Books Read – 2020

The Sanctuary of Books

1) Can You Forgive Her?

Trollope, Anthony
2) The Mayor of CasterbridgeHardy, Thomas
3) Under the Greenwood TreeHardy, Thomas
4) The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal WestMcCullough, David
5) A Backward GlanceWharton, Edith
6) Unleavened BreadGrant, Robert
7) A Guilty Thing Surprised (Inspector Wexford, #5)Rendell, Ruth
8) Mason’s RetreatTilghman,Christopher
9) The Hills BeyondWolfe, Thomas
10) The Pioneers: James Fenimore CooperCooper,JamesFenimore
11) Excellent WomenPym, Barbara
12) When We Were OrphansIshiguro, Kazuo
13) The Genuine Article (The Sheriff Chick Charleston Mysteries Book 2)Guthrie Jr., A.B.
14) Mandela’s Way: Lessons for an Uncertain AgeStengel, Richard
15) Dombey and SonDickens, Charles
16) A New England boyhoodHale, Edward Everett
17) The Big Bad City (87th Precinct, #49)McBain, Ed
18) No Second WindGuthrie Jr., A.B.
19) A High Wind in JamaicaHughes, Richard
20) The Vicar of WakefieldGoldsmith, Oliver
21) Nocturne (87th Precinct, #48)McBain, Ed
22) Murders at Moon DanceGuthrie Jr., A.B.
23) Coming Up for AirOrwell, George
24) Keep the Aspidistra FlyingOrwell, George
25) Burmese DaysOrwell, George
26) Benjamin Franklin: An American LifeIsaacson, Walter
27) Twice ShyFrancis, Dick
28) The Eustace DiamondsTrollope, Anthony
29) The WoodlandersHardy, Thomas
30) The Belton EstateTrollope, Anthony
31) Miller’s ValleyQuindlen, Anna
32) Phineas Redux, Vol. 1Trollope, Anthony
33) Phineas Redux, Volume 2Trollope, Anthony
34) The American SenatorTrollope, Anthony
35) The Turn of the ScrewJames, Henry

For the love of books!

I’m sure there is such a thing as fulfilling lives, without books. I’m equally sure I’d want no part of any of them. Various narratives I’ve read over the years see learning from books (“book learning” being the often said with distain expression) as some kind of sheltered, limiting, life, as if the mighty band of bookworms worldwide spend their lives incarcerated (without mercy) in reading chairs, no doubt in a windowless rooms.

A voice inside my head cries out, “That’s a lot of hooey!”

I could not live without books in my life may not be a literal truth for me, but it comes damned close.

Why I write

Let me make one thing clear on the front end of this piece: why someone writes is their business. No artist of any kind is under any obligation to explain why he or she creates. Responding with, I’m sorry, but that’s none of your business, is a just response. It is no one’s business.

As far as I’m concerned, whatever it takes a writer to put words on a page is fine with me. First off, the page can be a hard place to get to and, once there, the necessary experience of being fully present in the moment can be heavy lifting at times. Its the words, the writing that I care most about.  An actor who hopes to win an Oscar is no more betraying the craft of acting than a writer who hopes to win a Pulitzer is betraying the craft of writing. Wanting or hoping for an accolade is not a betrayal of creative purity. To think it is is misguided in the best light, and rubbish in any other light.

I have no problem explaining, to some extent, why I write. For some years now my short answer has been pretty much the same: Sometimes I write because I want to, always I write because I have to. I suppose I could polish that sentence into finer stuff, but I’m leaving it as it is because it was born that way.

It is the sanctuary of language itself that brings me to the page, writing or reading. As far back as I can remember, books and writing have provided sanctuaries I could depend on. Even when I was homeless they were they. I am not by nature a thief, but, when I was on the street, I had no problem at all pinching paperback books off those always-squeaky! book racks in drugstores.

Language is a living thing for me. Words are living beings; they have  shape, movement, sound; they each have their own pulse; they can be moody. I short, words have personality, every damn one of them.

And then, of course, there is this: language is great company. I am never alone when I write or read. Like I said: Sometimes I write because I want to, always I write because I have to.


Books Read – 2016

As those of you who’ve been following this blog over its 10-year life span know, I have the admittedly self-indulgent habit of publishing the list of  books I read in a given year. I would give all the gold in the world to see the list of books my parents and grandparents read. When I read a book I know someone in my family read, I know I am hiking on a trail of words they hiked before me. It’s a nice feeling. I miss them all, beyond the reach of any words ever written.

