Tagged With: Classics

My 2020 Reading

My 2020 Reading

My 2020 Reading

This year was something of a landmark for me in terms of reading. For a while now I’ve been trying to read some of the books that I should have read in high school or college (or perhaps that I should have been supposed to read, if you follow me). Over the last dozen years or so, I’ve gotten through a significant number, including fiction by Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Dufoe, Hardy, Melville, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Zola, to name but a few. I’ve read some of the classics, including Greek and Roman historians, playwrights, and philosophers and some significant modern non-fiction, as well. Late last year, though, I decided to step it up a notch. My goal was to read 26 books with some significant number of them being big, important or serious books. As it turns out—and no one is more surprised than I am—I aimed low.

All the books I read this year are pictured here. Some of them are short and very easy to read, but a few of them are what Dorothy and I have taken to calling “Lifetime Achievement Books.” Specifically, the three volumes of The Gulag Archipelago (weighing in at a combined 1,818 pages), Moby Dick (‘only’ 459 pages but seriously, get to the whale already!), The History of the Peloponnesian War (574 pages), The Tale of Genji (1,139 pages), and War and Peace (1,136 pages).

My 2020 Reading

My 2020 Reading

Here is the full list of books read in 2020 in the order I read them. Overall, I’ve enjoyed much of what I read. Some were not so much enjoyable as worthwhile. For instance, The Gulag Archipelago is not light or enjoyable, but it’s important. Personally I think it should be required reading, along with The Hiding Place. Obviously Jack London, the Narnia books by Lewis, and a few others are on the other end of the difficulty spectrum and provided a needed respite.

Order   
Read   
Title Author Date    Notes
1 Anna Karenin Tolstoy, Leo (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) 1878 I actually started this on December 23, 2019, so only a third or so was read this year.
2 The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Volume 1 Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich (December 11, 1918 – August 3, 2008) English translation by Thomas Whitney, 1974
3 Brideshead Revisited Waugh, Evelyn (October 28, 1903 – April 10, 1966) 1945
4 Moby Dick Melville, Herman (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) 1851
5 Silas Marner Eliot, George (Mary Ann Evans, November 22, 1819 – December 22, 1880) 1864
6 The Man With The Gash London, Jack (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) 1901 Short Stories
7 In Parenthesis Jones, David (November 1, 1895 – October 28, 1974) 1937
8 Tristram Shandy Sterne, Laurence (November 24, 1713 – March 18, 1768) between 1759 and 1767
9 Beowulf: A New Verse Translation Unknown, translated in 1999 by Seamus Heaney (April 13, 1939 – August 30, 2013) 8th century
10 The Republic Plato (circa 425 – circa 347 B.C.) 375 B. C.
11 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus Shelley, Mary (August 30, 1797 – February 1, 1851) 1818
12 Confessions Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430 AD) A. D. 397
13 The Jugurthine War Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus, 86 – circa 35 B.C.) 44 B. C.
14 Macbeth Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) around 1606
15 The Tale of Genji Murasaki, Lady (circa A.D. 970 circa 1030) early 11th century
16 Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes Eswine, Zack (born 1969) 2014
17 The Hobbit Tolkien, J. R. R. (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973) 1937
18 The Lives of the Twelve Caesars Suetonius (Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, circa A.D. 69 – sometime after 122) A. D. 121
19 The Canterbury Tales Chaucer, Geoffrey (c. 1340s – October 25, 1400) between 1387 and 1400
20 The Practice of the Presence of God Lawrence, Brother (c. 1614 – February 12, 1691) late 17th century Compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort around 1692
21 The Death of Death in the Death of Christ Owen, John (1616 – August 24, 1683) 1647
22 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Carroll, Lewis, (a.k.a. C. L. Dodgson, January 27, 1832 – January 14, 1898) 1865
23 The Consolation of Philosophy Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, c. A.D. 477 – 524) A. D. 524,
24 The History Tacitus (circa A.D. 56 – sometime after 117) between A. D. 100 and 110,
25 The History of the Kings of Britain Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1095 – c. 1155) 1136
26 Five Dialogues Plato (circa 425 – circa 347 B.C.) 5th or 4th centuries, B. C.
27 The History of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides (circa 460 – circa 400 B.C.) circa 400 B. C. Published as The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War War, 1996, by Robert B. Strassler
28 The Magician’s Nephew Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1955
29 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1950
30 The Horse and His Boy Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1954
31 Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1951
32 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1952
33 The Silver Chair Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1953
34 The Last Battle Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1956
35 The Fire Next Time Baldwin, James (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) 1963
36 Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) 4th century B. C.
37 The Hiding Place ten Boom, Corrie (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983) 1971
38 Purgatory Alighieri, Dante (c. 1265 – 1321) 1308 Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers, (June 13, 1893 – December 17, 1957). I read the first portion of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Inferno, in late 2015.
39 War and Peace Tolstoy, Leo (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) 1869
40 The House of The Seven Gables Hawthorne, Nathaniel (July 4, 1804 – May 19, 1864) 1851
41 The Epic of Gilgamesh Unknown possibly 18th century B. C.
42 Paradise Alighieri, Dante (c. 1265 – 1321) 1321 Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers, (June 13, 1893 – December 17, 1957)
43 Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece Fermor, Patrick Leigh (February 11, 1915 – June 10, 2011) 1966
44 The Mill on the Floss Eliot, George (Mary Ann Evans, November 22, 1819 – December 22, 1880) 1860
45 King John Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) 1595
46 Lord Jim Conrad, Joseph (December 3, 1857 – August 3, 1924) 1900
47 Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese Fermor, Patrick Leigh (February 11, 1915 – June 10, 2011) 1959
48 Beat to Quarters Forester, C. S. (August 27, 1899 – April 2, 1966) 1937 Originally published in England as The Happy Return
49 The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Volume 2 Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich (December 11, 1918 – August 3, 2008) English translation by Thomas Whitney, 1974
50 Cybernetics Wiener, Norbert (November 26, 1894 – March 18, 1964) 1948
51 The Problem of Pain Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1940
42 The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Volume 3 Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich (December 11, 1918 – August 3, 2008) English translation by Thomas Whitney, 1974
53 Rumours of War Mallinson, Allan (Born February 6, 1949) 2004
54 The Early History of Rome Livy (59 B.C. – A.D. 17) 29 to 27 B. C. Books 1 through 5 of Livy’s 142 volume History of Rome, which cover the period from the founding of Rome to 386 B.C.
55 The Old Man And The Sea Hemingway, Ernest (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) 1952
56 Out of Africa Dinesen, Isak (a.k.a. Karen Blixen, April 17, 1885 – September 7, 1962) 1937
57 Under The Greenwood Tree Hardy, Thomas (June 2, 1840 – January 11, 1928) 1872
58 Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky, Fyodor (November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881) 1866
59 A History of My Times, (Hellenica) Xenophon (circa 430 – 354 B.C.) 4th Century B. C.
60 Smith of Wooton Manor and Farmer Giles of Ham Tolkien, J. R. R. (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973) published in 1967 and 1949, respectively

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My 2021 Reading

My 2021 Reading

My 2021 Reading

As the year started I had four fairly substantial books that I wanted to read this year. They were The Faerie Queene (1,043 pages), Don Quixote (957 pages), The City of God (1,142 pages), and The Bible. I’ve read the Bible straight through in its entirety a few times before but wanted to read in a different version, the relatively new English Standard Version (ESV), published in 2001 by Crossway. The copy I have, a study Bible, runs 2,091 pages of actual Biblical text, although to be fair, the pages probably average somewhere in the range of 40% to 50% notes. Nevertheless, even without notes it’s a fairly long book and I got through it in 25 days. Are these all ‘Lifetime Achievement Books’? I don’t know, but they are significant, anyway.

I had a few other books in my ‘to-read’ pile and of course we went to our two favorite used book stores a few times throughout the course of the year. As you can see from the photo and the list below, I got through quite a varied collection. I’m presenting the list differently this year. I’ve put the information in a table that can be sorted by the order I read them (the default order), or by title, author, or date published. If you are interested in comparing this to last year, I’ve updated last year’s post, putting the list of books into a table similar to this one.

My 2021 Reading

My 2021 Reading

Note about dates: If the work was written over a period of years, sorting by date will use the latest date. The most notable example is the Bible, written over a period of about 1,500 years. It is listed as though it were published in A.D. 96 (the latest accepted date for the writing of the Book of Revelation). Also, I only label dates with B.C. or A.D. if they are earlier than A.D. 1000. All unlabeled dates are A.D.

I have a stack of 27 books waiting to be read starting in the new year (a.k.a. tomorrow). That includes a few larger works, such as General Sherman’s Memoirs, Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, and a book of poetry and prose by John Milton (including Paradise Lost), and the other two volumes of Livy (The War with Hannibal and Rome and the Mediterranean. I also want to read six or so more plays by Shakespeare in my hopes to read all 39 of them (I’ve read 14 so far).

