Monday, January 1, 2018

Books Read (and Listened to) in 2017

Over the course of the past year I have read 119 books.  Well, technically 118 books, since I read Holy Cow twice in a row.
As always it was a bit of a challenge to narrow that list down for my top ten favorites for the year.  I took a bit of liberty with the list though and included a few multi-book series as single entries.  It is a case where I found the whole darn set so captivating that there was nothing else to do, but just include them all.  My top ten picks are listed below in no particular order.
Top Ten of 2017
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr
Holy Cow by David Duchovny
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Wool series by Hugh Howey
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
The Freakonomics series by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
My least favorite book read this year was Go Set a Watchman.  In my opinion this book should never have been published and is basically a money-making racket.  It isn't a long lost sequel of To Kill A Mockingbird, as it was presented to the reading public.  It would be more apt to call it a rough draft of Mockingbird.  Harper Lee wrote Watchman first.  When the manuscript was submitted her publisher saw real promise in the story, especially the flashback scenes to Scout’s childhood in Maycomb, but overall the whole thing needed a lot of work.  Lee went back to the writing desk and, using many of the same characters and setting, came up with To Kill a Mockingbird.  There was a lot of hubbub when Go Set a Watchman was released because Atticus, a noble, respectable, utterly humane character in Mockingbird, is considerably less so in Watchman.  There were a lot of people devastated by this, by how his gleaming and admirable character was rather tarnished.  For me, it is a non-issue.  The Atticus in Watchman is NOT the same Atticus as in Mockingbird.  Harper Lee just hadn’t fully developed his character yet.  This is true of the story overall.  I am of the mind that this book was only published to capitalize on the fame and selling power of To Kill a Mockingbird.  I’m not familiar enough to say whether Harper Lee was taken advantage of, but the fact the book was published just two months after her sister (and caretaker) died leaving her care in the hands of Lee’s lawyer is noteworthy to me.  I’m not upset by the content of the book, though I would say it was rather boring and didn’t have much in the way of plot, especially those first 100 pages.  It didn’t ruin Mockingbird or Atticus for me.  It would have to be an actual sequel for that to be the case, not this rough draft business.  The scenes from Scout's childhood are certainly the best part and that is precisely why her publisher encouraged her to go back to the drawing board and refocus her story there.
Annual Stats
Number of young adult or children's books:   35
Number of adult books:  31
Number of audiobooks (both adult and YA/children):  53
119 Total Books (compared with 100 total books for 2016)
I’ve come up with a few reading objectives for the 2018.  I want to spend more time re-reading books that I previously enjoyed.  As a younger person I would fall in love with a book and read it over and over and over again.  There are some I could still tell you all about even at this far remove.  I’d estimate that I read The Giver, oh, twenty times.  Same for the Little House in the Big Woods.  I loved these and other stories so much that I read and absorbed them into my being.  As an adult I realized there are too many books out there and that I’d never possibly be able to read all the ones on my perpetually growing wish list.  This meant that I basically never allowed myself to re-read anything, even if I did really enjoy the tale.  It seemed like not making the most of my time.  This year I realized that I want to flip that back around.  I want to immerse myself in my favorites more than once.  Re-reading Harry Potter helped drive this home, as did a couple other re-reads—Holy Cow, To Kill a Mockingbird,  I’ll never read all the good books in the world either way so there is no reason to preclude myself from re-reading.  I want to relive some stories that sent me soaring—My Antonia, Ishmael, a boatload of Kurt Vonnegut, and so on.
I’ll power on with the Newbery Award books.  I am truly surprised at how long this endeavor has taken me…and I’ve barely even started, really.  I'm currently on 1958's A Rifle for Watie.  I have read 36 and still have 61 more to go meaning I'm only a third of the way there.  I keep getting distracted.  Spending much of my summer re-reading Harry Potter with my friend Hannah, for example.  That was a good time though and I'm glad for the distraction.  It was her first time reading and only my second and we both enjoyed it tremendously.
Hannah and I have started a private book club of sorts, actually.  She moved off the grid a couple years ago and her passion for reading really took off.  We read books simultaneously and have literary chats on Facebook about them.  (Hooray for using FB for good!)  It is beyond pleasing to me.  I’ve certainly always loved reading, but talking books with Hannah, sharing the reading experience with someone so close to me, is a real cherry on top.  It does distract me from my self-directed reading, particularly the Newberys, but oh well.   Hannah and I read the entire Harry Potter series together this summer (her first reading and my second) which was a particularly delightful shared experience.  In January 2017 Hannah found a reading challenge online and asked if I wanted to join her.  I just barely finished in time, too.  She already found our book club challenge for this year, too--a geographically based one in which the goal is to read a book set in or associate with each of the 50 states.
I’ll also undoubtedly participate in the summer reading programs at both the public library and my alma mater, MSUB, as I have for the past few years.
Below is the full record of the books that I read in 2017, listed in reverse order with the most recent at the top of the list.
Books Read (and Listened To) in 2017
                   * indicates an audiobook

