Thursday, December 06, 2012
The Books of 2012: A Quick Overview
That's always been the case. My reading interests take in Dostoevsky, Shakespeare and Waugh but also O. Henry, Conan Doyle and the marvelous Freddie the Pig series by Walter Brooks. I read serious history but also pop culture history. I read plays, political works, theology and even poetry. And the poetry is as eclectic as everything else in my library. From where I'm sitting at my desk now I can see books of poetry that range from Phyllis McGinley to Dylan Thomas, from Tennyson and Milton and Malory to Chesterton and Robert Service and Ogden Nash.
But back to an overview of this year's book list.
I went through a Colorado phase in the spring with Jack Foster’s wonderful memoir, Adventures in Timberline; Helen Rich’s haunting novel, The Willow-Bender; and David Lavender’s terrific history of mining and ranch work, One Man’s West. All of these were terrific reads which I enjoyed immensely -- perhaps, in part, because they evoked a lot of personal memories and feelings of growing up in Colorado.
Finally I suppose one could argue that Walter Lord’s A Time to Stand belongs in the Western motif too since it is a history (and a very careful one, at that) of the defense of the Alamo by brave Texicans like Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis, and 184 others. Lord is one of my favorite historians but I had never read that particular book. I’m really glad I did.
Several of the books I read this year (all re-reads but one) were in preparation for a presentation I gave at the Providential History Festival in early fall. That lecture was titled “The Mad Scientist in Literature” and the books I read for it were Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Which among all of this year's would I most recommend?
The 5-star recommendations in the history category would be The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts, One Man’s West by David Lavender, and A Time to Stand by Walter Lord. (Related here too are the inspiring “personal history” books: Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene and Soft Life Steel by Barb Malek.)
That comes to 57. But before the year's end (Lord willing), I plan to finish the novel I'm reading now (and very much enjoying), Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter Edmonds, at least one of Charles Dickens "other" Christmas books (besides A Christmas Carol which is an annual must), and who knows what else.
I hope this list gives you a few ideas for your own reading in 2013.