Reading Log #7: January 2014

imageThe new year is off to a spectacular start and I had the best reading month since I began keeping track four years ago.  While the total of 15 books finished in January is not the most I completed in one month (that honor goes to October 2010 with 19 books), I read more book-pages than any single month before now – a total of 3774!  The next closest for that stat would be the 2752 pages I read in March 2013.  Quite a leap!

It’s not that I have more free time but that I’m managing it a bit better now.  It does help that I don’t currently have a computer or tablet at home (less distractions!).  The six months or so that I read exclusively on the tablet saw my reading decrease as my eyes became fatigued much faster due to the shiny screen.  My original bare-bones Kindle has been a God-send in that I’m reading longer at each stretch.  I am also trying to finish each book before starting another but that hasn’t always worked out.

I’m also reading longer books.  The books I finished this month had a total of 3714 pages, or an average of 247.6 pages each).  True, a couple were of novella length but three were in the 500-700 page range.

BOOKS FINISHED – JANUARY 2014:

  1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (1999) [started 2014-01-01; finished 2014-01-02]
  2. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (2010) [started 2014-01-03; finished 2014-01-09]
  3. The Battle For Christmas: A Cultural History Of America’s Most Cherished Holiday by Stephen Nissenbaum (1997) [started 2013-12-22; finished 2014-01-11]
  4. A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1887) [started 2014-01-11; finished 2014-01-12]
  5. The Twelve by Justin Cronin (2013) [started 2013-04-15; finished 2014-01-14]
  6. 1,001 Things You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Know by Anna Mantzaris (2006) [started 2014-01-14; finished 2014-01-15]
  7. Out On The Cutting Edge by Lawrence Block (1989) [started 2014-01-14; finished 2014-01-16]
  8. Odd And The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (2009) [started 2014-01-17; finished 2014-01-17]
  9. A Ticket To The Boneyard by Lawrence Block (1990) [started 2014-01-18; finished 2014-01-19]
  10. The Peculiar Persecution Of John Vincent Harden by Dan Andriacco (2012) [started 2014-01-20; finished 2014-01-20]
  11. American Passage: The History Of Ellis Island by Vincent J. Cannato (2009) [started 2014-01-08; finished 2014-01-23]
  12. Bangkok Rules by Harlan Wolff (2012) [started 2014-01-21; finished 2014-01-28]
  13. Timelines: World War One by Stewart Ross (2012) [started 2014-01-25; finished 2014-01-29]
  14. Stupid History: Tales Of Stupidity, Strangeness, And Mythconceptions Throughout The Ages by Leland Gregory (2007) [started 2014-01-20; finished 2014-01-29]
  15. Blackwater by Conn Iggulden (2006) [started 2014-01-30; finished 2014-01-31]

Some real variety there!

I was most thrilled to finish Justin Cronin’s The Twelve as I’d read the first fifteen pages or so back in April and didn’t pick it up again until just before New Year’s Eve!  It’s the longest book I’ve read this year, weighing-in at 693 pages in the eBook version that I have.

My favorite book of the month was definitely The Sherlockian and it has inspired me to start re-reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories (I read an anthology of Holmes pastiches last year so the seed was probably planted then).  When I was in my teens and early twenties,, I read perhaps 70 percent of The Canon and even had a nice set of leather-bound volumes printed in the 1920’s.  I’ve already re-read the first Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet, and plan to continue in chronological order by date of publication.

The most surprising books I read in January were the two Neil Gaiman titles.  Both were absolutely delightful.  I haven’t read many of his books but I have a few high in my TBR list (American Gods will probably be next).

I’ve been reading more history books in the past few months.  I picked up the book about Ellis Island due to one of my language classes here in Thailand.  I started teaching an Advanced-level course at the beginning of the year and the first unit in the textbook dealt with immigration and included several eyewitness accounts of Ellis Island.  A few of the details I found in Cannato’s book enriched the various lessons during that unit and I certainly learned quite a bit as well.  I believe my father’s father arrived via Ellis Island and it would be nice to research that bit of our family’s history.

I became rather bored with The Battle For Christmas about midway through but I stuck with it until the end.  There is a lot of detail in there which, I feel, could be made more readable and interesting.  I do want to learn more about the history of how this holiday is celebrated in different countries as the subject makes for interesting discussion material in the teachers’ room!

While I am enjoying reading Lawrence Block’s series featuring alcoholic PI Matthew Scudder (in publication order), I took a little break towards the end of January when I started reading Bangkok Rules, the debut novel by Thai-based former PI Harlan Wolff.  While the ending left a bit to be desired (the ears! the ears!), it was great to finally read a well-written mystery set in the Land of Smiles.  Yes, there are many but it’s been a while since one struck me like this one did.  Perhaps the last one I’d read was A Nail Through The Heart by Timothy Hallinan.  For some unknown reason, I never sought out his other mysteries in the Poke Rafferty series but have now remedied that having just started The Fourth Watcher.  I’m also going to start buying the many Christopher G. Moore Bangkok-based books as they are highly regarded.  (Perhaps I’ll buy one a month, but first I want to buy the most-recent books by Lawrence Block, Christine Barber, and Anne Hillerman…)

I haven’t joined any reading challenges this year, mainly due to the requirement that you need to write the occasional book review.  One of my “resolutions” for 2014 was to write at least one review per month but I just can’t seem to do it.  Maybe next month?


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