2014 in books (UPDATED)
2014 has been a very good year for my reading. In fact, I have not read that many books in a year for a long time and am pretty happy about it. Reading is very important to me and has been for a long time now, I remember thoroughly scrubbing the SciFi section of my town’s library in the ‘80 (« Fleuve Noir », « Présence du futur »…) clean of everything I haven’t read :)
What made 2014 so efficient? Foremost the desire and will to read more of course but the most important thing that happened is me buying that iPad Mini Retina back in Oct, 2013. I’ve switched from physical books to ebooks a long time ago, when all my books were still in cardboard following our move from one flat to another1. Maybe I will devote an article to the subject of ebooks…
UPDATE: Finally got 42 books (yeah for #geek in me!) in for 2014, thanks Corwin of Amber :)
Did I bought a e-reader with e-Ink then? No, I was not ready to add yet another device for me to drag around. Phone, generally a computer, digital camera, lenses and stuff. I bought an iPad before (that was even before the iPad Mini was out) and while I enjoyed it for Twitter, surfing and the likes, it was definitely too heavy. The screen was slightly too big too (yes, too big: reading a single page made it too big and in two page mode, they were too small).
I was also reading on my iPhone often because, well, I did not always took my iPad with me (size, weight, remember?). I even used my old HTC phone even though the screen was really crappy.
The original iPad Mini was nice (ideal size and much lighter!) but the screen resolution was not on par with my needs, especially for reading where you want the characters crisp and clean, with beautiful fonts. I gathered they were going to release a Retina version later and guess what? They did.
So I am now happily reading a lot of books on it.
I used to use the iBooks application to read because the synchronization was really easy with Calibre but when Apple broke it with 10.9, I switched to Marvin (which I heartily recommend!). Using the “nightly” theme and low-level of brightness, it may not be as effective as e-Ink mais it is pretty darn good.
I managed to read almost 40 books in 2014 (see my Reading Challenge on Goodreads). The year is not finished but I’m pretty sure I will succeed :)
2013 was less of a success, around 20 books only (I do not have the exact count as I started to register what I read only that year).
2014 is a mix of re-reading old books and new books and authors.
“The Godwars” trilogy by Angus Wells. It is probably not well-known, not the best ever fantasy trilogy but I do enjoy it everytime I read it. It was quite difficult (and pricy!) to find it in ebook format.
I finally got in the three first Amber books in the last days of 2014. The “Chronicles of Amber” by Roger Zelazny is an old favourite of mine, even though I think I still have not forgiven him for dying before the completion of the series. There are too many fascinating loose ends2 in Prince of Chaos that should have been connected in maybe 5 other books… Many people dislike the second 5-book series with Merlin but I just think it is a different way to look at Amber and Merlin is a very interesting character to follow with both Amber and Chaos connections.
“The Others” #1 and #2 by Anne Bishop. I have been a great fan of the “Black Jewels” trilogy (and the other books in the series as well — except for “The Invisible Ring”). She returned with a urban fantasy (you know, modern setting, werewolves, vampires and so on) which is one of the growing genres these days but with many twists and new characters. I absolutely loved these two books (third one is for March or April — arghhh)3.
“Shadows Return” by Lynn Flewelling. I was very fond of the previous “Nightrunner” books, as I am of the “Tamír Triad”. That one is a lot darker and maybe dragging itself a bit, too long. Still two books to go on the series.
“Catching Fire” & “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins. I finally read the last two books of the famous trilogy. I can’t recall whether I started it before or after seeing the movie but probably the latter. Good read, the movies are not too far away from the books which is nice. We will see the last movie, divided into two4.
“The Secret Histories” by Simon R. Green. Green is a long-time favourite of mine. His “Blue Moon Rising” was a nice pile of Fantasy with a lot of British humour (which I enjoy immensely). In fact, I haven’t found a book from him I didn’t like, even the Deathstalker ones; Space opera is not my forte. This series is a James Bond kind-of one, with again, a lot of humour, impossible situations and I-can-do-everything action.
