the tanner ba'

2016: What I Read

As each year winds to a close I like to look back on what I’ve read in the previous year…and share it with you.

This year was a “down year” by my standards- 14 books, though I’m fairly certain that I’ve forgotten a few.  Normally I can just look at my order history at Amazon, but this year I finally resolved to make use of two of the exceptional used book stores in my area and each time left with an armful and I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten to add a few of those to the list and “regifted” a few that just didn’t do it for me.  My guess is that the actual number is closer to 20 than to the 14 below.  In that light, it was an “okay” year.  Anyway…

Here’s what I read with a few comments where I deemed them appropriate:

Recoil by Jim Thompson

Sleep with the Devil:  A Biography of Jim Thompson by Michael McCauley

This was kind of cool- and not just because it was about one of my favorite authors.  The copy I found was a proof copy complete with typos, empty pages where the photos would eventually go, etc..  While there is a lot of new information on Thompson’s life and work, the writing is terrible.  It’s basically biographical information followed by repetitious excerpts from his fiction works.  About half of this book would evaporate if the quotations from Thompson’s novels were removed.

A Kingdom Far and Clear:  The Complete Swan Lake Trilogy by Mark Helprin

The Bully Pulpit:  Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Roosevelt was clearly a compelling figure and Taft was not (though he may have been the “nicest” man to ever become president), but the real interest in this book is the examination of the “muckraking” journalists who worked at McClure’s Magazine from the 1890s through about 1905:  Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, William Allen White, etc..  Riveting stuff.

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins

The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction ed. David Gorman

The Nonexistent Knight/The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino

Just an amazingly talented and creative writer, I have two more of his books “on deck” and can’t wait to get to them.

Cain:  The Biography of James M. Cain by Roy Hoopes (in progress)

Unlike the Jim Thompson biography, here is one about a slight less interesting novelist (in terms of his life, not his works) which is absolutely carried by the author’s talent.  Hoopes wrote almost 700 pages on Cain’s life and some how it is a “page turner.”

Bullitt by Robert L. Fish

A case where the book is not as good as the movie, in fact, I’m at a loss as to how this book- originally titled Mute Witness became the movie starring the Mustang- and Steve McQueen.  I may have to watch Bullitt again to see if I missed some connection to this book.

The Far Cry by Frederic Brown

Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis

A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler

Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler (in progress)

That’s it.

Looking forward to reading new books by Will Thomas and David Morrell in the near future and, of course, looking forward to reading The Count of Monte Cristo again when I am in Scotland this March/April.

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6 comments on “2016: What I Read

  1. finalynsh
    December 20, 2016

    Mostly I read a lot of Facebook and Twitter this year and again realized how the typical American is incredibly stupid and ill-informed. I used to read a lot, and found myself getting away from it, so I actually went down and got a library card and checked books out from the library. Also, wow, much cheaper than buying books I’m on the fence about. I think i ended up reading about the same amount as you this year, but found that I also spent more than a usual amount of time buying and watching old or, missed in the theater, movies. A half dozen John Wayne westerns, a couple Jimmy Stewart films, two by Ron Howard, a bunch of Bogart films and the stray modern odd duck, like the Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow (which I really enjoyed much more than I thought I would).

    Ok, I checked out my Goodreads. Seems like I read more books than I thought this year, just a ton of them were gifts from last year that I read in Jan-March. Here’s my list.

    You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television
    by Al Michaels, L. Jon Wertheim

    Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played
    by L. Jon Wertheim

    The Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory and Honor in Division I College Basketball
    by John Feinstein

    Redshirts
    by John Scalzi

    The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus
    by Joshua Kendal

    I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas
    by Lewis Black

    The Enemy (Jack Reacher #8)
    by Lee Child

    The Great Escape
    by Paul Brickhill

    Red Square (Arkady Renko #3)
    by Martin Cruz Smith

    Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates
    by Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger

    Churchill
    by Paul Johnson

    Wild Storm (Derrick Storm #5)
    by Richard Castle

    Storm Front (Derrick Storm #4)
    by Richard Castle

    The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)
    by Lev Grossman

    The Wright Brothers
    by David McCullough

    Ready Player One
    by Ernest Cline

    The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
    by Patrick Rothfuss

    Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms & a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories
    by Simon Winchester

    The Ocean at the End of the Lane
    by Neil Gaiman

    Forever
    by Pete Hamill

    I shall look for the Goodis and Colvino books at the library. Having taken and not particularly enjoyed piano lessons for 6 years when young, I’m all about a book that involves shooting them. Mercy killing and all.

    • finalynsh
      December 20, 2016

      I was entertained by the Michaels book, the Federer/Nadal one was, eh. The Last amateurs was very interesting. Considering I read it around 15 years after it was published, it gave an interesting look back at the times and how they’ve changed in college basketball since then.

      I thought the Scalzi book should be better. From how much those I know loved it, it needed to be better. hehe

      The book on Roget was plodding. It read in some ways like a diary of “Did this, then went to this place”, and then in others, read like historical fiction, as the writer put in actual parts where he said what the long dead person(s) had been thinking. Um, what? I hate when writers do that. It’s not fiction.

      The Churchill, Jefferson and Wright Brothers books all fell into the what I call “History for Young Adults, or the Sportscenter Version of History” to varying degrees. The Churchill book was less than 200 pages. That’s pretty much like the Forward to that mans life. It really would be a good book to get a young person whose appetite for the subject might be stoked by this sort of introduction book. The Jefferson book was just….. amateur hour. Rah rah gung ho, with things emphasized the way you would expect in a book written by a Fox and Friends team member. I learned almost nothing new from it. The Wright Brothers was well written, as you would expect from McCullough, and very interesting…..but needed some more in depth…reporting? For example, he’d say “The angle on the propeller was a problem that took them a few weeks to figure out.” Well, ok, how did they figure it out? What had been the exact problem? A good read, but not anywhere near the level of his books on Adams or the Panama Canal.

      The Atlantic was just not a good book. the introduction is like 25 pages long. Holy moly, just make it chapter 1 at that point. I reached about halfway through and by that point was up to multiple factual errors, so just put it aside and gave up on it.

      The rest of the books are pretty standard casual reads, nothing special, though In the Name of the Wind is thought to be a modern fantasy classic by many. I enjoyed it, but not at that level.

      Oh, a book I forgot about

      Salt: A World History
      by Mark Kurlansky

      Really interesting. Felt like he could have given even more depth and added 100 pages and not harmed it’s readability at all.

  2. weefuse
    December 20, 2016

    If you liked “Salt” you should go back- if you haven’t already- and read “Cod” and “A Basque History of the World” they almost make a trilogy.

  3. weefuse
    December 20, 2016

    If you’re going to read a Calvino book start with, “If on a winter’s night a traveler…” Once you figure out what he’s doing- and it will take a while- you’ll be amazed and won’t want to put it down.

    There’s a GREAT French movie based on the Goodis book, watch it.

  4. finalynsh
    December 21, 2016

    I read Cod two years ago. Also enjoyed that one, and when I mentioned it, my cousin lent me his copy of Salt. I shall be on the lookout for the Basque book now. Read the Goodis book first I’m guessing? Or movie first then fill in things with the book?

  5. finalynsh
    December 22, 2016

    Also wondering if you’ve ever seen this….it’s interesting and compelling in a “I’m not sure, but i think I’m getting 12% of it” kind of way.

    http://extension765.com/soderblogh/18-raiders

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This entry was posted on December 19, 2016 by in Odds & Ends, Off Topic, Random.
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