Linda's House (Linda Welk)
Miracles on Maple Hill (Virginia Sorensen)
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Jean Lee Latham)
Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain (Steven D. Levitt & Steven J. Dubner)*
The Wheel on the School (Meindert DeJong)
The Wild Christmas Reindeer (Jan Brett)
The Church Mice at Christmas (Graham Oakley)
SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance (Steven D. Levitt & Steven J. Dubner)
Go Set a Watchman (Harper Lee)
Freakonomics: A Rouge Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Steven D. Levitt & Steven J. Dubner)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)*
...And Now Miguel (Joseph Krumgold )
House of Earth (Woody Guthrie)*
Secret of the Andes (Ann Nolan Clark)
We Live in Water (Jess Walter)
Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier (Tom Kizzia)*
Ginger Pye (Eleanor Estes)
The Cat's Table (Michael Ondaatje)*
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Rhoda Janzen)*
Insatiable: A Young Mother's Struggle with Anorexia (Erica Rivera)
Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness (Scott Jurek & Steve Friedman)*
The Incredible Journey (Sheila Burnford)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories (F. Scott Fitzgerald)*
Hate That Cat (Sharon Creech)
Dust (Hugh Howey)*
Cats Are Weird and More Observations (Jeffrey Brown)
The Cat Who Came in from the Cold (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson)*
Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)*
Shift (Hugh Howey)
A Man Without a Country (Kurt Vonnegut)
The Sleeper and the Spindle (Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)*
The Day Boy and the Night Girl (George MacDonald)
Millions of Cats (Wanda Gag)
Bucky F***ing Dent (David Duchovny)*
Wool (Hugh Howey)
The Bernenstain Bears Get in a Fight (Stan Bernenstain)
Airframe (Michael Crichton)*
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)*
Prayer for a Child (Rachel Field)
Once a Mouse... (Marcia Brown)
The Little Island (Margaret Wise Brown)
Wild Child and Other Stories (T.C. Boyle)*
The Electric Pencil: Drawing from Inside State Hospital No. 3 (James Edward Deeds, jr.)
Saga, Book 2 (Brian Vaughan)
Saga, Book 1 (Brian Vaughan)
Holy Cow (David Duchovny)*
The Girls of No Return (Erin Saldin)
Holy Cow (David Duchovny)*
Touching Spirit Bear (Ben Mikaelsen)*
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) J.K. Rowling
One Fine Day (Nonny Hogrogian)
Kitten's First Full Moon (Kevin Henkes)
Skellig (David Almond)*
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Alison Bechdel)
Everyone is Beautiful (Katherine Center)*
Agnes of God (John Pielmeier)*
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Erik Larson)*
The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)*
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems (Joy Harjo)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)*
The Little House (Virginia Lee Burton)
The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Mathias Malzieu)*
Congo (Michael Crichton)
Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (Bethany Hamilton and Rick Bundschuh)*
Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life (The Dalai Lama XIV)*
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)*
Amos Fortune, Free Man (Elizabeth Yates)*
Life-Sized (Jenefer Shute)
Saga: Book One (Brian Vaughan)
Blueprints for Building Better Girls (Elissa Schappell)*
The Door in the Wall (Marguerite De Angeli)*
The King of the Wind (Marguerite Henry)*
The 21 Balloons (William Pene Du Bois)
The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story (Richard Preston)*
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative (Austin Kleon)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery": The Authorized Graphic Adaptation (Miles Hyman)
Love from the Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
Miss Hickory (Carolyn Sherwin Bailey)
Eggs (Jerry Spinelli)*
The Kill Order (James Dashner)*
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling)
Testimony: A Novel (Anita Shreve)*
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence (Nick Bantock)
The Death Cure (James Dashner)*
Strawberry Girl (Lois Lenski)
Cosmic (Frank Cottrell-Boyce)*
Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens)*
The Scorch Trials (James Dashner)*
Habibi (Craig Thompson)
The Maze Runner (James Dashner)*
I Could Pee On That: And Other Poems by Cats (Francesco Marciuliano)
The Great Fire (Jim Murphy)*
A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life (James Bowen)
A Break With Charity: A Story About the Salem Witch Trials (Ann Rinaldi)*
How Do You Kill 11 Million People: Why The Truth Matters More Than You Think (Andy Andrews)*
Blankets (Craig Thompson)
Agent 6 (Tom Rob Smith)*
My Teacher Flunked the Planet (Bruce Coville)
Johnny Tremain (Esther Forbes)*
My Teacher Glows in the Dark (Bruce Coville)
My Teacher Fried My Brains (Bruce Coville)
My Teacher is an Alien (Bruce Coville)
My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind (Scott Stossel)*
How to Talk To Your Cat About Gun Safety And... (Zachary Auburn)
Fish for Supper (M.B. Goffstein)
The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to our Brains (Nicholas Carr)*
Adam of the Road (Elizabeth Janet Gray)
Reality Boy (A.S. King)*
The Matchlock Gun (Walter D. Edmonds)
Call It Courage (Armstrong Sperry)
Daniel Boone (James Daughtery)
The Secret Speech (Tom Rob Smith)*
The Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
Child 44 (Tom Rob Smith)*
Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett
Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod
Lastly, since I love personal statistics and people are perpetually surprised by how many "great" movies I've never seen, I decided to keep track of the films I watched this year, too.  The grand total is 19 movies....though I watched Spaceballs twice, so technically 18 different titles.

