A Year of Reading

 

The slow-news time betwixt Christmas and New Year’s Day was created by media conglomerates to publish thousands of “Best Of” lists. I stink at creating them since I’ve always had a years-long backlog of music, movies, and books that I haven’t quite gotten around to. To remedy this, for books at least, a few of years ago I decided to read at least one book a month. Granted, that’s far below the number consumed by my bookworm friends, but gimme a break — my job consists of reading the internet non-stop and my old eyes get tired.

I’ve decided to share my booklist with you, the highly literate Ricochet member. Here’s what I read in 2016, in order:

Not only did I hit my book a month goal, I blew by it with 15 titles total. Granted, three of them were super short, but the Dostoyevsky more than made up for that. Three were about the inner workings of comedy, three about music, three about politics, two fiction, and four were philosophy/self-help.

Now I want to know: What books did you read this year? Any I should add to my 2017 list?

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  1. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    So you read the Brothers Karamazov. You grand old Inquisitor you.

    • #1
  2. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Yes, and Crime and Punishment and Notes from Underground.  Both are must reads as well.

    Now I want to know: What books did you read this year?

    Master and Man, a novella by Leo Tolstoy.

    Interior Castle, a non-fiction book on spirituality by St. Theresa of Avila.

    To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel by Harper Lee.

    Prayer for Beginners, a non-fiction book of devotion by Peter Kreeft.

    The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times, a non-fiction book by Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B.

    White Fang, a novella by Jack London.

    Saint Dominic, a biography by Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P.

    The Book of Psalms, KJV and Ignatius RSV Translations.

    Learning the Virtues That Lead You to God, a non-fiction book of Christian devotion by Romano Guardini.

    First Letter to the Corinthians, an epistle from the New Testament by St. Paul the Apostle in both the KJV and Ignatius RSV translations.

    Silence, a novel by Shūsaku Endō.

    Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, a novel by Thomas Mann.

    Two Gentlemen from Verona, a play by William Shakespeare.

    And a bunch of short stories and shorter things.

    Any I should add to my 2017 list?

    Silence, Master and Man, and Buddnebrooks  are great novels.  I also think highly of To Kill a Mockingbird.

    • #2
  3. MaggiMc Inactive
    MaggiMc
    @MaggiMc

    Okay, I’ll bite. Here’s a selected list. Note that some are re-reads:

    Night Solders – Alan Furst

    Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

    World Gone By – Dennis Lehane (can’t recommend this series enough!)

    The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

    Nitro Mountain – Lee Clay Johnson (you will feel like you need to go to confession when you are done)

    All Over But the Shoutin’ – Rick Bragg

    Animal Farm – George Orwell

    A Kiss Before Dying – Ira Levin

    The Spy Who Came In From the Cold – John Le Carre

    Still soldiering on with the first volume of Churchill biography – Youth.

    Other assorted light novels much too numerous to list, but rest assured they all have things like “Duke,” “Earl,” “Pleasure,” “Wedding,” “Rogue,” and “Rake” in the titles. That list is available on request for interested parties, with ratings.

    • #3
  4. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    For reasons I do not understand, but am thankful for, my 16 year old LOVES Dostoyevsky (and Tolstoy).  He even has a preferred translator.  Why do I note that? Because when I shared your list, that was the question he asked.

    My recommendation for 2017?

    HillbillyElegy by JD Vance

    In addition to being the story of my people, it just made me appreciate even more, my parents hard work and dedication to provide a stable family for my sister and I.

    It is excellent!

    • #4
  5. Flapjack Lincoln
    Flapjack
    @Flapjack

    My year:

    • Antigone – Sophocles
    • The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
    • The Bacchae – Euripides
    • Doctor Faustus – Christopher Marlowe
    • The Great Influenza – John M. Barry
    • The Devil’s Pleasure Palace – Michael Walsh
    • The Circle – Dave Eggers
    • When Bad Things Happen to Good People – Harold S. Kushner
    • Doctor Faustus – Christopher Marlowe
    • How Good Do We Have to Be? – Harold S. Kushner
    • Crime and Punishment – Feodor Dostoevsky
    • Call It Courage – Armstrong Sperry
    • The Giver – Lois Lowry
    • Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry
    • Messenger – Lois Lowry
    • Son – Lois Lowry

    The ones in bold figured into my M.A. thesis, which I completed this fall (thankfully).  Thesis was based on an idea I got while reading The Brothers Karamazov.  Great novel!

