Books read, 2018

In 2018 I read 47 books. My reading tends to be of older books, many of which have languished on my shelves unread for years. My total is never enough, but it’s something. (One friend suggested I stand next to my pile, but really, it rises only a little above my knee. My stack and I would both feel diminished by the comparison.)

Here’s the full list in the order I finished ’em, as drawn from my monthly Reading Log posts on this blog. (I’ve done this annual list a few years now; here’s 2017’s.)

  1. Pale Gray for Guilt,” John D. MacDonald
  2. “The Shadow of Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer
  3. “Glimpses,” Lewis Shiner
  4. “Beginning to See the Light,” Ellen Willis
  5. “The Left Hand of Darkness,” Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. “Gather, Darkness!” Fritz Leiber
  7. “Lest Darkness Fall,” L. Sprague de Camp
  8. “A Scanner Darkly,” Philip K. Dick
  9. “The Harlan Ellison Hornbook,” Harlan Ellison (duh)
  10. “Edgeworks Vol. 3,” Harlan Ellison (and RIP)
  11. “Tricky Business,” Dave Barry
  12. “Hollywood Station,” Joseph Wambaugh
  13. “How to Find Old Los Angeles,” Kim Cooper
  14. “The 20th Century’s Greatest Hits,” Paul Williams
  15. “The Fifties,” David Halberstam
  16. “Land of 1000 Dances: Chicano Rock ‘n’ Roll from Southern California,” David Reyes and Tom Waldman
  17. “The Complete Humorous Sketches and Tales of Mark Twain,” Charles Neider, ed.
  18. “We Can Build You,” Philip K. Dick
  19. “The Baker Street Letters,” Michael Robertson
  20. “The Treasurer’s Report, or Other Aspects of Community Singing,” Robert Benchley
  21. “Make Room! Make Room!,” Harry Harrison
  22. “The Door Into Summer,” Robert Heinlein
  23. “Knockin’ on Dylan’s Door,” the editors of Rolling Stone
  24. “The Glass Key,” Dashiell Hammett
  25. “Re-Enter Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer
  26. “Housekeeping,” Marilynne Robinson
  27. “The Seven Lost Ranchos of Our Inland Valley,” Bob Smith
  28. “As You Like It,” William Shakespeare
  29. “Addicted to Americana,” Charles Phoenix
  30. “Selected Tales and Sketches,” Nathaniel Hawthorne
  31. “The Ganymede Takeover,” Philip K. Dick and Ray Nelson
  32. “The Dream Detective,” Sax Rohmer
  33. “The Feral Detective,” Jonathan Lethem
  34. “The Trial,” Franz Kafka
  35. “The Sheep Look Up,” John Brunner
  36. “The Maltese Falcon (Film Classics Library),” Richard J. Anobile
  37. “Cats, Dogs and Other Strangers at My Door,” Jack Smith
  38. “The Perfect Horse,” Elizabeth Letts
  39. “The Doom That Came to Sarnath and Other Stories,” H.P. Lovecraft
  40. “Echo Round His Bones,” Thomas M. Disch
  41. “Banking on Beauty,” Adam Arenson
  42. “O Pioneers!” Willa Cather
  43. “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage,” Todd Gitlin
  44. “Haircut and Other Stories,” Ring Lardner
  45. “Ritchie Valens, the First Latino Rocker,” Beverly Mendheim
  46. “Janis,” David Dalton
  47. “Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, the Middle Years, 1974-1986,” Paul Williams

I reflect on my year in reading in Wednesday’s column. You can reflect on yours, or mine for that matter, in the comments below.

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  • Hugh C. McBride

    I’ve only read one of these books (Todd Gitlin’s THE SIXTIES, which I read back in the 90s, I believe). But by coincidence I’m about 50 pages into THE FERAL DETECTIVE, which I just started the other day. So it appears that I’ve already made more progress in my “Be More Like David Allen” effort in 2019 than I did last year. (Yay, me!)

    As as literature major & former high school English teacher, I probably should’ve read AS YOU LIKE IT at some point, so I’d appreciate if you keep that shameful gap in my reading history as our little secret.

    Also, I’m the proud owner of an autographed copy of Mr. Phoenix’s ADDICTED TO AMERICANA, so maybe I’ll put that one on my 2019 list. I’ve perused it a bit, but it may be time for the proverbial deep dive.

    Here’s to another successful year of reading!

    • davidallen909

      I wish you success both in reading and in your Be More Like David Allen effort. Hilariously, this coincides with my Be More Like Hugh McBride campaign. What will happen when you become more like someone who’s modeling himself after you? Hijinx!

      You want me to keep your Shakespeare reading gap a secret? As you like it.

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    I read 125, my highest total.since I started keeping track, and almost certainly my highest since college. Three were read by both David and me this year, and I have read at least 5 more on David ‘s list in prior years.

    No picture, as I actually recycled by donation, or trade at my nearest Little Free Library, about 20 books, and 16 were ebooks.

    61 were nonfiction, certainly an all time record for me, and 64 were fiction. Once again, many authors were new to me at book length, 45 NF and 32 F. Four authors (and one photographer) have two books on my list, and none more. 22 books were by women authors, and parts of others. There were five short story collections, two plays, two written before 1800, and one poetry.

    I took a week long cruise to Alaska, and learned that while there was a library with enough good books to satisfy a reader for weeks, the ship is very noisy. Despite that, there were a lot of readers using tablets or phones to read. I read three Alaska and one Yukon book.

