Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Read Any Good Books Lately?

It's Tuesday! Why aren't you in a book store?

A couple of responses/reminders for you before I get started today:

1.) A few of you mentioned in the comments section of yesterday's post that it's possible for a book to be profitable without its author earning out his/her advance. This is absolutely true. Depending on your advance, royalty structure, and the cost(s) of printing and distributing your book (cost of jacket, cost of (re)design, cost of marketing campaign in-house, &c), you may fail to earn out your advance and the house may still turn a profit on your book. (The reverse can also be true.)

2.) Don't forget to enter Laura's most recent contest! Disease(d) superheroes & nemeses, assemble!

Now, since I work in sales, I have to read a lot. (That is, ARCs and galleys of our titles.) Most people attracted to the industry are already pretty heavy readers, so between work and pleasure, I probably read about 200 books a year (possibly more if I'm reading more graphic novels or poetry than average). Below I'll list some of the books I've (re)read this summer, and in the comments, please feel free to list your top five/ten/twenty/or more! novels of the summer/year so far. You'll see what I'm reading, I'll see what you're reading, everybody learns something.

So! Since early June I've read (not including the ARCs/galleys for work):

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald translation), Homer
Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut
The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut
Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut
Best American Short Stories 2008, Salman Rushdie, ed.
Watchmen, Alan Moore
Embryoyo, Dean Young
That Old Cape Magic, Richard Russo
Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli
The Accidental Billionaires, Ben Mezrich
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith
When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
American Lion, Jon Meacham
Citizen Of, Christian Hawkey
Complete Works of William Shakespeare (a handful of plays—not the whole thing!), William Shakespeare
Batman: The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb
The City & the City, China Miéville
Origins of the Specious, Patricia O'Conner & Stewart Kellerman
Natural History, Dan Chiasson
L'Être et le Néant: Essai D'Ontologie Phénoménologique, Jean-Paul Sartre


  1. I don't get to read as much as I would like to, but this year I've read:

    THE RAINMAKER- John Grisham
    WATCHMEN- Alan Moore
    TWILIGHT- Stephani Meyer
    THE ROAD- Cormac McCarthy
    NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN- Cormac McCarthy
    NEXT- Michael Crichton
    THE POWER TO GET IN- Michael Boylan

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  2. I'm working on Don Quixote right now and just ordered Book 3 of Dean Koontz's Frankenstein. . . can't wait for it to come!

  3. Hm, the only one of those that I've read is Galapagos. (Well, The Odyssey, but that got so picked apart in high school English that I'm not sure "read" is the right term.) And Vonnegut is almost always good. :)

    This year I've read and really enjoyed:

    • Bad Things Happen by debut author Harry Dolan
    • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
    • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
    • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid (!!!)

  4. SIRENS OF TITAN will always be on my list of favorite books ever read -- brilliant book. I like it a thousand times more than his more famous books.

    Right now I'm reading Amy Stewart's WICKED PLANTS, which is fascinating!

  5. No way can I remember everything I've read this year or even this summer. I do remember enjoying When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Um, last week I finally read Foucault's Pendulum, I tried to get through The Book of Air and Shadows (Michael Gruber), which I failed to enjoy, then yesterday it was a moldy-oldy, Pick-Up by Charles Wileford, on the recommendation of a friend. I have a shelf full of romance to be read, but today I'll probably grab some romantic suspense instead--Kay Hooper is good for that.

  6. Some went back to the library and I can't recall their names - not a glowing endorsement. A partial list includes:

    I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
    LA Confidential by James Ellroy
    JPod by Douglas Coupland

    Partially through The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

    and next up is The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson

    Ok, Ok, I admit it, I also read the new Sophie Kinsella. But it was almost unreadable and made my head hurt, so it doesn't count.

  7. I read slower this summer since I took up reading with my Dad to enjoy some bonding time before going away to school agian. Then again most were rereads.

    Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
    Lord of the Rings: Return of the King by JRR Tolkien
    King David's Space Ship by Jerry Pournelle
    Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffery
    Killashandra by Anne McCaffery
    Dune by Frank Herbert
    Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
    The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman

    And reading right now would be The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones

  8. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (all 37 plays because I'm writing a bunch of articles on them)
    Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
    The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
    Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (noticing a pattern?)
    The Man With the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green
    Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
    The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

    I started Pride and Prejudice and Zombies -- the soon-to-be wife and I decided it deserved being read aloud, so we've been attempting to do that.

    I've never read Vonnegut though ... never had the pleasure of doing so.

