Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Books of 2016

Yes, it is that time for my eagerly awaited summary of the books that I have read in the recently completed year.  2016 saw me read 45 books.  Mostly fiction.  Mostly for relaxation.  Mostly the kind of stuff that I enjoy when I am reading it, but usually forget what it's all about once I am done.  However, some books do stay in your mind long after reading, so allow me to share them with you one final time.  If you want to know more about them, just type the name of either the book or the author into the search box in the upper left corner of this page.

So, in no special order of significance.....


"American Pharoah" by Joe Drape.  The story of the thoroughbred race horse that won the Triple Crown in 2015, from the moment of his conception (yep, that's exactly what I mean) to his retirement to a Kentucky stud farm.  Great study, not only of American Pharoah himself, but of his owner, trainer, jockey, and all of the characters that populate the Sport of Kings.

"I'd Know That Voice Anywhere: My Favorite NPR Commentaries" by Frank Deford.  The title of this one should be self-explanatory.  A collection of commentaries over several years by perhaps America's best and most literate sportswriter.

"The Arm" by Jeff Passan.  A study of arm injuries to pitchers, primarily in Major League Baseball, but extending all the way down into amateur baseball played by young teenagers. Why are there so many serious injuries to baseball's most precious commodity, and what can be done to prevent them?  Interesting and disturbing at the same time.

"Hamilton the Revolution" by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter.  A series of essays surrounding the creation and presentation of the transformative Broadway show, "Hamilton", that also includes the complete libretto of the musical with footnotes from Lin-Manuel Miranda.  Read the essays, and then read the lyrics on a printed page while listening to the music.  It gives you an entirely deeper appreciation of this epic work.

"American Heiress" by Jeffrey Toobin.  The story of the kidnapping, search for, and the arrest and trial of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.  It was one the biggest ongoing news stories of the 1970's, and it is pretty much forgotten about today.  Thoroughly researched and wonderfully written by the author.  


"The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett.  I reread this classic 1928 detective story, and make no mistake, it is a classic.  If you've only seen the movie and never read the book, do yourself a favor and read it.  Hammett is considered the father of the classic hard-boiled American detective story, and "The Maltese Falcon" shows you just why that is.

"Miller's Valley" by Anna Quindlan.  Not the sort of novel I usually read, but this was truly a terrific story about a young girl's life and dreams while growing up on a small farm in a central Pennsylvania valley, and twists, turns, and breaks, both good and bad, that are dealt to her on her journey to adulthood.  Great book.

"Better Dead" by Max Allan Collins.  Collins delivered to us a new novel in his series of Nathan Heller "memoirs".  This one involved, among others, Joe McCarthy, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg,, and Dashiell Hammett.  Collins and Heller never disappoint.

"The Last Days of Night" by Graham Moore.  A novelization of the real life battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over "who invented the light bulb".  Sounds simple, but it wasn't.  Truth really can be stranger, and more interesting, than fiction.

I also discovered a series of police novel by an author named James Hayman.  They feature Portland, Maine police detectives Michael McCabe and Maggie Savage.  There are four of them out there, and I believe that a new one is scheduled to be released this month.  Can't wait for it.  See

The past year also saw the following novels published by some of my favorite authors:

"Breakdown" by Jonathan Kellerman
"Extreme Prey" by John Sandford (a Lucas Davenport story)
"Escape Clause" by John Sandford (a Virgil Flowers story)
"Razor Girl" by Carl Hiaasen

There you are. If you are looking for something to pass the time in the cold winter months ahead, you could do a lot worse that reading any one of the books listed above. 

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