Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 Reading

Time for my annual summary of books I read this past year! As usual my favorite genre was history. I highly recommend The Kingdom of Ice,  Rebel Yell, The Wright Brothers  and Empire of the Summer Moon (probably in that order). Listening to the former in our cold January weather left a particularly deep impression!

I would also highly recommend Stuff Matters as an excellent and easily navigable read related to materials science. The World Without Us is a thought-provoking semi-scientific look at what the future could have been like.

I typically find Bill Bryson's books insightful, relaxing, and downright hilarious in places as I let my mind travel through time or around the world. This year was no exception. In addition to the books I recorded as having read, I listened to the audio version of Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which I had already read a decade or so ago. Just as good the second time around!

The Things of Earth is an excellent read helping us to orient our lives to appreciate all God has created and freely given us to enjoy. I look forward to reading future books by this author!

How about you? Did you read any of these or have other favorites to recommend? Please leave a comment below!

As for the format of books I read this year:
  • 20 were audiobooks (most were free loans from the Maryland Digital Public Library; I'm so thankful for the availability of this service overseas!)
  • 6 ebooks (all but one of which were also library loans)
  • 5 hardbacks (2 of which were from the library)
  • 8 paperbacks

According to, I am currently reading 16 other books but these will all have to wait for next year!


William Burke said...

Hi Mark - Bill Burke here. I hope all is well. I see your Goodreads reviews on Facebook and am always impressed by the volume of books you get through in a year - and lots of 'serious' reading in the mix! I usually stick to fiction, and ninety percent of the books I read are paper-backs. Looking back on my list for 2016, I did notice that I included a smattering of history/historic fiction for a change. I'm curious if any of those have been favorites of yours over the years.

Strangely, the only book we read in common this year was "H is for Hawk" which I recall you didn't like that much - I didn't think it was great either but the author definitely had a way with words. I never would have picked it up, but it had such rave reviews I gave it a shot.

Here's my 2016 list (possibly not complete because I don't keep track during the year - but because they are paperbacks I can see most them next to my desk..... the history/historic fiction ones are at top of the list.)

An Officer and a Spy - Robert Harris
The Killer Angels - Michael Shaara
Agincourt - Bernard Cornwell
Wolf Hall - Hillary Mantel
Bring up the Bodies - Hillary Mantel
The Return of Martin Guerre - Natalie Zemon Davis
Dead Wake - Erik Larson
In the Garden of Beasts - Erik Larson
The Leopard - Guissepe Di Lampedusa
Going Native - Stephen Wright
H is for Hawk - Helen Macdonald
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
City of Bohane - Kevin Barry
The Little Paris Bookshop - Nina George
The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell
Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
Savages - Don Winslow
The Marco Effect - Jussi Adler-Olsen
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
The Fortress of Solitude - Jonathan Lethem
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

If I had to pick favorites - I'd put The Leopard, The Shadow of the Wind, and Wolf Hall near the top. But I must say that Haruki Murakami has a very mesmerizing style and I'd be curious if you've read Wind Up Bird Chronicle, and whether you liked it.

Happy reading in 2017.

Mark E said...

Great to read your list, Bill! I initially picked up H is for Hawk for the same reason you did. I downloaded the Dead Wake audiobook some months ago and probably will get to it in a month or two. Did you like it? I listened to In the Garden of Beasts a few years ago, but if memory serves me correctly, my favorite Erik Larson book to date has been The Devil in the White City, about a mass murderer living at the time of the Chicago World Fair. I really like the audiobook narration.

The novels I read last year mostly turned out to be duds, so I'm very happy to receive your recommendations. I was able to place holds with the library for Shadow of the Wind, Wolf Hall, and Wind Up Bird Chronicle. Maybe I'll spring a few $$ for "The Leopard" as the digital library doesn't have it.

If convenient for you, open a goodreads account, as I'd enjoy following your reading list. Happy Holidays!