Friday, December 19, 2014

My Reading Year at a Glance


I love Goodreads. Too bad it’s owned by Amazon, which has all but destroyed the book business as I once knew it, but— Anyway, too bad. I love Goodreads.

With the Goodreads Challenge, you are encouraged to read more than your lazy-ass self would ordinarily read. With reviews, you are urged to think about and judge your reading experiences. All good.

The illustration here is a collage of the 38 books I have read in 2014, straight from Goodreads, which sent me a congratulatory message. I had set my Challenge at 35 books. The image is a snapshot of my reading life and, to some degree, my intellectual life during 2014.

It shows that—

  • I went through a classic hard-boiled detective period during the winter when I was working on a first draft of the world’s first great croquet mystery (shelved for now). I looked primarily to Raymond Chandler for inspiration. Detective fiction by Ellis Peters and G. K. Chesterton led my mind back to Catholic books, with additional help from A Canticle for Liebowitz.
  • I have a continuing interest in Dorothy Day (her letters in The Duty of Delight and her biography of Therese), St. Therese (Story of a Soul and the Day bio), and Charles Dickens (re-reads of Pickwick and Twist).
  • I began to get interested in Ignatian spirituality after a spring 2014 Cursillo and the recommendation of a spiritual director that I read Jim Manney’s books on the Ignatian examen and exercises. 
  • As the year came to an end, my focus was moving from my memoir (Hero with a Thousand Faces, Dakota, and The Nun’s Story) to my planned pilgrimage on foot to Montreal (books on Brother André including God’s Doorkeepers, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and Thoreau’s account of boating on the Merrimack River, where I will be walking next spring).
  • I got suckered into one last Steven King thriller

The best book of my year was James Martin’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage

The most interesting book of my year was Up in the Old Hotel, collected profiles by the New Yorker’s Joseph Mitchell.

The worst book of my year was King’s Revival. 

Goodreads friends are worth following. You choose each other based on common reading interests. I have been put in touch with several Catholic readers, writers, and bloggers who have fed me interesting ideas for future reading. Among the books on my to-read list right now is Peter Kreeft’s newest, Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas, courtesy of G/R friend Jeff Miller.

So thanks, Goodreads. Thanks, G/R friends. And thanks even to you, Amazon.

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