Good morning, and Happy New Year to all of you! I hope you had a good–and safe–celebration, and I wish you the very best for 2017.
I have a thematically-appropriate post on Resolution drafted, but it’s not ready enough this morning and I’m not prepared to craft it into perfection this morning; instead, I give you my final reading list for 2016.
FOURTH QUARTER READING LIST (In the order read, with or without commentary):
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett (2011). My wife’s book club book for October. I read it, she didn’t. I enjoyed it!
The Death and Life of Dith Pran, Sydney Schanberg (1985). The tale of Dith’s survival and eventual escape from Cambodia makes for some harrowing reading.
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (2014). I wish I’d written that! Seriously, this was a book I could not put down. My wife’s book club ended up reading this for December, and I belive they were unanimous in their enjoyment of it.
The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson (2012). Hmm, I seem to be developing a trend in my reading here, between this and the Schanberg book. This one was related somewhat to my current project, which in turn has been influenced (I’m not sure inspired is quite the right word) by developments in American politics (and, I should add, in much of the rest of the world, too). I did learn something from this book, though I found it a little difficult to get through.
The Girls, Emma Cline (2016). One of the most-hyped books of 2016, it was good, but I felt a little let down by it. I’m not sure I ever really loved the main character enough, though, which may explain some of my disappointment.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood (2016). And we have a winner for “Most Uncomfortable Subject Matter, 2016!” Greenwood dares to go there as she traces the growing love between a man and a very much younger girl, set against a life lived with drug dealers and users. In this case, “there” is them having their first sexual encounter when the girl is thirteen. Despite the high squick factor–or maybe because of it–I enjoyed the book, and applaud Greenwood (and her publisher) for taking chances.
At the Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen (2015). Finished on Christmas Eve. This book will factor into that post on resolution I mentioned at the top. This also raises a question that can be explored some other time (or, I guess, you can answer below): Is it better to have a smash hit right out of the gate that all of your future work will be compared to, or to have modest success that builds over time? This book has a lot of flaws, but even when I read positive reviews (after the fact; I almost never read reviews before I’ve read the book), most people insisted on comparing this one to Water for Elephants.
Extinction, Mark Alpert (2013). Techno-thrillers are not my thing, and though I know some of the technology Alpert employs here (retinal implants, prosthetic devices powered by thought) are real, I found some of it to be a little too much. Not a bad read.
So, that’s the list for the fourth quarter: Eight books read, six fiction, two non-fiction. My reading fell off a bit; this was the lowest number of books read, and the second time this year I read less than ten books, the other being the first quarter of the month. Schanberg’s book also was extremely short, maybe 85 pages.
The total for the year: 42 books read. 37 fiction (including one play), five non-fiction. In a couple of weeks I think I’ll talk a little more about the reading list and some things that interest me from my selections.
Oh, one last thing: I’m not usually good at playing favorites, but people usually want to know, so…Hmmm. If I had to pick the top three books I read this year (not counting re-reads), I would go with…The Water Knife, by Paolo Bacigalupi, NOS4A2, by Joe Hill, and All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.
That’s it for now, what about you? What books did you enjoy this last year? See you next time!