  9. I recently found your blog ... am loving it! Thanks for your entertaining and informative posts!

    Books I've read and found interesting this year:

    - Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
    - The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    - Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
    - Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
    - Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson
    - Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut (apparently he's everywhere!)
    - Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
    - Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
    - Age of Iron by J.M. Coetzee
    - Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
    - No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe
    - Dreams From My Father by Obama
    - Capitol Men by Philip Dray (partial read; ran out of time before returning to library)
    - Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (admit to not finishing ... but still found interesting! :-D)
    - Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (partial read; still reading - very slowly)
    - Currently reading Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey.

  10. So my favorite books I've read this summer are:
    The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King
    Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
    The Eternal Kiss edited by Trisha Telep
    Sweet and Low by Rich Cohen
    Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
    The Girl the Gold Watch and Everything by George D. MacDonald
    Chiggers by Hope Larson
    & Horses Blow Up Dog City & Other Stories by Richard Butner

  11. The Road, McCarthy
    Columbine, Dave Cullen
    High Profile, Robert B. Parker
    Night and Day, Robert B. Parker
    The Five People You Meet in Heavan, Mitch Albom
    Swan Peak, James Lee Burke

  12. Here's what I've read in the last 6 weeks. The starred books are those I would recommend.

    *Patronage. Maria Edgeworth

    Psmith, journalist. P.G. Wodehouse.

    Careless in red. Elizabeth George.

    The book of snobs. William Makepeace Thackeray.

    The Regency underworld. Donald A. Low.

    Experimental man: what one man's body reveals about his future, your health, and our toxic world. David Ewing Duncan.

    London: the biography. Peter Ackroyd.

    *In the land of invented languages: Esperanto rock stars, Klingon poets, Loglan lovers, and the mad dreamers who tried to build a perfect language. Arika Okrent.

    Chasing medical miracles: the promise and perils of clinical trials. Alex O'Meara.

    *The fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii lost and found. Mary Beard.

    Dark banquet: blood and the curious lives of blood-feeding creatures. Bill Schutt ;

    The crimes of Paris: a true story of murder, theft, and detection. Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler.

    *A Pearl in the storm: how I found my heart in the middle of the ocean. by Tori Murden McClure.

    A pint of plain: tradition, change, and the fate of the Irish pub. Bill Barich.

    *Johannes Brahms: a biography. Jan Swafford.
    The blue tattoo: the life of Olive Oatman. Margot Mifflin.

    Clara Schumann: the artist and the woman. Nancy B. Reich.

  13. Persuasion by Jane Austin
    Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
    Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer
    Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
    Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
    Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
    Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
    My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult

  14. I'm currently reading The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones and am really enjoying it.

    My favorite book this year so far: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

    Other faves from the past few months:
    Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
    The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

    Next up: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and The Help by Kathryn Stocket (both for my book club)

  15. The most recent book I read was my first ever straight up romance title. I bought the eBook and loved it! Charming and funny-a pleasant surprise since I always thought I wanted my romance worked around a mystery or some action. Or Amish vampires and Hitler.

    The Jinx by Jennifer Johnson. There's another by the same author called The Clergy Affair that I'm enjoying now.

    I've also read the Sookie Stackhouse books since discovering True Blood.

    The Language of Bees by Laurie King
    Touchstone by Laurie King
    Hans Christian Anderson Unabridged Works
    A couple of Dean Koontz but I can't name them just now
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (this was a re-read...I need a fix about once a year)
    The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
    Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
    The Prey and The Hunted, both by Allison Brennan
    Mythology by Edith Hamilton
    The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

    And revisited The Pearl (Middle English, not Steinbeck), Sir Gawain, and some John Donne, Byron, Keats and Shelley in my Norton Anthology.

  16. Percy Jackson and the Olympians - Rick Riordan (I'm on Book 3)
    Twilight Saga - Stephenie Meyer
    The Ropemaker - Peter Dickinson (not done yet)
    Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs
    Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
    How to Think Sideways - Holly Lisle (not a book, but a lot of reading!)

  17. Somebody has to 'fess up to reading romance, it may as well be me.

    Books I've read this summer are:
    Something Blue - Emily Giffin
    Baby Proof - Emily Giffin
    Love the One You're With - Emily Giffin
    Home Again - Kristin Hannah
    On Mystic Lake - Kristin Hannah
    The Things We Do For Love - Kristin Hannah
    True Blue - Luanne Rice
    Light of the Moon - Luanne Rice
    Safe Harbour - Luanne Rice
    Summer of Roses - Luanne Rice
    The Department of Lost and Found - Allison Winn Scotch
    The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    For One More Day - Mitch Albom

    ... and several novellas with titles I won't mention...

    I just cracked open The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.

  18. Here's a few from the last couple of months that I read and would recommend:

    SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME by Lawrence Hill
    DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn
    THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
    COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen (nonfiction)
    THE LIEUTENANT by Kate Grenville

    I also plan on rereading THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins before the second one, CATCHING FIRE comes out in September. Can't wait!

