52 pick up: December update!

Here it is, the end of the road for my read-a-book-a-week 2013 challenge.  It got a bit close to the wire near the end, which was surprising when I consider how ahead I was at the mid-year phase.  I blame the gym, which has taken up a lot of my time over the last six months.

Anyway, this is how I rounded off a great year of reading:

48. Tarzan Alive by Philip José Farmer


This book was the bane of my life for several months, as I really struggled to get through it.  I raved about Lord Tyger, another Philip José Farmer book based around Tarzan, which I really enjoyed.  I was hoping this would be as good, but it fell short and ultimately I found it very dull.  Tarzan Alive is written as a biography of Tarzan, as if he were a real person.  What starts out as a great premise quite quickly becomes a ludicrous exercise, with numerous far-fetched explanations, coupled with a very boring catalogue of events.  This was a missed opportunity for me.

49. Mindbridge by Joe Haldeman


I read The Forever War some time ago, and loved it, but didn’t bother anything else by Joe Haldeman because I’d been led to believe that he is a bit of a one hit wonder as a writer.  I thought I’d give him another chance and am very glad that I did so.  I actually really liked this book, which was full of neat sci-fi ideas.  A great little book.

50. The Wicked Cyborg by Ron Goulart


Ron Goulart writes these readable little sci-fi comedy books and I thought I’d check them out.  They’re not very well written, I guess, and they’re kind of throwaway; but they’re also lots of fun.

51. Death has Three Lives by Brett Halliday


My introduction to Brett Halliday and his Mike Shayne character.  I like this kind of hard-boiled detective fiction and will read some more of these stories.

52. Renegade Brand by Richard Brister


This one was a bit of a random choice.  I just wanted to read a pulp western, so picked up this old Gold Medal publication.  It was quite a bit better than I was expecting, so I cruised to my target of 52 books in a year.

53. Murder Takes No Holiday by Brett Halliday


I liked Death has Three Lives enough to read another Mike Shayne mystery.  This one was slightly better than the first, as Shayne tackles a smuggling cartel while he’s supposed to vacationing in the Caribbean.

So, I managed to finish 53 books in 2013, which I’m pleased with.  I wanted to hit 53 after I read The Ophiuchi Hotline and found out I had read it before; somehow it didn’t sit well with me that one of my 52 was a re-reading.  I half-read a number of books and finished a couple of things I started in 2012, but haven’t counted any of that.

On occassion I felt like I wasn’t making the most of the challenge, as I have read a lot of pulp fiction.  Looking back over my reading list, though, I think I did pretty good.  I have read a decent mix of stuff, all things considered.  If you missed my previous updates and you’re curious, here they are in order:












I want to focus on some other stuff for 2014, so alas, shall not be repeating this challenge.  However, I recommend it to others.  It’s a great way to encourage yourself to read more and really think about the stuff you do read.

Oh, and favourite read of the year?  Not an easy choice, but that would be Mr Blue by Edward Bunker.


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