December 2023 books read

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach, 1970. I read this yet again (last time was Nov ’19); I think because it’s so short, it’s on the bookcase next to the bed, and there’s something about Jonathan’s quest to be a better seagull that still speaks to me despite how cheesy it is.
  • Round the Bend – Nevil Shute, 1951. How strange – I also last read this in November 2019, right after JLS! Ah, I must have started my re-read last month after finishing The Last Temptation of Christ, and when my Nook ran out of charge I picked up JLS; I can see the connection now. I told the Great Books folks that I thought Round the Bend captured what a prophet might be like in real life more effectively than Kazantzakis did (for me at least), and JLS also becomes a prophet to the Flock.
  • The Blue Castle – L. M. Montgomery, 1926. Another book I was led to by the amazing commentariat at Ask a Manager (a username is “Valancy Stirling” and so many people remarked she’s a great character). Very satisfying revolt of a trod-upon woman who finds herself – and love into the bargain.
  • The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family – Joshua Cohen, 2021. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry – Bryan Sykes, 2001. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • David Copperfield – Charles Dickens, 1850. Re-read. Fresh quotes pulled (many more than in 2016, but I bet all of those will be in there), TBD.
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers, 1940. I just re-read this last year – this time is my third book group that’s chosen it (never my recommendation) but it gets better every time.
  • The Running Grave – Robert Galbraith, 2023. “Sorely needed editing – long, slow-moving, boring, and also implausible” (for Massachusetts Center for the Book reading challenge, “a book published in 2023,” but see below).
  • The Daybreakers – Louis L’Amour, 1960. I accidentally did next December’s challenge because I didn’t realize I was looking at the 2024 page: “A well-reviewed book in your least favorite genre.” I picked Westerns and started The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt but didn’t care for it, so I fell back on a highly-rated L’Amour. My write-up: “An entertaining yarn with good characterization; my favorite thread was the importance of reading on the frontier, and Tyrel Sackett learning to write so he can correspond with his love interest” – but I couldn’t submit it and I’ll probably want to pick a different book next December. L’Amour’s reference to Bull Durham books led me down a rabbit hole. I’ll do that as a separate post!
  • The Screwtape Letters – C. S. Lewis, 1942. I wanted an easy comfort re-read (I last have this listed before my 5-year blog hiatus, but I think I may have forgotten one or more times in between… I forgot this one until a week into January!) and this always reminds me of my father. We shared a love/hate interest in Lewis, and he was both amused and semi-horrified that his name was a palindrome of “Screwtape.”
  • Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life – Michael Neill, 2009. A quick read, run-of-the-mill self help, on the woo end of the spectrum, but I loved that he recommends a self-improvement vacation: “Take a week off from working on yourself in any way. Don’t try to change, improve, or fix yourself – just enjoy hanging out with your work, your hobbies, and your loved ones.” I also looked up Syd Banks (a huge source of woo!), and Neill properly attributes the hedgehog/fox contrast to Archilochus instead of Isaiah Berlin, which impressed me.
  • The Birthday of the World – Ursula K. Le Guin, 2002. Read for Calmgrove’s #LoveHain. Next month Chris is doing an overview post, but this is the last of the monthly reads; I’ve so much enjoyed it!

Year in review

Goodreads shows 123 books read and 39,233 pages, so a little down from last year. Shortest was Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys (Curious George origin story) at 48 pages, and longest was Maia at 1056 pages. About 3.8 million other people read Jane Eyre (happy for all of them!) and only 11 read Paddle for Water: Canoeing 5000 Miles across America with a Message to Share and a Man I Never Intended to Marry (which means many people are missing out!).

On the blog, I’ve kept up with the monthly lists. I’ve fallen behind on publishing the quote dumps, but I’m closer to being caught up with the actual quote transcription, which is what most matters to me. I still have a backlog on my Nook but I made a lot of progress on physical books I own (except Proust, that’s going to be a bear) and on the many Google docs I had created while bus commuting pre-pandemic. Right now I have 358 published posts and 192 in draft. I think it was over 200 last year but I didn’t record it; now I have a metric at least.

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