Books read, 2013


I don’t mean to seem to be all about numbers, but when you’ve let your unread books pile up, as I’ve done, measuring your progress takes a higher priority than it would otherwise. For this photo, I piled up the books I read in 2013. Since I began reading intensively again, I’ve read 75 in 2013, 80 in 2012, 60 in 2011, 52 in 2010 and 58 in 2009. Hey, that’s five years! Five years and 325 books. No sense in stopping now, so I’m going to keep reading.

Authors most represented in 2013: two each by Suzanne Collins, Nick Hornby and Jonathan Lethem; three by Dave Barry; and, er, 16 by Harlan Ellison. (Or 15. “Ellison Wonderland” and “Earthman, Go Home” are the same book with different introductions. I count them as one.) Last year, this author list was longer, with multiple authors in the two-, three- and four-book list. I guess this means, Ellison aside, that a lot of my reading was one-offs.

How did I not read any Mark Twain for two straight years?! Definitely I’ll read “A Tramp Abroad” this year. Of course, last year in this space I said I’d be starting it “any day now.” I won’t make that promise, but I will read it.

Sunday’s column is about my reading from last year. Below is a list of every title.

1. “Around the World in 80 Days,” Jules Verne

2. “We’ll Always Have Paris,” Ray Bradbury

3. “The Brazil Series,” Bob Dylan

4. “Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” Joan Didion

5. “Holy Land,” D.J. Waldie

6. “America (The Book),” Jon Stewart and The Daily Show

7. “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac

8. “Icons of the Highway,” Tony and Eva Worobiec

9. “Exile on Main Street (33 1/3 series),” Bill Janovitz

10. “Angry Candy,” Harlan Ellison

11. “Strange Wine,” Harlan Ellison

12. “Cat’s Pajamas and Witch’s Milk,” Peter De Vries

13. “Smith on Wry,” Jack Smith

14. “The Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins

15. “A Moveable Feast,” Ernest Hemingway

16. “The Accordion Repertoire,” Franklin Bruno

17. “The Pearl,” John Steinbeck

18. “Selected Poems,” e.e. cummings

19. “Kafka Americana,” Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz

20. “Adventures in Pet Sitting,” Michael Arterburn

21. “From Bauhaus to Our House,” Tom Wolfe

22. “Anguished English,” Richard Lederer

23. “The Elements of Style,” William Strunk and E.B. White

24. “How to Kick the War Habit,” T. Willard Hunter

25. “Leaves of Grass” (1855 Edition), Walt Whitman

26. “The End of the Tether,” Joseph Conrad

27. “Ask the Dust,” John Fante

28. “An Education: The Screenplay,” Nick Hornby

29. “Our Town,” Thornton Wilder

30. “Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway,” Dave Barry

31. “Housekeeping vs. The Dirt,” Nick Hornby

32. “The Rock Snob’s Dictionary,” David Kamp and Steven Daly

33. “Candide,” Voltaire

34. “Dylan: The 5 Minute Visual Bob-ography,” Roy Gyongy Fox

35. “The Mezzanine,” Nicholson Baker

36. “The Early Worm,” Robert Benchley

37. “The Columnist,” Jeffrey Frank

38. “The Best of Jack Williamson”

39. “Over the Edge,” Harlan Ellison

40. “The Planet of the Apes Chronicles,” Paul Woods

41. ”The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Michael Pollan

42. “Ulysses,” James Joyce

43. “Boogers are my Beat,” Dave Barry

44. “Ellison Wonderland”/”Earthman, Go Home,” Harlan Ellison

45. “Paingod and Other Delusions,” Harlan Ellison

46. “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World,” Harlan Ellison

47. “Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled,” Harlan Ellison

48. “Stalking the Nightmare,” Harlan Ellison

49. “The Kinks: The Official Biography,” Jon Savage

50. “Approaching Oblivion,” Harlan Ellison

51. “Spider Kiss,” Harlan Ellison

52. “Phoenix Without Ashes,” Edward Bryant and Harlan Ellison

53. “The Book of Ellison,” Andrew Porter, ed.

54. “Elvis: The Illustrated Record,” Roy Carr and Mick Farren

55. “Much Ado About Nothing,” William Shakespeare

56. “Troublemakers,” Harlan Ellison

57. “Googie Redux,” Alan Hess

58. “Diners,” John Baeder

59. “Dave Barry’s Money Secrets,” Dave Barry

60. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales,” Edgar Allan Poe

61. ”The House That Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley 1945-1985,” Harold Nelson

62. ”The Shuttered Room and Other Stories,” H.P. Lovecraft with August Derleth

63. “No Doors, No Windows,” Harlan Ellison

64. “A Room With a View,” E.M. Forster

65. “Catching Fire,” Sizanne Collins

66. “Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Bittersweet Story of 1970,” David Browne

67. “Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic,” Dan Auiler

68. “Henry Bumstead and the World of Hollywood Art Direction,” Andrew Horton

69. “The Art of Alfred Hitchcock,” Donald Spoto

70. “The Films of Alfred Hitchcock,” Robert Harris and Michael Lasky

71. “Mudd’s Angels,” J.A. Lawrence

72. “Casablanca,” Richard Anobile

73. ”Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson,” Kevin Avery, ed.

74. “Chronic City,” Jonathan Lethem

75. “The City on the Edge of Forever,” Harlan Ellison

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  • Doug Evans

    The year-end reading roundup! I look forward to this in the same way most people (at least based on my Facebook feed) look forward to the Superbowl. (I especially liked the Dickens shout-out!)

