Saturday, January 11, 2014

2013: The Year in books

In all of 2013, and on and on, etcetera, I kept a list of the books I read. For some reason, I thought I read more books. But I shouldn't feel bad for only reading 23. According to a recent Huffington Post survey, of 1,000 respondents, 28 percent hadn't read a book in the past year. I'm in a minority, one of 20 percent who read between 11 and 50 books in a year.

No doubt, my reading numbers would go way up if I included books I didn't finish. I went through a pile of books researching the home-buying process, but included none of them on this list because it only includes books I read in their entirety.

The favorite book I read in 2013 is William Least Heat Moon's Prairyerth: A Deep Map, which also, at 624 pages, is the longest book I read. Least Heat Moon explores Chase County, KS, township by township and does so by connecting deep into the landscape, its history, geography, and particular issues; and also the social history of the people who've settled there. This county, population 3,000, is one of the most unassuming locales in America, and Least Heat Moon lives up the challenge of making "flyover country" interesting.

Check out this video in which the author explains what he means by "deep map."



In 2013, I also discovered the works of a quirky relic of the 60s, Richard Brautigan. I started with what I could find in the fiction stacks at the DeKalb Public Library, and read a book published posthumously, An Unfortunate Woman: a Journey. This is very loosely defined as fiction, but is actually the author's journal. In it, he briefly chronicles a trip to DeKalb. I found out that Brautigan did indeed come to DeKalb for 10 days in February 1982, which is outlined in a chronology of his life here.

An excerpt:
Thursday, 18 February 1982
Brautigan flew to Chicago, Illinois, where he was met by Dennis Lynch and driven to DeKalb, Illinois, about 50 miles to the west. Lynch and Brautigan met in 1979, when Brautigan participated in a panel discussion entitled "Zen and Contemporary Poetry" at the 94th annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), 29 December, in San Francisco, California. Lynch organized and chaired the panel. Lynch was an instructor in the English Department at Northern Illinois University and had arranged for Brautigan to visit, teach his class, and give a public reading. Brautigan stayed with Lynch, at his one-bedroom apartment on campus for ten days. Brautigan describes the trip in his novel An Unfortunate Woman (59-64).
Here is the list of books I read in 2013, including the date of completion, title, author, and number of pages.

1/28, Timeline - Michael Crichton (474 pages)
2/10, Manhattan Transfer - John Dos Passos (371)
2/18,  A Year in the Maine Woods - Bernd Heinrich (258)
3/3, Hiking Through: One Man's Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail - Paul Stutzman (332)
3/13, Summers with the Bears: Six Seasons in the North Woods - Jack Becklund (178)
3/17, The Search: The Continuing Story of the Tracker - Tom Brown, Jr. with William Owen (219)
5/28, Mountain Adventure: Exploring the Appalachian Trail - Ron Fisher (200)
6/20, An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey - Richard Brautigan (110)
6/24, The Old Ball Game - Frank Deford (240)
7/20, Prairyerth: A Deep Map - William Least Heat Moon (624)
8/3, House of Sand and Fog - Andre Dubus III (365)
8/18, The Final Solution: A Story of Detection - Michael Chabon (131)
8/27. The Killer Inside Me - Jim Thompson (244)
9/6, Uncommon Carriers - John McPhee (248)
9/29, Without a Hero: And Other Stories - T. Coraghessan Boyle (238)
10/8, Trout Fishing in America - Richard Brautigan (112)
10/15, The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster - Richard Brautigan (108)
11/8, The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years - Greil Marcus (210)
In Watermelon Sugar - Richard Brautigan (138)
11/13, A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisine - Anthony Bourdain (288)
12/8, Heart Songs and Other Stories - E. Annie Proulx (224)
12/15. A Canticle for Liebowitz - Walter M. Miller Jr. (334)
12/30, The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (374)

1 comment:

German Tourist said...

Great idea for a year's Review. I had hoped to know one of these books, but that is Not the case. I like the “extreme cuisine“.