Before I forget and doze off, I was forced to break my rule of thumb to try not to buy shinies from Oxfam. I found Monkey - You know the one with Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy :) So I had to buy it. Then I was forced to buy The Dilbert Future to make up to the magic £5 card limit. Oh well, I've been good for weeks :)
Now if I can only find Shogun and The Water Margin going cheap...
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Hugh Fearlessly Eats It All, which is an entertaining collection of his journalism. I'm not sure I'd recommend going out of your way to pick it up - it's enjoyable, but did remind me of something you might find sitting in a bathroom.
Andrew Taylor's A Plum in Your Mouth, which is an interesting look at accents. It's entertaining, if not deep and doesn't have the school-teacher's tone of Lynne Truss. I couldn't locate my register for about a week after finishing it.
Phillip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. Odd, twisted and seeming at times to jump between a Kerouac or Burroughs style tale of junkies to a paranoid Orwellian state where no-one really know who anyone is and who they can trust. Excellent.
Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith. If anything, this is funnier than witches books aimed at adults. The Nac Mac Feegles are hilarious and I'm sure I know Annagramma...
Getting on well with Dark Tower, onto book 5... I knew there were parallels to The Stand and The Talisman and SK's other earlier works, for once it wasn't me being mad and imagining things! Not sure where I'll go after this, I've got Elizabeth Wurtzel's 'Bitch' and 'More, Now, Again' that I've had for ages, I've started Bitch, but keep stalling with it as it gets a bit heavy. I've also been trying to read and keep stalling with Bill Hicks 'Love All The People', mainly because funny as he is when you read the same stand up material over and over it does get a tad wearing eventually. Plus I really should finish Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis' autobiography, Bodies Under Seige and I've got A Bright Red Scream and Pippa Funnell's autobiography to read. Looks like I've got a good start at least...
The Intrepid Enchanter - L Sprauge de Camp and Fletcher Pratt:
This is and omnibus of five linked fantasy novella's written in the 1940's and 50's. The stories themselves are well-written and move along nicely without you being left feeling bored with detail or cheated of content. Because the stories follow on directly from one another, you get a feeling of having read a much larger novel in easy to digest segments.
Its also one of the earliest example of incorporating other peoples works into a new story that I've seen. The other being Samuel Clement's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. For what may well be a prototype of the technique it works really well. Of course there have been many uses of this kind of 'borrowing' technique since, from collaborative universes like Thieves World and Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars, and homages to other authors like Terry Pratchetts nod to Fritz Lieber and Anne MacCaffreys work in The Colour of Magic, and blatant rip-offs like Bored of the Rings and a title I saw in Waterstones: Harold Porter and the Shameless Parody... But this could be one of the books that led the way.
What I think also helped is that I am fairly familiar with the Norse, Finnish and Irish myth-cycles that three of the five tales are written around, but am completely new to Spenser's world of Faerie Queen or Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, so there was an element of familiarity with the concepts and at the same time an introduction to something new. :)
I'm thinking maybe my challenge this year should be To Get Round To Reading All The Stuff I've Been "Going To Read When I Get Round To It"... Which will if nothing else allow for a fairly diverse selection. I may also look into the Read 29 Books First Published In 1978 (year of birth and hence 29 is how old I'll be this year), or I might save that one for next year and do 30. (Now that torsparkles has pointed out to me that Wikipedia have a list of stuff published in '78 which will remove all the tedious time-consuming headache of finding stuff. Thanks for that, I've no idea what my excuse is for being too useless to have worked out to Wikipedia for myself!)
I stopped counting the height of the books I was reading in September. I stopped for two reasons, firstly because I was a couple of inches off my height so I was clearly going to reach it and secondly because that's when I started reading electronic books and how do you measure the height of an electronic book?
But I kept on with noting the books I read and the total for 2006 was 83 books, which breakdown as follows:
72 fiction 11 non-fiction 21 Re-reads 62 first time reads
The full list of the books I read in 2006 is here.
I think 83 books is a decent amount to read in a year so I'm not going to challenge myself to read more in 2007, rather I'm going to challenge myself to read more new (to me) authors. This year I read nine new authors (not counting non-fiction). So next year I will set a target of fifteen.
Having totted up my reading for this year, I have to admit glorious failure in attempting to read my height in books. This despite being shorter than some 10 year olds.
Looking through the list, it's not all doom and gloom. This year's favourites include Levitt's fantastically entertaining 'Freakonomics'; the bizarrely entitled 'Killing Yourself to Live' by Chuck Klosterman; Christopher Meyer's 'DC Confidential', which is like reading the best of Radio 4 politics, but with more bitching and Kate Mosse's 'Labyrinth', which actually lived up to the hype.
I also surprised myself by ploughing through Tariq Ali's 'The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity' and promptly forgetting most of it. Ditto Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything', though it is far and away the more entertaining of the two.
In the 'don't bother' pile, I'd stick 'The Blind Assassin', because even Margaret Atwood gets it wrong at times, anything by Michael Moore (I should have known better) and the intriguing but irritatingly flawed vampire novel 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova.
I'm not sure what my goal is for 2007. This year's reading has been heavily slanted towards non-fiction and unfortunately most of the fiction I have read has disappointed, so I'd definitely like to read more good fiction.
With that in mind, I found Pratchett's 'Wintersmith' in my stocking this year. I wonder, if I start it today, but finish it erm, tomorrow, probably, does it count for 2007? Or perhaps it's more likely that I'll start it today and tonight's guests won't be fed on indeed spoken to...
Update: Erk, I've been rumbled and asked to clean things. I suppose I'll be starting the book in earnest tomorrow.