(Oops this was supposed to be done before the end of the year. Better late than never, right?)
2015 wasn’t a great year of reading for me. I had plenty of time to read (I spent six weeks in Boston, during the biggest snowfall in decades, and didn’t read as much as I should have). But I did get to check off a couple of the books I have on my ever-growing To Read list. Here’s what I read in 2015:
Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (145)
Roadside Picnic had been sitting on my night stand for years. I bought a copy after I watched the Russian film Stalker, based loosely on RP. I wish all books could be like Roadside Picnic — it was complex, had interesting characters and moved along at a brisk pace. The movie set the stage for how an alien visitation site would have looked and felt but the book really drove the weird, almost post-apocalyptic isolation, home.
Very enjoyable, not heavy on the Sci-Fi but recommended if you like science fiction. Not recommended if you like your stories tied up in nice pretty bows at the end, though.
The Chronicles of Amber: Volume I (The Chronicles of Amber #1-2) by Roger Zelazny (338)
This was the second book I’ve ready by Zelazny. (Technically second and third, but who’s counting?) Lords of Light was difficult to follow but a great read. The Chronicles of Amber: Volume I (Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon) made me nervous that it would be equally difficult to follow with the cast of characters (nine princes and four more sisters) and an opening to the book of the main character suffering from amnesia, but it picked up steam quickly and wasn’t that hard to follow at all.
The main character Corey (Corwin) wakes up in a hospital heavily drugged, with no memory of how he got there or who he is. Turns out he is one of nine Princes of Amber, a fantastical world in which our Earth is one of many “Shadow Worlds” of Amber, and these Princes have the ability to walk in shadows, to travel freely between our world and theirs. The first book details Corwin’s first attempt to get back to Amber and take the throne from his brother Eric, with the help of the siblings still loyal to him.
That first attempt doesn’t go too well, which leads to the second book, wherein Corwin attempts to bring gunpowder into the world of Amber (which previously was that to be impossible) and make a second attempt at the throne. The second attempt is a little more successful but still results in things going south for Corwin and Amber.
There are more stories to go in the world of Amber, and I hope to get to them soon.
The Martian by Andy Weir (369)
This book delivered one of the best reading experiences I’ve enjoyed in a while.
It might be called “hard science fiction” but “hard” like college physics or chemistry classes. It’s not obtuse or dense but still feels like what is happening could actually be how things would happen on Mars. The science is solid and thorough. Maybe a little too easy to follow, but is that a bad thing?
The book had a couple of those “moments” I love, where you’re left hanging on a cliff, anxious for the next chapter or section. Highly recommended. (The movie wasn’t too shabby, either)
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (208)
Another in the list of “Classics Tony Needs to Read” has been crossed off. This time, it’s Lord of the Flies and it’s considered a classic for a reason. I was in love with the writing of this book. At times it is elegantly descriptive and beautiful (the imagery of fists being pistons, pounding someone in the face, was a personal favorite) and plain and yet still evocative (“His head opened and stuff came out and turned red,” was particularly jarring).
I won’t pretend to understand all the symbolism and the commentary on society and its morals, but I recognize them and the story is a scathing representation of the breakdown of civilization when there is no rule of law and the way power corrupts and all that comes with that. I just enjoyed the story and I’ll let other people figure out “what it all means”.
That’s the short reading list of 2015. A total of four books and 1,060 pages. What did you read this week?