I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution guy, but I do normally write down a few goals for the coming year. One of my entries this time last year was to read 24-30 books in 2004. I passed the lower end of that threshold in May and was sitting at 36 books the day M.¬†was born. Not a bad year, although it sure helped to travel to the West Coast on a regular basis for six months and to live with a woman who works 2-3 overnight shifts a week. I think my goal will be a little less ambitious this year, as I’ve discovered it’s pretty much impossible to knock off three books a week when you’ve got a little one. A couple observations:

This number is actually a little low from what I read in total, as I didn’t include the numerous baby and computer books I’ve read in a manner other than cover-to-cover. There are at least five baby books I read 90% of, as well as four other Mac books I’ve knocked 75-80% out of the way as I’ve taught myself how to use my new computing platform. However, since none were finished, I don’t count them.

Interesting that my year began and ended with the same book. I got Wolves of the Calla last Christmas and read it as soon as I completed the book I started in late ’03. With the release of the last two books in the Dark Tower series this year, I decided to start from book one before I knocked them off. I just closed the back cover of Wolves for the second time this morning.

Without a doubt my book of the year is Fortress of Solitude. Every year there are a few buzz novels that everyone seems to be reading. Fortress didn’t sell at the same level as The DiVinci Code, but it certainly garnered a lot of attention at its release. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. A fantastic tale. Language that is so beautiful to read it almost hurts. Absolute perfect spirit of the times translated to fiction. I spoke to a couple readers on my trip to Kansas City who are either reading it now, or had just finished it. I was glad to hear they agreed that it was a phenomenal work. My highest of high recommendations.

Next to Fortress, the book that moved me most was Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey. Reasonable people can argue about any foreign policy action of the United States. There is no justification for not taking steps to end what is probably the purest example of genocide the modern world has seen. Stalin and Hitler were evil men who took great pains to kill efficiently. The evil doers in Rwanda were far worse, in my opinion, because they didn’t use gas, electricity, or other methods to kill large numbers of people with minimal effort. In Rwanda, young men were handed crude machetes made from scrap metals then paraded through villages hacking people’s heads open until no one was left living. It was medieval killing in modern times, and everyone in the West should be ashamed we allowed almost a million people to die in less than three months.

I’ve still got quite a list of books I’d like to read, and I add to it constantly. I’ve got roughly 1000 pages left in the Dark Tower saga, then I hope to add some more variety to the list in ’05. Hopefully you can find something here that interests you. If you need a synopsis or recommendations, let me know.

1 Wolves of the Calla – Stephen King
2 Milk It! – Jim DeRogatis
3 Imagining Argentina – Lawrence Thornton
4 Drinking, Smoking, & Screwing: Good Writers on Good Times
5 Out of Sight – Elmore Leonard
6 Joe College – Tom Perrotta
7 Sellevision – Augusten Burroughs
8 The Expectant Father – Armin Brott
9 Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis
10 Rum Punch – Elmore Leonard
11 Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane
12 Plainclothes Naked – Jerry Stahl
13 In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz – Michela Wrong
14 Breakfast on Pluto – Patrick McCabe
15 Gun, With Occasional Music – Jonathan Letham
16 Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded – Simon Winchester
17 Little Green Men – Christopher Buckley
18 Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey – Fergal Keane
19 Black Hawk Down – Mark Bowden
20 Nine Innings – Daniel Okrent
21 Moneyball – Michael Lewis
22 Foul Ball – Jim Bouton
23 Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs – John Lydon
24 Thieves in High Places – Jim Hightower
25 The Boys of Summer – Roger Kahn
26 Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
27 The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
28 Lies & The Lying Liars Who Tell Them – Al Franken
29 The Fortress of Solitude – Jonathan Letham
30 What’s the Matter With Kansas? – Thomas Frank
31 McCarthy’s Bar – Pete McCarthy
32 The Sweet Forever – George Pelecanos
33 The Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
34 Mac OS X for Windows Users – David Coursey
35 I Was Right On Time – Buck O’Neil
36 The White House Mess – Christopher Buckley
37 Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman
38 Wilco: Learning How to Die – Greg Kott
39 The Partly Cloudy Patriot – Sarah Vowell
40 The Gunslinger – Stephen King
41 The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King
42 The Wastelands – Stephen King
43 Wizard and Glass – Stephen King
44 Wolves of the Calla – Stephen King