  19. I'm a slow reader (it boggles my mind how much some of you are able to read), and many of the novels I read this year weren't all that great. Here's my (very short) list of recommendations:

    I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
    Marsbound by Joe Haldeman
    Matter by Iain M. Banks
    Best Military Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century, anthology edited by Harry Turtledove

    Um, yeah...I'm a sci-fi fanatic.

  20. Speaking of reading romance... some of the good books I've read since June-ish are:

    -Goddess of the Hunt and Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare, and I started A Lady of Persuasion this morning
    -To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney
    -Wicked Little Game by Christine Wells
    -An Innocent Courtesan by Elizabeth Beacon
    -The Price of Desire by Jo Goodman
    -The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourke
    -The Unbound/Hellhounds series by Lori Devoti
    -The Obedient Bride by Mary Balogh
    -Sweet Surrender by Maya Banks
    -Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
    -Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels by Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell
    -Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present by Lisa Appignanesi
    "... and several novellas with titles I won't mention..." - uh, yeah, me too.

    Oh, and I revisited The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner (book four comes out May 2010!), some Robin McKinleys, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

    And to answer your bookstore question, I'm going to one once I post this.

  21. I read more scifi than anything else although I will read a lot of other genres.

    This summer I've read:

    "Name of the Wind" Patrick Rothfuss
    "Lies of Locke Lamora" Scott Lynch
    "Red Skies" Scott Lynch
    Night Angel Trilogy, Brent Weeks
    "The Pretenders Crown" CE Murphy
    "Dead and Gone" Charlaine Harris
    "Marie Antoinette" Antonia Fraser
    "The Spanish Bow" Andromeda Romano-Lax

  22. I really like how everyone is reading a lot of classics and not-necessarily-new titles in their lists.

    Mine are:
    Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
    Strip Jack by Ian Rankin
    Bloody Confused! by Chuck Culpepper
    Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
    Guernsey Literary and PPP Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    The Black Book by Ian Rankin
    Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin
    Hooked by Les Edgerton
    and I started Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin.

  23. I recently read Ghostwritten and so was excited for a moment to see David Mitchell on your list! But Asterios Polyp (going on my list for sure, after going to the Amazon page) is David Mazzucchelli!

    Most of the below are reviewed at timsusman.blogspot.com:

    Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
    Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
    Moomin (vol 4) by Tove Jansson
    Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
    Strange Itineraries by Tim Powers
    An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
    The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
    2666 by Roberto Bolano

  24. The Count chewed up the better part of three months, but it was fantastic.

    *Choice of the Cat by E.E. Knight
    *Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight
    *The Cracked Throne by Joshua Palmatier
    *The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged)by Alexander Dumas
    *Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

    *Writing the Breakout Novel workbook by Donald Maass
    *The First Betrayal by Patricia Bray

  25. Hi Tim,

    You're quite right--I've corrected it (above). Don't know where I got Mitchell from...


  26. Karla-

    Hey! I fessed up first! Apparently everybody's reading it so I threw my hat in the ring and liked it. I have to say the Smart Bitches make me giggle and contributed heavily to my willingness to take the plunge. The Jinx wasn't the heaving bosoms, quivering member sort. If it's any indicator of what to expect in the genre, though, it's very character driven, which I like.

  27. Oh my - where do you all get the time?

    This year...

    Arthur and George (Barnes)
    The Book Thief (Zusak)
    If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (McGregor)
    Night Train to Lisbon (Mercier)
    The Secret Life of Bees (Monk Kidd)

    Poems from a Northern Soul (Siddique)(Collection)

    McCarthy's Bar (McCarthy)
    Life in The Third Reich (Bessel)
    The Hitler Myth (Kershaw)

    We've got Sedaris's When You are engulfed in Flames on our book club list for the coming year...

  28. I've not read nearly as many books as I wanted to so far this year... Oh well...

    The Russian Concubine - Kate Furnivall (engrossing)
    The Red Scarf - Kate Furnivall (not as good as the first, but still very entertaining)
    The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffeneger (HATED it. Don't even get me started.)
    The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (I read this every summer. It's my favorite book.)

    I'm currently not reading a book as school is about to start, but I'm sure I'll pick one up soon. :)

  29. My most fun book this summer was PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. I also enjoyed the Smart Bitches' BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS. I forced myself to read the Twilight books just to see the hubub (I write romance). Those were... um... sparkletastic. Or painful. One or the other.

  30. Laurel: thanks for mentioning The Jinx - now I want to read it! (Like my TBR pile really needs any more books!) I'm sure Sarah and Candy would be thrilled that they helped you become more willing to take the plunge :)

    Lucy: Those were... um... sparkletastic. Or painful. One or the other.

