Book Year 2005

If my reading log is right — and surely it is not, as I forget about it from month to month — I read 37 books in 2005, compared with 46 in 2004.

That 37 includes 10 books read for a bookgroup (listed with U.S. publication dates):

  • Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life (2004) by Charles Calhoun, biography

  • The Kite Runner (2003) by Khaled Hosseini, fiction set in Afghanistan

  • Downhill Chance (2003) by Donna Morrissey, historical fiction set in WWII Newfoundland, Canada and after

  • The Assault (1985) by Harry Mulisch, historical fiction set in WWII Holland and afterwards

  • The Elegant Gathering of White Snows (2002) by Kris Radish, contemporary chick fiction

  • Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (1998 ) by Ruth Reichl, food memoir

  • Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) by Thomas Hardy, literary classic

  • The Red Tent (1997) by Anita Diamant, historical-ish Biblical fiction

  • Atonement (2002) by Ian McEwan, literary and semi-historical fiction, WWII, England

  • Isaac’s Storm (1999) by Erik Larson, non-fiction about the 1900 Galveston hurricane

I think my relatively low reading totals this year result mostly from reading one or two books over the course of several months, namely James Allison’s The Joy of Being Wrong (which I’m still reading) and Rene Girard’s Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (also still reading).

improbablecoverI notice that I didn’t much like a lot of what I read this year. I gave high marks to few books (in chronological order) of reading:

  • I See Satan Fall Like Lightening (2001), Rene Girard — a life-changing book for me. Reviewed in the Anglican Theological Review.

  • Improbable (2004), Adam Fawer — a debut novel, an action-packed suspense novel about probability theory. I wrote a review in Feb. 2005.

  • Downhill Chance (2003), Donna Morrissey — an evocative novel with a rural, cold, often stark Newfoundland setting and a small cast of characters the reader gets to know in 450+/- pages. Reviewed in The Antigonish Review.

  • The Assault (1985) by Harry Mulisch — a fairly short but compelling historical novel about guilt, innocence, the perspective of time, redemption, choices and their consequences. Good review at The Complete Review.

  • The Man with a Load of Mischief (1981), Martha Grimes — British crime novel, introducing Richard Jury and Melrose Plant. Reviewed at Amazon. Also: The Anodyne Necklace (1983), Martha Grimes — British crime novel, third in series. Amazon reviews.

  • The Verge Practice (2004), Barry Maitland — the theme this time is architecture, with a motif of gender reversals and confusion. Interesting. Scottish/Australian Maitland is always good for a crime novel with a nonfiction feel. 7th title in the Kolla and Brock series. Review at reviewingtheevidence. (I also read Babel this year; didn’t think it was as good as most of his others.)

  • Mrs. McGinty’s Dead (1952) aka Blood Will Tell, Agatha Christie — featuring Hercule Poirot suffering through a drafty house and bad cooking as he attempts to exonerate an innocent man and in doing so unearths secrets others wish to keep hidden.

  • One Grave Too Many (2003), Beverly Connor — the first in the Diane Fallon (forensic anthropologist) series, set partly in a Georgia museum of natural history. One of her best. A couple of good reviews. I also liked the follow-up, Dead Guilty (2004), reviewed here.

  • Atonement (2002), Ian McEwan — literary fiction set in England during one day before WWII, then during WWII in the French battlefield, then in the weeks, months, and years following. Most of the book, and the part I liked best, is the one-day at home in England part. I wrote some thoughts on this book, and The Complete Review has a good review (scroll way, way down)
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