Books read, 2017

I made my way through 45 books in 2017. As always, it’s never enough — but I was glad to have read most of these, with only a couple of clunkers. They’re listed below in the order in which I read them, as pulled from my monthly Reading Log posts on this blog.

  1. “Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters,” Anne K. Mellor
  2. “A Tramp Abroad,” Mark Twain
  3. “Wanted Man: In Search of Bob Dylan,” John Bauldie, ed.
  4. “A Working Man’s Apocrypha,” William Luvaas
  5. “The Variable Man,” Philip K. Dick
  6. “The Invisible Man,” H.G. Wells
  7. “Behold the Man,” Michael Moorcock
  8. “The Female Man,” Joanna Russ
  9. “Funny in Farsi,” Firoozeh Dumas
  10. “Wolf in White Van,” John Darnielle
  11. “Reading Comics,” Douglas Wolk
  12. “Bloodhounds on Broadway and Other Stories,” Damon Runyon
  13. “Reporters: Memoirs of a Young Newspaperman,” Will Fowler
  14. “The World of Jimmy Breslin,” Jimmy Breslin
  15. “You Know Me Al,” Ring Lardner
  16. “The Island of Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer
  17. “Treasure Island,” Robert Louis Stevenson
  18. “Treasure Island!!!,” Sara Levine
  19. “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” H.G. Wells
  20. “On Chesil Beach,” Ian McEwan
  21. “The Slide,” Kyle Beachy
  22. “Galactic Pot-Healer,” Philip K. Dick
  23. “Jose Clemente Orozco: Prometheus,” Pomona College Museum of Art, eds.
  24. “Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything,” Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
  25. “Julius Caesar,” William Shakespeare
  26. “Antony and Cleopatra,” William Shakespeare
  27. “From Bill, With Love,” Bill McClellan
  28. “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” Michael Chabon
  29. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip,” Robert Landau
  30. “Slaughterhouse-Five,” Kurt Vonnegut
  31. “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer,” Philip K. Dick
  32. “Prometheus 2017: Four Artists From Mexico Revisit Orozco,” Rebecca McGrew and Terri Geis, eds.
  33. “How to Win a Pullet Surprise: The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Our Language,” Jack Smith
  34. “The Puppet Masters,” Robert Heinlein
  35. “The Toynbee Convector,” Ray Bradbury
  36. “One Hundred and Two H-Bombs,” Thomas M. Disch
  37. “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” H.P. Lovecraft
  38. “Love Conquers All,” Robert Benchley
  39. “Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance
  40. “It Can’t Happen Here,” Sinclair Lewis
  41. “The Woody Allen Companion,” Stephen Spignesi
  42. “True Stories of Claremont, CA,” Hal Durian
  43. “Readings,” Michael Dirda
  44. “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen
  45. “Happiness is Warm Color in the Shade: a Biography of Artist Milford Zornes,” Hal Baker

As usual I read more fiction than nonfiction, a couple of recent books, a few things for work and a lot of older books, both in when they were published or in when I acquired them. Any year in which you read two Shakespeare plays is going to be a pretty good year. How was your own year in reading?

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  • Dara Allen

    As usual, when I read reviews of books, I add several of the titles and authors to my “must-read” list! Thanks for sharing your comments, which help other readers to decide which books would be a good fit for them. “How To Win A Pullet Surprise” will surely appeal to a large number of people!

    • davidallen909

      From the Michael Dirda columns in “Readings,” I jotted down something like 20 titles that seemed interesting. It may go no further than that, but seeing what other people read is often inspiring!

    • Terri Shafer

      I like to get my recommendations from you, Dara! You always give me good ones 🙂

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    I have read 8 of David’s that I remember, one of them this year, The Island of Dr. Moreau. My year’s list includes 106, a high number of the few who chime in on David’s book log, but now number 2 behind Terri Shafer in the last several years (I found out she logs her books in at least one of the same places I do which is not this one, so I can compare numbers.) For those interested, scroll through the columns David lists in the category books, or solve the puzzle of whete else on the web I list them; although I did give away the answer in a previous year. As a first recently, and likely lifetime, nonfiction outnumbered fiction. I think I did well with variety and authors new to me.

    It is 4 years now that I have logged every month here and on the other site; my average over that time is just over 2 per week, better than I thought I would do. There are some more long term unread books I hope to complete this year, and so far January is doing well.

    • davidallen909

      It’s neat to have a way, or multiple ways, of looking back on your year and seeing trends or patterns in what you chose to read, isn’t it? I just now realized nearly 40 percent of my books would qualify as nonfiction, which surprises me.

      Several books, fiction and non, had been on my shelves a long time. I’m hoping to focus on that even more in 2018 and am off to a good start as well.

      • Terri Shafer

        I just looked and I’m only at 10% nonfiction for 2017! But am at 30% so far for 2018 😉

      • Richard_Pietrasz

        We both have a 100% NF month in 2017, if I remember correctly.

        • davidallen909

          My December was all non-fiction. If Twain’s travel book counted as NF, January was too, but it probably doesn’t.

        • Doug Evans

          I did a quick count… only 9 of my 70 books from last year were nonfiction (and two of those were “Making of Star Trek” books). I extra-appreciated David’s “books-as-an-escape” column this year… Fiction has always been my jam, as the kids say, but now more than ever.

    • Terri Shafer

      I have only read 5 of David’s, but have at least 3 on my upcoming lists.
      Now I have to try to solve the mystery of where you log your books, Richard!

