2013: My year of books and reading.


I’m always relieved when cooler weather arrives. My working world never really abates, but with winter comes more quality time for reading. At this late date, it is unimaginable that music would not be playing in my head at all times, or that a book is somewhere close by.

And then there are those persistently bibulous tendencies …

The past year’s completed book list is offered here, somewhat chronologically in reverse, beginning with the most recent (a memoir still in progress), and including links to reviews and comments written about particular books at the blog during 2013. Expect a more detailed review of Ray Mouton’s novel later in January.

Works of fiction are marked with *

The World of Yesterday, by Stefan Zweig (in progress)

*In God’s House, by Ray Mouton

The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game, by Edward Achorn

*Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon

Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney, by Marion Meade

*The Assistant, by Robert Walser

Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch,

Walkable City, by Jeff Speck

Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s, by Dan Epstein

Who I Am: A Memoir, by Pete Townshend

*Riders in the Chariot, by Patrick White

*Necessary Errors, by Caleb Crain

Ghost Strasse: Germany’s East Trapped Between Past and Present, by Simon Burnett

*Adam and Evelyn, by Ingo Schulze

Jerusalem: The Biography, by Simon Sebag Montefiore

*Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford

*The Drinker, by Hans Fallada

*Memoirs of an Anti-Semite. A Novel in Five Stories, by Gregor von Rezzori

Because 2014 commences the centenary of World War I, expect to be deluged with thoughts on the conflict during the coming year. First up: The aforementioned memoir by Zweig, followed by 1913: The World Before the Great War, by Charles Emmerson. Both set the scene for the tumult to follow, and both are in hand. Two books will be chosen from this group …

1913: The Year before the Storm, by Florian Illies
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, by Christopher Clark
July 1914: Countdown to War, by Sean McMeekin
The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, by Margaret MacMillan
Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings

… and then I’ll see what comes next. The plan is to read a few books about the Great War each year, through 2018, while pondering whether I’ll live to read through the next centenary, circa 2039.

There’s one acclaimed baseball biography waiting, too: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams, by Ben Bradlee Jr.

Fiction? That’s a good question. It seems I never set out to read novels, and yet always do. A few recommendations are in the bin, but at this precise juncture, I’m in a real-world frame of mind.