Movies Watched in 2017
Bah, Humduck!
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Spaceballs
Beetlejuice
Demolition Man
Atlantis
Kubo and the Two Strings
Kedi
The Red Turtle
The Little Mermaid
Spaceballs
The Lives of Others
The Big Lebowski
The Lego Movie
Groundhog's Day
Horton Hears a Who
The Brand New Testament
The Princess Bride

2 comments:

  1. Wowsers, you read a lot of books. I read a good number of books this year too.

    New authors to me:
    I read 2 by Torsten Krol, The Dolphin People, and Callisto. Both really good, funny, and very thought provoking.
    I am currently reading Ken Follett, Fall of the Giants - very interesting, having a hard time putting it down.
    I really enjoyed Queen of the Tambourines by Jane Gardem and Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers.
    I read Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees, not her best book, and my least favorite read of the year. I love The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and have read it a few times, I listened to it on cd this year.
    I read Girl on the Train and enjoyed it, have not watched the movie as it has poor reviews.
    I am looking forward to my local library having an available copy of Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, I recently listened to a dramatization of the book on BBC radio 4, it was good and I am looking forward to reading the story now.
    I read a fair number of other books this year, but the above are my favorites for 2017.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for these literary leads! I've never read any Follett, but have picked up several of his books...just never managed to get started on them. I plan to read some Kingslover this year, too. I've never read The Poisonwood Bible and am told by several folks that I simply must.

      Happy reading in 2018!

      Delete

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!