Books Read 2004

I kept handwritten records in 2004 of the books I read, through October, anyway, and have transcribed them here. Others lists exist for 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2002 and 2003.

January

Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year (2003) by Christopher Hill. Non-fiction. Very fun to read. I learned a lot about the history of Christianity and Catholicism, and I liked the combination of Christian rituals with seasonal changes, psychology, pagan celebrations. The illustrations were the only disappointment in this book.

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island  (2003) by Linda Greenlaw, for bookgroup. Set in Maine. Non-fiction. Easy to read. Liked the format of small chapters not in linear order — some island history, some biography, some profiles of others, some events during a 9-month lobster season off Isle au Haut.

Our Lady of the Lost and Found (2002) by Diane Schoemperlen. Fiction. The Virgin Mary comes to live with a writer and get some R&R for a week. Set in Canada. Some chapters of history, lore and Virgin Mary sightings mixed in with the novel. Plot a little slow, too much repetition, but some great nuggets in here.

No Harm Done (1999) by Ruth Rendell, in the Inspector Wexford series, set in Kingsmarkham, England. Plot based partly on The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey. Domestic violence, pedophilia. Good.

February

Likely to Die (1998) by Linda Fairstein, in the Manhattan Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper series, set in NYC and partly at a conference in England. Involves the stabbing of a neurosurgeon. Love her stuff — good character development over the series.

It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness (1995) by Sylvia Boorstein. Non-fiction. OK. Short, some good lines, too many anecdotes that aren’t enough to the point.

The Franchise Affair (1948) by Josephine Tey. Classic mystery about young women kidnapped to act as slaves for a woman’s mentally ill brother. Good.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (1959/1994) by Alfred Lansing, for bookgroup/community read. Non-fiction. Story of Shackleton’s  and 27 other’s  aborted trip to walk across Antarctica. The “Endurance” sank, they lived from 1915-1917 on ice, killed all their dogs, killed penguins, seals, sea leopards, albatross, etc.  Others in my bookgroup admired their ability to endure. All the humans survived but many died soon after on other voyages, of drinking problems, in hideous ways. Besides the litany of animal killings, the book was just too repetitive.

Playing with Fire (2004) by Peter Robinson, in the Alan Banks series. Annie Cabot and Winsome have featured roles in this one. Good plot but not enough other elements.

March

Cold Hit (1999) by Linda Fairstein, in the Manhattan Asst. DA Alex Cooper series.

Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: Lifestyles for Self-discovery (1986) by Marsha Sinetar. (Re-read). Non-fiction. One line I really connected with: “to have a goal means you have to pick a spot you want to reach eventually. That takes the fun out of it for me.”

The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (1998) by Debbie Ford, non-fiction about the shadow side of ourselves. “The purpose of doing shadow work is to become whole.”

Hearing with the Heart: A Gentle Guide to Discerning God’s Will for Your Life (2002) by Debra Farrington, non-fiction about listening for calling.

The Call: Discovering Why You Are Here (2003) by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, non-fiction about the call to be a whole human being, ego and essence, led from the deep stillness at the center of our being.

April

The Murder Room (2004) by PD James, in the Dalgleish/Mishkin series.

A Retreat with Thomas Merton: Becoming Who We Are (1996), by Anthony Padovano, non-fiction. Really good. 112 pp.

The Dirty Duck (1984) by Martha Grimes, in the Jury/Plant series, set in London. Americans on a tour are being killed by a Christopher Marlowe nut.  Not as good as her usual.

Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate (2003) by MC Beaton. A cosy set in England. Not good — dialogue was unnatural.

The Winter Queen (1998) by Boris Akunin, for bookgroup.First in the  Erast Fandorin series of historical detective novels, set in 1870s Russia, about adoptees and world domination. Good writing, but wandering plot and no likable characters.

May

Killing Time (2002) by Elisa Title, crime fiction set near Boston, MA, with Natalie Price, superintendent of a prison halfway house. OK dialogue but Natalie too impulsive to be believable. [I have absolutely no recollection, 7 years later, of having read this book or anything about it. That’s unusual.]

Good Blood (2004) by Aaron Elkins, in the Gideon Oliver series, with Julie, set in Stresa, Italy.

Naming the Powers (1984) by Walter Wink. Non-fiction about Christianity. Many of Wink’s ideas similar to Girard’s.

