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What I Read in 2012

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Here's a list of what I read last year with a brief rating of each book. At the bottom of the list are some reflections the reading year.

The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain. 4/5

Metamorphoses by Ovid (Charles Martin translation) 4.5/5

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. 4/5

Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain. 4.5/5

How To Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Forester. 4/5

Candide by Voltaire (Translated by Robert M. Adams). 4.5/5

On Liberty by John Stewart Mill. 4.5/5

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. 4/5

The Sorrows of Young Werther
(Translated by Michael Hulse) by Goethe. 4.5/5

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry. 3.5/5

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. 4/5

Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill. 5/5

The Trial and Death of Socrates (Grube translation) by Plato. 5/5

Streetcar Named Desire
by Tennessee Williams. 5/5

Antigone (Ian Johnston translation) by Sophocles. 4.5/5

McTeague by Frank Norris. 4/5

Lysistrata by Aristophanes (Ian Johnston translation) . 5/5.

The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca by Seneca (Moses Hadas translation). 4/5.

Up, Up, and Oy Yay!: How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero by Simcha Weinstein. 3.5/5.

Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Howard Chaykin, Mike Mignola, and Al Williamson. 3/5.

Either/Or (part I) by Soren Kierkegaard (Translated by Howard and Edna Hong). 3/5

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (Translated by John Ciardi). 5/5.

Persuasion by Jane Austen. 2.5/5

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. 3.5/5

Hard Times by Charles Dickens. 4.5/5

Beyond the Aspen Grove
by Ann Zwinger. 4/5

The Adventures of Auggie March by Saul Bellow. 4/5

A Connecticut Yankee in Kind Arther's Court by Mark Twain. 4.5/5

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 5/5.

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor. 4/5.

Julius Cesar by William Shakespeare. 4/5.

Heraclitus: The Complete Fragments translated by Dr. William Harris. 4.5/5

Timaeus by Plato (translated by Donald J. Zeyl) 3/5

Blankets by Craig Thompson. 5/5

On the Nature of Things by Lucretius (translated by Martin Smith). 5/5

The Corpus Hermeticum by anonymous (translated by G. R.S. Meade). 3.5/5

Three Treatises on Natural Science by Galen (Translated by R. Walzer and M. Frede). 4/5

Watchmen by Allan Moore and David Gibbons. 5/5

1984 by George Orwell. 5/5

Maus I & II by Art Speigleman. 5/5

Treatise of Man by Rene Descartes (Translated by Thomas Hall). 3/5.

The Death of Nature by Caroline Merchant. 2.5/5

Wandering Home by Bill McKibben. 4/5.

The Story of Philosophy by Bryan Magee. 4/5.

Wilderness and the American Mind by Roderick Nash. 3.5/5

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. 4/5
. . . . . . . . .

I had a productive reading year in 2012, helped in part by my going back to graduate school (part time) to work on an MA in philosophy.

Some personal accomplishments from my reading list is that I got though novels from both Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. I've tried to get though a Dickens novel forever and just couldn't suffer through them. But I loved Hard Times -- a brilliant commentary on education that with ideas and characters that would lend valuable insight into the issues facing education right now. I struggled though Persuasion and I only finished it because the I forced myself to finally finish a Jane Austen novel (other than Emma, which I read in college).

Other novels that I enjoyed were McTeague and The Adventures of Auggie March -- at first, I thought that Auggie would be a struggle, but I got drawn into the language and picaresque natures of the story.

I also finally got around to reading 1984 -- terrifying. Oh! and The Beautiful and Damned was absolutely haunting and the Fitzgerald prose is just sublime. I swear that he never wrote a lousy sentence.

And one other note -- A Connecticut Yankee in King Aurthur's Court is a stunningly insightful satire of monarchy, democracy, human nature. . . . it's on par with Gulliver's Travels; it's that good.

Well, that'll do it for now.
Book Reviews


  1. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    That's an amazing list Comedian. What did you think of Metamorphoses? I keep meaning to get around to reading that one. There's a lot of ancient literature on your list, and philosophy. I always find philosophy really hard to take in (but strangely soothing). Aside from anything written by Bertrand Russell, I've never managed to finish an entire philosophical work so to read so many is very impressive.