    • #5
  6. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    A partial set of my reading list for 2016 can be found here. They are only the visible part of my reading iceberg, though.

    I’d recommend any of them. (Actually I did.)

    Seawriter

    • #6
  7. TheRoyalFamily Member
    TheRoyalFamily
    @TheRoyalFamily

    Whew, let’s see what I can remember. Being a college student, I read several books for class (and also didn’t read several books for class, but noone needs to know that…), so that’s going to pad my list a bit. But some that look like class books aren’t, since I’ve been trying these past years to brush up on my Western Canon and history in general.

    Grand Strategies, Charles Hill (this was the Ricochet book club book for the year, I think)

    Apollodorus’ Library

    Works and Days, Hesiod

    Metamorphoses, Ovid

    Discourses, Machiavelli

    The Prince, Machiavelli

    The Dreamkeepers, Gloria Ladson-Billings

    Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy, Merina Smith (Ricochet’s Own)

    Wealth, Poverty, and Politics, Thomas Sowell

    Make it Stick, Peter Brown

    Science Matters, Robert Hazen

    Outworlder, Joe Vasicek (novela)

     

     

    • #7
  8. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    I spent the first half of the year mostly rereading some old favorites and then buckled down and powered through two three volume sets that I had been planning for quite some time:

    • What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren
    • The Revolution Betrayed by Leon Trotsky
    • ten ways to destroy the imagination of your child by Anthony Esolen
    • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
    • Katz on Dogs by John Katz
    • The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell
    • The Genius of Dogs by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods
    • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
    • Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz
    • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
    • Marley & Me by John Grogan
    • The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge
    • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
    • Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton
    • Glory Road by Bruce Catton
    • A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton
    • Captain Sam Grant by Lloyd Lewis
    • Grant Moves South by Bruce Catton
    • Grant Takes Command by Bruce Catton

     

    I did not count the 13 others that I listened to but I will mention two that I really enjoyed: Autobiography of Mark Twain – Volume 3 and  Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. This latter one is very reminiscent of “Comrade Tulayev” in the list above.

    • #8
  9. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    As expected, you guys have far more impressive lists that I do!

    • #9
  10. SteveSc Member
    SteveSc
    @SteveSc

    Sci-Fi heavy, but the Washington bio and Gates memoir are very good.

    Washington: A Life, Chernow, Ron
    This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral, Leibovich, Mark
    Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Gates, Robert M.
    1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Mann, Charles C.
    Wastelands II: More Stories of the Apocalypse, Adams, John Joseph
    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, Adams, Scott
    Golden Son (Red Rising, #2), Brown, Pierce
    Red Rising (Red Rising, #1), Brown, Pierce
    The Swarm (The Second Formic War, #1), Card, Orson Scott
    Empty World, Christopher, John
    Warrior King (Odyssey One, #5), Currie, Evan C.
    Burning Chrome, Gibson, William
    Count Zero (Sprawl, #2), Gibson, William
    Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3), Gibson, William
    The Peripheral, Gibson, William
    Virtual Light (Bridge, #1), Gibson, William
    Idoru (Bridge #2), Gibson, William
    All Tomorrow’s Parties(Bridge, #3), Gibson, William
    Manhattan In Reverse, Hamilton, Peter F.
    Solaris, Lem, Stanisław
    The Cybernetic Samurai, Milán, Victor
    Market Forces, Morgan, Richard K.
    Thirteen, Morgan, Richard K.
    Engineering Infinity, Strahan, Jonathan
    Mutiny in Space, Walker, Rod
    Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, Warrick, Joby

    • #10
  11. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Read You Shall Know Them by Vercors.

    • #11
  12. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    I have Coolidge, currently on top of a stack of books among my American history on top of my dresser. After I spend the first month or so of 2017 finishing several things I’m in, I look forward to reading it.

    • #12
  13. Mickerbob Inactive
    Mickerbob
    @Mickerbob

    Take some time to read, “Supreme City” by Donald L. Miller.  A “best of”  from the taxed upon John Podhoretz in 2014, about the Jazz Age in New York City.  It is basically several biographies that tell  about 1920s New York from the people that lived it.  Splendid!