Order   
Read   
Title Author Date    Notes
1 The Faerie Queene Spenser, Edmund (circa 1552 – January 13, 1599) written in 1590 and 1596 This is a longish book and the spellings are archaic, which made it fairly slow going. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
2 Mr. Midshipman Hornblower Forester, C. S. (August 27, 1899 – April 2, 1966) 1950
3 How to Make Your Money Last Quinn, Jane Bryant (born February 5, 1939) 2016
4 Life’s Little Ironies Hardy, Thomas (June 2, 1840 – January 11, 1928) 1927 This collection of short stories was originally published in 1894, and republished in 1927 with a slightly different collection of stories. I have and read the 1927 version.
5 Don Quixote Cervantes, Miguel de (September 29, 1547 – April 22, 1616) 1605 and 1615
6 The Island of the Day Before Eco, Umberto (January 5, 1932 – February 19, 2016) 1994 Translated into English in 1995
7 The Abolition of Man Lewis, C. S. (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) 1947
8 An Act of Courage Mallinson, Allan (born February 6, 1949) 2005 This is the seventh Matthew Hervey story, set mostly in the Iberian penensula.
9 The Mayor of Casterbridge Hardy, Thomas (June 2, 1840 – January 11, 1928) 1886 Subtitled The Life and Death of a Man of Character
10 Escape from Camp 14 Dong-hyuk, Shin (born November 19, 1982 or 1980) and Journalist Blaine Harden (born 1952) 2012 Subtitled One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West
11 The Island of Doctor Moreau Wells, H. G. (September 21, 1866 – August 13, 1946) 1896
12 Middlemarch Eliot, George (a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans, November 22, 1819 – December 22, 1880) 1871 and 1872
13 The Time Machine Wells, H. G. (September 21, 1866 – August 13, 1946) 1895
14 The Bible English Standard Version (ESV) sometime before 1400 B.C. through somewhere around A.D. 96 Published in 2001 by Crossway
15 Around The World In 80 Days Verne, Jules (February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905) English translation published in 1873
16 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Twain, Mark (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens, November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) 1876
17 The Invisible Man Wells, H. G. (September 21, 1866 – August 13, 1946) 1897
18 As I Lay Dying Faulkner, William (September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) 1930
19 Richard II Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) probably 1595
20 Gorgias Plato (circa 425 – circa 347 B.C. ) circa 380 B.C.
21 Jude the Obscure Hardy, Thomas (June 2, 1840 – January 11, 1928) 1896
22 The Tolkien Reader Tolkien, J. R. R. (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973) 1966 This contains four works, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son, a short play first printed in an academic journal in 1953; Tree and Leaf, 1964, which contains an essay called On Fairy Stories and the short tale Leaf by Niggle; Farmer Giles of Ham, 1949, which I read last year; and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, 1962, a collection of 16 poems.
23 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain, Mark (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens, November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) 1884
24 A Farewell To Arms Hemingway, Ernest (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) 1929
25 How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor Smith, James K. A. (born October 9, 1970) 2014 This is a review and summarization of A Secular Age, 2007, by Charles Taylor (born November 5, 1931).
26 The Tempest Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) circa 1611
27 Master and Man and Other Stories Tolstoy, Leo (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) 1912 This book includes three stories: Father Sergius, written between 1890 and 1898 and published (posthumously) in 1911; Master and Man, 1895; and the novella Hadji Murat, written from 1896 to 1904 and published posthumously in 1912.
28 Troilus and Cressida Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) circa 1602
29 Njal’s Saga Unknown circa 1280 This Icelandic saga relates events purported to have taken place between A.D. 960 and 1020.
30 The Sound and the Fury Faulkner, William (September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) 1929
31 City of God Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430) A.D. 413–427
32 Lieutenant Hornblower Forester, C. S. (August 27, 1899 – April 2, 1966) 1952
33 Cossacks, The / Happy Ever After / The Death of Ivan Ilyich Tolstoy, Leo (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) 1863, 1859, and 1886 Three novellas. Note that Happy Ever After was originally published as Family Happiness.
34 War In Heaven Williams, Charles (September 20, 1886 – May 15, 1945) 1930 Williams is “the other Inkling” and is hardly known today.
35 The Prince Machiavelli, Niccolò (May 3, 1469 – June 21, 1527) 1513
36 Best Plays by Chekhov Chekhov, Anton (January 29, 1860 – July 15, 1904) 1903 The four plays in this book are: The Sea Gull (1895), Uncle Vanya (1898), The Three Sisters (1900), and The Cherry Orchard (1903).
