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Today in My History

2001:  Smile, Tho Your Heart is Breaking
2002: The Concert of Your Life
2003: Time for a Rant
2004:  Russian Roulette
2005We Aim to Please

2006:  2001
2007Guardians of History
2008:  Comparing Years
2009:  I Love Facebook, but...
2010:  XXX
2011:  A Mash-Up
Bonding Pains
2013: Take My Heart--Please

Bitter Hack
Updated: 1
Santaland Diaries

Books Read in 2014
"The Ocean at the End of the Lane"

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3 January 2014

This is something else I did last year that I'd like to do again this year.  I made a record of the reading I'd done in the year.  My goal for 2011 was to read more books than I had the previous year and I succeeded beyond my wildest expectations.  In 2011 I read 41 books, 14,071 pages.  In 2012 I read 78 books, 24,837 pages.

I did not have a goal in 2013 and was back to 2011 levels, with only 39 boooks, but 14,940 pages (thicker books!)

The difference between 2012 and 2013 was twofold.  First, in 2012, I had just started at Logos and made it my goal to read a book a day -- and did.   This meant I was reading lots of books of 200 pages or less.  This year I've still been reading Logos books, but chose books that I wanted to read and if they were long, I either left them on the shelf to finish the next week, or brought home to finish at home.  Also, with my mother moving to Davis, I lost all those hours and hours and hours on the road listening to audio books.  But still, I think 39 books is a respectable number.

Of the books I read,

- 14 were "real books" that I read at Logos
- Only 3 were "real books" that were NOT Logos books
- 15 were Kindle books
- 7 were audio books

Using the classifications I use on my Kindle these are the genres that I read

- 12 were crime drama books and I discovered author Vince Flynn this year, which was a good find.
- 7 were "contemporary fiction" (fiction books not considered "classic" by Logos!)
- 8 were non-fiction books
- 1 was a travel book
- 6 were classics (book club selections, and books I finally read, like "A Town Like Alice")
- 4 were history
- In my database, I have two "self help" books, on dealing with dementia, but I have missed some because I know I read at least 4 books on dementia.
- 2 were humor books (by Garrison Keilor and Dave Barry)
- 2 were books about animals (Most recently "Saving Baby" about the horseracing "industry")

Some of the books overlapped two categories, and I think there is another travel book in there that I forgot to record, but this is the jist of it.

I need to look at the list and choose the "best" of 2013.  I choose three. 

Probably at the top of the list is not a very pleasant read, "Babi Yar" by A. Anatoli (Kuznetzov).  We had just returned from Ukraine, where we had visited Kiev and stood at the edge of what remains of Babi Yar, where the Nazis slaughtered 33,771 Jews over a weekend and, before they left Kiev, it is estimated that they murdered over 100,000 people, Jews and non-Jews.  The author was 13 when the Nazis entered.   As a non-Jew he was not in immediate danger, but as the killings went on, he had to resort to more and more subterfuge to stay alive and he was determined to record it for posterity.  As I said, it is not a pleasant read, but I feel important to know what happened not only in Kiev, but all over that part of the world that was subject to Nazi domination.

The second is a more pleasant read and was recommended to me by Char.  It was "The Chaperone" by Laura Moriarty.  Not the sort of book I would ordinarily pick up (nor Char either, but she read it for her book club).  It's the story of a young married woman at the turn of the 19th century, whose two sons are old enough to be away at summer jobs, who agrees to accompany a young girl on a month long trip to New York, so the girl can dance with a famous dance company there.  The chaperone has her own reasons for wanting to go to New York and ultimately the trip will significantly change both women forever.  Definitely a page turner, and have tissues handy as you reach the end.

The third book is the travel book I just finished, "Fried Eggs with Chopsticks."  Polly Evans spent a month traveling around China, visiting many of the places we visited, but under much more primitive conditions.  I found it fascinating, especially the parts I could visualize from our own travels.

If I want to pick the very bottom of the list, as far as "quality" is concerned, it would be "Heaven is for Real," supposedly the memories of a young boy of his time in heaven during a surgical procedure in which he nearly died, which is all the rage in some circles.  I'm not sure why I read it.  I guess because I'm fascinated with stories of what is out there after we die.  I believe in near death experiences, and I believe that this kid may have had some that are real, but the book gets so deeply into things that are outright blatant propaganda and pose obvious questions like why does God need to be surrounded by gold and jewels and why are there only Christians in Heaven?  I think this boy's minister father went a bit too far in describing the things his son supposedly remembered 5 years past his near death experience.

A weird, but quick, fun book to read was "Weird Things People Say in Bookstores," compiled by Jen Campbell.  I actually bought this for Logos but delayed so long giving it to Susan and Peter that someone else found it and gave it to them.

And other than "Babi Yar," the book that disturbed me most was "Saving Baby," the story of JoAnne Normile and her crusade to find more humane ways of disposing of unwanted thoroughbreds.  It tells a black story of the untold story of thoroughbred racing (I was duped by Walter Farley, the author of all those Black Stallion books!!) and a semi-triumph in how Normile's work has changed things, not completely, but significantly.  Can't rest until the change is complete and no more horses need to suffer through trips to the slaughterhouse.

I have no goals for 2014, but just plan to keep on reading and recording what I read.  I have been a big reader all of my life and can't imagine a life without books.


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