    • #13
  14. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Probably the best book I read this year was Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.

    • #14
  15. Nick Baldock Member
    Nick Baldock
    @NickBaldock

    I read 80 books last year, which isn’t bragging so much as admitting I need more to do with my life. Details and authors on request.

    Fiction highlights include:

    Crossing to Safety

    Gone with the Wind

    The Left Hand of Darkness

    The Dream Life of Balso Snell

    The Colour of Blood

    The Group

    The Seeds of Time

    They Came Like Swallows

    Prince of Darkness

    Coup de Grace

    Invisible Cities

    and the whodunnits of Ngaio Marsh I hadn’t read.

     

    Non-fiction highlights:

    The Florentine Renaissance

    Hour of the Women

    The Cruelty of Heresy

    The French Revolution (Hibbert)

    Man’s Search for Meaning

    Prague in Black and Gold

    Sir Walter Scott (Buchan’s biography)

    The Totalitarian Temptation

    Shakespeare’s Religious Background

    Coming Apart

    Historians’ Fallacies

    Shakespearean Tragedy

    The Death of Tragedy

    Literature Lost

    A History of Christianity (Paul Johnson)

    The Image of the City (essays by Charles Williams)

    Homilies and Recreations (essays by John Buchan)

    The Range of Reason (essays by Jacques Maritain)

    Up from Communism

    The Spartans

    The Cloud of Unknowing

     

    Literature Lost provided my favourite line of the year: ‘ordinarily, when we pick up a book we have not read, we assume we are about to become familiar with its content. Race-gender-class critics, however, seem to know in advance.’

     

    I also read sections of books as research for a play I wrote about St Edmund Campion and Shakespeare. (And, speaking of research, anyone who knows anything about Dunstan Thompson is invited to get in touch).

    In 2017 I really must read another presidential biography. Only thirty to go…

    • #15
  16. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    I watch too much TV.  But I took a break from it this summer and read fiction: Seventeen of the “Aubrey/Maturin” seafaring novels, 5 or 6 of the Connelly “Bosch” novels, and a couple of the “Reacher” novels.

    In hindsight, I may have been needing a shot of testosterone.

    • #16
  17. Jeff Petraska Member
    Jeff Petraska
    @JeffPetraska

    My 2016 reading list can be seen here, courtesy of Goodreads.  I managed to read 27 books, all of which were non-fiction.  As usual, military history dominated my reading list.

     

    • #17
  18. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Happy new year to all! Best wishes. This will be an interesting way to see if my book reading really did take a dive this year. I had a chance to pack in a lot of reading during the summer then it kinda fell off. At least book reading did.

    Democracy for Realists. Achen & Bartels

    Acting White. Stuart Buck

    Who’s Counting. John Fund

    The War on Cops. Heather Mac Donald

    Administrative Behavior. Herbert Simon

    Crisis and Leviathan. Robert Higgs

    What is Conservatism? Frank Meyer (editor).

    The Robust Federation. Jenna Bednar

    The War on Guns. John Lott Jr.

    Liberty’s Nemesis. Reuter & Yoo

    Relic. Howell & Moe

    Congress. David Mayhew

    Off the Books. Sudhir Venkatesh

    And a few others.

     

    We will see what this year holds!

    • #18
  19. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    Happy New Year, fellow readers. Loved reading your lists, but I gotta ask one thing:

    Two Gentlemen of Verona? Doctor Faustus? ANTIGONE?

    What would cause (some of) you to pick up a play to read for pleasure? (Theatre is my field and I’m just curious.)

    • #19
  20. Bob Croft Member
    Bob Croft
    @BobCroft

    The best I’ve read this year:

    The Revenge of Geography – Robert Kaplan

    Knife Fights: a Memoir of Modern War – John Nagl

    Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity – Lendon

    The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America – Ehrenhalt

    Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism – Jim Steele

    The Spartan Regime – Ricochet’s own Paul Rahe

    The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind – Julian Jaynes

    The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains – Nicholas Carr

    Redemption: the Last Battle of the Civil War – Nicholas Lemann

    The Liberators: My Time in the Soviet Army – Viktor Suvorov

    The Hellenistic Age – Peter Thonemann

    Fragile by Design: the Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit – Charles Calomiris

