In 2012 our family kept a list on the refrigerator of books we had read. Our daughter, age 7, put several on the list, which was quite the accomplishment for her. It was no surprise that our son, age 12, out read all of us, reading nearly a book a week. My wife's column registers no books, but that is inaccurate. It is, however, testament to a busy homeschooling mother who does not have time to keep lists like this. I thought I would take a moment to reflect briefly on the books I read and take a look at the reading menu for 2013.
My non-fiction reading began with Coach Wooden, a look at the seven principles given to the legendary coach by his father. I do not normally go in for books like this, but it was actually quite good. I ended up highlighting large portions and had a pleasant email exchange with the author. It is clear that Indiana University men's basketball coach Tom Crean follows in the footsteps of this remarkable mentor to young men.
I re-read last year Raising a Modern Day Knight as I continued my thoughts about guiding our son into manhood. This is a great book for any father of sons, and has given me many great ideas, especially about ceremonies to mark the key moments on the road to manhood. I have enjoyed discussing it with a dear brother in Christ who has a son about the age of ours.
Continuing the non-fiction list, we come to Ruthless Trust. This was a challenging book for me, for it focuses on the absolute trust we must have in Jesus Christ if we are to follow Him at all. I think this is a challenge for most people in the current age. We are do-it-yourselfers, and trust is all about the other.
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling was next. This was truly a fascinating read. It revealed much about the technique of frescoing, about which I had no idea. It also revealed that difficult familial relationships were just as common then as now.
Another Christian book was Who Is This Man? It is an intriguing look at the different aspects of Jesus and His profound influence on every area of human endeavor. While we may nod our heads in quick assent to this, the book truly made me stop and think about the extraordinary influence of our Lord.
One of my favorites of the past year was Faust In Copenhagen. I am always drawn to the early decades of the 20th century in the field of physics, and this book introduces readers to the fascinating personalities of luminaries such as Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, etc. It also highlighted the literary and musical interests of these men of science.
A final book in the non-fiction category was The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. I think the true reader enjoys reading just about everything, and that includes reading about reading. I am eternally grateful to this book for prompting me to enter the world of P.G. Wodehouse. Though long aware of Wodehouse, it was only this past year that I discovered for myself his delicious humor.
This takes us to my fiction reading. I read two Wodehouse novels, Right Ho, Jeeves and My Man Jeeves. I read both as e-books on my iPad from Project Gutenberg and howled with laughter on almost every page. This prompted a wonderful Christmas gift from my family, the complete television series Jeeves & Wooster.
I re-read a favorite from my teen years, the sci-fi classic Dune. I am not sure what prompted the re-reading, but it had been thirty years since reading it the first time, so it was fun to get reacquainted with old friends.
Steve Berry has become a favorite author for easy, mind-candy reading. 2012 saw me reading The Charlemagne Pursuit. Like most of his novels, it was a globe-trotting thriller steeped in history.
After seeing it pop up on a list of must-reads on The Art of Manliness, I read for the first time The Great Gatsby. I cannot say it became a cherished book, but I did enjoy it, especially for its descriptions of American life at the time.
Memoirs of Hadrian> came at the suggestion of a friend. It was a novelization of the life of Hadrian written as an imagined autobiography. As a Classicist, I thoroughly enjoyed the intimate picture of the ancient world through the eyes of this emperor.
I have a fondness for film noir and pulp crime novels of a bygone era. Mickey Spillane is a favorite author, and while tempted to read yet another of his Mike Hammer tales, I chose instead the classic The Big Sleep. What can I say? I loved it. I don't what it is that draws me to the gritty, urban scenes of 1940s-1950s America, but this certainly filled the bill.
I must include the children's fiction that made up part of almost every night for for me. I love reading to our children at bedtime and always awake with sadness after any night when I have been unable to read to them. For the most part, I read quick little stories to our daughter, although 2012 saw me reading her a chapter book for the first time. It was The Girl From Binfield and was, in fact, the book I had written her for her 7th birthday telling the fictional story behind Alexander Pope's poem "Upon a Girl of Seven Years Old."
Throughout most of the year I was reading The Action Bible and The Hobbit to our son. The former is the the Bible told in the format of a comic or graphic novel. It was actually quite good. The latter, of course, needs no explanation. I also read to him The Steel Centurion, which was the book I had written for his 12th birthday and told the story of a young, 1st century slave in a blacksmith's workshop going on a grand quest to Mt. Aetna to find the mythical plans of Vulcan for making metal warriors.
I have been reading for some time Ben-Hur and hope to finish it soon. Then it is on to more Wodehouse, perhaps some H.G. Wells, and the Lincoln biography Team of Rivals. Ah, so much to read, so little time!