In 2013 and 2014 I read on the bus and finished 28 and 33 books, respectively. Reading looked to be a casualty in my first year of retirement; I had so many interests I found it difficult to find time to sit down and read. In February I finished a book I had started at the end of 2013, but didn’t finish another book until June! But I rediscovered the joy of reading and finished with a total of 15.
- Book count: 15
- Author count: 22
I read 9 authors as part of my Southern Short Story project which I counted as one book
- Fiction: 9
- Non Fiction: 6
- Baseball: 1
- War/WWII: 2
- Biography: 1
- Essays: 1
- Crime: 1
- Average rating: 3.40
Surprising book of the year: Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
An intriguing, fantastical, exploration of what our lives might be after death. (Spoiler alert)
- What if we live our life backwards after death? Going forward we create a narrative of our life to fit our memories of the past. But those memories may be flawed leaving us confounded when the future/past facts don’t line up with our sense of self.
- What if we hang around in a temporary afterlife until there is no more mention of you on earth. How quickly would you move on?
These stories show us how we can think of our lives in the present.
Favorite non fiction book of the year: The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro
This was my only 5 star rated book this year. It gave me a whole new perspective on Shakespeare, showing that he was not just an artist for the ages but a man of his time.
Favorite fiction book of the year: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
To paraphrase my old work mate Jeff W.: I love me some Elizabeth Strout and not just a little bit.
For only the second time in seven years I didn’t finish my reading year with A Christmas Carol. Wow.
I’m still frustrated by the difficulty of creating meaningful tables/spreadsheets in my blog; it was hard in Blogspot as well. Here is a rudimentary effort; to see all the book reports, click here.
|Abide With Me||Elizabeth Strout||3||Fiction|
|The Boys of Summer||Roger Kahn||3||Non Fiction|
|The Naked and The Dead||Norman Mailer||4||Non Fiction|
|In Cold Blood||Truman Capote||4||Non Fiction|
|Helmet for my Pillow||Robert Leckie||3||Non Fiction|
|Moby Dick||Herman Melville||3||Fiction|
|Southern Short Stories||Various||4||Fiction|
|Olive Kitteridge||Elizabeth Strout||4||Fiction|
|All the Little Live Things||Wallace Stegner||3||Fiction|
|The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606||James Shapiro||5||Biography|
|The Dick Gibson Show||Stanley Elkin||2||Fiction|
|Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives||David Eagleman||4||Non Fiction|
|That Old Ace in the Hole||Annie Proulx||3||Fiction|
|Things We Set on Fire||Deborah Reed||3||Fiction|
|Inherent Vice||Thomas Pynchon||3||Fiction|
2016 Reading Goals
In the past three years I’ve read a lot of Alice McDermott, Elizabeth Strout, and Annie Proulx – in fact I have two books on my virtual nightstand now. But, as I say every year, I want to branch out a bit.
- Read at least one theology book. I used to read theology regularly but haven’t gone there in a while. My favorite authors are Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. I think How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis Through Revelation will be just what I want. It looks to address the very question that vexes me: how can we reconcile the non violent preaching of Jesus with the view of an angry God.
- Read at least one history book on American history between Reconstruction and World War II or the depression. I’ve been waiting for literally years for that volume in the Oxford History of the United States series; I think I’ll have to move on to something else. I’ve settled on American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism 165-1900
- Read another of James Shapiros books on Shakespeare: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599
- Finish the book I started last year on my Sony A77ii camera.
- Read a non-recipe cookbook? I’ve read some of J. Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science as well as a couple of barbecue books. This resolution is tentative: I’m not committed to reading the whole thing.
- Indulge my Southern fiction love: read at least one William Faulkner novel. I haven’t decided between Intruder in the Dust or the Sound and the Fury.
Those books plus my two novels lined up will get me to my annual goal of 8 books – 1 every six weeks.