Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Year in Books

Those nice people at recently sent me a list of books I read in 2014.

At least, that's what it purports to be.  It's actually a list of books I've reviewed, having read enough of them to review in 2014.  Of the twenty-three books listed I abandoned five without finishing.  I've probably only ever abandoned ten or so books in my life, so I'm not sure what this says about me - impending mortality raising the quality threshold?

Others were tomes that got finished in 2014 - a detailed history of the shire county I used to live in; two reference works on building and property renovation; Hofstadter & Dennett's 'Mind's Eye'.

Of the twenty-three titles, fourteen were fiction.  The subject matter of the non-fiction, over and above local history, architecture and cognitive science were cosmology, economic history, the characteristics of improbable events and Alain de Botton's 'Status Anxiety', which I'm not sure how to categorise, other than as total tosh.  If I had to pick out a highlight it'd be JK Galbriath's 'The Great Crash 1929'.

Of the remaining fiction titles (and, sorry, I'm including '12 Years a Slave', but only because it's a narrative), only four could possibly be described as sci-fi (Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go'?), and one, Nicola Griffith's 'Slow River' was one I gave up on as being about as engaging as Ebola, but I'm clearly in the minority judging by ratings.

So, three sci-fi stories read.  Is that good enough for somebody writing sci-fi?

Well, here's the rub.  On the one hand, as a writer you're expected to know your genre.  On the other - and I wish I could remember who I'm quoting - a writer should know a little about a lot, preferably a little about everything.  One of my pet hates is writers having writers as their main character, because that's all they know.  And, at the same time, I'm meant to fit in everything else that a 21st century parent does.

And, remember, as I mused recently, there's so much out there that's sci-fi - or masquerading as sci-fi.

But, as we launch boldly into 2015, we all have good intentions.  I'm giving up ham.  And, I'm going to to read more sci-fi.  My reading strategy - yes, I have one, although I rarely stick to it - will be Gibson, Asimov, Ballard and Dick.  I'll let you know how I do, on both counts.

Happy New Year.

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