Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections on Reading - 2013

As we most often times do around this time of year, we reflect back on the year that has passed and look forward to the new year upon us.

2013 brought fifty-six adventures in reading;  history, biographies, memoirs, fan fiction and inspiration.

56 books with an average of 382 pages, way short of  last years list of 102 books read.

I started last year reading a book I hadn't read before. Rarely do I re-read books, in fact I believe I've only re-read maybe one or two over the years.

This book was voluminous. A classic. 1,436 pages(paperback edition) and is also known by these four letters: GWTW, spelled out, it is Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind.  Shortly after reading the book, I watched the movie. A movie that again had yet to see.  I was surprised and not surprised at how the book was different from the movie. It most often is. ( Speaking of which, I also read M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker this year. A book, a movie and a TV series - all a little different)

So, 2013 volume wise got off to a slow start. Took me a month to read GWTW.

The most inspiring and overall,  the best book I read this year was I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai. Malala stood up to the Taliban for education equality and was shot, in the head, and survived. Truly an inspirational young woman. A must, must read. If you read any book in this new month and year, I am Malala should be one of them.

Most interesting book this year was a peek into the world of The Dude aka Jeff Bridges in The Dude and the Zen Master. It wasn't as much about The Dude as in, Lebowski, but more so into the inner thoughts, ideas and life of Jeff Bridges.

Most entertaining book was by far Billy Crystal's Still Foolin 'Em.  Crystal brings a self deprecating look at growing old, his life and reflection. Highly recommend to readers of all ages. Young or Old. For the young so they can understand life as we age. For the old, to laugh at ourselves. All with a humorist spin. Laughter starts on page one!

Most educational, eye opening book was David Brinkley's The Great Deluge. A meticulously exhaustive research into the bureaucratic armageddon that our country experienced in the days prior to, during and after Katrina. It could be argued that The Great Deluge is the authoritative book on some of the darkest days of this nation. Blatant irresponsibility and unaccountability at all levels of government; local, state and federal intermixed with first hand accounts of the human condition at its best through heroism and its worst through pillage, murder, racism, ignorance and violence.

Authors new to me this year include mystery writer, CJ Box. Rarely do crime mysteries and thrillers make one smile, but Lucy and Sheridan the daughters of Marybeth and Joe Pickett are truly endearing characters.  The Pickett series(Open Season being the first) is one of the best I've ever read. A family you'd be privileged to call "your neighbors".

Lisa Scottoline, a legal based thrill writer with a bit of humor mixed in. One highlight of this year was meeting her at a book signing. I love listening to authors not only talk about the books they've written and the characters they've developed, but learning what inspires them to write, how they write, how much do they write on a day to day basis and how their characters and subject matters somewhat echo the authors personality and life. It was a privilege to meet Ms. Scottoline. (little did I know until I attended this signing that her last name is pronounced, Scotto-lini and not Scotto-line as I had been doing. :))

Other authors include,  Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, Iris Johansen's Eve Duncan series(started), Agatha Christie, Lee Child, Carl Haissan, Meg Gardiner and Greg Iles. Thanks to the magic of twitter, I'm able to connect with a few including Meg, CJ, and Lisa.

On the sports front, One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard will have you reflecting back to your childhood/teenage days of baseball. It could be considered the "Hoosiers" book of Baseball. A true story about the high school baseball team of a small central Illinois town.  I loved this book.

Musically, Linda Ronstadt's Simple Dreams memoir gave us more of a glimpse into the woman's musical talent, inspiration and...her simple dreams.

And sadly, 2013 saw the loss of some great authors: Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, Elmore Leonard, Chris Kyle, Stanley Karnow, Doris Lessing and Richard Matheson to name a few.

Listed alphabetically by author, the books below offer a view into what a wonderful world reading provides us.  Recently, it was reported that brain function is 'boosted for days after reading a novel. '

With that in mind, boost your brain and happy reading!

*please note as you browse through my blog you have the opportunity to purchase  books directly from this website. However, I no longer earn any income from this particular site as when the state of MN required websites to pay taxes on their affiliate programs, Amazon abruptly ended theirs. Although I don't blog that much anymore, I do so now purely for the enjoyment of writing and promoting reading.

Books read in 2013:

Albom, Mitch
The Time Keeper
Baldacci, David
Stone Cold
Baldacci, David
The Camel Club
Baldacci, David
The Collectors
Ballard, Chris
One Shot at Forever
Box, C.J.
Blood Trail
Box, C.J.
Free Fire
Box, C.J.
In Plain Sight
Box, C.J.
Open Season
Box, C.J.
Out of Range
Box, C.J.
Savage Run
Box, C.J.
Trophy Hunt
Box, C.J.
Bridges, Jeff and Bernie Glassman
The Dude and The Zen Master
Brinkley, Douglas
The Great Deluge
Child, Lee
Killing Floor
Christie, Agatha
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Christie, Agatha
The Secret Adversary
Clancy, Tom
Dead or Alive
Coben, Harlan
Six Years
Connelly, Michael
Trunk Music
Cornwell, Patricia
Port Mortuary
Crystal, Billy
Still Foolin' 'Em
Deaver, Jeffery
Roadside Crosses
Deaver, Jeffery
The Devil's Teardrop
Evanovich, Janet
Explosive Eighteen
Flynn, Gillian
Gone Girl
Gardiner, Meg
Ransom River
Haissen, Carl
The Downhill Lie
Hooker, Richard
Iles, Greg
Mortal Fear
Johansen, Iris
Body of Lies
Johansen, Iris
The Face of Deception
Johansen, Iris
The Killing Game
Johansen, Iris
The Search
Krueger, William Kent
Blood Hollow
Mitchell, Margaret
Gone With The Wind
Parker, Robert
Parker, Robert B.
Parker, Robert B.
Patterson, James
Cross My Heart
Patterson, James
Second Honeymoon
Patterson, James & Mark Sullivan
Private: Berlin
Patterson, James and David Ellis
Patterson, James and Maxine Paetro
12th of Never
Patterson, James and Maxine Paetro
Confessions: Private School Murders
Patterson, James and Michael Ledwidge
Ronstadt, Linda
Simple Dream, a Musical Memoir
Sanders, Lawrence
The Dream Lover
Sandford, John
Silken Prey- SIGNED
Sandford, John
Storm Front
Scottoline, Lisa
Everywhere That Mary Went
Scottoline, Lisa
Final Appeal
Woods, Stuart
Collateral Damage
Woods, Stuart
Unintended Consequences
Yousafzai, Malala
I am Malala


  1. Fab review, thanks, Mike! I pulled a couple of good ideas from your list. My book club selects one biography per year as one of our selections, I'm going to submit Billy's-it sounds great. I just finishes "The Round House" by local author Louise Erdrich. Its a good read. Happy New Year to you and happy reading! Barbara W

  2. thanks for the comment and compliment! I've not read Louise Erdrich in the past but have seen her books in abundance in the stores. Billy's book is really funny. His first book, 700 Sundays published a few years ago was a revealing memoir on Billy's life with his father, who died when Billy was a teenager. He did a one man show, aptly named 700 Sundays and toured the US including Minneapolis. Disappointed that I missed it. Thanks again, HNY and Happy Reading!