The Otissito Review

Category: Reading

Total 18 Posts

Taking Stock of My Reading Loose Ends

Last year was a hell of a year for me in regards to reading, but as a result, I now have a very long list of books that I need to read so I can tie off the loose ends of series that I haven’t finished. Somewhere along the way I got caught reading the first or second books of a bunch of series without reading all the way through. It might have had to do with trying to keep things fresh while reading 100 books, or it might have been laziness. It’s probably a little bit of both if I’m being honest.

Going into 2014 I had series I hadn’t finished, then I added a bunch more, and now I’m sitting on a pile of… 24 separate series where I have at least one book, often more, that I need to finish in order to finish things. Some of these series are ones that are not fully published yet, but I want to be caught up with the most current book so it will be more manageable to stay current in the future. Across these 24 series are a total of… 67 books. Reading nothing but the books in this backlog could fill my entire 2015 on their own, leaving me with no room for new releases by my favorite authors or new books in series I am actually caught up on. It’s a very large conundrum for me. I don’t like leaving things unfinished in this regard, especially when I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read so far.

The real question is how I go about tackling such a bit list of books. I don’t really want to add to the backlog of unfinished series, so I’m working really hard at not starting any new ones that have more than one book currently published. So far I’m doing okay with that, but at some point I’m really going to want to read things like The Gentleman Bastards books, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I think the only feasible solution is to find some sort of middle compromise. If I can decide on some of the backlog I really want to read first and work to mix one or two of them into every month this year I think I can make some serious progress. For example, the following 11 books would catch me up or finish ten lingering series:

  • The Pillars of Sand by Mark T. Barnes
  • The Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
  • Fairest: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer
  • Symbiont by Mira Grant
  • Fragments by Dan Wells
  • Ruins by Dan Wells
  • Dragons of Spring Dawning by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  • iD by Madeline Ashby
  • The King by David Feintuch
  • The Mortality Doctrine: Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner
  • The Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore

If I were to focus my initial efforts on those ten books I would cut my unfinished series number by nearly 30% over just a few months. Sure, it isn’t like reading the last five books in a single series, which takes a lot more effort, but it would be measurable progress and put me in more comfortable position as far as numbers are concerned. After taking care of these one-offs I could just randomly pick a series with three or more books left and start methodically working my way through them.

Now, beyond the one-off books on the series backlog, there are a few series I’m very eager to actually get finished sometime soon.  Some of them have been on this list for a really long time, a couple of years in some cases:

  • The Unincorporated War by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
  • The Unincorporated Woman by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
  • The Unincorporated Future by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
  • Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn
  • Odd Girl Out by Timothy Zahn
  • The Domino Pattern by Timothy Zahn
  • Judgment at Proteus by Timothy Zahn

Those books are ones that definitely got left behind because I was rushing to read other things and then never managed to circle back. I’m an unabashed Timothy Zahn fan and I loved the first book of the Unincorporated series much more than I thought it would be.

However, there are some series in my backlog that will simply take forever to catch up on, things like the entire The Dark Tower series after the first book and the entire second half of the Dresden Files from the eighth book onward. I really like the Dresden Files books, but they all melt together when I read multiple in a row and I’m still rather skeptical of The Dark Tower books after having read the first one, but I sort of want to see what happens as the series progresses.

I think my end goal for 2015 is going to be to trim the backlog by about 50% if I can manage it. That would leave me with about 10-12 series left to finish and most of those would be the bigger ones and I’d feel a lot better about tackling them more slowly. If I can pull off that type of a reduction in series backlog this year I will be so happy with myself. Maybe I’ll even have the chance to start one or two new series that only have a couple of books and be current with them so I don’t add back to the list at any point.

Looking Back at February 2015

There is something to be said about reading exactly what you want to read at the pace you want to read it rather than reading things specifically chosen to assist in getting to a certain number of books read. I’ve been enjoying the chance to begin catching up on my very sizable reading list of books that got pushed to the side last year.

Halfway through the month I received a pleasant surprise when a favorite author of mine tweeted that the next book in his series was now available. I had no idea it was being written, let alone so near to being ready to read. I snatched it up very quickly so I could be sure to remain current with the series.

Here is what I read in February:

As you can see, the list is only four books long. I’m just getting back into the “regular reading” habit this past month and I’m not pressing so hard to read as much as last year. I do think that most months from this point on will probably have five or six though, at least I hope they do so I can make progress on my backlog of series to finish. Another interesting thing is that every single book I read in February was from the fantasy genre. I hadn’t realized that until I looked at the list. It’s been a long time since I went an entire month without touching science fiction.

My favorite book of the month was The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan, which turned out to be one of the best trilogy endings I’ve ever read. The King of the Vile was the very unexpected new installment to the Half-Orcs series. I really like that series and I really like everything written by David Dalglish, so having that book show up out of nowhere was a special treat for me.

The Obsidian Heart was a great second installment to a trilogy and I can’t wait to read the final book which is on my Kindle already. The world in that trilogy is very expansive and very robust, which makes it a little difficult for me to follow everything all the time, but I enjoy it all the same.

The last book from February, Fae: The Wild Hunt, was one that an author sent me for a review. It started out a little slow, but picked up speed in the second half. I’m excited to write the review for it and to pick up the second book at some point as it’s a trilogy as well.

