As far as reading in 2012, here is the sum total of my efforts this year:
Fiction (including SF/F; excluding comics): 58
Science Fiction/Fantasy: 29
Comic Books/Graphic Novels (excluding single issues, incomplete arcs, and anything less than 50 pages in length): 13
Books by Women: 21
Biographical Works: 10
Books Read as a Direct Result of Spielberg “Lincoln”: 4
‘Young Adult’ Science Fiction/Fantasy: 1
Ugh, Why Did I Even: 3
( Herein: My Top 5 )
Books That Were So Terrible I Gave Them Two Stars or Less on Goodreads and Didn’t Even Feel Guilty.
1. Delirium, Lauren Oliver. This is a young adult novel, the first in a series, set in a dystopian future where love is considered a disease that every citizen is ‘immunized’ against once they reach the age of majority. Having gleaned that much after the first chapter, I cannot for the life of me understand why I didn’t abandon ship immediately. The thing of it is simple – Protagonist is on the verge of her coming of age; she has an embarrassing love-related family history involving her mother, which has prompted her to value social conformity significantly more than her beautiful, vivacious best friend, who insists on petty rebellions, much to Protagonist’s dismay; Protagonist meets a Boy; Boy is of the rebellious persuasion, to a much higher degree; they fall in love; their forbidden love is discovered; whatever. I just can’t.
2. Someone thought it would be a good sort of idea to collect some of comedian Steve Martin’s tweets into something resembling a book, and publish it. In a moment of pure self loathing, I am sure, I read the thing. No further comment will be made.
3. Lucy, Laurence Gonzales. I cannot remember much of this, but I remember I didn’t like it. It was melodramatic.
4. All the Sad Young Literary Men, Keith Gessen. This is a book. It is the sort of book too mundane to even inspire vitriol. Rather, one is consume by… what? Agitation? Acrimony? Resentment borne purely from the fact that one is being forced to once again consider its existence? To properly frame my emotional reaction to This Book, I was compelled to trawl through book reviews of the mid-to-high brow variety. Joyce Carol Oates! Her reputation precedes, though I confess to never having read any of her work. Joyce Carol Oates reviewed This Book for the New York Review of Books, and enjoyed it. Preposterous! Here are some things Joyce Carol Oates had to say:
Beginning with its risky yet playful title, All the Sad Young Literary Men is a rueful, undramatic, mordantly funny, and frequently poignant sequence of sketch-like stories loosely organized by chronology and place and the prevailing theme of youthful literary ideals vis-à-vis literary accomplishment. In its seriocomic depiction of post-adolescent ennui it will remind some readers of Indecision (2005), the first novel by Benjamin Kunkel, Keith Gessen’s co-editor at n+1; clearly, both young writers speak the same language, if not precisely the same dialect. Its cover art suggests a witty New Yorker cartoon: a small male figure at the very bottom of a page bearing on his back and shoulders an immense black tombstone of a book titled ALL THE SAD YOUNG LITERARY MEN.
Everything about this paragraph is wrong. Except perhaps the bits about Indecision. I know nothing about Indecision. And also maybe the bit about it being undramatic. But rest assured, All the Sad Young Literary Men is not rueful (though it aspires to be); it is not “mordantly funny” (on account of how it is not funny at all); it is not poignant (and I do not say this just because I hate the word); it’s cover art does not suggest a witty New Yorker cartoon (unless perhaps we are talking about a New Yorker cartoon that is not at all witty, and was probably rejected). Let’s try again. This fellow Tim Martin at The Independent seems to share my point of view on very nearly every level, but particularly of the tiresome redundancy of the young literary men in question:
“You’ll recognise these guys from elsewhere in contemporary American fiction: over-smart, bad with women in a lit-but-you-know-it sort of way, brooding earnestly over their PhD subjects and the situation in Israel, wearyingly enamoured of bullet-pointed lists and dorky cracks about obscure Russian dissidents.”
It’s the cracks about obscure Russian dissidents that truly get my goat, in honesty. But this withering review was not enough to sooth my agitated soul. I resort to goodreads reviews for further solace: “Gessen clearly illustrates everything wrong with his generation of writers: an awkward desire to be vicious, but without the skill or introspection to do any real damage.” Bingo! Bingo? “Also, all the lady characters are underdeveloped and horribly irritating.” Yup.
My reading resolution for 2013 is to read at least one science fiction/fantasy novel with a stupid cover. It is currently 1726 hrs, GMT+3, and already I feel my resolve crumbling.
My actual reading resolution for 2013 is to read at least 10 books from a shockingly long list of works I feel ashamed to never have attempted. That number, ten, has been scaled back, incrementally, pitifully, from forty-five over the last two weeks. I am nothing if not irresolute.