November 26th, 2013

  • jontlaw

50 Books 2013

This is the third consecutive year that I've completed the challenge. However, it is the first year that I have done so without needing to read on New Year's Eve to do it. And my page count is slightly up! Considering that I always read double digits in December, I think 60 should be easy to reach. Certainly something to be thankful for.

Part of the impetus for this year's choices was my obvious obsession with Sherlock Holmes pastiches, accounting for 22 books. Another was my growing interest in Steampunk literature, accounting for 11 more. Also, in August I joined This year, they challenged their members to read a science fiction, fantasy, or horror book by twelve different female authors that they had never read before. You can see this influence take over with book #34, and continue through #50.

1. Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, by Larry Millett
2. Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders, by Larry Millett
3. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice from the Crypt, by Donald Thomas
4. Murder at the Vatican: the Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, by Ann Margaret Lewis
5. The Ghosts In Baker Street, edited by Martin H. Greenberg
6. Sherlock Holmes and the Houdini Birthright, by Val Andrews
7. Fire-Tongue, by Sax Rohmer (Kindle edition)
8. Brood of the Witch-Queen, by Sax Rohmer (Kindle edition)
9. Bat-Wing, by Sax Rohmer (Kindle edition)
10. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel, by Alan Moore
11. Heroes and Monsters: the Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Jess Nevins
12. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 2 graphic novel, by Alan Moore
13. A Blazing World: An Unofficial Companion to the Second LXG, by Jess Nevins
14. As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires, by Bruce Weber
15. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Peerless Peer, by Philip Jose Farmer
16. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds, by Manly Wade Wellman
17. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Giant Rat of Sumatra, by Richard Boyer
18. The Seven Per Cent Solution, by Nicholas Meyer
19. The West End Horror, by Nicholas Meyer
20. Murder, My Dear Watson: New Tales of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Martin Greenberg
21. Night Watch: A Long Lost Tale in which Sherlock Holmes meets Father Brown, by Stephen Kendrick
22. The Case of the Philosopher's Ring, by Randall Collins
23. Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery, by Larry Millett
24. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance by, Larry Millett
25. The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes, by Larry Millett
26. The Canary Trainer, by Nicholas Meyer
27. The Bobby Gold Stories, by Anthony Bourdain
28. Savages, by Don Winslow
29. I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive, by Steve Earle
30. Shadows Over Baker Street, edited by Michael Reaves
31. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Angel of the Opera, by Sam Siciliano
32. Murder in Baker Street: New Tales of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Martin Greenberg
33. Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, edited by Mike Resnick
34. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
35. the Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, by A.S. Byatt
36. the Giver, by Lois Lowery
37. A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin
38. The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. LeGuin
39. The Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. LeGuin
40. The Faded Sun: Kesrith, by C.J. Cherryh
41. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
42. Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
43. The Alchemy of Stone, by Ekaterina Sedia
44. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
45. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
46. The Iron Wyrm Affair, by Lilith Saintcrow
47. Soulless, by Gail Carriger
48. Changeless, by Gail Carriger
49. Blameless, by Gail Carriger
50. Heartless, by Gail Carriger

Book #64: A Good Parcel of English Soil by Richard Mabey

Number of pages: 96

According to the back cover, this book addresses the notion: “That nature’s canniness will always trump techno hubris”, and throughout you can tell that writer Richard Mabey has a keen interest in naturalism.

This book centres largely around London’s Metropolitan Railway and talks about how it was intitially constructed, and how it connected the urban centre of London with the suburbs and surrounding countryside. The historical stuff is fascinating, and I got the sense that this book was well-researched.

The second half of this book is largely about the subject of nature, and particularly about Mabey’s own experiences growing up living in the countryside; I particularly enjoyed the vivid depiction of an incident where he and his friends had to be rescued from sinking into mud. Along with a brief commentary on the planned High Speed 2 rail line, this turns into an essay on nature the impact that urbanisation has on it.

I loved the way that the writer uses language throughout the book, and he seems to have quite a way with words (talking about the railway coming to “a ceremonious full stop against a set of buffers”), and there is a very upbeat feel to it.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book, and it didn’t just feel like something for the naturalists or the hippies.

Next book: Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett)