2016 reading list

I didn’t read as much in 2016 as I did in 2015, but I’m pretty pleased with the amount I put away at any rate.

My goal each year is to read at least 20 books which doesn’t seem like that much, but life gets busy, you start hiking all the time, doing the garden, etc. and the next thing you know you barely read all summer.

Anyway, I wanted to share my reading list with you including my top five that I read.

I went on a huge Ray Bradbury kick for awhile. Not really sure why other than for some reason I hadn’t read much of his stuff before. He is an amazing short story writer, and I highly recommend checking out The Illustrated Man. That is a crazy concoction of stories.

My top five in no particular order

1. The White Cascade – Gary Krist

This book about the avalanche that killed 96 people on Stevens Pass above the city of Everett in 1910 kicked off a year of me reading a lot more fiction than non-fiction for the first time in my life.

White Cascade offered not only a historical retelling of the deadly avalanche and the chain-reaction of poor decisions that led to so many needless deaths, but it also explores the role of large corporations in the common man’s way of life. Which seems awfully prescient considering where our country is currently headed.

An excerpt I liked along those lines:

“Still, the suit did achieve at least one objective: encouraging the nation, as Richard Hofstadter has put it, ‘to feel at last that the President of the United States was really bigger and more powerful than Morgan and the Morgan interests, that the country was governed from Washington and not from Wall Street.’”

This passage is talking about Theodore Roosevelt’s lawsuit blocking the merger of the Great Northern Railway, the Burlington Railway and the Northern Pacific. (page 120)

2. Green Hills of Africa – Ernest Hemingway

I had read this book previously and it is not exactly my favorite Hemingway, as it talks a lot about shooting and killing wild animals that I would rather were not being shot and killed.

If you can get past all the trophy hunting, though, it offers a beautiful description of Africa. With talk of a possible trip to Africa in my future, it was a joy to revisit this book and imagine what it would be like to journey to the Continent.

3. The Street – Ann Petry

I stumbled upon this book while poking around the wonderful King’s Books in Tacoma. It was recommended by one of their workers, and I found it fascinating because Coretta Scott King was quoted on the back cover giving it praise.

Published in 1946, this novel is a fascinating look at what it was like to be an African American woman raising a child alone in World War II Harlem. The book transcends time, though, as it gives insight into what it is like to be a single parent and the decisions that must be made.

4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford

I love a good book about Seattle, especially one that touches on so much of its seedy past. This novel has alternating timelines running from the 1940s to the 1980s, offering up an indepth look into the shameful episode of Japanese internment camps.

It centers on a hotel in Seattle – The Panama, which still stands today in the International District – and moves through the local music scene, the relationship of Chinese and Japanese immigrants, and World War II.

I can’t recommend this book enough, especially with the talk of a possible Muslim registry. This book is a reminder that we should not go down that dark path again.

5. The Indifferent Stars Above – Daniel James Brown

I finally read The Boys in the Boat by Brown which everyone in my social media family has been raving about since it came out, and because I read it I decided to check out Brown’s other books.

The Indifferent Stars Above is a deep dive into the Donner Party tragedy. The Donner Party is one of those historical incidents where I feel like everyone has some loose knowledge, but Brown does a good job of painting the scene of what it was actually like to live on the Oregon Trail in the 1850s. He has tremendous detail that helps put the reader in the shoes – homemade and of varying materials – of the Donner Party as they made their multiple attempts to escape their situation.

It is graphic at times, but when writing about cannibalism it is hard not to be I suppose.

Anyway, if you like Brown’s work, you should definitely check this book out.

The rest

  • Matilda – Roald Dahl (Jan. 3)
  • Glamorous Powers – Susan Howatch (Jan. 20)
  • The White Cascade – Gary Krist (Jan. 27)
  • The Taking – Dean Koontz (Jan. 31)
  • Theodore Rex – Edmund Morris (March 14)
  • The Edge of Eternity – Ken Follett (April 7)
  • The Guns of August – Barbara Tuchman (May)
  • Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry (June)
  • The Great Gatsby – Scott F. Fitzgerald (July 20)
  • Green Hills of Africa – Ernest Hemingway (August 16)
  • The Street – Ann Petry (Aug. 20)
  • The Devil in the White City (Sept. 1)
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven – Sherman Alexie (Sept. 17)
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford (Sept. 20)
  • The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown (Sept. 29)
  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (Sept. 30)
  • The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury (Oct. 3)
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury (Oct. 15)
  • The October Country – Ray Bradbury (Nov. 6)
  • The Indifferent Stars Above – Daniel James Brown (Nov. 16)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (Nov. 28)

– Craig Craker

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