“Black Prism” and its two followings, “The Blinding Knife” and “The Broken Eye” in the “Lightbringer” series by Brent Weeks. I just can’t wait for the next one (“The Blood Mirror” if I read correctly). I enjoyed his previous Assassin series (“Night Angel”) but this one is on a way higher level, with a very interesting magic system based on light, interesting characters, lots of plot twists. Highly recommended.
I finally started the “Mercy Thompson” series by Patricia Briggs. Quite similar to another author I have read before (Carrie Vaughn with the “Kitty Norville” series) but slightly different settings. Very good. Lots of wereanimals in there including some uncommon ones.
On the subject of assassins (a character type I really like), I have read book #1 and #2 of the “Shadowdance” series by David Dalglish. These two are really good but the third one I have started is less compelling to me and I’m pretty sure I will not finish it this year. Not sure exactly why, lack of imagination maybe.
Final note in this section with “Dominion”, a novella by C.S. Friedman (again one of my favourite authors ever) set in the “Coldfire Trilogy” world. You have to read all these. Really. Everything by C.S. Friedman in fact.
The Steampunk subgenre has been around for a long time (does the name Jules Verne strikes any chord? :)) but it has been recently coming back with a vengeance, with new authors.
Lindsay Buroker, even though I discovered her back in 2013 (see this article) is a new author here. I read many of her books this year; from the “old” series of the “Emperor’s Edge” to her new series “Dragon Blood” and “Rust and Relics”. I love her books.
Lindsay through Twitter introduced me to Becca Andre and “The Final Formula” series within a modern world but working alchemy. Many interesting magical characters, some zombies (but not too many) and alchemists. Recommended.
I have started a new series “Artifacts Hunters” by A.W. Exley with “Nefertiti’s Heart” and now “Hatshepsut’s Collar”. Again steampunk with magic (but not too much) and a bit more “romance” but just enough (meaning some explicit sex scenes but without the bad part of romance5.
From time to time, it happens :) I used to read a lot of computer books but they kind of bore me now. I do read some of them from time to time, especially on new subjects but this will not be part of these articles.
- Following a friend’s advice (see these articles), I started reading “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World” by Marti Olsen Laney. I have not finished it yet, it is slow going because reading it moves a lot of things inside me and this takes time. However, if you have read the article and felt that it may be echoing in you, I recommend it. It is easy reading but spot on.
Last words, if I may
If I manage to read even more books this year, I will update this article.
You may have noticed that all of these are in English. Mostly due to my choice of reading genre, there are not that many French authors (although they fortunately exist) and for some reason, while I do love French, I pretty much prefer English ones. I also happen to really really hate most of the translations ; SciFi is not a major genre in France so many editors will not choose the better translators and it really shows6. I have been told the situation has improved though.
There are some notable exceptions, the one I remember most particularly is Jean Bonnefoy who translated the Hichhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams most spectacularly or the one who did Piers Anthony’s books ; they deserve heartfelt thanks for their work.
My profile on Goodreads is here.
- The Godwars
- Chronicles of Amber
- The Others
- Black Jewels
- Nightrunner series
- The Tamír Triad
- The Hunger Games
- Secret Histories
- Mercy Thompson
- Kitty Norville
- The Coldfire Trilogy
- Emperor’s Edge
- Dragon Blood
- Rust & Relics
- The Final Formula
- Artifact Hunters
Do not ask why there were still in cardboard after 5 years. ↩
I’m looking at you both Logrus and Ghostweel, yes. ↩
Oh dear, while I was writing this article and checking on GR for references, I saw that she is planning for at least two more books… ↩
Though this is a practice I hate more than I like. I understand that the way of the movies is different from books and that it is often difficult to properly translate one into one another but some take it too far — witness the Hobbit, originally a children’s book, now extended into 3 very long movies with far too many changes… ↩
Not sure I am clear enough, it is just that romance should not be the central part of the book, esp. not shadowing the plot or the characters. ↩
Don’t start me on “Sparhawk” being translated as « Émouchet » in Eddings’ books. Please don’t. ↩