Monday, December 23, 2013

2013: The year that wasn’t

2013 has not been a good year for reading. I read fewer than fifty books, fifty comic books, fifty short stories, and fifty vintage magazines and anthologies. I’ve done better in the past, in my pre-blogging days (who didn’t?). I liked most of the books I read.

I also ‘rediscovered’ chess towards the end of the year. Time spent on playing the game cost me a few books.

The best sitcom of the year

On the other hand, I watched more than fifty movies and sitcoms, including reruns of nearly all the seasons of Friends, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Everybody Loves Raymond, and David Suchet’s Poirot, though I reviewed fewer than that many. I’d do well to pay heed to Groucho Marx's saying, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Instead of mentioning all the books, comic books, and short stories I read and the films I saw during the year, which doesn’t amount to much, I’ll list the ones I thought were good. They have been reviewed elsewhere on this blog.


The best book cover
Three Young Ranchmen by Captain Ralph Bonehill (1901)

The Girl from Sunset Ranch by Amy Bell Marlowe (1914)

Buchanan’s Siege by Jonas Ward (1973)

Hard Texas Winter by Preston Lewis (1981)

Blade: The Navaho Trail by Matt Chisholm (1981)

Vultures in the Sun by Brian Garfield (1987)

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)

Detective Mystery
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (1924)

The Snake by Mickey Spillane (1964)

In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (1965)

All the Lonely People by Martin Edwards (1991)


The Trojan Horse by Hammond Innes (1940)

Hell Is Too Crowded by Jack Higgins (1962)

A Stranger in the Family by Robert Barnard (2010)

The Athena Project by Brad Thor (2011)

A Dog of Flanders by Marie Louise de la Ramée (1872)

The Hessian by Howard Fast (1972)

Tales From Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry (1987)

The Big Fix by Vikas Singh (2013)


The best short story cover
The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale (1863)

The Shining Pyramid by Arthur Machen (1895)

The Mysterious Card and The Mysterious Card Unveiled by Cleveland Moffett (1896)

The Man Upstairs and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse (1914)

The Killers by Ernest Hemingway (1927)

The Draw by Jerome Bixby (1954)

The Name Is Archer by Ross Macdonald (1955)

The Book Case by Nelson DeMille (2011)


The best comic book cover
Action Comics #1 (1938)

American Comics Group: Skeleton Hand — Secrets of the Supernatural (1952)

Scream: Skywald Horror-Mood Magazine (1973)

Marvel: Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk (1981)

DC: Batman & Spider-Man (1997)

Additionally, I also read non-fiction, notably The Penguin Book of Comics by George Perry and Alan Aldrige (1967) and In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler (2010) as well as a few books on philosophy.


The best film poster
Ants in the Plants (1940)
Posse from Hell (1961)
In The Heat of the Night (1967)
The Devil's Brigade (1968)
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Just Between Friends (1986)
The Next Three Days (2010)
Salt (2010)
The Descendants (2011)
The Dilemma (2011)
Captain Phillips (2013)
Thor (2013)

The only plan I have for next year is to read more, especially the classics and other literary fiction, and watch fewer movies and sitcoms unless they’re vintage, superhero, animated or musical.


  1. You've done well across a whole range of media/mediums (which is it?), Prashant. Look forward to more of the same from you next year!

    1. Col, thank you. I plan to read more detective-mystery next year. That was my plan this year too but it didn't work out as I thought it would.

  2. Are you being ironic calling POIROT a sit-com? Sounds like a slam to me. I've only seen a few of the episodes from that series which was based on the short stoires. Too many of the adaptations of the novels fall short of the originals but I thought HALLOWE'EN PARTY and TAKEN AT THE FLOOD were well done even with the slight changes.

    1. John, good point! I stand corrected. I didn't realise the slip-up until I'd captioned the poster and by then it was too late. Since I watched POIROT on television I simply clubbed it with the actual sitcoms. I don't recall seeing the two adaptations you mentioned.

  3. AMAZING, the magazine where Jerome Bixby's "The Draw" first appeared, had a lot of good illustration in the early '50s, its biggest-budget period before TSR decided to sink some money into it decades later...not so much a cover as accompaniment.

  4. The HTML option displays the actual cover of this issue, as well as the text of the story and William Ashman's several illustrations. Robert Arthur has a story in that issue, as does Walter Miller...

    1. Todd, I used the cover of the AMAZING magazine in my review of THE DRAW and borrowed the illustrations from the link you shared above. However, I wasn't able to trace the entire magazine online and read some of the other stories by Robert Arthur and Walter Miller (both new to me) which I'll probably find separately elsewhere.

  5. I've always wanted to like the Buchanan books better than I do.

    1. Charles, I liked the only Buchanan western I read this year and I aim to read the rest in the series,

  6. That is a very impressive total chum - well done! Have a great 2014.

    1. Sergio, thank you! Books-wise I certainly hope to make 2014 a better year than this one. I hope you have a great New Year too!

  7. Replies
    1. Mystica, thank you. I wish you and your family peace and happiness!

  8. Merry X'Mas, Prashant, and Happy Reading in 2014.

    1. Neer, thank you. Happy Reading to you too in 2014. You'd a good run of books this year and I look forward to more surprises in the new year.

  9. Prashant: You are too modest. You have an impressive list of reading accomplished. I think bloggers narrow their concept of reading too much when they of books as the primary measurement of reading.

    I started to play some online chess last winter. I liked the experience but it seems I run out of time each day and have not kept up with the computer chess.

    1. Bill, thank you for the kind words. I'm disappointed that I didn't read as many books as I'd planned, which was well above the fifty mark. I think it's easier and faster to read more books in one or two genres than to try and read from nearly every category, which may have set me back at least by a dozen books.

      I mostly play chess online (with other nameless and faceless players) and on computer. It helps me keep in touch with the greatest game ever invented.

  10. I think you had a great year in 2013, Prashant. You read two books I hope to read in 2014: In the Heat of the Night and All the Lonely People. Last year when I visited my mother in Alabama, I watched a lot of reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. We love Big Bang Theory, watch it on DVD, and re-watch now and then.

    1. Tracy, thank you too! You'll like both the books you mentioned. The John Ball novel can be read inside of two or three hours. I also hope to read more books by Martin Edwards. EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND has long been a favourite in the family and we never tire of watching it.

  11. Happy Boxing Day, Prashant! And let me note that John Ball was so unthrilled by the changes to IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT for the film (though I think the film excellent, even with the tampering) that he set the next Tibbs novel in a nudist colony, making it all but unfilmable as a serious film (the Inspector Clouseau sequel comedy A SHOT IN THE DARK did some pretty elaborate choreography to show just so much skin and no more, several years earlier).

    1. Todd, thank you. I didn't know John Ball was not happy with the film version although I admit I didn't see much difference between the two. I agree the film was excellent and I think Poitier and Steiger made all the difference. I haven't read any of the other Virgil Tibbs novels.

  12. You have excellent taste in books and comics. We are simpatico. And spending time on chess is one of my hobbies. I play on Red Hot Pawn.

    1. David, thank you for the appreciation. That might well be my undoing in so far as reading more is concerned. I love chess—what a game! Thanks for mentioning Red Hot Pawn. I'll check it out today itself.

  13. Impressive lists. I'm trying to find a way to fit more movies in. I've only watched a handful this year.

    1. Kelly, thank you very much. I want to see more films made in the mid-20th century, particularly noir and other thrillers. Of course, books will take precedence in 2014.