In 2019, I read more books than the two previous years combined. A lot of them were good, almost none of them were bad, and some of them are still sitting on my desk right now because I can't stand to put them out of sight.
Did I get much out of the million+ words I read this year? I'd like to think so. Here's two things I was aspiring to gain from it:
1) I'm an author, and I firmly believe that if you want to write well, you need to read well. What's reading well? you ask with your eyebrows arched. That's a good question. It means different things to different people. For me, reading well means reading both widely (okay, not too widely) and reading "like a writer." That means I'm sometimes reading a single sentence two or three times, or admiring paragraph transitions for several minutes before moving on and considering the plot itself again. I'm looking at the mechanics of the actual text as well as the pacing, plotting, characterization--sometimes it can pull you out of the world the author is presenting and make the stories a little less enjoyable in the raw sense of losing yourself in a good book. But it's important because...
2) Like I said. I'm an author. And I want to read things that are a) in my genre and b) relevant to the audience I am catering my stories to. So reading well for me means that I'm reading things that I like, reading things that I believe people who like my writing would also like, and really paying attention to how the stories are being told. But it also means throwing a wrench into things every once in a while.
Anyway, you came here for the list. Here it is, in a loose order of the ones that come to mind first to the ones I have to think hard about to remember.
I read a lot of Stephen King. Get off my back about it, all right? The guy's a genius. And his twitter is pretty rad, too.
All by Stephen King: The Dead Zone
Under the Dome
Christine - unexpectedly, I think this might have been my favorite.
The Eyes of the Dragon
The Green Mile
The Tommyknockers - A note about this one. People seem to hate it. I thought it was damn good fun.
On Writing - this became like a bible to me. I believe it's the best book on writing that exists, and I've read enough of them for that to be an educated opinion.
Now I didn't exclusively read Stephen King, don't worry. I read about 20 other books, too. Some of my favorites were:
The curious incident of the dog in the night - time by Mark Haddon
After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts by Donald Barthelme
Fevre Dream by George Martin
Dreyer's English by Benjamin Dreyer
The White Lioness by Henning Mankell
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Here's a list of others I read that I had to think about a little longer to recall. Not necessarily because they were worse or forgetful, but most likely on account of the fact that I read so many things this year and some of them are bound to have fallen through the cracks.
The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald
Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
The Terrorists by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall
Hardball by Sara Paratsky
When Red is Black by Qiu Xiaolong - this one probably deserves an honorable mention.
The Long Fall by Walter Mosley
Sacred Clowns by Tony Gillerman
The Between by Tananarive Due - had an ending that absolutely shocked me.
The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (all right, I lied about not reading things more than once, this must have been my fourth time on this one).
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
What did all this reading do for me? Make me smarter? I don't know, probably not really. Make me happy? Hell yes. Make me a better writer? Undoubtedly. Give me the ability to make more pop culture references and potentially pull in a clutch victory during Trivial Pursuit with my family?