When I first started this blog I created the Sunday Books category with the intention of, every Sunday, reviewing or recommending or somehow commenting on whatever book I was reading, but I found, and was very surprised to find this, by the way, that it was very hard for me to talk about books. I’ve always read books to escape, and with very few exceptions, charge right through them with such an intensity that you usually hear a loud crash when I get to the end, and I think it has something to do with being so emotionally wrapped up in something and then having to separate myself from it again that I find it rather difficult to revisit it here. This is obviously to do with fiction, I guess, since I obviously do not have that problem reading just about everything else (cough). But I’ve been telling myself I’d at least do an end-of-the-year wrap-up, just to validate the category.
I have a notebook to write down everything I read, so this should be easy. Now, these are only books I’ve read for the first time. I do a lot of rereading. And this is only my fiction and narrative nonfiction. I’m leaving out the gardening books I collect in a willful act of self-torture. Oh and I should mention that I recommend all of them. I judge books by their covers, so I never read bad ones.
• Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander
Historical Fiction, 1970
• Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope
• Fiona Buckley, The Fugitive Queen
Historical Mystery, 2003
• Val McDermid, The Distant Echo
• Ian Rankin, Witch Hunt
Fiction (Spies and Assassins), 1993
• Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility *
• Jane Austen, Emma
• Colleen McCullough, The Ladies of Missalonghi
Historical Fiction, 1987
• Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring
Historical Fiction, 1999
• Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
• Shlomo DuNour, Adiel
Biblical Fiction, 1998
• J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
• Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones: Memoirs 1927 – 1977
• Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction To Christianity
• P.G. Wodehouse, Carry On, Jeeves
• Ellis Peters, The Leper of Saint Giles
• Ian Rankin, Resurrection Men
• Josephine Tey, The Man In the Queue **
• Ian Rankin, The Falls
• Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Historical Fiction, 2005
• Sherry Sontag, et al, Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
Military History, 1998
• Ellis Peters, A Morbid Taste for Bones
Historical Mystery, 1977
• Ellis Peters, A Morbid Taste for Bones
Historical Mystery, 1979
• Cara Black, Murder in Clichy
• Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
• Maeve Binchy, Echoes
For my favourites, I would have to pick two: First, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I read it when it first went on sale, but I rushed through it so fast that it left me with a sort of unsatisfied feeling. But I reread 3, 4, and 5 in preparation for the movie, and I was just in time to reread 6 when I got home for Thanksgiving, and there was so much that I hadn’t missed, but sort of failed to absorb, because I never stopped to breathe during the whole thing. Then when I finished it after two or three days, I couldn’t stand the thought of reading anything else, and felt so stressed out at the thought of leaving it behind, so found myself wandering into my bedroom to open it at some random point and rereading a hundred pages or so in one sitting, then doing the same thing again after dinner, or whatever. I only usually do that with romance novels or something so romantic that to do it with a normal novel is a pretty good sign of quality.
Second, and more important, The Kite Runner. I really wanted to write up this huge post about it when I finished it, which I did in two sittings, but, again, found I could not. I started it on the flight back to Seattle after my Thanksgiving week home, and at the end of the flight was about half way through, and when I put it down you could hear the sucking sound as I wrenched my soul out of it. That kind of thing isn’t easy, and I had a hard time going back to it the next day, but I did and finished it and I think it’s just the most interesting book I’ve ever read, to be sort of quantitative and logical about it. But it’s more than that, and I really freaking highly recommend it.
* I read that before in junior high or around there but didn’t absorb much of it, so I counted it as a first read. I only say this to protect my Austen Cred.
** I checked that book out of the library in London, and had about 15 pages left but had to leave for the airport, so left it with the night guard at our building, begging him to give it to someone to return for me. So I wrote it down as a first read. No point to this footnote, just a funny story.
Ye gads, CDR Salamander has had the exact same thought. Weird.