Monday, May 08, 2017

Books I read in 2016

Books I read in 2016.

Labor Day - Joyce Maynard (242)

They made a movie out of this, but I haven't seen it. This is typical popular fiction. I really felt for the boy because he his mom is a nut job and he has to grow up too soon.

The Three Investigators: The Case of the Cranky Collector - M.V. Carey (182)

I loved the The Three Investigators series when I was a kid. This is the last book in the series. I read this after reading the first three, just for comparative purposes. The quality had definitely fallen off by the end, lacking the suspense and verbal panache of the first books.

I Hike - Lawton Grinter (193)

Lawton hiked the Pacific Crest Trail the same year I did. His book is a humorous and well-written narrative of life on the trail. I was witness to one of the stories, about Disco (Lawton) escaping hypothermia and then enjoying an incredible dinner and virtuouso guitar performance by a caretaker at Ollalie Lake, Oregon.

A Match to the Heart: One Woman's Story of Being Struck By Lightning - Gretel Ehrlich (200)

An insightful examination of the spiritual and neurological effects of getting struck by lightning. I found this book at one of those "Little Libraries" in Sycamore, IL.

The Natural - Bernard Malamud (228)

Easily the best book I read this year. This is a classic for a good reason, a simple tale of redemption that's darker, but full of all the mythos than the movie adaptation.

The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader: Adventure, History, and Legend on the Long-Distance Trail (California) - edited by Rees Hughes and Corey Lee Lewis (303)

A series of articles about the Pacific Crest Trail that not only explores the hiking experience, but horse packers, local lore, the history of the trail, geology, and poetry. I took my time reading this, turning to it each time I need to virtually escape civilization.

A World Out of Time - Larry Niven (246)

Tripped out science fiction. I found the book somewhere. There's time travel. The earth is out of orbit. The seas have boiled away. There's cat-snake creatures. It was a fun, phantasmagoric read.

Jaguars Ripped My Flesh - Tim Cahill (306)

Travel narratives that originally appeared in Outside magazine. A good book for the armchair traveler. Well-researched, thoughtful stories with liberal doses of humor. And drinking. Lots of drinking.

The House on the Borderland - William Hope Hodgson (149)

A classic of horror fantasy. I heard about this book from a New York Times interview with Alan Moore, who brags about having a mint first edition copy of this book. It's a little dated, but is a groundbreaking work that melds science fiction and horror. Too many adverbs, though.

Nostalgia and Glee - C.R. "Luke" McLagan (344)

A history of Sycamore, IL, that is told in a non-chronological series of vignettes. Because it was written in the early 1960s, many of the businesses and place names McLagan mentions no longer exist, and I had a hard time guessing where they were located. I like the reminisces of people hanging out by a wood stove in a hardware store in the winter. And the stories about the many commuter trains that came to town makes me wish public transportation would become popular again.

The Backbone of the World: A Portrait of the Vanishing West Along the Continental Divide - Frank Clifford (274)

Like the earlier volume I read about the Pacific Crest Trail, this book is not about hiking the Continental Divide Trail, but about the hardscrabble lives of people who live year-round near the trail, like ranchers, sheepherders, lumber operators, eco-warriors, and homesteaders. Clifford is a former reporter from Los Angeles who has written human interest stories about life in the American West for more than 30 years.  

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