2016 In Review: Books

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One of the great joys during my day is any time I able to sit down and read. Whether I have a few spare moments on lunch, an early Saturday morning, or a few minutes before bed, I always try to do a little reading every day. I made a commitment to myself some time ago to spend downtime on bettering myself and nurturing positive hobbies, and reading is one such hobby. Maybe one day, I’ll post about my love of reading and the various kinds of books that I enjoy. In the meantime, I am stealing my friend Gordon’s idea and posting a list of the books I read last year. It was a fairly lite year in terms of the number of titles read. To be clear, this is a list of books that I completed in 2016. I still have a few more that I am working on. Those will make a 2017 list. Here are the books I read in 2016 with my brief comments. Note: These are in chronological order, from earliest in the year to the latest.

 

  • Luke Skywalker Can’t Read by Ryan Britt – Britt writes some humorous, if not forgettable, essays on various aspects of nerd pop culture. To be fair, it has been a year since I read this book, so some of his details and points are a little fuzzy for me. Still, it was an interesting read and worth a check-out from the library.
  • Zen in The Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury – A wonderfully written collection that is part history and part “how-to” for writing. Bradbury entertains and informs. He will always be one of the greats and this was one of my favorites this year.
  • The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins – I think this one came to the attention of a lot of people last year, especially through the movie (which I have yet to see). I don’t read thrillers too often, but I found this one entertaining enough. I think it is hyped a little beyond its quality and uniqueness, but certainly worth a read.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – I know bookworms will bemoan what movies to do their favorite pieces of fiction, but I am here to say that Blade Runner is better than its source material, i.e. this novel. It honestly did not grab me as much as the film does (which I have been a fan of for several years), but it was good to go back and read the source material. I have been told by friends that Dick has many other great novels and this is just not one of his best.
  • Will You Please Be Quiet Please? By Raymond Carver – This was an interesting collection of short stories with slices of American life. Good writing and great characters.
  • The Horror of It All by Adam Rockoff – I do enjoy reading books about movies, especially horror movies. That might be the reason why I found this one to be so-so. I did not gain any new insights into the genre nor hear any new arguments, just more-or-less of the same for anyone that reads about horror films.
  • Silence and Beauty by Makoto Fujimura – This one gets tricky. It is essentially a love letter to and analysis of Endo’s Silence. I appreciated this book for its brief look at Christianity in Japan, but honestly, it could have gone through the editorial process a little longer. It was all over the place and the author’s purpose seemed lost at times.
  • Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones – I both loved this book and was let down by this book. I loved it because it gave a great historical analysis of how and why the Magna Carta came into existence. Also, it began with the great premise that modern political discourse has blown Magna Carta out of proportion in terms of what it created and what it did not create. However, it let me know down because by the final chapter, the one where the real analysis should have come in on how its modern influence, the author just ran out of steam. Still, a great work on the history of the famed document.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – I’ve loved the story and various film adaptations for years, so I thought it was time to read the novella. Short and sweet, it was a great spooky story that is perfect for Halloween.
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – Again, mysteries are not my typical genre of choice with reading, but I decided to give one of the masters a try. She did not disappoint. An absolute page turner of a story with an genius-level crafted ending, this was my favorite book that I read in 2016. An all-time classic and a must read for all.
  • A Year Without Purchase by Scott Dannemiller – This began with so much promise, but I think the author took a 100 page idea and stretched it into a 200 page book. The idea of not buying anything (with certain caveats) for an entire year was intriguing, but the premise fell short for me. Some reviewers have gone as far as to call it white people in suburbia problems, but I think it was still an interesting premise. My takeaway was that perhaps we are too quick as society to discard unused/broken items, or alternatively, seek out new items when suitable counterparts already exist in our homes.

 

What books did you read last year that really grabbed or disappointed you? What are your reading goals for 2017? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I’d love to hear your take!

-Andrew

 

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