher, it tells the story of the human race living in silos underground since the Earth was poisoned, and the lengths some will go to keep things the same throughout the generations. Well written, and beautifully illustrated. Long, though.

Finally, a couple of classic novels I was able to dive into, one famous, one no one has ever heard of:

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman is a classic science fiction story of interstellar war and one soldier's life lived for centuries due to the time difference of traveling through space and relativity. The story is somewhat dated, especially in how men and women interact, but a fascinating and well-done story all the way through.

The Phantom Caravan by F.H.P. Schuck. When I was a kid my Uncle Roland had a best friend, Fred, who'd self-published a fantasy novel back in the sixties. As I got older, and hoped to be a writer myself one day, I asked him why he only published one, but Fred just said he'd told the story he wanted to and moved on to other things. Blew my mind. Now, forty years later, and I still had never read the book. It's a hard one to find - having scoured Ebay for the last (I assume) few copies for Christmas presents to family years ago, I kept one for myself. I finally read it this year. Not the strongest novel ever written, but done with a lot of heart and, one can tell, love. The story of an ancient race of people facing extinction. I was glad to be able to finally read Fred's story, and sorry I hadn't done so earlier in my life. Just knowing someone who'd written and published a book when I was young was such an inspiration, and I treasure having a copy on my shelf.  Fred (and my dear Uncle) are no longer with us, but it was an honor to be able to write this today, to give one final nod to F.H.P. Schuck's only novel.


Popular Posts