Start of the Year Reading List

Slaughterhouse FiveA new year means new books to read (as if I had any trouble finding something new to read). I am still wrapping up my full readthrough of Vonnegut’s novels. Having recently finished The Sirens of Titan, I am now wrapping up a re-read of Slaughterhouse Five to conclude all 14 novels by Vonnegut in the past 6 months. I also plan to read two non-fiction books I have by Vonnegut. These being A Man Without A Country and Palm Sunday. I’ll move on from Vonnegut after those and get to the many other books I want to read.


Novelist as a VocationI also am reading Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami. I have yet to read any of his novels, but this one has popped up in social channels probably because it was newly released in English translation this year. It originally published in 2015. Murakami has been on my list of authors to read and I have a few of his novels that I may get around to this year. For now, I will at least read this selection of essays on the craft of writing.


Spring SnowThe next series I plan to read is The Sea of Fertility tetralogy by Yukio Mishima. The first book is titled Spring Snow. I wanted to read this series after I read The Sound of Waves as my first experience of Mishima’s work. This series is supposedly his masterpiece and definitely jumped up on my TBR. I’m hoping to read the entire series this spring. Since I read The Sound of Waves in a day, I hope I’ll be pulled into this story and read all four books in a short time.


My Hero Academia

The last of this list is the manga series I plan to read this year. I’ve read one series a year for the past two years and have another series I want to explore despite it not being complete at this time. This series is My Hero Academia. I’ve been enjoying the show greatly and figured I could read this series quickly. I typically wait until a series is complete before starting so I have no breaks in reading the story. I doubt it will be completed by the time read through what is available, but we will see.


I hope you have some fun reading plans for the new year.

Happy Reading.

Ryan’s Favorite Reads of 2022

Wow. I have failed this month of December in creating anything new for you to read. My apologies. It’s been a strange time. I’ve had little time to read, and what I’ve read I have not loved enough to recommend to you. Part of the reason I’ve read so little this month is due to work (my busiest time of year is at year’s end), and the other part is that after 2.5 years of avoiding it, I fell victim to Covid. Though it was terrible, I was lucky it required little-to-no medical intervention and I recovered after about a week’s time.

But now it is near the end of the year, so it felt right to make a post with a list of my favorite reads of the year. Without further ado…

The Sound of WavesThe Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima

The first book I’ve read by Yukio Mishima and I read it in a day. I really enjoyed it and the simplistic story told in an expert way was refreshing. It is, as bare bones, the tale of a young fisherman on a small island who finds love in a community too small to keep secrets.

I plan to read Mishima’s masterpiece (according to the author himself) which is the four-book saga The Sea of Fertility. I have the first book and hope to begin it in the new year after I finish the next few books I have lined up.


How Not To Die book coverHow Not to Die & How Not to Diet by Michael Greger

These two books I really enjoyed as I was reading and learning about nutrition earlier this year while focusing on becoming a healthier self, father, and husband. I lost 40 lbs and have kept it off through simple dietary changes. My exercise and healthy eating habits have wavered of late (Christmas cookies are partially to blame), but I’m still mostly healthy due to great habits I incorporated and I plan to get back to exercising and eating better after the holidays.


Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood coverFullmetal Alchemist

This manga series, adapted faithfully into the 2009 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime, is absolutely an incredible story overall and one of my favorites of all time. I first discovered it via the show which was my gateway into the immense world of anime, and it remains a favorite of that medium. The original manga are just as good (though the music in the show really sets some scenes) and I read it for the first time this year.


Kokoro book coverKokoro by Natume Soseki

Read at the start of 2022, this book was interesting mostly because it was written over 100 years ago. The story may be considered slow or lacking, but I think that is what makes it a good book. It takes it slow and has a human element not often found in many stories.

The story is about a young student who finds a mentor and slowly unravels what made his teacher the recluse he had become. This mystery is unraveled quickly as the book is not very long.