    • davidallen909

      125 is staggering, Richard. If I could read that many in a year, my backlog would be gone within two years. And great that you almost certainly read more books last year than in any year of your adult life so far.

      I think my total was around 40 percent nonfiction, likely a high for me either in percentage or total books read.

      • Richard_Pietrasz

        Terri Shafer’s totals have been more impressive the past few years. It helps a lot to be retired. It also helps to be too lazy to figure out if anything on TV is worth watching. I occasionally watch a bit if my wife has something interesting on.

        • Terri Shafer

          Absolutely right! 🙂

    • Terri Shafer

      Very impressive!

  • Terri Shafer

    Yes, you’re right, there’s a lot more time to read when you’re retired! When I worked I only read about 2 books/month — I was always excited if I ever reached 30/year! So you working people, just keep reading — your extra reading will come!
    And, Rich, you’re right, less TV does give a lot more reading time!

    So…I read about 130 “selections” this year but several were short stories and children’s books (so take a few off that number).
    When I looked at my stats, I read:
    85% Fiction
    15% NonFiction (I hope to up that in 2019)

    59% Male Authors
    41% Female Authors

    59% Print
    41% Audio

    And some of my favorites for the year were:
    Doctor Zhivago/Pasternak
    A Passage to India/Forster
    Calypso/Sedaris
    Vanity Fair/Thackeray
    It Can’t Happen Here/Lewis
    Cry, the Beloved Country/Paton
    Light in August/Faulkner
    King Leopold’s Ghost/Hochschild
    African Queen/Forester
    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine/Honeyman
    A Bell for Adano/Hersey
    God and Mr. Gomez/Smith
    and last, but certainly not least,
    Getting Started/Allen!

    Thanks everybody for the great recommendations and literary camaraderie! It’s fun seeing what everyone’s reading each month. And David’s droll witticisms are certainly worth waiting for (no pressure, David). 😉
    Happy Reading in 2019!!

    • davidallen909

      I had not realized you were listening to audio books at that clip, Terri. Do you think you get through books more slowly or faster that way?

      I notice your percentages for audio books/print and male/female authors were identical. It would be funny if all your audio books were by male authors!

      “An audio book by a female author? Nope, not interested, sorry.”

      I had that was droll enough to be worth a day’s wait, Terri!

      • Terri Shafer

        Haha! Very droll indeed!! 😉
        FYI – My audio reading stats show 75% male and 25% female authors. Whereas, my print authors are 50/50 male v. female!
        And I was surprised this year that my audio was up that high. I usually do approximately 60% print and 40% audio.
        And in answer to your question, I don’t know if I get through them any more quickly on audio, but I do get through more books because I can read while cleaning the bathroom or raking leaves, etc.! Which is pretty cool when it is a job you really don’t want to do, but you get to read a book at the same time!! Makes the job much less painful! 🙂

  • Doug Evans

    I’ve made two Near Year’s Resolutions!

    One is to be a little more Johnny-on-the-spot with my comments on these blog posts (and not wait, say, nine days to comment).

    The other is to read more books from my Giant Stack of Unread Books pile.

    I’ll probably make some headway in the first one!

    I made it through 58 books for the year! Down from 70 from the year before and (yikes) 82 in 2016. Part of that was reading three books in the “Game of Thrones” series, which should really count as about four books each, but that’s not how this game is played. When you play the Game of Books, you read, or you die! (That’s funny to Game of Thrones fans.) (Maybe not even to them.) One thing I did not do this past year is make a lot of headway in my Giant Stack of Unread Books, which I never seem to do, and it’s probably time that I stop promising myself at the start of each year that I will. Somewhere out there, Marie Kondo is shedding a silent, subtitled tear.

    Or maybe not! I love you, Marie Kondo!

    https://www.eonline.com/news/1006128/relax-marie-kondo-says-you-can-keep-your-books

    I looked quickly over my reading list from 2018 and didn’t really come up with any patterns… I read 13 Jack Reacher books (one a month, with two read in August); 4 nonfiction, all in the memoir/autobiography category (Carrie Fisher, William Shatner, Peter Sagal of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” fame, and a woman who moved to Paris and decided to write a book about it); two books in the dead-author’s-estate-authorizes-a-new-book-by-a-different-author genre (Philip Marlowe and James Bond); a whole lot of science fiction, most of it old; and a whole lot of mysteries/thrillers, a mix of old and new.

    I slowed down a bit starting in August, as mentioned above, thanks to my reread of the Game of Thrones series. I finished the third book in time for the November reading log, and am working my way through the fourth and fifth simultaneously (there’s a reason for that! which I will share here in the log once I finish), but I’ve found myself reading other, shorter books in the meantime, maybe for a change of pace. So look for more books in the January log but no Game of Thrones until February at the earliest (those books are big).

    And I’m making my (very enjoyable way) through “On Track” by David Allen! I read a column or two a night. I just got to page 96! Everyone go open your copy of “On Track” to page 96 to see why that’s a big deal.

    I always enjoy the heck out of these end-of-the-year round-ups, reading David’s and the other commenters’ thoughts on what they read and how they felt about it. I look forward to the day (far off in the distant future for me) when I can get through 125 or 130 books in a year!

    Happy 2019, and happy reading, everyone!

    • Terri Shafer

      You did good in 2018, Doug!
      I love the new genre that you have established “the dead-author’s-estate-authorizes-a-new-book-by-a-different-author” genre — that’s a good one!
      And, never mind Marie Kondo. To quote her “Does it give you joy?” and when it comes to books the answer is “Yes!”
      Just enjoy your Giant Stack but Keep Reading! 😉