Sunday 23 December 2012

The Existential Ennui Review of the Year in Books and Comics, 2012: A Big Long List of the Books I Read This Year

It's the end of the year as we knew it, and I feel... bloody knackered, actually, to tell you the truth. But that's by the by – it's the fact that 2012 is rapidly drawing to a close that's the pertinent point here, because we're at the midway mark of the three-pronged assault on your senses – well, one of your senses; you can neither hear, smell, taste nor touch me, although I will allow you to do all four of those things for a substantial fee – that is the Existential Ennui Review of the Year in Books and Comics. And that in turn means that it's time for a big long list of the books I read this year – an exercise perhaps even more arbitrary and pointless than the misty-eyed navel-gazing missive which kicked off this end-of-the-year extravaganza. After all, who but me really cares what the hell I've read this year? And anyway, if you've been following Existential Ennui throughout 2012, you'll probably already know, seeing as I've blogged about most of these books this year, as evidenced by the links provided below.

Not all of them, though: there are a number I never got round to writing about – graphic novels mostly, but some novels too. So, y'know... there's that...

Oh, who am I kidding: there really is no justification for a self-centred, self-serving post such as this, so let's just get on with it. Here, then, for anyone who remotely cares, is a big long list of the books I read this year, in the order in which I read them:

Game Without Rules by Michael Gilbert
Shockwave by Desmond Cory
Assignment to Disaster by Edward S. Aarons
One Endless Hour by Dan J. Marlowe
Secret Ministry by Desmond Cory
Operation Fireball by Dan J. Marlowe
Raylan by Elmore Leonard
Jimmy the Kid by Donald E. Westlake
What it Was by George Pelecanos
My Silent War by Kim Philby
The Human Factor by Graham Greene
Rogue Justice by Geoffrey Household
Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring
A Rough Shoot by Geoffrey Household
Song of Freedom by Jeremy Duns
Tales of Adventurers by Geoffrey Household
I Gave at the Office by Donald E. Westlake
The Moscow Option by Jeremy Duns
Spandex: Fast and Hard by Martin Eden
The 9th Directive by Adam Hall
Trust Me on This by Donald E. Westlake
Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn
Picture of Millie by P. M. Hubbard
A Game for the Living by Patricia Highsmith
This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith
Other Paths to Glory by Anthony Price
Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death by Tucker Coe (Donald E. Westlake)
Richard Stark's Parker in The Score by Darwyn Cooke
Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean
Death Wish by Brian Garfield
Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard
The Chase by Richard Unekis
Deliverance by James Dickey
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins
Murder Among Children by Tucker Coe (Donald E. Westlake)
Goliath by Tom Gauld
The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart
The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell
Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
361 by Donald E. Westlake
Killing Time by Donald E. Westlake
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Hit Man by Lawrence Block
A Thirsty Evil by P. M. Hubbard
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
Restless by William Boyd
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (reread)
Ripley Under Ground by Patricia Highsmith (reread)
Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith (reread)
The Big H by Bryan Peters
Amateur Agent by Christopher Adams
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (reread)
Dance of the Dwarfs by Geoffrey Household
Commander-1 by Peter George
The Volcanoes of San Domingo by Adam Hall
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Big Bounce by Elmore Leonard
The Sound of His Horn by Sarban
The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald
The Green Wound by Philip Atlee
King City by Brandon Graham

That gives us a grand total of sixty-four books, which is pretty good going, I think – more than last year (forty-eight), not as many as the year before (sixty-nine), and almost certainly more than I'll manage next year, for one reason or another. And of those sixty-four books: fifty-two were novels, eight were graphic novels, three were short story collections and one was a work of non-fiction; twenty-three I would describe as crime fiction, eighteen as spy fiction and the rest a mixture of thrillers, science fiction and I guess what you'd call literary works; seven were written by Donald E. Westlake (eight if you count Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of The Score), five by Patricia Highsmith and four by Geoffrey Household, with three each by Dan J. Marlowe and Elmore Leonard, and two each by Desmond Cory, Jeremy Duns, Adam Hall, P. M. Hubbard and Peter George (alias Bryan Peters); thirteen were published in 2012 itself, with the remainder published across the preceding sixty years; and four I'd read before.

And among those sixty-four books, there were ten that I thought were the finest ones I read in 2012 – ten books which will form the basis of the final post not only of the Existential Ennui Review of the Year in Books and Comics, but on Existential Ennui overall this year.

Now that really is reason to get excited.

Merry Christmas!


  1. This is an excellent reading list. If I were stranded on a desert isle with just what you read in 2012, I would be very happy.

    I read five of the same books this year and eight in other years. Did you like Sweet Tooth? You're pulling ahead of me on P.M. Hubbard and read some obscure Westlakes that I don't have. I did, all credit to you, read and love all five Tucker Coe books this year. And I never knew about Tom Arnauld and am very interested in reading him. I'm eagerly awaiting your top ten list.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Thanks, BG. A very Happy Christmas to you and yours!

    I liked Sweet Tooth, but it did frustrate me too: I found Serena rather drippy – which I guess you could put down to the eventual reveal, but even so... I decided to read William Boyd's Restless straight after, which is both a better novel and a better spy novel, with two very strong female leads.

  3. Wow--I read six of those books this year. The one I read because of you was "Operation Fireball", since you got me onto the Drake novels. I was into the whole Westlake/Stark /Coe thing already, but it's sure been nice being able to discuss the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity here.

    I gave my mother three Westlakes for Christmas, including "Trust Me on This", which I'd just read myself. Also a Dortmunder, and "God Save the Mark". She doesn't like Kindle, and she needs large type, so that narrows the available choices. Mom is not the most discriminating reader I know, but she's been reading crime fiction a lot longer than me, and she's digging Westlake thus far. She'd never heard of him before, which gives you an idea of how isolated his cult remains, after all these years, and all those books.

    I'm thinking maybe I won't introduce her to Parker. I don't think any of the Tobins ever had large type editions published.

    If there's a point to this story, it's that finding people to discuss books that aren't Harry Potter or However Many Shades of Grey can be challenging. Thanks for giving us this place to be different. Happy Christmas. :)