  1. The English Major, by Jim Harrison
  2. Greenwich, by Howard Fast
  3. The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford
  4. Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley
  5. Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual, by Nicholas Murray
  6. The Big Seven, by Jim Harrison
  7. Appointment in Samarra, by John O’Hara
  8. The Great Leader, by Jim Harrison
  9. The Summer He Didn’t Die, by Jim Harrison
  10. The African Queen, by C.S. Forester
  11. The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot, #2), by Agatha Christie
  12. Legends of the Fall, by Jim Harrison
  13. Break In (Kit Fielding, #1), by Dick Francis
  14. The River Swimmer: Novellas, by Jim Harrison
  15. The Ancient Minstrel: Novellas, by Jim Harrison
  16. Letting Go, by Philip Roth
  17. The Quiet American, by Graham Greene
  18. The Go-Between, by L.P. Hartley
  19. Everybody’s Fool, by Richard Russo
  20. A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1), by Anthony Powell
  21. Dangerous Davies, the Last Detective,  by Leslie Thomas
  22. The A.B.C. Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13), by Agatha Christie
  23. A Buyer’s Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2), by Anthony Powell
  24. Dangerous In Love, by Leslie Thomas
  25. The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3), by Anthony Powell
  26. Can You Forgive Her?, Volume I, by Anthony Trollope
  27. At Lady Molly’s (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4), by Anthony Powell
  28. Dangerous By Moonlight, by Leslie Davies
  29. Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5), by Anthony Powell
  30. What’s Become of Waring, by Anthony Powell


Books read 2014

  1. “The Brothers Karamazov,” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  2. “Oh What a Paradise It Seems, by John Cheever
  3. “Back to Blood,” by Tom Wolfe
  4. “Charles Dickens His Tragedy and Triumph” by Edgar Johnson
  5. “Master and Commander,” by Patrick O’Brian
  6. “Still Life with Bread Crumbs,” by Anna Quindlen
  7. “The Waterworks,” by E.L. Doctorow
  8. “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens
  9. “Marry Me: A Romance,” by John Updike
  10. “Saint Maybe,” by Anne Tyler
  11. “Bech” A Book,” by John Updike
  12. “Post Captain,” by Patrick O’Brian
  13. “Villages,” by John Updike
  14. “H.M.S. Surprise,” by Patrick O’Brian
  15. “The Best Times: An Informal Memoir,” by John Dos Passos
  16. “Tolstoy: A Russian Life,” by Rosamund Bartlett
  17. “The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens,” Frederick W. Dupee
  18. “The Chimes” by Charles Dickens
  19. “Suttree” by Cormac McCarthy
  20. “Dry Bones in the Valley,” Tom Bouman
  21. “The Troubled Man,” by Henning Mankell
  22. “Faceless Killers,” by Henning Mankell
  23. “The Man from Beijing,” by Henning Mankell
  24. “Jar City,” by Arnaldur Indrioason
  25. “The Garner Files: A Memoir,” by James Garner
  26. “The Dogs of Riga” by Henning Mankell
  27. “Sidetracked,” by Henning Mankell
  28. “The Fifth Woman,” by Henning Mankell
  29. “The White Lioness,” by Henning Mankell
  30. “One Step Behind,” by Henning Mankell
  31. “The Man Who Smiled,” by Henning Mankell
  32. “Sweet Thunder,” by Ivan Doig
  33. “Italian Shoes,” by Henning Mankell
  34. “Firewall,” by Henning Mankell
  35. “Tea-Bag,” by Henning Mankell
  36. “A Treacherous Paradise,” by Henning Mankell
  37. “An Event in Autumn,” by Henning Mankell
  38. “What’s Bred in the Bone,” by Robertson Davies
  39. “Before the Frost,” by Henning Mankell
  40. “The Return of the Dancing Master,” by Henning Mankell
  41. “The Mind’s Eye,” by Hakan Nesser
  42. “Woman with Birthmark,” by Hakan Nesser
  43. “Borkmann’s Point,” by Hakan Nesser
  44. “The Return,” by Hakan Nesser
  45. “The Inspector and Silence,” by Hakan Nesser
  46. “Munsters Fall” by Hakan Nesser
  47. “Regeneration,” by Pat Barker
  48. “Sun and Shadow,” by Ake Edwardson
  49. “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” by Stephen L. Carter
  50. “Never End,” by Ake Edwardon
  51. “Frozen Tracks,” by Ake Edwardson
  52. “Sail of Stone,” by Ake Edwardson