2010: A Chronicle of Books Unfinished – And Those I Never Even Started

Caught up as I am in the year-end spirit, and seeing as how I'm not really into making compulsive year-end Top 10 lists, I wanted to make some sort of year-end post that might capture some aspect of the year gone by. 

And so, with the desire to clear the decks, and just move on from 2010 already, I present to you:

A Sadly Lengthy Look at the Books on my To-Be-Read Shelves That I Didn't Get To.

   

A Selection of Books I Really Wanted to Read from the Publishers I Represent

I could make an entirely new blog just from cool books that I wanted to read by my own publishers but didn't, but in the interest of keeping things moving here, I'll just pick some of the most interesting books I never got to – my greatest hits of personal disappointment.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
Well really, who can blame me?  Have you seen this book?  It's gigantic!  And frankly, by the time I got my hands on a copy, I was spending more time answering bookseller questions about when the next Twain reprint was coming in and less time reading...

The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Though in my defense, I have read a number of the short pieces that ended up folded into this book.

Under The Poppy by Kathe Koja
I read a good chunk of this prior to it being published by Small Beer this fall, and I even had a great time literally hanging out at GLIBA with Koja this fall, but I just haven't gotten back to it yet.  

   

Books from Publishers Besides The Ones I Sell

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
I read about 100 pages.  I haven't given up entirely, and I loved Black Swans, so I don't know what was holding me back.  Other, possibly less-challenging, books kept intervening.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
I wanted to, I really wanted to. 

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Oh man, that's an ARC of a book that came out in 2009! What were you still doing on my To Be Read shelf!

So Cold The River by Michael Koryta
Heard him on NPR last summer during a drenching rainstorm that made me pull off the highway for my own safety.  A great interview.

The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O'Hagan
I got this one from a fellow rep at the Midwestern Booksellers Show in Minnesota this fall, and the pub date was just earlier this month, so I'm giving myself a couple more months to get to it.  It's still brand new!

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
A new novel from a great guy, and now even my mother-in-law has beat me to the punch on this.  She's already finished it and moved on to Tom's backlist books!  Also, I keep hearing wonderful things about this book from my friends at Boswell Books.

Down and Derby by Jennifer "Kasey Bomber" Barbee and Alex "Axles of Evil" Cohen
A great looking book – "the insider's guide to roller derby" – published by Soft Skull Press.  It comes with a blurb on the front cover by Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney.  I was charmed by last year's roller derby movie, Whip It, so I was primed to love this book.  And it's signed by "Axles of Evil", too! 

I Found This Funny edited by Judd Apatow
A collection of humor writing, edited by Apatow and published by McSweeney's Books.  I really should stop pretending that it's going to get read sitting over there on the shelf and move it to the privy, right?  That's what anthologies are for!

   

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
I know, I know.   I'm pretty sure this book has been on my shelf since early 2010.

Citrus County by John Brandon
Another great looking book from McSweeney's Rectangulars imprint.

Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
My friend Jason at Boswell Books recommended this one most highly, and yet I haven't started it yet.

Go, Mutants! by Larry Doyle
I was charmed by the idea of a teen novel narrated by the disaffected teenage children of our alien overlords, who have conquered Earth only to discover that adolescence really is universal.  From the author of I Love You, Beth Cooper.

West of Here by Jonathan Evison
Another ARC that I got at BEA last summer, and thanks to a very late-in-the-season pub date, I'm still not technically "late" in reading this.  It's coming out from Algonquin Books in February 2011.

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent
Sequel to The Heretic's Daughter, a return to colonial Massachusetts, another creative take on the Salem Witch Trials and the women involved in that drama. 

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
I finally bought this after it came out in paperback earlier in 2010, and it's been waiting patiently at the very end of the To Be Read shelf, thanks to it's odd trim size.  Lots of bookseller friends raved about this, and it was featured in a my3books post by Joseph-Beth's Micheal Fraser.

   

Genre Books That I Should Really Have Just Read, Already.

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
A beginning novel in a new series by one of my favorite SF/F authors ever, Kate Elliott.  Did I start reading this as soon as I got it?  No.  Did I go back and start re-reading my favorite of her novels, Jaran?  Yes, I did. 

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
I really, really meant to get going on this.  In fact, my not having started this is the only thing preventing me from picking up the sequel, Dreadnought.

Zero History by William Gibson
I had a similar roadblock with Zero History as with Kate Elliott's Cold Magic.  I'm something of a completist with Gibson, so I wanted to go back and re-read Pattern Recognition and Spook Country first.  It's been a couple of years, and, you know, the characters recur, so it's worth doing.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
OK, yes, this is a book that I've read... many many years ago.  In fact, my first reading of Good Omens predates my having read any of The Sandman and any of the Discworld books.  But I picked up a fresh copy early in 2010 at an event for Gaiman, and I wanted to re-read it before I passed it on to my daughter. 

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Best-selling author, charming and hilarious maker of online videos, a now multiple award winning book, I reclaimed this 2009 ARC at some point this year after my wife read it and disposed of it.  It's still here on the shelf.  

   

Books by Authors I Love – What the heck was I waiting for?

The Devil by Ken Bruen
My friends at Tyrus Books gave me a copy of the Irish edition during the closing minutes of BEA.  I suspect they were merely trying to save weight on what they shipped back home after the show closed.  Or they know were share a love of Bruen.  Either way. 

The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier
I picked up this ARC at one of the fall trade shows, and once again, I'm still technically in the clear as it doesn't publish until February 2011, but I should have gotten right to this book.  I loved his earlier novel, The Brief History of the Dead. 

Player One by Douglas Coupland
This quirky and clever novel from the author of Generation X came out from Canada's House of Anansi Press, and my PGW friend Jen sent me a copy.  You have to wonder, as I do right now, why I didn't dive immediately into a book that is described in back-cover copy as being in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut and J.G. Ballard...

Doc by Mary Doria Russell
I'm a huge fan of Russell's first novel, The Sparrow, and she absolutely KILLED in her talk at this past fall's GLIBA trade show.  I still have a few months to get to it, as it doesn't come out until May 2011.  Many of my bookseller friends who've already read it report great things. 

The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley
The sequel to one of my favorite 2009 mysteries, Starvation Lake, I got this copy signed when Gruley made an appearance at the GLIBA show.  I wrote about Starvation Lake here on my3books when I first read it last year.

 

OK, enough list-making.  Now to spend a few minutes deciding which ones go BACK on the To-Be-Read Shelf and which ones go into storage!  And I'll be ready for 2011... two days early!