I read almost forty books this year. That’s a great deal for me, considering how much I write. Hell, in 2012, I only read fifteen books. I read at an average speed, but I take my time with really good stories. I taste each and every sentence, like a chef-in-training trying to discern a recipe. I want to know how the author created their little slice of magic. Because that’s all good storytelling is – sleight of hand and other illusions. We authors keep our tricks close to our chests. But a good writer should be able to spot a great trick and learn from it.
NIGHT FILM and NOS4A2 ride high above the others on this list. I went back and forth (still am bouncing to and fro) in deciding which book is my all-time favorite. This doesn’t mean JACK & JILL, JOYLAND, and COREYOGRAPHY weren’t amazing books, only that Pessl and Hill managed to knock Stephen King’s IT from its top stop, which it had retained for nigh on twenty years, since I first read it as a teenager.
Speaking of King, I was sorely disappointed in DOCTOR SLEEP, so JOYLAND was a breath of fresh air. King’s Hardcase Crime Novel (which doesn’t fit in that genre at all) captured, once again, that magic I felt while reading “The Body” and IT. King writes youth well. He always has, and even though the MC in JOYLAND is in his early twenties, he has a young man’s heart, the aura of a teenager. If I had to number this list, JOYLAND would be number three, while NOS4A2 and NIGHT FILM are tied at number one.
Kealan Patrick Burke scared the shit out of me this year. First, THE TENT made it all too clear that I wouldn’t be going camping anytime in the next decade (the time I believe it would take for me to forget Burke’s titular otherworldly creature), but, as soon as I started reading JACK & JILL, I knew it would replace THE TENT in my top five.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention to my reviews in 2013, you’ll remember I only gave COREYOGRAPHY 3.5 stars. I did so because I don’t believe Feldman actually wrote the book. Also, the writing was inconsistant, at time redundant, and overall wishy-washy, but the story Feldman tells is a captivating one. One that I, unfortunately, still think about.
Honorable Mentions (aka Books I read in 2013 that were not published in 2013):
DELIVERANCE, by James Dickey
HORNS, by Joe Hill
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, by Neil Gaiman
DESERT PLACES and RUN, both by Blake Crouch
SANDMAN SLIM, by Richard Kadrey
DARK PASSAGE, by Griffin Hayes
HELL’S MUSE, by Jack Wallen (This book deserves far more readers!)
Re-Reads That Lived Up To The First Read-Through:
THE HOBBIT, by J.R.R.Tolkien
THE STAND, by Stephen King
Books That Shit The Bed (aka Books that disappointed me to the point I wanted to throttle the author)
DEEPLY ODD, WILDERNESS, and INNOCENCE, all by my former hero, Dean (Shoulda kept the R. in your name) Koontz. Seriously, did you have a stroke nobody told us about? What the holy fuck happened to you, man?
DOCTOR SLEEP, by Stephen King. This book was sooooo good, until the last thirty percent. Then, in classic King style, he phoned in the ending. The reader never has a chance to be worried for Dan or Abra. Abra is so overpowered; she’s like a bored-out 350 in a Pontiac Fiero – you’re just waiting for it to explode, `cause you know it’s going to be awesome, but the all it does is fizzle-the-fuck out and you’re left holding your rage boner, like, what the flying fornication just happened? Luckily, JOYLAND rocked my socks.
FLUKE, by Christopher Moore. After reading my introduction to Moore, THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE, I was riding high on a wave of awesome. Then FLUKE came along and knocked me off my figurative surf board, drowning me in an ocean of boring. Not funny, not endearing, not remotely intelligent, not finished. I dropped this deuce after page 100, 101 pages too late.
GAME OF THRONES, by George R.R. Martin. Watch the HBO series. That is all.
PIGMY, by Chuck Palahniuk. I know what you were going for Chuck, but no. Just… no.
And last but not least, anything by that Edward Lorn motherfucker. Seriously, have you read his shit? You should, just to see how bad it is.
On a serious note: I had a great year, mostly because you wonderful bunch of crazies read my books, followed my nonsense on social media, and listened to me rant on my various blogs. I’m not shit without a readership aside from a dude sitting at a computer, talking to himself. You allow the magic to happen. Because magic without an audience is boring – the only unsatisfying masturbation there is. Thank you for a wonderful 2013. Love yo face, and everything else about you. Here’s to all the wild and chaotic bullshit 2014 has to offer.