1 Year, 12 Books

I read twelve books this year, a paltry sum compared to the copious quantities my wife reads, but pretty typical for me.

The twelve, in no particular order except the order in which I read them, are as follows:

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  2. Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George
  3. One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  5. Hear The Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami
  6. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
  7. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  10. Wolf Willow by Wallace Stegner
  11. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  12. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Some fun facts about the list that are sure to amuse:

  • Of our three cats, two were named after books on this list, and all three were named after books by authors on this list.
  • A full two-thirds of the books were authored by women. What can I say, I like the ladies!
  • Most of these were first time reads for me with the exception of the Solzhenitsyn, Lee, and Tolkien tomes.
  • The only book I didn’t enjoy was Wuthering Heights. I’m glad I read it but it won’t appear on any of my future book lists. I wasn’t particularly crazy about Mansfield Park either, it was no Pride & Prejudice, but it had its moments.
  • All of these were books of fiction except for Wolf Willow, which had both fictional and non-fictional sections so I’m not sure how to classify it. In times like these I always ask myself, WWDDD? (What Would Dewey Decimal Do?)
  • Louisa May did her best to get me to cry on the train but she did not succeed. Sure, I had a little something in my eye a day or two, but I was not crying! I later forgave her when I realized the events of the book were based on her life and that she wasn’t just playing with my heartstrings.
  • Solzhenitsyn died after I finished reading Ivan Denisovich, but there was a six month gap between the two events so I don’t feel as though I particularly cursed him. Also because he was almost 90 years old.
  • Of the twelve books, only one involved vampires although the jury is still out on Boo Radley.
  • With Mansfield Park I have now read all of Jane Austen’s books at least once unless you count her unfinished work Who Weeps for the Wookiee?

Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon

I complained before about Jane Austen’s generous use of commas at the start of Sense & Sensibility, but she’s really outdone herself at the start of Persuasion. There are twelve commas in the first sentence alone.
Not to mention a colon, three semi-colons, and two dashes. I’ll be generous and not include the commas in the citation that completes the sentence since some of the commas are associated with dates.

I’m not sure that such wanton use of punctuation caused global warming, but it can’t have helped.

Austen Powers

I’ve read two books by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (which I loved) and Emma (which I liked). I’m currently reading Sense and Sensibility — and it’s been a strange ride.

On the first page, of the first chapter, I wasn’t sure, but was fairly convinced, that, in all probability, Ms. Austen wrote with a lot, by which I mean an exceedingly large number, of commas. In fact, to be honest, while sitting there, on the train, on the way to Beaverton, I began to wonder, in my heart of hearts, if I could possibly, in any way, finish even the first few pages.

I decided to persevere in memory of Liz and Darcy.

I’m not sure if I got used to it, or if a severe comma shortage hit Britain and she was forced to conserve for the rest of the book, but thankfully I quickly found the rest of the book to be an easier read. But I still found the first half or so of the book to be a struggle — the plot just seemed like P&P and Emma all over again, and I almost stopped reading.

But something happened after the middle of the book and I really started to enjoy the book. In fact, on the way home on MAX on Friday night, I read the book even when I could have worked on my laptop (a sure sign that I’m enjoying a book). I laughed out loud at a number of points and was just really enjoying myself when the train finally pulled into Lloyd Center.

I’m not sure how much of that feeling I owe to the powers of Jane Austen’s writing, but I struggle enough with less happy feelings that I treasure those beautiful little moments on the mountain top.