Friday, December 30, 2005

The PBB 2005 Reading List

[Remember, we're still taking Slackie nominations--but time's running out!]

Another year draws to a close. Here's what we here at PBB have been reading. Listed below are the date the book was finished, name, author, and length. After that, some analysis and the top-five recommended titles. Here we go.


January 9--Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis (227)
January 18--She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb (465)
January 25--About a Boy, by Nick Hornby (306)
February 13--Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathon Safran Foer (276)
February 18--Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller (242)
February 21--Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons, by Dr. N.C. Warren (232)
March 11--Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathon Lethem (311)
March 20--A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis (151)
March 29--Neuromancer, by William Gibson (271)
April 22--A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (616)
April 28--Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins (277)
May 5--Sixpence House, by Paul Collins (216)
May 19--Monster, by Frank Peretti (429)
May 24--A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (216)
June 19--The Friendly Dickens, by Norrie Epstein (405)
July 2--Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (247)
July 12--The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis (767)
July 28--What's So Amazing about Grace, by Phillip Yancey (288)
July 30--Cubs Nation, by Gene Wojciechowski (417)
September 8--Get a Date Worth Keeping, by Dr. Henry Cloud (235)
September 12--The Moviegoer, by Walter Perry (243)
September 23--The Jesus I Never Knew, by Phillip Yancey (275)
September 28--Searching for God Knows What, by Don Miller (239)
November 5--When God Writes your Love Story, by Eric Ludy (250)
November 17--The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky (936)
November 23--Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott (237)
[unfinished--Anointed to be God's Servants, by Henry Blackaby (about 100)]
December 7--Passion and Purity, by Elizabeth Elliot (188)
December 14--Boy Meets Girl, by Josh Harris (228)

[Currently reading (but not counting): Disciplines of a Godly Man, by Kent Hughes; and Cash, by Johnny Cash. So far, i'm a combined 350-400 pages in those.]

Total Books Finished: 28 (same as last year)

Total Pages of completed books for 2005: 9432 (not counting unfinished books). That's about a thousand less than last year. Like I said then, you gotta make time. Or read longer books.

Average Length: 337 pages
Average Length Not Counting "Karamazov" or "Narnia": 297

Most Read Author: C. S. Lewis. Even if you count the Chronicles as a single book (which I did), I have three of his. Runners-up: Don Miller and Phillip Yancey, each with two.

Most Popular Topic: Dating, apparently. I didn't realize exactly how many such books I read (5). Well, hopefully, I'm better informed, better prepared, and more circumspect. (That sounds so much better than "desperate," doesn't it!)

Most Disappointing Read: "She's Come Undone." Not only was it not a particularly great book, but it was just dreary and depressing. The protagonist was tiresome, and I kept waiting for her to "snap out of it" as Cher would say--but she never did. Why anyone recommends this book, I'll never know. So yeah, thanks, boss. Good call--jerk.

Most Unexpectedly Enjoyable Read: "Sixpence House" and "The Friendly Dickens" were both a lot more enjoyable than I expected, but the winner here is "Motherless Brooklyn." Just an excellent novel. Well-written, well-characterized, fast-paced, and interesting. You really get a sense of the frustration the protagonist has, living with Tourette's. Great crime story (not even a genre I usually enjoy, either).

Top Five Recommendations from the 2005 PBB Reading List:

5) Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathon Lethem
For all the reason stated above. It's just a well-executed novel.

4) The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Such a beautiful, rich, full story about law and grace, about the human heart, about love and jealousy and revenge. Alexi/Alyosha is my hero, in many ways, though I often can relate more to Mitya. Wonderful novel.

3) A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
A gorgeous, gut-wrenching, funny story. The ending of the book made me choke up a little. Such a great story.

2) Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
Deserving of every honor and prize it's awarded, including the Pulitzer it rightly received. An wonderful story, it's the diary of an aging midwestern minister, recounting his life to the seven-year-old son who will surely lose his father before he becomes an adult. This book is full of hope and faith and sadness. Short, but so powerful.

1) Anything by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters--it seems like everything he wrote was just awesome. Find his work and read it.


That's all I got. Have a great New Year's celebration. Be safe. If you partake in adult beverages, don't drive afterward. Peace and grace to you all.

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