    The War on Guns – John Lott

    Protection or Free Trade – Henry George

    Pearl Harbor : Warning and Debacle – Roberta Wohlstetter

    Deep Survival: Who lives, Who Dies, and Why? – Laurence Gonzales

    Venice: the Hinge of Europe – William McNeill

    Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study in Total Power – Karl Wittfogel

    Treasury’s War – Juan Zarate

    Caucuses of 1860: a History of the National Political Conventions – Murat Halstead

    Negros and the Gun: the Black Tradition of Arms – Nicholas Johnson

    American Slavery, American Freedom – Edmund S Morgan

    The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge – Matt Ridley

    The Causes of the Civil War – Kenneth Stampp

    The Secret War Against Hitler – William Casey

    Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships – Mancur Olson

    Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South – Grady McWhiney

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • #20
  21. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Well, I really should have kept a list. My daughter does…but she is a reading fiend, and she is a college librarian, and writes a blog about books she reads. I, on the other hand, am an exhausted 4th grade teacher. So, I read a weird selection of books each year. In the summer…I read what I want—FINALLY! That is because I completed a master’s degree a couple of years ago (as an old lady) so I never have to get any more college degrees. I hope. So, during the summer, I can read a little for fun:

    Captains Courageous  by Rudyard Kipling (again for the umpteenth time…so good.)

    John Adams  by David McCullough

    Death Comes to the Archbishop  by Willa Cather

    During the school year, I try to read aloud every day to my students, and when I read a novel, I like to read one by an author who has written other books of interest to nine-year olds so they’ll go looking in the library. Here are some novels:

    Blue Willow  by Doris Gates

    The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

    Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

    Hatchet by Gary Paulson

    Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spear

    The Good Master by Kate Seredy

    In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord

    Okay, so I’ll read novels to them, chapter by chapter, but I also read picture books that are relevant to something that we’re doing in Social Studies or Science. If you’re learning about the Star Spangled Banner (as we do the week of Sept. 11 because the Battle of Baltimore was on Sept. 14th and I bring together the two events as times that our country was really worried because of attacks. Then, we write opinion essays about whether or not the Star Spangled Banner should remain our national anthem.  It’s usually almost unanimous to keep it, once they learn the history) then you read:

    By The Dawn’s Early Light by Steven Kroll

    I don’t have room for all the picture books I read to my class. One author I use often is Tommy dePaola, since he has written so many fine, fine books. Also, I love to read the books from the Picture Book Biography series because there is such a variety of historical people.

    But, for all of you out there fretting about the crummy education, or lack there-of, that today’s children are getting—I’m a little island of intense indoctrination about the joys of America, to love reading,  and nature, and to honor veterans and the military,  things that my dear students (who mostly speak other than English at home) should know. I mean, things that aren’t listed in my content standards,  just life things that want them to know, and I manage to get it in as part of what I’m required to teach. I love my job! I love reading!

    • #21
  22. Jerome Danner Inactive
    Jerome Danner
    @JeromeDanner

    You should definitely look up FIERCE CONVICTIONS by Karen Swallow Prior, if you haven’t already.

    It is about Hannah More.  Good read!  I hope to have Dr. Prior on my podcast next week.

    • #22
  23. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Nick Baldock (View Comment):
    Shakespeare’s Religious Background

    Nick, have you read Joseph Pierce’s The Quest for Shakespeare?  Fantastic read.

    • #23
  24. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    Happy New Year, fellow readers. Loved reading your lists, but I gotta ask one thing:

    Two Gentlemen of Verona? Doctor Faustus? ANTIGONE?

    What would cause (some of) you to pick up a play to read for pleasure? (Theatre is my field and I’m just curious.)

    Shakespeare is a must read, especially for someone that is a lover of classic literature.  I’ve got a goal to read through all 36 plays.  I’ve now read 28.  Great plays are a joy to read.  It’s a faster read than a novel.  But I have to admit that other than Shakespeare, I don’t read many other plays.

    • #24
  25. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    Manny (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    Happy New Year, fellow readers. Loved reading your lists, but I gotta ask one thing:

    Two Gentlemen of Verona? Doctor Faustus? ANTIGONE?

    What would cause (some of) you to pick up a play to read for pleasure? (Theatre is my field and I’m just curious.)