Curses (1989) by Aaron Elkins, with Gideon and Julie Oliver (and Abe Goldstein) in Tlaloc, the Yucatan Peninsula.

June

Madame Bovary (1856 ) by Gustav Flaubert, for bookgroup. Classic literature. I liked it. Very Girardian.

Murder Walks the Plank (2004) by Carolyn Hart, in the Annie Darling series.

Fellowship of Fear (1982) by Aaron Elkins, with Gideon Oliver in Germany, Italy and Spain. Meets FBI agent John (and Marti) Lau in this book.  KGB, NATO, etc.

Final Jeopardy (1996) by Linda Fairstein, in the Alex Cooper series. Alex’s actress acquaintance Isabella Lascar is killed at Alex’s Martha’s Vineyard retreat.

July

The Ladies Auxiliary (1999) by Tova Mirvis, fiction about a Jewish Orthodox community in Memphis, TN. Excellent. I loved it.  Batsheva — a young single mom, new to the community — is somewhat of an outsider. Elements: teen girls and rebellion, community, scapegoating, insiders/outsiders, letter/spirit of the law.

Sad Cypress (1940) by Agatha Christie, a Poirot. Elinor is accused of the murder of Mary Gerrard. OK.

There is A Tide (1948, aka Taken at the Flood) by Agatha Christie, a Poirot. Rosaleen, “Enoch Arden.” OK.

The Hollow (1946) by Agatha Christie, a Poirot, with Inspector Grange. Gerda. Good.

Elephants Can Remember (1972) by Agatha Christie, a Poirot, with Ariadne Oliver. Molly and Dolly – twins. Not that good.

Murder in Retrospect (1942, aka Five Little Pigs) by Agatha Christie, a Poirot. Crale (artist). OK.

The Moving Finger (1942) by Agatha Christie, a Miss Marple. Anonymous letters. Good

Funerals Are Fatal (1953, aka After the Funeral) by Agatha Christie, a Poirot, with Inspector Morton and Mr. Goby. Cora is killed. Good.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim ( ) by David Sedaris. Non-fiction, humourous essays. Good.

August

The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928) by Agatha Christie, a Poirot.  Poirot is on The Blue Train, headed for the French Riviera, along with Katherine Grey, a young British woman taking her first holiday, having received a large inheritance. While on board, Gray meets an American heiress,  Ruth Kettering, who is leaving her marriage to meet her lover. The next morning, Ruth is found strangled, and the  famous ruby, Heart of Fire, is missing. Pretty good.

Do the Windows Open? (1997) by Julie Hecht, a collection of nine short stories about our absurd modern world. Hilarious, well-written. Loved it.

Bald in the Land of Big Hair (2002) by Joni Rodgers, funny and moving non-fiction by a woman with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Chapters about her husband, children, barfing,remission, alternative treatments, etc. Really liked it.

Devil in the White City (2003) by Erik Larson, for bookgroup. Non-fiction, history and sociology. Set at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (i.e., Chicago World’s Fair) from May-Oct. About the architects who were active at the time, particularly the Fair’s director of works, Daniel Hudson Burnham, and a serial killer on the loose, Henry H. Holmes, MD. A lot of info packed into this book.

Monday Mourning (2004) by Kathy Reichs, in the forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan series. Also Andrew Ryan, Luc Claudel. Set entirely in Quebec. Concerns the “Stockholm phenomenon.”

September

The Dante Club (2003) by Matthew Pearl, for bookgroup. Historical crime fiction, set in Boston in 1865, with Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., JR Lowell, George Washington Greene and others from the Dante Club, formed to translate Dante’s works. When a few people are killed in the manner of punishing death described in Dante’s Inferno, these guys notice and investigate. Very good. Not the kind of thing I tend to like, but I liked it a lot.

Nemesis (1971) by Agatha Christie, with Miss Marple. One of my favourites.

October

The Good Earth (1931) by Pearl Buck, fiction, a novel of family life in a Chinese village, around 1910. Didn’t really like it [and can’t recall it at all 7 years later], but it won a Pulitzer Prize!

The Clocks (1963) by Agatha Christie, with Poirot.

At Bertram’s Hotel (1965) by Agatha Christie, with Miss Marple.

* * * * * * * * *

did not record the rest of October, nor November and December

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