Since 2012, I have been writing a post with my yearly reads, where I list them all and highlight my favorites.
2017 was a memorable year. So far I’ve read 71 books, but between today (the 18th), and the end of the year, I’ll probably finish a couple short ones I’m half way through right now.
My list with comments and special mentions in each of the categories:
NON FICTION READS:
23 out of my 71 reads were non fiction, that leaves a total of 48 fiction reads.
From this category composed of 11 books, I couldn’t pick favorites. I love them all for different reasons. Intuitive Eating is the best book on nutrition I have read, but I admit I don’t read a lot in this field, -which doesn’t mean I’m ignorant about this. I have a complete opposition to treating and talking about food and eating the way it’s been done for many years now, as a pseudo science. I’ve had enough of food and nutrition being the subject of abuses and legalistic and absurd systematization. Stop spending money on lies, people. Stop demonizing food, counting calories, doing diets, canonizing new ways, old ways. Arghhh. (Thanks Karla for suggesting this book to me.)
I also loved reading The Impressionist Adventure, Jean Jacques Leveque, which reminds me to pick more good books on art for next year, and keep choosing more non fiction in general.
1. Las meditaciones del Quijote, Ortega y Gasset (it exists in English too), ★★★★★
2. Why Homer Matters, Adam Nicolson, ★★★✫
3. How to Be Alone, by Jonathan Franzen ★★★★
4. Elogio de la locura, Erasmo de Rotterdam ★★★★★
5. Are Women Human?, Dorothy Sayers ★★★★★
6. La rebelión de las masas, Ortega y Gassett ★★★★
7. The Educated Imagination, by Northrop Frye ★★★★✫
8. The Impressionist Adventure, Jean Jacques Leveque ★★★★
9. An Experiment in Criticism, C.S. Lewis ★★★★✫
10. Why Read the Classics?, Italo Calvino ★★★★✫
11. Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole, Elyse Resch, ★★★★★
From this subcategory, I also enjoyed all of them. Special mention to Nothing to Envy, and to The Boys in the Boat. Nothing to Envy, about the reality of life in North Korea, was very well written non fiction, it had the quality of a well written fiction, it was very poetic at times. The Boys in the Boat was another captivating book based on reality.
12. A Short History of Spain, Mary Platt Parmele ★★★✫,
13. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown ★★★★✫
14. The Rescue Artist, Dolnic, ★★★✫
15. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick ★★★★★
16. After You, Marco Polo, Jen Shor ★★★★ re-read
If you ask me to remove a book from the following, I couldn’t. They are so different than I cannot pick a favorite either. I’ll mention two, though, Hallucinations and Surprised by Hope. They gave me so much I am considering re-reading them at one point.
17. The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis ★★★
18. Hallucinations, Oliver Sacks ★★★★✫
19. Muscle and a Shovel, Michael J. Shank ★★★★
20. Ten Fingers for God, Dorothy Clarke Wilson ★★★★✫
21. Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright, ★★★★★
22. Las confesiones, Agustín, ★★★✫
23. The Hidding Place, Corrie ten Boom, ★★★★✫
Fiction comprises 48 of my 71 books for the year.
This first subcategory is probably my favorite, since it spans over many genra and it’s where I’ve discovered some jewels this year. I’ve always loved Moliere. He’s so relevant. Reading him doesn’t feel like you are reading a moth ball type of book, even though he comes to us from the 16 hundreds! And Voltaire, from the 17 hundreds, oh, my! I just have Italo Calvino’s essay in his Why Read the Classics? fresh in my mind, and I loved how he described the qualities of his Candide. Such a fast paced book, humorous and so relevant too.
And the poetry. It’s not right that I’ve read so little poetry this year. I need to write a list for next year, and make a plan, for I love poetry yet I keep failing to honor her place in my life.
Reading Guzman de Alfarache, by Mateo Alemán was such a treat. The book was published in two volumes, in 1599. It’s a picaresque coming of age book, with philosophical and moral rumblings along the most humorous and fascinating events in the life of Guzman. This and Candide seem to be close to our times in style and thematic, just with different background and historical moment. They seem to me very modern books in a good sense, modern as in fresh, opposite to rancid.
Shakespeare is an author whose plays we enjoy together, and keep discovering.
