My Reading Year in Review: 2001

And so comes the time to kick back and reflect upon the last 12 months of reading in my life. Here are a few notes on the best, the worst and the weirdest things read in 2001:

If you’re seriously contemplating buying a house, allow me to warn you: It will ruin your reading time. Seriously. Once you’ve bought a house, there’s constantly something else to do, from painting to cleaning, from snow shoveling to mowing the lawn. It gets worse if you have a garden. From an average of 210-260 books per year read while I was a happy fellow living in my parent’s basement, I’ve had to struggle to reach 170 and 200 books in the past two years. While my paperback reading is more or less unchanged due to invariable commuting time, the amounts of large-format books read has plummeted. If you want to remain a happy reader, don’t buy a house. Or get a significant other who doesn’t read… if you can stand that.

Over the past few years, I’ve accumulated an impressive "to be read" pile. This is severely affecting my reading habits, since I now deliberately try to go through the pile rather than buy new books or borrow them from the library. Consequently, my grasp of current literature has dwindled to a point where I can’t even, as of December 2001, list a "top five" 2001 releases. Things are not expected to change in 2002, but I’ll do my best to get back on the wagon by 2003. If all goes as expected, naturally!

I’ve said so in my review of Nelson DeMille’s The Lion Game, but it bears repeating: The events of September 11, 2001 have definitely affected my reading. Any thriller dealing with terrorism is now perceived differently than before, and usually not for the best. I don’t expect that I’m alone in saying so.

From terrorism to bad books, there is only a matter of degree, so here are my bottom choices for the worst books read in 2001. The common element linking these five choices is that they’re all indescribably dull. Save for Appleseed, don’t look for reviews of these books anywhere on the site; if I lost hours of my life reading these books, I’m not about to waste minutes of my readers’ time by writing about them.

  • Appleseed, John Clute
  • O-Zone, Paul Theroux
  • Fire Watch, Connie Willis
  • Soldier of Light, John de Lancie & Tom Cool
  • By Force of Arms William C. Dietz
  • Don’t get the impression that I couldn’t enjoy some books. Here are my choices for top ten books read in 2001:

  • First Contract, Greg Costikyan
  • Sea Fighter, James H. Cobb
  • The Tetherballs of Bougainville, Mark Leyner
  • Dispatches From the Tenth Circle, The Onion
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing SF, Cory Doctorow & Karl Schroeder
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Night’s Dawn Trilogy (6 volumes), Peter F. Hamilton
  • Our Dumb Century, The Onion
  • Enjoy!

    Finally, here are a few more recommendations of books published over the past five years:

    1997:

  • Plum Island, Nelson DeMille
  • One Point Safe, Andrew & Leslie Cockburn
  • 1998:

  • Halfway Human, Carolyn Ives Gilman
  • Riptide, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  • User Friendly, Spider Robinson
  • Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959, Kim Newman
  • 1999:

  • Girls on Film, Clare Bundy, Lise Carrigg, Sibyl Goldman, Andrea Pyros
  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Helen Fielding
  • Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
  • Gravity, Tess Gerritsen
  • Quicksilver, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
  • The Nudist on the Late Shift, Po Bronson
  • 2000:

  • Zeitgeist, Bruce Sterling
  • Ghosts of the Titanic, Charles Pellegrino
  • Mars Crossing, Geoffrey A. Landis
  • The Onion’s Finest News Reporting: Volume One, The Onion
  • 2001:

  • Choke, Chuck Palahniuk
  • Until next time… happy reading!