a couple of years ago

What I read (and what I don’t)

What I read: The SympathizerIf you dip into this blog with any frequency, or you subscribe to my weekly newsletter, you already know that I’m both selective and eclectic in choosing books to , read and review. For the record, then, I’ll sum up here what I read (and what I don’t). I’m doing this, in part, because I frequently receive requests from authors or publishers to review books I would never consider reading.

BTW, keep in mind that I only review books once I’ve read them from beginning to end. Despite the care I take to select only books I think I’ll find interesting, I start reading but never finish a significant number of books.

The topics I tend to focus on are as follows:

  • popular nonfiction, particularly books about history, science, biography, espionage, politics, and business
  • mysteries and thrillers, especially detective novels, spy stories, courtroom dramas, police procedurals, and psychological thrillers
  • science fiction, including hard SF, dystopian novels, alternate history, and space opera
  • recent bestselling novels, especially historical fiction and humor

And here are the categories of books I DO NOT read or review:

  • sports
  • poetry
  • food
  • romance
  • horror
  • fantasy
  • whodunits
  • self-help
  • art
  • literary criticism
  • graphic novels
  • essays
  • short stories

In the category of mysteries and thrillers, there are certain series of novels I’ve read in the past—in some cases, extensively—but have elected not to read anymore. These include:

  • Patricia Cornwell‘s Kay Scarpetta books: The characters got on my nerves.
  • Arnaldur Indridiason‘s Inspector Erlendur series: Boring.
  • Louise Penny‘s cozy mysteries set in Three Pines: How many murders can there be in a small Quebec village? And why is the same senior policeman investigating all of them?
  • The Dr. Siri Paiboun series by Colin Cotterill: The supernatural elements are distracting and unconvincing.
  • Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series: These are formulaic novels that put the whole concept of formula to shame. Stephanie’s car seems to explode in every novel.
  • The Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva: As a kid, I enjoyed the James Bond novels. But the same brand of over-the-top heroes and villains is simply boring to me now.
  • Cara Black‘s Aimee Leduc novels: The plots are interesting, and I enjoyed the early entries in the series, but the writing has gotten sloppy.
  • David Downing‘s Jack McColl series: Too many improbable events.
  • Donna Leon‘s Commissario Brunetti series: The first several books in the series are excellent. The later ones, not so much.

For what it’s worth, now you know what I read (and what I don’t).

For further reading

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Happy reading!

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