Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Books I Read in 2013

Heft - Liz Moore (Audiobook version)
I picked this one because one of the narrators was Kirby Heyborne. I was intrigued and thought it probably was a decent book if Kirby decided to read it. It was totally engrossing, but I was a bit surprised at the language Kirby's character used some of the time.

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (Audiobook version)
It was distressingly sad at times, but it was engrossing throughout. I listened to it on long runs while I trained for a marathon and I would get so wrapped up in the story that the physical exertion of running would seem to bleed together with the emotions of the book. I suppose this book is mainly read by women. I heard about it from my aunt and female cousins. I don't know what it did for them, but it made me want to be a better person.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum (Audiobook version)
How many times have we all seen this film? It seems dishonest to just watch the film and never invest the time to get to know the book as well. It was funnier than I expected. Here is a passage that made me laugh out loud:

The soldier with the green whiskers led them through the streets of the Emerald City until they reached the room where the Guardian of the Gates lived. This officer unlocked their spectacles to put them back in his great box, and then he politely opened the gate for our friends.
"Which road leads to the Wicked Witch of the West?" asked Dorothy.
"There is no road," answered the Guardian of the Gates. "No one ever wishes to go that way."
"How, then, are we to find her?" inquired the girl.
"That will be easy," replied the man, "for when she knows you are in the country of the Winkies she will find you, and make you all her slaves."
"Perhaps not," said the Scarecrow, "for we mean to destroy her."
"Oh, that is different," said the Guardian of the Gates. "No one has ever destroyed her before, so I naturally thought she would make slaves of you, as she has of the rest. But take care; for she is wicked and fierce, and may not allow you to destroy her. Keep to the West, where the sun sets, and you cannot fail to find her."

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (Audiobook version)
My younger brother got into F. Scott Fitzgerald a few years ago and I followed his recommendation and read a collection of short stories back in 2010. I had always meant to read the Great Gatsby, but I hadn't gotten around to it. In preparation to watch the new movie, I listened to an unabridged audiobook during our trip to Kalispell. I enjoyed it immensely. I also appreciated how the movie stayed very true to the book.

Across Asia on a Bicycle: The Journey of Two American Students from Constantinople to Peking - William Lewis Sachtleben (Author), Thomas Gaskell, Jr. Allen (Author), Michael W. Perry (Editor)
My brother J gave me this one. It's part of an ongoing tradition of ours of sharing interesting non-fiction books about various travels and exploits. The sheer daring of this pair of explorers is a marvel. Also, they must have had uncanny survival instincts to come through the endless flow of craziness -- or they must have been insanely lucky.

Legends of the Outer Banks and Tar Heel Tidewater - Judge Charles Harry Whedbee
In preparation for our trip to North Carolina I ordered up a few books of Outer Banks folklore. Author Judge Whedbee compiled several volumes of legends and ghost stories that were really entertaining to read. He also wore a killer sweater for the dust jacket photo.

Life Annuities: An Optimal Product for Retirement Income - Moshe A. Milevsky
Every year I have to do at least 20 hours of continuing education credits for my CFA designation. This year I cranked out quite a few hours by reading this 150-page masterpiece on life annuities. It was strangely entertaining, and deserves inclusion in my reading list for the year.

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II - Adam Makos & Larry Alexander
My brother recommended that I read this and I blasted through it while we were on vacation this summer. Amazing book about an elite German fighter pilot -- a man who had to figure out his own morals while fighting a losing battle for a cause he had never really believed in.

Brave Companions: Portraits in History - David McCullough
This book was on my sister's book club list and since we share a Kindle account, I could read it for free. It turned out to be a great book. I liked the essay format, because you could put it down for a few weeks and come back without really missing a step. I have a new appreciation for things like the Brooklyn Bridge, Teddy Roosevelt and the Panamanian Isthmus.

Bear Child: The Life and Times of Jerry Potts - Rodger D. Touchie
I bumped into the name Jerry Potts when reading an article about the beginnings of the NWMP, which later became the RCMP (Mounties). The article credited Potts as selecting the location of Fort MacLeod and being a key figure in making peace with the local native populations. R went to an elementary school named for Potts, so I was familiar with the name without knowing anything about him. Why not read the whole story? Wow. Honestly, they should have named more than an elementary school after this man. He was a key player in the success of the Mounties and the peaceful evolution of the Canadian West.

The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story - Elliott West
The book about Jerry Potts briefly described the 1877 campaign of the Nez Perce people to escape to Canada, pursued by US Calvary across 1,500 miles of mountainous terrain in harsh conditions. My dad had told about the Nez Perce before, so I asked him what book I should read to find out more. He recommended this one. The first half of the book describes the history of the people leading up to 1877 and the second half describes the 1877 Nez Perce war in detail. The great bravery and resilience of this people is amazing, inspiring, and ultimately saddening.

1 comment:

CocoShirley said...

this is a SWEET list. I've been making my 2014 reading list and I'm glad I came across this. The Poisonwood Bible is already on there, as I too have had many people suggest it to me.
...you guys share a Kindle account??? Thats brilliant...RBH and I are always trying to borrow from each other. How did I not think of this before...