21 February 2017

2016 abandoned books

These are the books I started in 2016, but decided not to finish. Most of them ended up going to a local Little Free Library, in hopes someone else might enjoy them more than I did.


Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. NY: Harper Collins, 1996.

I just can’t make myself care about a group of over-privileged Southern Belles.


Moritz Thomsen, The Saddest Pleasure. St. Albans: Sumach Press, 1991.

This looks like a wonderful book, but I’m never going to read a South American travelogue.


Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.

I’ve read enough overly-wordful, canonical 19th century English literature.


Jean Genet, The Thief’s Journal. NY: Grove, 1964.

A rich, meditative prose recollection of life as a young gay man in 1930s Europe, this sadly beautiful memoir simply doesn’t hold my attention. I recognize my loss.


Dorothy Allison, Bastard out of Carolina. NY: Plume, 1993.

A 1992 National Book Award finalist, with a dirty word in the title, should be really good. Richly descriptive, leisurely, and slow to develop, this leaves a bad taste every time I try it, so I stopped trying.

Josephine Humphreys, Rich in Love. NY: Penguin, 1988.

Another highly regarded contemporary Southern female narrative voice, another story that I can’t keep reading. Beginning to wonder if I might dislike the genre, an hypothesis that may not require additional testing.


Zbigniew Herbert, Still Life with a Bridle. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1991.

A collection of essays focused on the art of seventeenth century Holland from the Polish poet.


Yann Martel, Life of Pi. NY: Harcourt, 2001.

I read sixteen chapters of this when I got it, and I haven’t picked it up since.


Elaine Harger, Which Side Are You On? Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016.

Subtitled ‘Seven Social Responsibility Debates in American Librarianship, 1990-2015’, this well-researched presentation of the discussions within the American Library Association leadership councils is exactly as interesting as it sounds.


John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick. NYU: Knopf, 1984.

I remembered liking this as a movie with Jack Nickolson and Cher, and hoped that would carry over to the book since I’ve yet to start one by Updike I could finish. I may have mis-remembered the movie.

07 February 2017

2016 reading list, october - december

Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, & Andrew Dolphin, The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. Middletown, DE: TMA Press, 2006.

The Book is an update of John Thorn and Pete Palmer’s “Hidden Game of Baseball”, a data-driven look into how baseball games are played and won. Where Hidden Game relied on simulations to determine outcome probability, advances in computing power and record compilation since that work allowed Tango, Lichtman, and Dolphin to extract the actual value of on-field events for their analysis. The results lead to detailed discussion of when it makes sense to follow conventional wisdom and when it would likely produce better results to do something different. Questions about bunting, pitching match-ups, and batting order are also considered.


Carly Phillips, Hot Item. Don Mills, ON: HQN, 2006.

The last in a trilogy about the women of a public relations firm for athletes, Hot Item finds Sophie, “the smart one,” falling for her uncle’s quarterback client.


Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land. NY: Putnam, 1961.

It is always a good time to (re)read this biography of Valentine Michael Smith, the Man from Mars.


Booth Tarkington, Claire Ambler. NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1928.

This study of a girl learning to love shows us three incidents in her life, at seventeen, twenty-one, and twenty-five.


Franklin Dixon, The Flickering Torch Mystery. NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1943.

In this wartime thriller, a group of detectives races to catch a gang stealing from government job sites. Picture Humphrey Bogart as Fenton Hardy in this selection from the classic Hardy Boys series of training-noir.


Sherman Alexie, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. NY: Little, Brown, 2007.

Everyone should read this book.