24. El avaro, Moliere ★★★★✫ French
25. Candide, Voltaire ★★★★ French
26. The Tempest, Shakespeare ★★★★✫ English
27. Zadig, Voltaire ★★★✫ French
28. Sonnets from the Portuguese, Browning ★★★✫ English
29. Guzman de Alfarache, by Mateo Alemán ★★★★✫, 1599, Spanish
30. John Greenleaf Whittier, poems ★★★✫ American
31. Romeo and Juliet ★★★★✫
XIX CENTURY, ENGLISH (E)/AMERICAN (A):
This is a sure category. It’s hard to have a bad book when you pick a Victorian read (unless you don’t like the author you pick.) There’s so much to chose from, and you know you’ll be rewarded.
32. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte ★★★★ E
33. Whose Body?, Dorothy Sayers (re-read) ★★★ E
34. Dr. Thorne, Trollope ★★★★ E
35. Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley ★★★ A
36. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen, ★★★★ E
37. My Man Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse, ★★★✫ E
XIX CENTURY, OTHER:
Three jewels! I thought I’d hate Madame Bovary, and I’m captivated by it. Nazarín was such a different and charming book. The Brothers Karamazov has become my favorite Dostoiewsky’s title.
At 22 books, this subcategory is where the bulk of my reading resides. My special mentions go to:
The Gray House, The Zelmenyaners. These two books by Armenian Marian Petrosyan, and Belorussian and Jewish author Moyshe Kulbak, gained my utmost admiration.
The Winter of Our Discontent (new favorite author, Steinbeck), Omon Ra (which I read in Yuri’s English translation), My Name is Red, The Lottery and Other Short Stories, El Jarama, and My Antoniá.
I held a book club at the blog for two of these books, The Trial by Kafka, and The Gray House. I loved those book clubs very much. Those who come here to participate, enhance my life, they stretch my mind, and teach me so much. I cannot wait till we have our next book club in the summer, when we’ll read The Unconsoled by Ishiguro.
41. The Zelmenyaners, by Moyshe Kulbak. This is my review. ★★★★★ Belarus, Jew
42. Night, Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel, ★★★ (Romanian, Jew)
43. Hinds Feet in High Places, Hannah Hurnard, ★★✫ English
44. Belgravia, Jullian Fellows ★★✫ English
45. Pavilion of Women, Pearl S. Buck, ★★★✫ English
46. The Princess Bride, Goldman ★★★ American
47. El planeta de los simios, (The Planet of the Apes), Pierre Boulle, ★★★✫ French
48. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories, F. Scott Fitzgerald ★★★★ American
49. Animal Farm, Orwell ★★★✫ English
50. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley ★★★★ (re-read) English
51. Omon Ra., by Victor Pelevin, Translated from Russian by Yuri Machkasov ★★★★ Russian
52. The Gray House ★★★★★ Armenian
53. The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey, ★★✫ English
54. A Voice in the Wind, Francine River ★★✫ American
55. El hablador, Mario Vargas Llosa ★★★★ Peruvian
56. The Scent of Water, Goudge, 1963 ★★★✫ English
57. The Winter of Our Discontent, Steinbeck ★★★★✫ American
58. My Antoniá, Willa Cather ★★★★★ American
59. El Jarama, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio ★★★★ Spanish
60. My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk, ★★★★✫ Turkish
61. El proceso, Kafka ★★★✫ Check Republic
62. Murder in the Orient Express, Agatha Christie ★★★✫ English
63. The Lottery and Other Short Stories, Shirley Jackson ★★★★ American
Another eight good books. We loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, we adore Eliot’s book of poetry and cats, Old Possum’s…, The Bronze Bow was good, and so it was Maggot Moon. My least favorite is A Wrinkle in Time. The girls were unimpressed by it as well. This year I haven’t read any wowing Young Adult books.
64. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler ★★★✫
65. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, Edward Gorey (Illustrator) ★★★★★
66. Grammarland, by M.L. Nesbitt,★★★
67. Pyongyang, Guy Delisle, graphic novel, ★★★✫ re-read
68. A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle ★★★
69. The Bronze Bow, Elizabeth George Speare ★★★✫
70. Maggot Moon, Sally Gardner ★★★✫
71. El prisionero de Zenda, Anthony Hope ★★★
That’s all for now. I’m going to continue with yet another post of intended reads for 2018, since I realize I’ve left out poetry and non fiction titles. It took me a while to write this post, to decide how to organize the books, but it was all worth. It’s given me some interesting knowledge on my reads, and insight for the future. I apologize if I’m enabling you, ha ha ha. (I blame it on C.S. Lewis, Italo Calvino, and the authors themselves, all of them which also move me to want to read so many other books!)