Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Favorites

Goodreads has been a big help to me in figuring out what I read this year and what the best parts were.  I'm very good at forgetting these things, but looking at a chart helps.  Here are my highlights of 2015 reading---


New authors: So many!  This year was the first time I read Robert Heinlein.  I met a bunch of Eastern European authors I didn't know: Karel Capek, Bruno Schulz, Bohumil Hrabal.  I read my first Wallace Stegner novel!  I finally read the excellent historian, Anne Applebaum.  I met several others, including Miles Franklin and Thomas Mofolo.  Lots of people, really.

I failed at some things this year, too.  I discovered that Henry James' The Wings of the Dove is well-nigh unreadable for me, and that Marxist interpretations of the slave-owning South in Roll, Jordan, Roll are not my cup of tea.  It also turns out that I can't read Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.  (Funny: I happened upon a Classics Club survey from the end of last year, asking what I was determined to read no matter what in 2015.  My answer was Roll, Jordan, Roll and Gravity's Rainbow.  Oh, what hubris!)

I read a bunch of fascinating history, which may have been the best part of the year.  From Leftist Berkeley to crushed Eastern Europe, with Easter Island, the Inklings, a crumbling Soviet empire and even wishful thinking about ley lines and recent bouts of hysteria about Satanism, I got some wild history reading done.

The Monkalong was a very fun October group read, and the Beowulf readalong helped me to get deep into that.  I'm hoping for two readalongs in 2016.

Here are my chosen best ten eleven titles, in no order whatsoever:
  1. The Tyranny of Silence, by Flemming Rose.  My favorite topic always wins. :)
  2. Vineland, by Thomas Pynchon.
  3. The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenistyn.
  4. The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge.
  5. Between the Woods and Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
  6. An African in Greenland by Tete-Michel Kpomassie.
  7. The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories by Bruno Schulz.
  8. The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope.
  9. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner.
  10. Agnes Grey, by Anne Bronte.
  11. Iron Curtain, by Anne Applebaum.








2 comments:

Ruth said...

I just love Beowulf (I have that copy, too).

Of course, I'm not familiar w/ ten of your 11 best titles (well, maybe I've heard of Agnes Grey), and number 3 is on my WEM bios list, which I should get to in 2016.

Charles said...

I enjoyed reading your posting, and as it happens with such end-of-year posts, I've come up with several titles/authors that I ought to add to my "must read" list (and a couple for my "avoid these" list). Thanks from a new blog -- http://invitationtotheclassics.blogspot.com/