      • Richard_Pietrasz

        That site is goodreads.com which I have mentioned before. The algorithm for how I found you there once I speculated you might be there is one I believed I revealed in a previous year. Look up obscure books someone you suspect has read. For me, try Warsaw A Bird’s Eye View as one of several with the only entry by Richp.

        • Terri Shafer

          I think I found you! Very clever 🙂

          • Doug Evans

            I found both of you (thanks to these hints), and, inspired by Richard’s comments, I’ve updated my page for the first time in eight years. I’m on there as Doug Evans and also, I think, devans1701, though I’m never sure how all that works. See you at Goodreads! Also, here on the blog! I’m not abandoning the blog!

          • davidallen909

            No one may abandon the blog! [locks everyone inside the blog]

  • Doug Evans

    Finally chiming in!

    I read 70 books this past year! All kinds of random stuff… short story collections, science fiction, short story collections of science fiction, a few classics, some “dad books” (books my dad likes: John Grisham and Michael Connelly), books chosen for my book club, four Doctor Who books. Not nearly enough books from the Giant Stack of Unread Books, but I did read some, so there’s that. It seems like if I’m reading 70 books in a year, I could be knocking down that stack a little, but it never seems to work out that way. I certainly didn’t follow my four-year plan, announced in this exact space one year ago, in which I would attack that stack in a systematic way: the first year, as I recall, would be to read books given to me as gifts; the next, super-lengthy books I never make time for; the third, classics; and the fourth, short story collections. No more plans. I’ll just keep reading whatever. I like it that way. Some day in the hopefully far-off future, my daughter will be giving away boxes of books, thinking, “How many of these did dad actually read?” (Hint to future daughter: it’s all right here on the David Allen Reading Log!)

    Except! I have developed one plan: I’ve decided I’m going to tackle Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. (Speaking of Dad books.) I read a couple of those a couple of years ago, mentioned sometime back on this blog, but I moved on to other things. The most recent one got a good write-up in the Times, so I got the ebook version from the library, liked it, and decided I’m going to tackle the whole series, one book per month, starting with #2 since I read #1 a few years back (see previous sentence). Child has written 22 Jack Reacher books, and I’ve read three, counting the most recent one, so this will take me a little less than two years. This is perhaps not nearly as cool (nor as column-worthy!) as my one-Dickens-a-year 15-year-long project (and it also does nothing to cut down on the Giant Stack, since I don’t any of the Jack Reacher books), but, whatever. It’ll be fun.

    Also! I’ve decided I’m going to read Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer private eye series, the logical follow-up to the Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler books I’ve read and posted about here on the Log. But for a little variety I’m going to try to collect them all first. That will give me a chance to get through the Jack Reacher series first and will also give me something to look for when I go into a used bookstore, since I often stumble around the stacks with no plan in mind. Which is fine in itself, but it’s also nice to have a purpose. Also, I really should be selling books back to the used bookstores and not adding more to my Stack, but at some point I have to accept that this is a sickness for which there is no cure. Some men gamble, some men chase women, I add books to the Giant Stack of Used Books.

    I enjoy reading these book-related posts every month, and I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s year-end comments. Usually right here I say: Here’s to a happy 2018! but the current political and local newspaper situation being what it is, that may ring a little hollow. So here’s to a continued escape in books! See you all next year for 2019! (Actually, see you all in about a week for the January Reading Log, but the first way sounds more dramatic.)

    • Terri Shafer

      Doug, I love your plans! I always make plans then often don’t go by them 🙁
      So I’m interested to see how you do with your Jack Reacher novels. Although, you’re right, I’m more impressed by Charles Dickens 😉
      Happy reading for 2018!

      • davidallen909

        The trick, really, is to buy fewer books than you read. I had to put a lid on purchases a few years ago when I read more than 50 books one year and realized I’d replaced all but one. At this rate I had no hope of ever catching up.

        Now, between reading, culling and buying books only sporadically, I’m making headway — although I still have two or three times more unread books as Doug.

        Still, refreshing the stacks with some new books is always a good idea, and if you want to launch off into Child and Macdonald, you should do it if you’re enthusiastic about it. As long as you someday read that Twain collection I gave you, we’re good.

        • Doug Evans

          Heh! That Twain book would knock three items at once off of last year’s aborted plan: classics, collections of short stories, and books received as a gift. Even though I’ve abandonded the plan, the book is still very much on my to-read list! It sits on my nightstand as a daily reminder to me, complete with your nice inscription on the inside!

      • Doug Evans

        Thanks, and you too! 🙂

    • Richard_Pietrasz

      I have accepted that the unread pile will continue to grow. On the whole, books I buy at library and thrift shops are pretty good, and I rue the good book I thought about but did not get far more than the net increase in the unread pile. I did spend a dollar more a week ago for a book I rued; my wife dragged me to a Goodwill in LA and there it was. It was her disappointment my shopping was more productive and faster than hers, and I also got and since read a Hugo/Nebula novel.

      As to specific goals, I will stick to 2 books a week with plenty of nonfiction and variety. I generally wear out on individual authors, even if I pace them at one or two per year. Ross MacDonald is one of my favorites, few of his last long as unread, but they do not appear where I shop often. I will try to knock off Great Expectations.

      Good reading to all this year!

      • davidallen909

        About wearing out on individual authors, I hear you. While I have burned through a dozen Bradbury, PKD or Ellison books in a white heat, in most cases one a year by an author is sufficient for me. It’s a treat to me to savor one Lovecraft annually. On one hand I’m sheepish that I have progressed so slowly through the Fu Manchu and Travis McGee novels, but they’re similar enough, I think, that I just can’t whip up the enthusiasm to plow through them as some would.