Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 book breakdown

This past year, I read seventy-three books, down from seventy-five the year before, and buttressed by some help from Shakespeare.  Not bad.

Despite my halfhearted commitment to read more fiction, I only managed to read fifteen of the buggers during the course of the year, the same as last year.  On the other hand, I did read nine plays, and a helpfully annotated poem. 

In the spirit of tradition, I hereby offer another equally halfhearted commitment. 

Here are my recommendations from the past year.  I tried to stay away from the classics: Tacitus and Plutarch are marvelous, but since everyone already knows that, there's little point in me bringing it up.

The Rise of American Civilization - Charles and Mary Beard.  Simply excellent.  Perhaps second only to Paul Johnson's book on the topic in terms of the insight and enjoyment it provided.

Shakespeare's Kings - John Julius Norwich.  The reviews seem mixed on this one, but I rather liked it.  Deserves to make the list if only because it: 1) finally got me to actually read all the plays about the kings Henry; and 2) greatly aided my understanding in that regard.

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower - Professor X.  College isn't for everyone.  Or, if it is--which I doubt--our schools fail to prepare people in this regard.  An important if depressing book.

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming - Rod Dreher.  Part memoir, part paean to his late sister, this book, which I reviewed here, is touching, without being sentimental.  Much recommended.

And lastly, as my piece of fiction:

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck.  I choose this less to puff up my chest at my good taste--I enjoyed a famous novel!--than to remind us of its timeliness.  If the next great American novel has been published, I would be among the last to know, but there's a need for someone to do for our recession what Steinbeck did for the Great Depression.  Read his book until that one comes along.

2014 Reading List

Read
The Crisis of Christendom - Warren Carroll
Tea Party Catholic - Samuel Gregg
The Fellowship of the Ring - J. R. R. Tolkien (*)
The Two Towers - J. R. R. Tolkien (*)
The Return of the King - J. R. R. Tolkien (*)
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco (*)
Dad is Fat - Jim Gaffigan
Grimm's Fairy Tales
An Anxious Age - Joseph Bottum
Summa Theologica - Thomas Aquinas (Vol. V of V)
Darwin: Portrait of a Genius - Paul Johnson
Purgatorio - Dante Alighieri (*)
Love and Responsibility - Karol Wojtyla
The Black Rose - Thomas B. Costain
The Image - Daniel Boorstin
Dracula - Bram Stoker
The Ballad of the White Horse - G. K. Chesterton
Real Education - Charles Murray
Daily Life in Ancient Rome - Jerome Carcopino
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
The Quest for Community - Robert Nisbet
How to Love Your Wife - John R. Buri
A History of the World in 6 Glasses Paperback - Tom Standage
Paradiso - Dante Alighieri (*)
Brave New Family - G. K. Chesterton
Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique Of A Heritage - Jacques Barzun
Leisure: The Basis of Culture - Josef Pieper
Gargantua and Pantagruel - Fran├žois Rabelais
The Man Who Was Thursday - G. K. Chesterton (*)
The Art of Manliness - Manvotionals -  Brett and Kate McKay
The Conquest of Civilization - James Henry Breasted
Out of the Silent Planet - C. S. Lewis
Philebus - Plato
The Church and the World in which the Church Was Founded - Msgr. Phillip Hughes
The Church and the World the Church Created - Msgr. Phillip Hughes
Just Married – Gregory and Lisa Popcak
Perelandra - C. S. Lewis
The Ordeal of Civilization - James Harvey Robinson
Being and Some Philosophers - Etienne Gilson
Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power - Josef Pieper
The Guns of August - Barbara Tuchman
George Washington - Paul Johnson
Baby Catcher - Peggy Vincent
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (*)
The Death of Christian Culture - John Senior

* Denotes reread