Time for my annual brag-a-thon of the books I read in the past year. Nobody likely cares, but I find joy in keeping a running tally. Plus it’s fun to keep track of stuff on an annual basis (like when I turn on the heat—yes, I’m weird).
This year was a mix of post-apocalyptic tales and some of my favorite authors. I tend to put off reading some of my favorite authors so I can save up their stories, but the result is never I read them. So this year I got around to reading a few from some of my favorites like Anne Lamott, Barbara Kingsolver and Frederick Buencher. I also dove more deeply into the post-apocalyptic genre, carrying over last year’s obsession and being spurned on by publishing my own story.
This year I think I managed to read more books than I have since 2002. I’ve found one way to read more is to have a stack of books on hand that I’m eager to read. That way when I finish one book I can dive right into the next book. Most of my reading droughts happen when I don’t dive into a new book right away. Oddly enough, I’ve had to turn to the library to keep that interesting stack of books (cuz the 1,500+ books in our personal library aren’t enough?!). Carrying a book with me wherever I go also helps me read more—I get my best reading done while waiting for the dogs to pee.
1) Plague Year by Jeff Carlson
The first in a series of post-apocalyptic stories where a plague forces mankind to live above 10,000 feet. Interesting scenario, gripping story.
2) Plague War by Jeff Carlson
Part two in the series. Apparently a post-apocalyptic world wasn’t enough and we had to have a war over whatever’s left.
3) Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler
Bringing humor to the post-apocalyptic landscape.
4) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Couldn’t help re-reading this classic.
5) Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card
A story that bridges several Ender stories. Interesting, but not must-read material.
6) Primal by Mark Batterson
Good stuff from Batterson about why we do what we do.
7) Plague Zone by Jeff Carlson
Finishing up the trilogy. At this point it was starting to get a little old, but still engaging nonetheless.
8) Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Finally read the latest from Kingsolver (one of my favorite authors). Not so impressed. The story took forever to get going. In the end it was interesting, but the first several hundred pages were pretty brutal to get through.
9) Parasites Like Us by Adam Johnson
A funky little story about a plague that brings about the apocalypse.
10) Snowfall by Mitchell Smith
In this post-apocalyptic future we’re doomed to repeat the past. This might as well have been a story of prehistoric humans during the ice age.
11) Aftermath by Charles Sheffield
A supernova causes EMP-like effects, ruining all electronics and pushing humanity back a few technological generations. The story follows cancer patients trying to re-establish their treatment.
12) When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie
An old school apocalyptic story where a planet collides with earth (yeah, just like the title says).
13) After Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie
Part 2: Except there’s a chance to escape and survivors end up hitching a ride on a new planet and discovering alien technology. The story pre-dates space travel so it’s not exactly accurate, but still kind of fun.
14) Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff
A little Christian culture humor.
16) Stained Glass Elegies by Shusako Endo
I haven’t read Endo since college, but a collection of short stories I found at a used book shop was a good time to read a little more.
17) Farnham’s Freehold by Robert Heinlein
The post-apocalyptic classic from the sci-fi master. The future world gets a little weird, but it’s good stuff.
18) Offworld by Robin Parrish
A returning shuttle crew finds that everyone on earth is gone. Intriguing, but ultimately unsatisfying.
19) Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
An aging rock star in the age of Internet gossip makes for a great Nick Hornby novel.
20) Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste
Dipping into some Ethiopian reading, this novel gives a gruesome glimpse into the 1970s communist takeover.
22) The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis
A little adoption reading.
23) Grace Eventually by Anne Lamott
Finally dipped into the third of Lamott’s spiritually tinged essay collections. Better than her second one, though still feels like she’s trying to recreate past success.
24) Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver
Finally dipped into this essay collection from Kingsolver written in the aftermath of 9/11.
25) The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Listening to the first book in this series on CD prompted me to check out the rest of the series.
26) Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
And that’s enough.
27) Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans
A great little read about overcoming Christian fundamentalism.
28) A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Sometimes I get the impression Miller is either full of himself or kind of slow, but overall his message of turning your life into a good story is incredible.
29) Church in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt
A quick read about how the technological age defines our thinking.
30) Love Feast by Frederick Buechner
Dipping back into a little Buechner. Quick story, but in the end it felt a little lacking.
31) One Second After by William R. Forstchen
EMPs push the United States back a century or more and society crumbles as the basics of survival become scarce. The story centers on a North Carolina town and how they pull through, making for a gripping read.
32) Toward the End of Time by John Updike
The local library tagged it as “post apocalyptic” and I guess it technically is since it takes place after some kind of war, but it mostly just follows an old guy in retirement and his life isn’t that much different, apocalypse or not.
33) Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
A post-nuclear holocaust classic.
34) Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The library tagged this one as “post-apocalyptic” as well, though it’s really more apocalyptic. Typical Vonnegut style.
35) River Rats by Caroline Stevermer
Post-apocalyptic Mark Twain. Seriously, it follows a crew of kids piloting a paddle boat up a post-apocalyptic Mississippi River. Bonus points for using the Twin Cities as a destination, complete with Prince references.
36) The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
Sequel to The City of Ember (a post-apocalyptic tale about an underground city) where the people emerge from underground and have to get along with another city of people. A little heavy-handed, but the re-starting of society is always engaging for me.