Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My 2019 In Books

According to the Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge, I read 54 books this year. Six more than my goal of 48. One goal was to clear out my backlog of physical books. I made some progress. Several of these are actually short stories, novellas or graphic novels. Audio books helped, too. Here are some highlights:
  1. Non-fiction. I gravitate toward fiction. But I also managed to keep it real:
    1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow - Lin Manuel Miranda's inspiration for the musical. I started this in late 2018 and took almost six months to finish, but it was worth it.
    2. Why We Sleep - informative and highly recommended!
    3. Factfulness - also informative and highly recommended! And surprising! This will challenge how you think about the world, and your neighbors.

  2. Novellas. These have been a way of keeping up the overall book count without investing large amounts of time. A couple of series were very enjoyable:
    1. Binti, Binti: Home, Binti: The Night Masquerade - highly readable science fiction about cultures that are both foreign and alien to me
    2. Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy - further adventures (that starts in All Systems Red) of a self-aware SecUnit 'droid calling itself "Murderbot" that's really good at its job and doesn't actually murder

  3. Netgalley. I limited myself to previewing 5 titles on Netgalley this year. All authors I already read. I still owe a few reviews. The best:
    1. The Eighth Sister - darn good spy/legal novel from Robert Dugoni
    2. A Cold Trail - another spot-on crime thriller from Robert Dugoni
    3. The Last Good Guy - third book in a series by T. Jefferson Parker. Now I have to go read the first couple.
Some other treats this year:
  1. Motherless Brooklyn is a mystery story told from a quirky point of view character. Now a movie.
  2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was languishing on my reading list. I finally read it before I watched the off-beat television series.
  3. Stumptown - the graphic novel inspiration for the new television series about a low-rent PI in Portland. The same, but different.
  4. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (audio book). I wish I'd read/heard this while he was still alive. It sheds a different light on who he was and how restaurants work.
My Goodreads.com 2019 wrap-up is at https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2019/3195690

I'll have a slightly different strategy in 2020. I still want to clear off my TBR shelf. I'll set my Goodreads.com 2020 Reading Challenge at 48 books (4/month). But I also want to…
  1. Read more current titles. I don't want to be stuck in the past, in constant catch-up mode. I want to read at least six books published in 2020 that aren't just the latest by authors I already enjoy.
  2. Read more actual non-fiction. I should move beyond biographies and how-to books about writing.
Keep reading! And share a book with a friend.

Monday, December 30, 2019

read: Southern Harm (3 stars)

Southern Harm (A Southern B&B Mystery #2)Southern Harm by Caroline Fardig

The first half of this book was a bit too slow and chatty for my taste. The mystery is about a death that happened thirty years before the book opens. Because the characters have a lot of catching up to do, they spend a lot of time catching up instead of getting things done. When enough suspects finally get lined up things start happening and the second half of the book feels more like the kind of book I like to read. The mystery does come together and is played very fairly and makes for a satisfying ending. Readers looking for a talkative mystery of Southern manners and murder should enjoy this book.

Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Alibi/Random House for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

View all my reviews on Goodreads