Pity The Reader CoverAnd So It GoesI spent the second half of the year mostly reading Vonnegut’s novels and other works. It all started when I read Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style by Suzanne Collins and Kurt Vonnegut. It is a book about the craft of writing, but also gives insight into Vonnegut’s life as the two were closely intertwined. In between reading all of his novels, I also read a great biography about Vonnegut written by Chris Shields and titled And So It Goes – Kurt Vonnegut: A Life. It really put his novels in a new perspective and helped me enjoy them more than I otherwise might have.

I will wrap up the last few of his novels in the new year. The few I really enjoyed this year were Bluebeard, Jailbird, Mother Night, Player Piano, and Cat’s Cradle. 

BluebeardJailbirdMother NightPlayer PianoCat's Cradle

Fantasy Favorites

Another list I’ve put together for this holiday season to recommend books to read, gift, or put on wish lists. This list is a handful of fantasy books I’ve enjoyed and will likely re-read at a later time. Some of these are obvious/popular stories you may have already read, but they deserve a spot on this list for those who have either not heard of the or have been putting of finally reading them. Again, I’ve already recommended many of these books so you can find more info about each of them if you are interested.

The Stormcaller

This book is the first of five in a series by Tom Lloyd. I read the first three and remember enjoying them but failed to read the subsequent books as they released. I need to re-read them and finish the series.

The Eyes of God

John Marco’s trilogy that starts with The Eyes of God was a favorite of mine a long time ago. A fourth novel has since come out that I haven’t read so I may revisit the originals and read the new installment.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

This title may be V. E. Schwab’s masterpiece.

The Magician

The beginning of Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, this initiates a four-book saga that extends further with subsequent books. I read a few beyond the core four books and it is a fun time.

Howl’s Moving Castle

A great story by Diana Wynne Jones that differs a bit from the movie it inspired made by Studio Ghibli. It has two companion novels (not quite sequels) that are also great reads.

The Wheel of Time

Robert Jordan’s 15 book series begins with The Eye of the World and is a journey in itself quite worth the time if you love fantasy.

The Lord of the Rings

The classic that has inspired much that has followed, The Lord of the Rings is well worth the read despite the incredible movie adaptations. This year premiered The Rings of Power as well which delves into the events prior to what takes place in the original trilogy. I enjoyed the first season and am excited to see what comes next.

The Name of the Wind

Yes, fans of this trilogy are still awaiting volume three which we can only hope will be released next year, but the first two books are incredible and I am sure the third will be worth the wait. I recommend this for those interested but it may be worth waiting until you can binge the entire story.

Harry Potter

A series that influenced many of my generation and many outside my generation.

Biography/Memoir Favorites

Another list I’ve put together for this holiday season as recommendations for books to read, gift, or put on wish lists. This list is a double handful of biographies and memoirs I found interesting. Luckily, I’ve recommended most of these books previously so you can find more info about each of them if you are interested.

A Princess Diarist

It is hard to believe Carrie Fisher has been gone for six years now. This memoir reflects on her time filming the first Star Wars movie which would subsequently launch her into fame and fandom as the iconic Princess Leia. The more I learn about her, the more I like her and wish she were still around.

And So It Goes – Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

This biography of Kurt Vonnegut is insightful and I think explanatory of much of his writing as he pulled much of his own life into his work. I am nearing the end of my read-through of all his novels and having read this biography made me appreciate his work more than I probably would have.

Robin

Robin Williams is another celebrity lost too soon. It has been eight years since we lost this fun, compassionate man. This biography by David Itzkoff is thoroughly researched and gives much insight into the man who was Robin.

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing

This is Diana Wynne Jones’s memoir on writing as well as reflections on her childhood and adult life. It was fun to look more into her experiences and who she was.

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

This biography by Humphrey Carpenter may be the best one out there on this prolific author. Tolkien has shaped a lot of writers and heavily influenced fantasy and storytelling in general. Love him or hate him, this book is a great look at who he was and the life he led.

In Pharoah’s Army

This memoir covers Tobias Wolff’s experience while a soldier in the Vietnam war. For those interested in Wolff or the war, it is a good read.

