Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Big Read Comes to an End -- Hurrah!

In December I read another 14 books, for a grand, record-smashing 2014 total of 185 books.  Whew!  Boy howdy, I don't want to do that again.  Next year I want to focus on art, so this blog will go unused and/or mutate into something else.  We shall see.

102 of the books were nonfiction and 83 were fiction, for a total of nearly 50,000 pages.  They are listed in previous posts, so here I will just note the ones added in December.

On the Map (Simon Garfield)
One Man's River (Keith Brockie)
Open Horizons (Sigurd Olson)
Out of the Flames (Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone)
A Passion for Books (H. Rabinowitz/R. Kaplan, editors)
The Year of Reading Dangerously (Andy Miller)
The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe (Chet Raymo)
Picture This: How Pictures Work (Molly Bang)
Phantoms on the Bookshelves (Jacques Bonnet)

The Cruelest Month (Louise Penny)
A Rule Against Murder (Louise Penny)
Nuts to You (Lynne Perkins)
The Brutal Telling (Louise Penny)
The Only Thing Worse Than Witches (Lauren Magaziner)

Happy New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Big Read: November 2014 Books Read

I'm happily on my way to obliterating my previous record for books read in one year (147 in 2011), having just finished book number 171 this year.  It's great to have so many good books out there and lots of time to read them.

Here is the list of books read in November.


Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus Christ (Thomas Cahill)
Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Thomas Cahill)

Two more in Cahill's Hinges of History series that looks at crucial turning points in cultural history.

The Mysterious Lands (Ann Zwinger)
The Nearsighted Naturalist (Ann Zwinger)

The first is about four desert regions in the U.S. and the second is a collection of essays by this midwest-based naturalist.

Natural History in the Highlands and Islands (F. Fraser Darling)
Scottish natural history in great detail written in the 1940s; of interest only to odd people like me.

The Natural History of the Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains 1819-1820 (Howard Evans)
It wasn't "Long" because it was long, but because it was led by Major Stephen Long, though you hear very little about him in this interesting book.  Mostly it's about the other members, with lovely illustrations by expedition member Titian Peale.

Nature Walks (Cathy Johnson)
So-so book of essays about nature and art.

The Natural History of Selborne (Gilbert White)
A classic from the late 1700s in which White carefully examines the plants, birds, insects, mammals, and geology in his southwestern English parish in a series of letters.

Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick (Jenny Uglow)
Fascinating biography of the English artist who singlehandedly rescued wood engraving from oblivion with innovative techniques that beautifully illustrated many books on nature and especially birds.  Yes, this is the Bewick for whom Bewick's Wren was named.  Interesting fellow!

Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening (David Hendy)
Even-handed and intriguing account of sound through the ages.

Of Time and Place (Sigurd Olson)
Series of essays by naturalist and adventurer who specialized in canoeing the lakes and rivers of northern Minnesota/lower Canada.


Persuasion (Jane Austen)
I could have sworn that I'd read everything by Austen, yet I did not remember this when I "re" read it, so maybe not!  I liked the story of Anne Elliot and her long-delayed romance, plus it had the virtue of being short.

Comet in Moominland (Tove Jansson)
A re-read of an old favorite children's book.

Still Life (Louise Penny)
A Fatal Grace  "
First two in the mystery series featuring homicide detective Armand Gamache, set in a small town in Quebec.  Good stuff.

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Jussi Adler-Olson)
Mystery by a Danish author featuring Copenhagen homicide detective Carl Morck, who has to come to terms with a devastating shootout while trying to solve the cold case of a missing politician.  Excellent!*
*WARNING: I naturally bought the 2nd in the series, The Absent One, and am very sorry I did, as it is full of sadistic, vicious characters and animal cruelty.  Extremely disappointing after the first book, and after struggling to get even halfway through (with skimming), I gave up, on both the book and the author.

One more month to go on the Big Read -- and then I may take a reading sabbatical.  For at least a few days, anyway.