    Shakespeare is a must read, especially for someone that is a lover of classic literature. I’ve got a goal to read through all 36 plays. I’ve now read 28. Great plays are a joy to read. It’s a faster read than a novel. But I have to admit that other than Shakespeare, I don’t read many other plays.

    What a worthy goal! And yes, you’re right; great plays are a joy to read. Their brevity gives them a special immediacy and superb dialogue (like the Bard’s) gives us the ability to look into the human spirit that few other forms of literature can achieve. May fair winds speed your journey! (Just don’t leave Titus Andronicus until last. Yikes.)

    • #25
  26. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Hmmm.  I see three possibilities here.  1)  The bestseller lists are wildly wrong as an indication of what people are actually reading.  2)  Ricochet members are much more inclined than the general public to read history and literature, instead of mysteries, action, and horror (not a single cite to Stephen King, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, or Dean Koontz on this page).  3)  Someone is padding his or her list with titles that are fancier than anything I have seen on an airport newsstand bookshelf.

    As for me, these days I mostly read fluffy novels that are not worthy of being included on a list, but which do include Stephen King, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Dean Koontz.

    • #26
  27. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    As for me, these days I mostly read fluffy novels that are not worthy of being included on a list, but which do include Stephen King, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Dean Koontz.

    We are more C. J. Box and Alan Furst types.

    Seawriter

    • #27
  28. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    Happy New Year, fellow readers. Loved reading your lists, but I gotta ask one thing:

    Two Gentlemen of Verona? Doctor Faustus? ANTIGONE?

    What would cause (some of) you to pick up a play to read for pleasure? (Theatre is my field and I’m just curious.)

    Shakespeare is a must read, especially for someone that is a lover of classic literature. I’ve got a goal to read through all 36 plays. I’ve now read 28. Great plays are a joy to read. It’s a faster read than a novel. But I have to admit that other than Shakespeare, I don’t read many other plays.

    What a worthy goal! And yes, you’re right; great plays are a joy to read. Their brevity gives them a special immediacy and superb dialogue (like the Bard’s) gives us the ability to look into the human spirit that few other forms of literature can achieve. May fair winds speed your journey! (Just don’t leave Titus Andronicus until last. Yikes.)

    LOL, already read it.  There’s an interesting film adaption out there set in the modern world I think.

    • #28
  29. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    Manny (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    Happy New Year, fellow readers. Loved reading your lists, but I gotta ask one thing:

    Two Gentlemen of Verona? Doctor Faustus? ANTIGONE?

    What would cause (some of) you to pick up a play to read for pleasure? (Theatre is my field and I’m just curious.)

    Shakespeare is a must read, especially for someone that is a lover of classic literature. I’ve got a goal to read through all 36 plays. I’ve now read 28. Great plays are a joy to read. It’s a faster read than a novel. But I have to admit that other than Shakespeare, I don’t read many other plays.

    What a worthy goal! And yes, you’re right; great plays are a joy to read. Their brevity gives them a special immediacy and superb dialogue (like the Bard’s) gives us the ability to look into the human spirit that few other forms of literature can achieve. May fair winds speed your journey! (Just don’t leave Titus Andronicus until last. Yikes.)

    LOL, already read it. There’s an interesting film adaption out there set in the modern world I think.

    A film of Titus? Double yikes. It was harrowing enough in Elizabethan ink on paper!

    • #29
  30. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    Happy New Year, fellow readers. Loved reading your lists, but I gotta ask one thing:

    Two Gentlemen of Verona? Doctor Faustus? ANTIGONE?

    What would cause (some of) you to pick up a play to read for pleasure? (Theatre is my field and I’m just curious.)

    Hi, Glad you’re Fine,

    Comfy, at-home reading of plays is for the poetry and the insights into human nature. On top of that, when I enjoy a teevee dramatization of a play (usually Shakespeare) I make haste to read or re-read the play afterwards, for unfailing appreciation of what the players and the director and the cameraman did with the script.

    When I read a play without first seeing a performance, I’m absolutely pathetic at visualizing it. Subsequent viewings give all the more appreciation and admiration of theatrical skills.

    This past year that cycle was with Twelfth Night,  with the play, the Trevor Nunn production with Imogen Stubbs, and the BBC production with Felicity Kendall.

    • #30

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