Friday, January 6, 2017

Notable Books Of 2016

So many books, so little time!
I have listed fewer than usual this year although I read about the same number. That is not an indication they were not good, interesting books. It is just this list is intended for those special books that have a lasting impact on me for whatever reason. If I listed the books I enjoyed, it would be a very long list indeed!

1. The Adventure of English – Melvyn Bragg – non fiction. The story of the beginnings of the language we know today as English, and how it changed and grew over the centuries, and like the universe, is still expanding. A great read for anyone interested in language.
2. The Color of Law – Mark Giminez. The main character is a modern day Atticus Finch, although forced into that role. Lots of things to criticize in this book, but I include it because the depiction of “Big Law” firms, law vs. justice, and the plastic world of the rich has stayed with me.
3.  The Last Bookaneer – Matthew Pearl. To enjoy this book you must put logic on hold and just accept it for what it is – a story whose main characters are in love with books and language, and a partially true story of Robert Louis Stevenson’s last years in Samoa where he lived with his family.
4.  Asylum - Jeannette de Beauvoir.  A murder mystery in Montreal, it documents the factual physical and mental abuses of children by Government, Church, drug companies, and the CIA during the late 40s and on into the 60’s. A fascinating and disturbing read. It will stay with me a long time! Look up Dr. Ewen Cameron, and also the Duplessis Orphans.
5.  Brown Dog – Jim Harrison. Imagine Carl Hiaasen and W.P. Kinsella get together and write a book combining some of their favorite characters. Brown Dog is an innocent and charming character and never shows an ounce of ill will toward anyone except perhaps himself. It is a laugh out loud romp in the UP (Upper Peninsula) but underneath is a deep love of nature and all it offers. The book is a series of novellas, written and published separately over a period of several years, but reads seamlessly.
6.  Thirteen Moons – Charles Frazier (published 2006). Mixed reviews for this book with most praising the first part and condemning the ending. I cannot disagree with these findings if the story itself is the only value. However, I found myself rereading many sections purely for the writing itself, and for Frazier’s ability to put into words many emotions that I feel but could not have defined. Perhaps you have to be old like me to appreciate it. For me, it is my “read of the year” – at least up to this point.
7.  It’s a Long Story – Willie Nelson with David Ritz. What can I say about the life story of Willie Nelson as told by Willie?  I am not an unconditional fan – I love some of his music, and don’t quite know what to make of some of it. The book clarifies why this is so. All in all, I just enjoyed meeting a Willie Nelson quite different in some ways from what I expected.
8.  Razor Girl – Carl Hiaasen. I just have to include this latest Hiaasen romp. He has created some outrageous characters and plots over his career, but non to top this group of con artists and the crew of a reality show .

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