I Read 100 Books in 2017

Not my bookshelf… yet.

In 2017, I read 102 books.

Okay, so that’s technically more than 100.

And, to be fair, I only read 99 different ones (but I did read two, twice this year — had to revisit them for separate exams, and basically pick out different things in each).

And, yes, yes, some of the author names are probably misspelled and so are the titles (I kept track of them in a chicken scratch notebook)

“Wait a minute!” Some of you might be thinking, “Some of these barely qualify as books!” Athanasius’ Life of Anthony and Jodorowski’s L’Incal in particular jump out — the former being a sermon masquerading as a narrative, the latter a French graphic novel or bande dessinée.

So let me explain:

For items to appear on this list, they had to appear in the form of a book (either electronic or printed). That is, as something I could file on my shelf or read from start to finish in a complete form.

By this definition, a smattering of books on here that were under 100 pages (but made up by those above 1000 pages — the average length, I would guess, being around 300–350 pages).

This also meant I couldn’t include any of the hundreds of academic or non-fiction articles I read this year (including some that surpassed 60 pages — though the average was 20–30 each).

In the end, the definition of book is a bit tenuous here, but I figure it evens out considering the mountains of reading I left out (which, if stapled together, would be a couple dozen books worth).

I mean honestly, give me a break. I was working full time for the first four month, and then part time (20 hours a week) the last eight months. Look at how many fucking books I put away. Just look!

Some observations about the experience:

The bulk of the books on this list were academic monographs and annotated volumes that I read in preparation for my three separate composite exams, or that I assigned to my classes and read along the way.

Despite the heavy requirements for my exams, I still managed to sneak in about 30 novels this year — which comes pretty damn close to that pathetic 35 books TOTAL I put away last year. I guess it’s true that when we have very little time, we tend to do a lot MORE with it.

I read on average 2 books a week. Though, realistically, it was probably a couple of months of 4–5 books per week and then some slack times where I literally had to take a break and read a measly 1 or 1.5 books per week. Notably, right at the end in December and when I was on vacation in May.

Boy are my eyes tired. That last book of the year (Dan Simmon’s Hyperion) took me 8 days to read. Basically walking the marathon right there.

By comparison, there were 2 or 3 days where I read more than one book in a single day. You know how it goes. You get up at 7, read until noon. Have lunch and say “hey, why don’t I get started on number 2?” And you finish the bastard by suppertime.

Some noteworthy (and not so much) reads:

Blake Crouch’s books are addictive. I read Wayward in one sitting on a flight. Woulda read another, but the flight ended.

Lars Kepler’s books are also addictive. I read 90% of Sandman on a train ride. I would have read the rest in one shot, but we arrived in Toronto and had to catch a bus.

Joe Hill reads like a slightly past the peek Stephen King (his father). Not as engaging as King was during his prime, but worlds ahead of his dad’s latter work (especially the downward spiral that was King in the nineties). I still have at least 2 of his books on the shelf or Kindle that got pushed in 2018.

Swedish crime thrillers continue to be my favourite genre. Having read everything Henning Mankell wrote (as far as I know) and most of Lars Kepler, I suppose Jo Nesbo is the next obvious target on my reading list. His Snowman was decent, but I can’t help but wonder if the translation was a little… off. More than once, I’d read a page and have no idea how the characters got from point A to point B — it’s as if they left out some transitional lines here and there.

Vishnu Dreams was sorely disappointing. Strong premise, interesting ideas, but too literary and muddling for its own good. I know well-written prose is all the rage, but it never hurts to have a story with HOOKs to pull a reader in.

Crichton has the uncanny ability to make literally ANYTHING gripping and tense. Take Air Frame for example: it’s the only suspense novel I’ve ever heard about that makes reading about airplane schematics edge of your seat intense. Even State of Fear, his mostly crock-of-shit book about global warming fraudsters, managed to pull it off when discussing charts and graphs.

Dan Simmons knows his religious history and philosophy. Not only can he talk about Kolkata and Shaktism in a manner than rivals some scholars, but he’s also no slouch when it comes to Catholicism. Nice (and rare) to read fiction where the author doesn’t bungle things or rely on cheesy stock stereotypes about religion (*cough cough sorry Crouch, Abandon could have done more with the preacher character).