As You Wish

This book is Cary Elwes’s memoir during the filming of The Princess Bride and is a great read for the fans of this iconic movie that somehow became a cult classic after flopping at the box office.

Educated

Tara Westover’s memoir about her life in a family that didn’t believe in public education, or health services, is a fascinating read about how some people think. She doesn’t condemn the way she is raised, but ultimately had to decide how to interact with her family after going out on her own to learn about the world.

Amazing Fantastic Incredible

A graphic novel memoir about the graphic novel icon Stan Lee. A quick read that is more a cursory look at his life and work with some obvious bias, but overall a good, fun, book.

Tesla: Man Out of Time

A definitive biography on the enigma that is Nikola Tesla. What more is there to say? Margaret Cheney does a great job putting his life on the page.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert M. Pirsig’s philosophical memoir is not for everyone but had/has stirred up a lot of interesting conversations. It may be tough for many readers to get through, but it is an interesting read.

A Moveable Feast

A shorter, fun look into Hemingway’s life in Europe with a event alongside F. Scott Fitzgerald. Great for fans of either writer.

What If Our World Is Their Heaven?

This is actually a transcription of the final interview of Philip K. Dick which is a fantastic insight into who he was, and what he was working on before he passed away. He had a book in-progress that never was finished or published in any way, so what he gives us in this interview is all we will ever get. Sounded good too.

Science Fiction Favorites

I thought I’d put together a few lists this holiday season to recommend books to read, gift, or put on wish lists. This first list is a handful of science fiction books I’ve enjoyed and will likely re-read at a later time. Luckily, I’ve already recommended each of these books so you can find more info about each of them if you are interested.

Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert is one of my favorite science fiction books of all time. I first read it a few years ago upon hearing it is one of the best science fiction books of all time. It was originally published in 1965. It also helps that we recently had a great movie adaptation covering the first half of this book and the adaptation of the second half is coming out next year. I have yet to read the sequels but this first book is great as a standalone story.

The Book of the New Sun

The Book of the New Sun was my introduction to Gene Wolfe who is now one of my favorite authors. This four-book saga is unique and not for everyone, admittedly, but I enjoyed it. Wolfe builds a world filled with mystery without fully giving you a glimpse behind the curtain.

The Murderbot Diaries

The Murderbot Diaries is Martha Wells’s collection of science fiction novellas that follow the fun character who calls itself Murderbot. This story is rich with warnings about how the human race could end up as well as unique views of how we can and should be better. The first in this series is All Systems Red. 

Ready Player One (and Two)

Ready Player One is a fun book all around. The movie adaptation obviously changed a lot but was also fun for me. The sequel, Ready Player Two, was fun but a mediocre follow-up in my opinion.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams’s series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy might not be the type of humor for a lot of people, but the absurdity of it makes it enjoyable and lighthearted. There are five books in total and, admittedly, some sequels are lacking.

The Library at Mount Char

One of my absolute favorite reads of recent years, The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins is a hidden treasure that gives a unique perspective into how the universe works (or at least who is at the helm of creation).

Project Hail Mary

Andy Weir’s third novel, Project Hail Mary, is another semi-lighthearted-during-life-threatening-situations tale much like his first book The Martian. This story involves a mystery that is causing stars to die much quicker than expected, including the Sun. In an interstellar race against the clock, Ryland Grace needs to solve this mystery before Earth is no longer hospitable for humans.

Cat’s Cradle

Having become a big fan of Vonnegut this year, I felt it necessary to include at least one of his novels and Cat’s Cradle seemed appropriate as we head into winter as it involves the mysterious Ice-9.

The Left Hand of Darkness

Another book with ice as an element (arguable a major character in itself) is Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. This an important novel containing questions about gender in a world where gender is ambiguous.

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell spans several centuries and goes into a future (or futures) that fall into the realms of science fiction, so I’m including it in this list. I greatly enjoyed this book which I first discovered when seeing the trailer for the movie, which I also enjoyed but mostly because I’d read the book beforehand.