    Always good to see you around. I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2013.
  2. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Great list sir! You read a nice range, which must have made it more enjoyable. In contrast, I think I read about 3 books this year!

    I loved The Sorrows of Young Werther and the Beautiful and the Damned.

    I want to read A Street Car Needed Desire.

    A very impressive list and one worthy of a little bragging!

    Also good to see you on the blogs. Happy New Year!
  3. Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
    Quite an accomplishment!
    Stay warm up there and Happy New Year!
  4. qimissung's Avatar
    Wowzers. My brother majored in Philosophy, although he found employment in other areas after college, but that gene completely escaped me. I did read "Sophie's World" which I enjoyed but didn't get at all. Maybe you could explain it to me sometime?

    Also, I have always completely discounted "A Connecticut Yankee," although like everyone else I love Twain. I read his "Advice to Youth" to my seniors last year. That is one of the most achingly funny-and brilliant- things I have ever read. I'll give it a look see.

    It is really good to see you on the blogs again. We've missed your musings on nature and your family.
  5. Virgil's Avatar
    Somehow I missed this the other day. Very good list. I see you really like Twain. I am going to be reading a Twain work this coming year and for better or worse i settled on Life On the Mississippi. Have you read that? I could never read that much philosophy. Actually I'm not sure I can read any philosophy without being forced to. Still I feel guilty I haven't read more Plato and Aristotle. The Seneca one looks tempting. The Ciardi translation of Dante is the one I used way back. In recent years I picked up more scholarly translations that have a ton of references and shows the complex intricacy of the work. The complex intricacies are great to know and demonstrates how phenomenal the work is, but it bogs me down and I never get through more than a few Cantos. I really should go back to the Ciardi and read it for enjoyment. O'Neil's Long Day's is outstanding. Thanks. I love seeing what other people have read. I guess I'm nosy.
  6. Joreads's Avatar
    Wow that is amazing. I had not been reading for a long time but I have started again and I am really enjoying it. Seeing peoples lists here makes me want to read more.
  7. The Comedian's Avatar
    Thanks for stopping by all --

    @fifth -- I really enjoyed reading Metamorphoses. I had read parts of it in Latin way back when at the university. But I wanted to read the whole thing (in English, my Latin days are behind me). I've been on an epic poem kick for a while, so I try every year to get in a few new ones. Well worth your time, with some beautiful stories. The metamorphosis theme gets a little wearisome after a long while, that that might have just been that I was itchin' to get on to something else too.

    @ Virgil and qimi -- Twain was one of the main authors that I wanted to focus on last year, and it was time well spent. Connecticut Yankee is akin to Guliver's travels and, as such, is deep with satire. Heck, even the main character, Hank, and the author of the book himself are satirized. No body escapes.

    No, I haven't read Life on the Mississippi, but I'd love to. That and Roughing It are the two Twain reads that I'd like to get done in 2013. Maybe we could have a little Twain reading group some this year. That would keep me motivated. I'd certainly be okay with Life on the Mississippi. In fact, I think that I have a copy of it in my "Fish Room" (our family's word for what's commonly known as 'man cave').

    @ Virgil and Fifth -- I love reading philosophy. In fact, much of my non-obligated reading time was devoted to philosophy even before I decided to get a degree in the subject. I think that Fifth, you hit the rabbit on the cottontail -- it is very relaxing to read. And even in my literature life, I've always found reading and the arts as a search for meaning, even a temporary sense of meaning was at once exhilarating and calming. I guess philosophy offers that directly. Of course it helps when you read philosophy written by a gifted writer such as Plato, Schopenhauer, Dewey, James, Mill, Hume, Kierkegaard. . . . Oh, and yes, Seneca is great writer, Virgil. And he's a stoic, so if you like stuff from people like Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus, you'd like Seneca.
  8. QomoYhobu's Avatar
    [QUOTE=TheFifthElement;bt60918]That's an amazing list, Comedian.