    In anticipation of this column appearing, I had already counted my grand total for the year:

    54 books read!

    That’s 20 more than last year! Part of that high book count is due to the fact that I stuck mostly to shorter books. My actual page count from last year to this might be equivalent, but I’m not going to scoff at 54 books!

    What I hadn’t thought to do till this column appeared was to see if I could figure out any patterns in my own reading over the year. Like you, whatever plans I may have made at the start of the year went out like a team that didn’t make the Superbowl (see what I did there?). But inspired by the column I went back and discovered the following!

    Author most read: Isaac Asimov, with 8 books

    Started, randomly, by pulling an Asimov novel off my shelf that I’d last read in high school (and that was inspired by pulling an Arthur C. Clarke novel off the same shelf last November, but he got his due in last year’s roundup). That was in January. It was more or less one Asimov a month from there on out.

    Second place: Steinbeck, 7

    Even more randomly: took a trip up the Central Coast with my family in April, and bought “Cannery Row” at an independent bookstore because it seemed like the thing to do (and also because I felt guilty that I’d never read it). Now, half a year later, I’ve read seven Steinbecks, with three more on my plate for this year (but the best laid plans… Hey, of Mice and Men! I just got that!)

    Books with “Doctor Who” in the title: 5

    My guilty pleasure, except I’m not too guilty about it. Long live the Doctor!

    Books read for one of my two books clubs: 13

    Belonging to these clubs has advantages and a disadvantage: The drawback is that I have less time to read books I would choose on my own. That number 13 there represents 13 books I didn’t get to in my giant stack of unread books. The advantage is I’m exposed to books I would never think about reading, most of which I really enjoy. (“Inferno” by Dan Brown, I did not enjoy you.) And I really enjoy the social aspect, getting together with two groups of friends on a regular basis to talk about stuff I like to talk about.

    Books I’d read before: 9

    As I was totaling the above, it occurred to me to tally this category up too. Most of the books here are Asimov books, since I’m basically re-living my junior high and high school reading years, but a few are book club picks I happened to have previously read. Re-reading books, by definition, does nothing to help tackle my giant stack of unread books, so for now that stack will continue to grow (since I keep buying books as well).

    Plans for the new year! I am definitely going to finish “Our Mutual Friend” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” both by Dickens, and thus finish my two-years-behind read-one-Dickens-book-a-year fifteen-year-long project. I love Dickens, and I’m loving “Our Mutual Friend,” but man, it’s a long one! Also on my plate: the three Steinbecks I referred to above (“East of Eden,” “Travels with Charley” and “The Moon is Down.”) For Christmas I received 11 Doctor Who ebooks, one for each Doctor (so far), specially packaged by the publisher in a 50th Anniversary tie-in. I plan to read one of those a month from now till November. And I’ve got one last Asimov waiting for me, and the latest Michael Connelly, and then several hundred other unread books lying around this house.

    I’ll check back in a year’s time and see how well I did with all of that!

    Happy reading 2014, everyone!

    • davidallen909

      I threw Dickens into the column as an elbow in the ribs to you. As for the other reference, to Thoreau, that was random. Walden is a classic that I’ve owned for maybe eight years now and haven’t read. It’s not that I had any intention of reading it last year, but he came to mind.

      Seven Steinbecks? Congratulations. Yes, looking for patterns can be illuminating. It’s like traveling down Cannery Row on your Red Pony and finding a Pearl. (See what I did there?)

  • Mark Allen

    I managed 33 in 2013, up from 22 in 2011 and 18 in 2012.

    In chronological order:

    Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man – James N. Giglio

    Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End – Ph.D. Philip Plait

    Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus – Kyle Idleman

    They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-1945 – Milton Mayer

    With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 – David Stevenson

    Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power – Andrew Nagorski

    The Black Sheep of the Savior Circuit (Saving Lives) – Brock Harmon

    Columbine – Dave Cullen

    Passchendaele: The Untold Story – Robin Prior, Trevor Wilson

    Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base – Annie Jacobsen

    Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe: Ten Misbeliefs That Keep Us from Experiencing God’s Grace – Gary Kinnaman

    The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71 – Sir Alistair Horne

    The War of the Two Emperors: The Duel between Napoleon and Alexander: Russia, 1812 – Curtis Cate

    Saved without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation – John MacArthur

    Anarchy and Christianity – Jacques Ellul

    Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English – John McWhorter

    Caffeine Makes Me Bleed: And How It Can Poison You, Too! – Susan Lynn

    The Everlasting Man – G.K. Chesterton

    Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 – Antony Beevor

    Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports – Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams

    The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30) – Mark Bauerlein

    Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin – Timothy Snyder

    The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? – F.F. Bruce

    Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

    Miracles – C.S. Lewis

    My Life with Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock & Roll – David Ellefson, Joel McIver

    Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Real War on Terror – Jeff Ott

    On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature – C.S. Lewis

    Tales from the Cardinals Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Cardinals Stories Ever Told – Bob Forsch and Tom Wheatley

    The American Dream from an Indian Heart: Living to Learn and Learning to Live – Krish Dhanam

    The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien

    The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness – Steven Levy

    On Pain – Ernst Jünger

    Tied for best of the lot are:

    They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-1945

    Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

    The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)

    Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

    • davidallen909

      Hey, I bought you one or two of those!