Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The PBB 2006 Reading List

You've seen this before, if you've been reading long enough (or know how to use archives). These are books completed in 2006, listed by date of completion, title, author, and length. Please keep in mind that I usually have a few books going at the same time, so don't interpret the gaps between each title as the time it took me to read it. FYI.

At the end of the list, I'll do a little analysis and recommending for the geeky among you. Okay, us.


Jan. 5--Cash, by Johnny Cash (433)
Jan. 11--The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis (128)
Jan. 16--Disciplines of a Godly Man--Kent Hughes (229)
Jan. 19--Eleanor Rigby, by Douglas Coupland (249)
Jan. 29--Twentysomething, by Margaret Feinburg (188)
Jan. 31--Movie Megacheese, by Mike Nelson (288)
Feb. 11--Too Busy Not to Pray, by Bill Hybels (180)
Feb. 13--Marriable, by Hayley and Michael Dimarco (185)
Feb. 16--Insomnia, by Stephen King (787)
Mar. 10--The Essential Groucho, by Stefan Kanfer (252)
April 1--Mao II, by Don Delillo (241)
April 4--The Heavenly Man, by Brother Yun (347)
April 10--Through Painted Deserts, by Don Miller (256)
April 16--Every Young Man's Battle, by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (227)
April 27--On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (310)
May 2--Financial Peace Revisited, by Dave Ramsey (283)
May 5--Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn (208)
May 10--Hey Nostradamus!, by Douglas Coupland (244)
May 15--The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brendan Manning (227)
May 27--Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (383)
June 5--House, by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker (372)
June 7--Stop Dating the Church, by Josh Harris (139)
July 4--The Stand, by Stephen King (1141)
July 16--Quarterlife Crisis, by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner (202)
July 31--Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis, by Alexandra Robbins (226)
Aug. 2--The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl (378)
Aug. 11--Inferno, by Dante Aligheri (300)
Aug. 17--Theology, by Mark Tabb (284)
Aug. 30--Will in the World, by Stephen Greenblatt (407)
Sept. 21--The Idiot, by F. Dostoevesky (578)
Oct. 5--Dreamcatcher, by Stephen King (882)
Oct. 11--A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby (333)
Oct. 12--Twelve, by Nick McDonnell (244)
Oct. 26--Werewolves in Their Youth, by Michael Chabon (212)
Oct. 29--Driving Blind, by Ray Bradbury (261)
Oct. 29--Visioneering, by Andy Stanley (271)
Nov. 3--Night Shift, by Stephen King (326)
Nov. 5--How People Grow, by Drs. Cloud and Townshend (360)
Nov. 8--Confessions of a Reformission Rev, by Mark Driscoll (207)
Nov. 14--Killing Time, by Caleb Carr (335)
Nov. 30--The Spirit of America, by William Bennett (430)
Dec. 9--It's Superman!, by Tom De Haven (417)
Dec. 10--Simpsons Comics Unleashed!, by Matt Groenig (160)
Dec. 18--No Perfect People Allowed, by John Burke (317)
Dec. 23--Cell, by Stephen King (449)
Dec. 29--Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez (365)


And now, the breakdown.

Total Books Finished: 46--18 more than last year. Of course, the shortness of the books may have helped.

Total Pages of completed books (not accounting for carry-overs on either end): 15,241--almost 6,000 more than last year. Wow.
Average Pages per day: 41.76. Yeah, I'm a geek.

Average Pages per book: 331
Average Pages per book, without counting Stephen King novels: 284

Most Read Author: King, with 5
Number of King books read in 2005: 0
Number of King books read in 2004: 9
Seems I run hot and cold on Steve. He's still a favorite, though.

Most Surprising Statistic: 43.47%--the percentage of my 2006 reading fairly considered non-fiction (and that's not counting the fence-sitters).
Percentage of non-fiction read in 2004: 14.29%
I'm becoming a bit more balanced in my reading diet, I think. To be fair, almost all of this year's non-fiction was religious in nature. I need to introduce more histories and biographies into the mix.

Most Disappointing Read: Well, the Hybels book didn't do anything for me. Possibly "Marriable," though sadly, I never took the effort to rant fully about why I hated it. I can't remember much of it, but I think the main issue was that it was so incredibly shallow in its approach. It was all surface stuff, and that bugged me.

Another pick would be Ray Bradbury's "Driving Blind." I grew up loving Ray Bradbury, and this took some of the shine off of my esteem for him. I don't know if he's gotten worse, or I just could never see it until now, but the stories just weren't any good at all.

Most Unexpectedly Enjoyable Read(s): Several. "Ella Minnow Pea" and "The Dante Club" were great lit-geek reading. "The Stand" became my favorite King novel ever. And "It's Superman!" fed my ever-growing love for all things Super.

Top Five Recommendations from the 2006 PBB Reading List:

Honorable Mentions: "The Heavenly Man;" "Will in the World;" "Cash;" "It's Superman!"

5) The one-two punch of Matthew Pearl's "The Dante Club" and Dante's "Inferno": I had never read Dante's "Inferno" all the way through, myself (thank you, Western Civ class and Norton Anthology!). But Pearl's thrilling murder-mystery novel sparked my interest in the classic literary work. As soon as I finished the novel, I zipped through the masterpiece it was woven around. Great reading for lovers of literature.

4) "Ella Minnow Pea," Mark Dunn: This epistolary novel is a word-geek's dream-come-true: a funny and engaging novel about words. Specifically, the letters that make up our words. We may think we can live without the ostracized "z" or the nonubiquitous "q," but when our "b's" and "m's" are threatened, what would we do? This is light and fun reading that is well worth the short time to finish. Jump, quick brown fox, jump!

3) "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I loved "The Brothers Karamazov" last year, and "The Idiot" proves that it was not a fluke. What a beautiful, tragic novel. Prince Myshkin is a man who, though afflicted with epilespy, is not crazy or mentally-handicapped, yet he is treated as such by everyone around him. Rather, he is the most pure, trusting, honest, good-hearted person in a deceitful, hateful, destructive society. In such a society, how can a good man survive? As the author demonstrates, not well, and not for long. To paraphrase Melville: Ah, Myshkin! Ah, humanity!

2) "Pride and Prejudice," Jane Austen: Yes, the recent film (and its star) were lovely, but the book is so much better. The pacing of the story is completely different and the characterization (as you would expect) are decidedly fuller. This is brilliant social satire, as well as a moving love story. For the first several chapters, I asked myself, "Why would anyone want to be with Mr. Darcy?" By the end of it, part of me wanted to be Mr. Darcy.

1) "The Stand," by Stephen King: I know, I know, big surprise. Well, I decided that instead of giving you some other book that I enjoyed less, I'd go with my gut. "The Stand" is an incredible, sprawling tale that had me from Page 1 and didn't let me go for the next 1140. Amazing book by my favorite author. Most of you probably won't read it. That's fine; the other books listed are all really good and worthy of your attentions. But this one was my favorite. While it may not be my favorite book of all time, it definitely gets "Top-Shelf" status.

As for 2007:

As you know, I have a "to-be-read" shelf, which has quickly grown to be larger than two shelves. So here's my goal for 2007: I'm going to read all the books on those first two shelves, in the order they are sitting on the shelf, left to right. I may add books to the list, but I cannot remove or shuffle any as they now stand. Obviously, you won't know if I do or not, but you'll have to take my word for it. Come to think of it, you have to take my word for everything in this post, so this last bit shouldn't be too difficult.

Coming up in January: "All Families are Psychotic" by Coupland, and P. D. James' "Children of Men."

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