I am what my old college professor used to refer to as “a voracious reader”. I read A LOT – anytime, anywhere – usually for a couple of hours every night before going to sleep but, occasionally, while I’m waiting for appointments or for my significant other to finish shopping or for the traffic light to turn green. And yet, for someone who reads as much as I do, you would think I would be able to recommend far more great titles. The truth is, I’ve read many good books, many bad books, and many more average books, but few GREAT books. The type of books that keep you up until two or three in the morning. The type of books you recommend to friends because you want to vicariously re-experience the joy of discovery through them.
Over the years, every so often, I’ll offer up a list of recent reads I’ve greatly enjoyed. Past recommendations have included (but not been limited to): Frank M. Robinsons’ The Dark Beyond the Stars, Joe Abercombie’s First Law Series, George R. R. Martin’s Ice and Fire series, Iain M. Banks’ The Player of Games, Inversions, and Use of Weapons, Thomas M. Disch’s Camp Concentration, Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others, William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Jeffrey Ford’s The Empire of Ice Cream, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant and Other Stories, Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark, China Mieville’s The Scar, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and The Android’s Dream, Charles Stross’ Glass House, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge edited by Lou Anders, John Steakley’s Armor, John Varley’s The Ophiuchi Hotline, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, The SFWA European Hall of Fame collection, Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, the writings of David Sedaris, Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Jason Aaron’s Scalped, Matthew Woodring Stover’s Heroes Die, Jonathan Barnes’ The Somnambulist, the writings of Jeffrey Steingarten, Christopher Moore’s Fool, Stephen King’s Misery, David Benioff’s City of Thieves, Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry – also by Jon Ronson, and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A fairly eclectic mix, no?
Well, today, I’d like to add a few titles to that list…
A college professor discovers his wife is a practicing witch. Dismissing the very notion of magic as superstitious nonsense, he convinces her to give up her mystical pursuits. She reluctantly agrees, destroying her protective charms. Soon after, however, the professor’s luck takes a turn for the worse and he quickly realizes that his wife isn’t the only would-be witch in town.
The fact that it’s filed under Historical Romance lead me to dismiss this book, but I picked it up on a lark last week. I read the first 100 pages the night before last, then ended up finishing the last 25o pages last night. A 93-year old nursing home resident reflects back on his youth during The Great Depression. At age 23, following the sudden death of his parents, he decides to forego his final exams at Cornell to join the circus. It’s a tale both touching and tragic peopled with memorable characters like the circus’s ruthless owner Uncle Al, a seemingly obstinate elephant named Rosie and, my favorite, a lonely dwarf named Kinko.
RELIC by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Despite the great things I’d heard on this blog by several of you, I avoided this book because I erroneously assumed it was park of a steampunk detective series. Also, I prefer standalone novels. As it turns out, I was wrong about both – the assumption that it was a steampunk detective series AND the fact that I preferred standalone novels. Relic is a great introduction to one of the greatest characters in the mystery genre, Federal Agent Aloysius Pendergast, and a wonderfully suspenseful read to boot.
In addition to reading novels, I’m also following a few comic book titles as well. I’m reading enjoying:
My favorite ongoing title is a gritty, noir thrill-ride that will, sadly, end in two issues.
I’ve never been a fan of the God of Thunder, but all that changed when Jason Aaron took over writing duties on the book. Aye, verily!
I was dubious about the new (alt. universe) Spiderman but Bendis has won me over with his gift for character and dialogue.
Loved Hickman’s run on The Ultimates and love what he is doing here. One of the most engagingly complex super-themed titles out there.
A unique take on the cape and cowl genre focuses on the life of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, when he isn’t hanging out with his fellow Avengers.
Past and present collide when the original X-Men travel to the future and meet their contemporaries led by Wolverine.
The flipside to the All New X-Men focuses on Cyclops and his rebel faction as they attempt to recruit new mutants to their cause.
One of my favorite comic book characters written by one of my favorite comic book writers.
Bruce Banner, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.? An intriguing new take on the un-jolly green giant.
The merc with the mouth kills his way through the classics. In issue #1, he took down Ishmael and Moby Dick. In the latest issue, he goes toe to toe with Tom Sawyer. What’s not to love?
Actor/comedian Brian Posehn shows off terrific comic book writing chops as he pits Deadpool against a murderous ghosts of dead presidents. Take that, Lincoln!