    I'd go with both: painfully sparkletastic/ sparkletastically painful. Speaking of SBTB, did you see the freezable sparkle dildo? *shudder*

  31. Niveau:

    I may have to seek therapy. Unspeakable.

  32. My favorite book this summer was THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett.

    I also read THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery. I never would have picked up this book--it was hand sold to me at an independent bookstore. Unusual but good.

    I just read the ARC of MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BACK DRESS by Rhoda Janzen (memoir).

  33. I'm happy to say that the books I've read and enjoyed so far this year far outweigh the ones I haven't enjoyed (which include a certain mega-selling vampire series...*shudder*). These ones stand out in my mind. The list is heavy on YA, which is what I write.

    -Flora's Dare, Ysabeau S. Wilce
    -Bellwether, Connie Willis
    -gods in Alabama, Joshilyn Jackson
    -Nation, Terry Pratchett
    -The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
    -The New Policeman, Kate Thompson
    -I, Coriander, Sally Gardner
    -The Merrybegot, Julie Hearn
    -Sorcery and Cecelia, Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
    -Little Grrl Lost, Charles deLint
    -Skellig, David Almond
    -The Dark Side of Nowhere, Neal Shusterman
    -Bloodchild, Tim Bowler
    -Bad Blood, Rhiannon Lassiter
    -Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

    I was amused to see that SM Schmidt is also currently reading the same book I am: The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones. Can't go wrong with her!

  34. Really enjoyed Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.

    I've been reading lots of science books for work; some are good, a few are slow (those go back!). I especially liked (?) Dark Banquet, which is about blood-eating critters (bats, leeches, etc).

    Just picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice, but have only gotten to...um, well, I'm still reading the preface. The start of school is exhausting!

  35. Ten most recent titles in myreading journal:

    *Beastly by Alex Flinn
    *Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
    *Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
    *The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
    *Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog
    *Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
    *Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
    *A Little Bit Wicked by Kristen Chenoweth
    *Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
    *Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

    And I'm currently in the middle of The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

  36. Just this past week or so I read the Green Rider series and very much enjoyed it. By very much enjoyed it I mean that I absolutly could not put them down until I finshed.

  37. Buffra re: The Beekeeper's Apprentice

    KEEP READING! You'll be hooked by the end of the first chapter. At least, I'm 99% sure. I love that book!!!

  38. my big find this summer was THE FABLES comics by Bill Willingham (I mean there are like 15 books so it's not like I can claim to have *discovered* them exactly, but wowza! Fables where have you been all my life?)

    also been rereading every NERO WOLFE book that Boston's used book stores can offer me

    also I would like to stamp approval all over whoever was read the PSMITH book up there^ (I am way too lazy to scroll up)


  39. Til We Have Faces - C.S. Lewis
    Perelandra - C.S. Lewis
    That Hideous Strength - C.S. Lewis
    Phantastes - George MacDonald
    Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    Churchill By Himself - Richard Langworth
    A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams

  40. I would recommend all of these:

    Shakespeare Wrote for Money - Hornby
    Monstrous Regiment - Pratchett
    Death Masks - Butcher
    Blood Rites - Butcher
    Dead Beat - Butcher
    Proven Guilty - Butcher
    Red Seas Under Red Skies - Lynch
    White Night - Butcher
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Chabon
    Watchmen - Moore
    Then We Came to the End - Ferris
    Halting State - Stross
    The Documents in the Case - Sayers
    Small Favor - Butcher
    The Demon and the City - Williams
    Thursday Next: First Among Sequels - Fforde
    Victory of Eagles - Novik
    The Currents of Space - Asimov
    The Riddle-Master of Hed - McKillip
    The Heir of Sea and Fire - McKillip
    Harpist in the Wind - McKillip
    The Family Trade - Stross
    Right Ho, Jeeves - Wodehouse
    Farthing - Walton

  41. hmm, except The Watchmen. I actually wouldn't *recommend* it.

  42. My favorite recent book: The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Although I don't mean to be a link whore, other recent reads are discussed in more detail at The Story's Story.

  43. Since June I've read:

    1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (no, not the Zombie one)
    2. A Wrinke in Time by Madeline L'Engle
    3. The Shack by William P. Young
    4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
    5. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
    6. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
    7. Howdunit - The Book of Poisons by Serita Stevens

  44. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
    Random Family by Adrian Nicole Leblanc
    America America by Ethan Canin
    The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
    In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    Beautiful Children by Charles Bock
    You've Got Nothing Coming by Jimmy Lerner

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  46. I've just finished three exceptional books:

    Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
    The Fan Tan Players by Julian Lees

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