For March I’m looking at trying to finish the Echoes of Empire trilogy by Mark T. Barnes and I have an advance copy of Michael J. Martinez’s The Venusian Gambit which I’m sure I’ll love. There is also a new Star Wars novel from the new canon that released yesterday and the sequel to Containment, a book by Christian Cantrell that I read several years ago and have been eagerly awaiting. That would get me to my “book a week” pace I’m trying to maintain as a minimum. I’d also like to squeeze in Golden Son by Pierce Brown and The Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, which would complete another trilogy and let me cross another entry off the backlog of series.

Looking Back at January 2015

From the time I finished my 101st book of 2014 to the writing of this post I confess to taking a very big break in regards to reading. I walked away from my Kindle, walked away from the blog for the most part, and generally just let my brain decompress. The last three months of 2014 were an absolute grind in order to meet my reading goal and I needed some serious time off.

So, what did I do? I picked up a book I had been wanting to read for months and read it at the most leisurely pace I could manage. Some days I didn’t read at all, some days I read for ten minutes, some days for half an hour. Not once did I force myself to read unless I was in the mood. I have no specific “number of books” reading goal for 2015, so making January a very light month mattered little in the grand scheme of things.

Here are the books I read in January:

As I tend to do every so often I also read some short fiction in January:

Despite reading only two full-length novels in January I feel like I got to read two really wonderful books without rushing my way through the pages. I had heard fantastic things about The Mirror Empire and wanted to wait until I could really focus on it before picking it up to read. Firefight is the sequel to Steelheart that I’ve been waiting eagerly to read.

Hindsight really is 20/20 and if I’m honest with myself I should have waited a little longer to read The Mirror Empire as it is a dense, deep, and very elaborate tale. I read little to no true epic fantasy in 2014 and making The Mirror Empire my first foray back into that realm was probably a poor decision. The learning curve on that book is immense for the first 100 pages or so, especially if you are out of practice with that kind of huge world building and cast of characters. I loved the book though, so all is well that ends well.

For February I’ll be trying to get back on the horse with a  book per week in order to keep myself in a pile of enough material to begin writing reviews again. I’m hoping to find the time to read Golden Son, The Autumn Republic, and The Mortal Heart if I can.

Looking Back at December 2014

December was the capstone month of 2014 for me to actually meet my goal of reading 100 books for the year. After the big October push, a solid November, and being able to see the finish line clearly I did manage to read the full 100 books. As a matter of fact, I even managed to sneak one extra book into the year and finish with a 101 book total.

There wasn’t anything earth-shaking about my book choices in December; I really just tried to pick things that I felt were not going to take much effort to read in the hopes of not falling short of my goal.

Here are the books I read in December:

It was nice to wrap up the Fablehaven series on the whole even if I was a little disappointed with how repetitive the plot points became towards the end in the last two or three books. They are decent books though and I won’t be surprised if my children end up reading them in a few years when they reach the appropriate age.

My favorites of the month were the new Legion novella (really a double-length novella which makes it a full novel in the end), and a surprise discovery in Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I gave Red Rising a try because my boss at work is an avid reader as well and he had recently finished it. He kept telling me to give it a try, and when I had time for one extra book at the end of the month I decided to see what he kept raving about. In my opinion, Red Rising is the book that Hunger Games always should have been. I lucked out because the sequel, Golden Son has just been released and I’ve already bought a copy.

I have a distinct feeling that January is going to be a very light month for me when it comes to reading because I’ll be honest, I’m burnt out after the slog to 100 books (a separate post on that entire ordeal to come later). I need to take a break and evaluate what I want my reading priorities to be for 2015 after such an intense 2014.

Looking Back at November 2014

After such a successful October getting back on pace with my reading goal I had a very busy November with work and family obligations as well as the launch of the most recent World of Warcraft expansion. I went into the month knowing that the last two weeks were going to be a nightmare as far as reading was concerned, so I needed to load up on completed books in the first two weeks. I think I was rather successful all told.

I managed to finish November with 95 total books complete. My intent was to finish with 100 and take the entire month of December off from reading to decompress after the hard push over the last few months. That was a bit of a pipe dream though, and going into December with only five books remaining is absolutely wonderful at this point. Two months ago I feared I would need nearly 20 books in December alone to finish my goal.

As it stands, I can read my last few books without a lot of pressure and probably finish well before the end of the month, giving myself at least a little break before next year begins breathing down my neck.

Here are the books I read in November:

Along the way I also read a new novella:

I enjoyed everything I read this month, none of the books left me feeling unfulfilled or disappointed in any fashion. The one thing I did notice is that the Fablehaven series is really not well suited to being read back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I should have spaced those first four books out with others in between. I’ve made a point of not reading the fifth book until I read a few other things so that I can cleanse my reading palate a bit.

For December I will be reading the final Fablehaven book just to be sure I finish the series off and don’t leave myself hanging. I’ll also be reading the last two books in a trilogy from the Dragonlance universe I started a very long time ago. Then there is the final book of the His Fair Assassin trilogy and I’ll finish off my 100 books by reading the one my wife wrote even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the science fiction and fantasy genres.