37 Romola Eliot, George (a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans, November 22, 1819 – December 22, 1880) 1863
38 Two Gentlemen of Verona Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) 1593
39 Are Women Human Sayers, Dorothy L. (June 13, 1893 – December 17, 1957) 1947 This book contains a address—Are Women Human?—given to a Women’s Society in 1938; and an essay—The Human-Not-Quite-Human—from 1947
40 The Nibelungenlied Unknown poet circa 1200 This epic is known today mostly through Richard Wagner’s operatic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, although his version differs in some ways from the original story. The setting is Germanic-speaking Europe in the 5th and 6th centuries.
41 A Handful of Dust Waugh, Evelyn (October 28, 1903 – April 10, 1966) 1934
42 Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book Percy, Walker (May 28, 1916 – May 10, 1990) 1983
43 Idylls of the King Tennyson, Alfred, Lord (August 6, 1809 – October 6, 1892) published between 1859 and 1885
44 Between Heaven and Hell Kreeft, Peter John (born March 16, 1937) 1982 The book is subtitled A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley. All three died on the same day, November 22, 1963, and this is a Socratic dialog on faith between the three of them when they meet in Purgatory. I have the expanded edition published in 2008.
45 Henry IV, Part 1 Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) circa 1597
46 Civilization And Its Discontents Freud, Sigmund (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939) 1930
47 On The Road Kerouac, Jack (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) 1957
48 Seven Gothic Tales Dinesen, Isak (a.k.a. Karen Blixen, 17 April 1885 – 7 September 1962) 1934 The seven stories are: The Deluge at Norderney, The Old Chevalier, The Monkey, The Roads Round Pisa, The Supper at Elsinore, The Dreamers, and The Poet
49 Henry IV, Part 2 Shakespeare, William (circa April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) circa 1599
50 A Grief Observed Lewis, C. S. (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963, as N. W. Clerk) 1961
51 Metamorphoses Ovid (Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō, March 20, 43 B.C. – A.D. 17 or 18) A.D. 8
52 The Basic Works of Cicero Cicero, Marcus Tullius (January 3, 106 – December 7, 43 B.C.) between 63 and 43 B.C. The works included in this Modern Library edition are: On Moral Duty, book 1, circa 43 B.C.; Tusculan Disputations, book 1, circa 43 B.C.; On Old Age, 44 B.C.; Scipio’s Dream, from On The Republic, 51 B.C.; On The Character Of The Orator, book 1, 55, B.C.; First Oration Against Catiline, November 7, 63 B.C.; Second Oration Against Catiline, December 5, 63 B.C.; For Caelius, April 4, 56 B.C.; The Second Philippic, 44 B.C.; and selected Letters.
53 Dubliners Joyce, James (February 2, 1882 – January 13, 1941) written 1905 but not published until 1914
54 Natural History Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23/24 – August 24, 79) circa A.D. 79
55 Rome and Italy Livy (Titus Livius, 59 B.C. – A.D. 17) circa 27 B.C. Livy’s History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita Libri) contained 142 books, of which 35 are extant. This volume contains books six through ten, picking up where the first volume (The Early History of Rome, which I read last year) left off after the Gallic occupation in 386 B.C. and runs up to about 293 B.C., part way through the Third Samnite War (298–290 B.C.).
56 A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man Joyce, James (February 2, 1882 – January 13, 1941) originally published in serial form from February, 1914 through September, 1915 in The Egoist
57 The Jewish War Josephus, Titus Flavius (born Yosef ben Matityahu, A.D. 37 – circa 100) circa A.D. 75
58 Horologicon Mark Forsyth (born 2 April 1977) 2012 Subtitled “A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language”.
59 Brave New World Huxley, Aldous Leonard (July 26, 1894 – November 22, 1963) written in 1931 and published in 1932
60 Doctor Zhivago Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich (February 10, 1890 – May 30, 1960) 1957 Translated by Max Hayward and Manya Harari, 1958
61 Euripides I Euripides (circa 480 – circa 406 B.C.) 414 B.C. The first of three volumes of plays by Euripides and volume five in the Modern Library’s The Complete Greek Tragedies. The seven plays are: Alcestis (438 B.C.), The Medea (431 B.C.), The Heracleidae (430 B.C.), Hippolytus (428 B.C.), Cyclops (unknown), Heracles (416 B.C.), and Iphigenia in Tauris (414 B.C.).
62 Company of Spears Mallinson, Allan (born February 6, 1949) 2006 This is the eighth Matthew Hervey story, this time set in South Africa and fighting the Zulus.
63 The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays Tolkien, J. R. R. (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973) From 1931 to 1959 This is a collection of essays, published in 2006 by Christopher Tolkien. The parts are: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics (1936), On Translating Beowulf (1940), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1953), On Fairy-Stories (1939), English and Welsh (1955), A Secret Vice (1931), Valedictory Address (1959).

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