I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve read this year. If you’re like me you are always looking for a good book to read. I hope my list helps. I offer little or no analysis or criticism, just a peek inside with a short excerpt when I thought it might be helpful.
Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar Nunez. Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America, 1961. A “semi-offical report to the king of Spain by the ranking surviving officer of a royal expedition to conquer Florida which fantastically miscarried.” A decent account, one I would recommend to someone interested in these type stories. I was amazed at all the people they encountered and the cultures and customs described.
Coelho, Paulo. Eleven Minutes, 2006. From the author of The Alchemist, a book full of good things about life.
“…really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other.”
Marden, Orison Swett. Pushing to the Front, 1911. A long book full of advice, most of it good but the reader is bludgeoned by repetition. This book caused me to switch to decaffeinated coffee.
“The world does not dictate what you shall do, but it does demand that you do something, and that you shall be a king in your line.”
Henry, Todd. The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, 2011. This book revived my curiosity of creativity.
Blackmore, Richard Doddridge. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor, 1869. This book was a recommendation from my brother. He was assigned the book in high school. We are both better for having read it. The favorite novel at Yale in 1906.
Paterniti, Michael. Love and Other Ways of Dying, 2015. A collection of well-written short stories. Great writing.
“…a life isn’t one paragraph long…”
“Grief is a walk to the ending you already know…”
Conescu, William. Being Written, 2008. A story about a character in a book who realizes he is in a book and tries to elevate himself from a minor character to a major character. A great concept executed only reasonably well. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book. Take it or leave it.
Herriot, James. The Lord God Made Them All, 1981. A collection of stories written by a 20th century English veterinarian. Ernest, heartfelt, humorous, and matter-of-fact.
“…the fact that nothing has happened to you makes it more probable that something is waiting around the corner. It’s simple mathematics.”
Asacker, Tom. I am Keats: Escape Your Mind and Free Your Self, 2017. Samuel Taylor Coleridge or John Keats?
“And that’s because life is not a scripted story, even though it appears that way. Life is improv. We’re making it up as we go. But no one will admit it, because it sounds really scary to say it: Nobody knows anything.”
Albom, Mitch. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, 2015. My first experience with this author but a good one. I loved this book. The fact its main character is a guitarist, and the book is written around music, made it all the better.
“But everyone joins a band in this life. Only some of them play music.”
Benjamin, Melanie. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, 2011. There must be fifty books on my top ten list and this is one of them.
“I wondered if this was how it always felt when all your dreams came true. Perhaps, after living with them for so long, did you simply toss them away - and begin to dream about something else?”
Byrne, David. Bicycle Diaries, 2009. Social commentary and a study of cities from a bicycle. A decent book but not nearly as good as his book How Music Works.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if poetry - poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and deigns - how the world works. the world isn’t logical, it’s a song.”
Smith, Lee. Dimestore: A Writer’s Life, 2016. Beautiful language.
“But sometime on Christmas Day - around the tree or at the table - there will come a moment when conversation spontaneously ceases while we pause, and remember. One of those little silences that sometimes fall upon us all - angels passing.”
Kreider, Tim. We Learn Nothing, 2012. Excellent writing. No more, no less.
“…the assumption is that is we could just explain the facts clearly, build a convincing enough argument, eventually everyone would come around to his conclusion. But people aren’t interested in lectures; they want to hear stories.”
Vance, J.D. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, 2016. This book may deserve 4.5 stars, or 5 stars, (out of five) but I feel comfortable giving it four.
“But social capital is all around us. Those who tap into it and use it prosper. Those who don’t are running life’s race with a major handicap.”
Honore’, Carl. In Praise of Slowness, 2004. I did not finish this book. I couldn’t finish it. A great idea, poorly executed and poorly edited.
“…events in history held at dawn? Not because our ancestors were partial to early rises, but because dawn was the one time that everyone could identify and agree on.”
Wilder, Gene. What is this Thing Called Love?, 2010. A collection of short stories by one of my favorite people. Not my favorite work of his but good work nonetheless.
“He felt as if he had just seen a French film without subtitles.”
Crockett, David. Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee, 1834. David (Davy) Crockett killed a stunning number of bears. He should have worn a bear-skin cap instead of a (ra)coon-skin cap.
“I know very well how to tell the truth, but not much about placing them in book order, so as to please critics.”
Towles, Amor. A Gentleman in Moscow, 2016. One of the best novels I’ve ever read. It is one of the fifty in my top ten list. A fantastic story; I may read it a second time and I am sure to watch the movie should it be produced. I pictured Ralph Fiennes as the “gentleman” as I read the book. He would be perfect for the movie.
“For as it turns out, one can revisit the past quite pleasantly, as long as one does so expecting nearly every aspect of it to have changed.”
Andrist, Ralph K. The Erie Canal, 2016. In this book I found connections to my distant and not so distant past. Low Bridge, Everybody Down.
“But most Americans, because of the great size of their country, were always in a hurry to get places and rather liked the idea of all the speed.”
Kleon, Austin. Steal Like an Artist, 2012. Another milestone in my curiosity with creativity.
“…creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out.”
Orwell, George. 1984, 1949. OK, I was supposed to read this in high school. I did not. The book is not exactly what I expected, it was much better.
“It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body.”
Jutkowitz, Alexander. The Strategic Storyteller, 2017. Another BookBub recommendation so I probably paid $1.99. It is certainly worth this.
“Wisdom is a distillation of what is useful.”
“Wonder also inherently contains pleasure mixed with the unexpected.”
Goins, Jeff. Real Artists Don’t Starve, 2017.
“Nobody wants to struggle, after all, so we keep our passion a hobby and follow a predictable path toward mediocrity.”
Goins, Jeff. You are a Writer, 2012.
“It’s the Age of No Excuse - where anything is possible and the only thing holding you back is you.”
Standiford, Les. Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, 2002. I don’t remember how I found this book but what a treasure. In it I found another connection to my past. I will, and have, recommended it.
“There are no more men like Henry Flagler, and there are no more dreams like his.”
Henry, Todd. Die Empty: Unleash your Best Work Every Day, 2013. From the creator of “The Accidental Creative”. I plan to send copies of this book to a few friends and at least one family member.
“Your legacy is built one decision at a time.”
“Your job is a collection of activities that allow you to add value to the world.”
Klickmann, Flora. The Lure of the Pen: A Book for Would-Be Authors, 1920. I found this book on the Forgotten Books website. It is written with a pithy, British tone.
“When you sit down pen in hand with the intention of writing something - write!”
“Steady, quiet, consecutive reading is necessary if we are to do steady, quiet, consecutive thinking; and, without such thinking, it is impossible to write anything worth whiles.”
Please share your recommendations. Thanks for reading.