Murakami is wonderful as always, and you definitely get different things out of his books the second time you read them. Not only was rereading South of the Border, West of the Sun it like sliding back into an old, comfortable pair of jeans, but I now have a completely different opinion about what it’s actually about.

Daytripper was probably the most thought-provoking graphic novel I’ve read in a while, and it manages to do it with so little — and without being heavy-handed. Tells a good story at the same time!

Everyone interested in Cinema, the Reagan years, or American history should read Susan Jeffords Hard Bodies. Pretty wonderful read.

The List

Copied below is the rough and tumble list of the monographs I slew over the past 52 weeks:

Williams — Saints Alive (x2)

Athanasius — Life of Athony

Brown — The Cult of the Saints

Orsi — Between Heaven and Earth

Orsi — Thank you St Jude (x2)

Bell & Mazzoni — Voices of Gemma Galgani

Freeman — Holy Bones, Holy Dust

Weinstein & Bell — Saints and Society

Kleinberg — Flesh Made Word

Bartlett — Why Can the Dead do such Great Things?

Multiple Authors — Hagiography and Religious Truth (annotated Volume)

Greer — Colonial Saints

Pearson — Becoming Holy in Early Canada

Moore — Women in Christian Traditions

Boisvert — Sanctity and Male Desire

Kitchen — Saints Lives and the Rhetoric of Gender

Burrus — Sex Lives of the Saints

Multiple Authors — Catholic Women Speak (annotated Volume)

Wilson — Saints and their Cults

Matzeko — Sharing God’s Company

Farrelly — Papist Patriots

Ellis — American Catholicism

Cuneo — The Smoke of Satan

Curran — Shaping American Catholicism

McDonnough — The Catholic Labrynth

Scribber — A Partisan Church

Massa — Catholics and American Culture

Vasquez — Globalzing the Sacred

Tweed — America’s Church

Tweed — Our Lady of the Exile

Kennedy — Reimagining American Catholicism

McGreevy — Catholicism and American Freedom

McGreevy — Parish Boundaries

Anderson — Death and Rebirth of the North American Martyrs

Hamburger — The Separation of Church and State

Zubrzycki — Beheading the Saint

Koehlinger — The New Nuns

Cummings — Catholics in the American Century

Cummings — New Women of the Old Faith

Hendrickson — Border Medicine

Byrne — The Other Catholics

Kane — Sister Thorn

Kane — Gender Identity in American Catholicism

Matovina — Presente!

Tentler — Catholics and Contraceptives

Arnold and Brady — What is Masculinity?

Connell — Masculinities

Synnott — Rethinking Men

Roediger — Wages of Whiteness

Hill — Whiteness: A Critical Reader

Bronner — Male Traditions

Gilbert — Men in the Middle

Watson and Shaw — Performing Masculinities

Jeffords — Hard Bodies

Horrocks — Male Myths and Icons

Morrison — Playing in the Dark

Keith — Contemporary American Culture

Moss — Media and Modes of Masculinity

Rotundo — American Manhood

Carroll — American Masculinity: A Historical Encyclopedia

Cuordeleone — Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War

Kimmel — Manhood in America

Meyer — Manhood on the Line

Rosin — The End of Men

Oxtoby — World Religions: Eastern Traditions

Stephens-Davidovitz — Everybody Lies

Bader, Baker and Mencken — Paranormal America

Morreau — The French Revolution

Jacobs — Beethoven

Gibson — Idoru

Bengamudra — Vishnu Dream

Crichton — State of Fear

Crichton — Air Frame

Landsdale — The Night Runners

Landsdale — Act of Love

Harrison — Technicolor Time Machine

Murakami — South of the Border, West of the Sun

Murakami — Sputnik Sweetheart

Crouch — Pines

Crouch — Wayward

Crouch — The Last Town

Crouch — Good Behaviour

Crouch — Abandon

Mankell — Depths

Mankell — The Man from Beijing

Hill — Horns

Hill — N0S4A2

Kepler — The Hypnotist

Kepler — The Fire Witness

Kepler — The Nightmare

Kepler — The Sandman

Kepler — Stalker

Jodorowski — L’Incal Shah — Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Moon & Ba — DayTripper Matur — The Inscrutible Americans

Simmons — Song of Kali Simmons — Hyperion

Nesbo — The Snowman


Originally published at www.anachaj.ca on January 1, 2018.

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