2017 Reading Summary

January is always a little exciting for me since it gives me a chance to review my year of reading. I set a lot of goals for my 2016 year of reading  – both numbers and types of books too read. These goals led me to read when I could have been enjoying life in other ways. As a result I set no formal goals for 2017.

Nevertheless, there is a theme to a subset of the non-fiction works. Like many I was gobsmacked by  Trump’s election. Obviously I had been living in a bubble (may still be) so I wanted to see if I could understand what his base and the Tea Party  is thinking. I don’t pretend this is a thorough study of the issue; but it served as  a starting point for me.

To that end I read:

  • Thank You For Being Late. Thomas Friedman describes the three disruptive forces that are making things worse for the unprepared: climate change, global markets, and increasingly advance computerization and networking. My take is that Trump’s base is trying to stop those changes – that will not work. As Friedman says: you can’t build a wall to stop a hurricane; you need to get in the eye.
  • Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. I don’t think Trump followers are on drugs; but having heard Sam Quinones on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, I knew he had a lot to say on middle America culture
  • Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance lived that working poor life in Ohio. He escaped that life through the U.S. Marines and law school. He doesn’t think the liberal solutions are effective. If you want a shorthand version of his story and viewpoint; listen to the June 29, 2016 podcast from On Point Radio (WBUR Boston) entitled “Poverty, Religion, and American Frustration”
  • Strangers In Their Own Land. Arlie Russell Hothschild looks at the issue through the “keyhole” topic of pollution in Louisiana. Even though pollution is ruining the state, the loyalists, cowboys, and religious don’t want to turn agains the industries that provide the jobs; even though the jobs are increasingly being automated.

The biggest reading joy came from Eventide by Kent Haruf; the middle book of the Plainsong series. It’s the most touching book I’ve read since Terms of Endearment back in the 1980s. The McPheron bachelor farmer brothers are given a chance at love and make the most of it.

Links in the table go to my blog post of the book.

2017 Reading List
Count Title Author Rating Type
1 Thank You For Being Late Thomas L. Friedman ★★★★★ Non Fiction
2 Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic Sam Quinones ★★★★ Non Fiction
3 All That’s Left to Tell Daniel Lowe ★★ Fiction
4 Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero Ed Ward ★★★ Biography
5 Anything is Possible Elizabeth Strout ★★★ Fiction
6 Hillbilly Elegy J.D. Vance ★★★★ Non Fiction
7 How the Bible Came to Be John Barton ★★★ Non Fiction
8 Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War Mary Roach ★★★★ Non Fiction
9 Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam Mark Bowden ★★★★ Non Fiction
10 Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right Arlie Russell Hochschild ★★★★★ Non Fiction
11 The Code of the Woosters P.G. Wodehouse ★★★★★ Fiction
12 Trajectory Richard Russo ★★★★ Fiction
13 Plainsong Kent Haruf ★★★★★ Fiction
14 The Ninth Hour Alice McDermott ★★★★ Fiction
15 The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History John M. Barry ★★★★ Non Fiction
16 Manhattan Beach Jennifer Egan ★★★★ Fiction
17 Eventide Kent Haruf ★★★★★ Fiction
18 Benediction Kent Haruf ★★★★ Fiction
19 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens ★★★★ Fiction
Average ★★★★

I’m excited about the books I have lined up now for 2018. Before I started the Kent Haruf “PlainSong” series I thought I had run out of the motherlode of reading. Then I found Haruf and a bunch of other authors. After starting the year with a new translation of “The Odyssey, I’m enjoying Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere”.

If you’ve followed my blog – especially my year-end reading posts – you know I have struggled with the best way to format the summary table; most years, I’ve contented myself with taking a screen shot of a summary sheet in my reading Google Sheet. Back in November I switched to MarsEdit 4 as my editor and tried again. I still can’t figure out how to do it natively in Mars Edit – there is no “Create Table Option”. I copied the cells from my worksheet and pasted it into Tableiizer, to create the HTML table. Then I used the Mars Edit plain text editor to paste it. It’s better and definitely serviceable . I don’t have gridlines but I can add HTML links to the titles; so that’s a start.

Post Script: after reviewing the posted entry; the table is not as nice looking. I got back some of the cell borders but I’m not crazy about the large font. A good project when I’m re-retired.

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