The Library in My Head

 

So I started this blog eight months ago with a list of books, and now that my MA is done, I thought I might as well post another list – this time, a list of books I actually read in the last year.

I must confess that this is not a new or particularly original idea. When I was growing up, my parents a) banned television and strictly limited computer games in favour of encouraging us to read, and b) provided the following incentive to ensure that my sister and I would in fact keep track of the books we read: for every one hundred books read, we would get to choose a new book of our own, which my parents would buy. Therefore, for every grade I was in school, there exist – somewhere, buried in my mother’s files – long lists of books that I read that year, and my report cards from kindergarten through Grade 9 (in the “Reading” or “English” sections) contain comments like “Over 250 books read this year” (Grade 1) or “Over 350 books read this year. Many more books read and not recorded. Try to work on this.” (Grade 4).

Naturally, as I got older, the books got longer, the lists of other work I had to do also got longer, and the number of books read got shorter – I certainly can’t claim that my speed-reading skills improved that much with age! But for anyone who was wondering – yes, this is how I can legimitately say that I read almost all of the 4,000-odd books in my basement, and mostly before age 14.

One of the things I noticed during my last year of university, however, was the rather unsettling fact that I had become so busy doing school, and work, and more work, and more school, and theatre, that I hadn’t spent very much time at all reading for pleasure. So at the beginning of May 2013, I decided to go back to the list-making, both as a way of making sure I prioritized reading, and as a way of keeping track of how much reading I was actually doing. This, twelve months later, is the result. I can’t say I got anywhere close to my youthful statistics, but 160 is also much better than I suspect the number would have been for my last year or two of undergrad!

There were a few rules I imposed on myself while making this list:

– 1. Skimming didn’t count.

– 2. Books that I only read a few articles from for research purposes didn’t count.

– 3. Textbooks would make the list if and only if I had completed them thoroughly enough that I would be comfortable being tested on all chapters.

– 4. Individual articles didn’t count – unless they were long enough to be books in and of themselves. (A somewhat flexible definition, admittedly, but I figured 200+ page articles of dense mathematics really ought to count …)

– 5. Books could only be listed once. (e.g. I have no idea how many times I read Beowulf this year – I had to translate the whole thing, amongst other details – but it appears once.)

The classifications are somewhat flexible (“classic” literature is in quotes for a reason!), but are perhaps illustrative nonetheless. Books are in no particular order otherwise, though I have tried to group books by the same author together. An asterisk (*) indicates that I had read the book at least once before.

 

Fantasy/Sci-fi: (52)

– His Majesty’s Dragon (Naomi Novik)
– Throne of Jade (Naomi Novik)
– Black Powder War (Naomi Novik)
– Trickster’s Choice (Tamora Pierce)*
– Trickster’s Queen (Tamora Pierce)*
– Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold (Terry Brooks)
– The Black Unicorn (Terry Brooks)
– Belgarath the Sorcerer (David Eddings)*
– The Elder Gods (David and Leigh Eddings)
– The Treasured One (David and Leigh Eddings)
– Crystal Gorge (David and Leigh Eddings)
– The Younger Gods (David and Leigh Eddings)
– A Study in Silks (Emma Jane Holloway)
– A Study in Darkness (Emma Jane Holloway)
– A Study in Ashes (Emma Jane Holloway)
– The Eye of the World (Robert Jordan)*
– The Light Fantastic (Terry Pratchett)
– Mort (Terry Pratchett)
– Equal Rites (Terry Pratchett)
– Sourcery (Terry Pratchett)
– Wyrd Sisters (Terry Pratchett)
– Witches Abroad (Terry Pratchett)
– Lords and Ladies (Terry Pratchett)
– The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett)
– Men at Arms (Terry Pratchett)
– Eric (Terry Pratchett)
– Small Gods (Terry Pratchett)
– Maskerade (Terry Pratchett)
– Interesting Times (Terry Pratchett)
– Gardens of the Moon (Steven Erikson)
– Deadhouse Gates (Steven Erikson)
– The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)*
– Life, the Universe, and Everything (Douglas Adams)
– Mostly Harmless (Douglas Adams)
– Lord Foul’s Bane (Stephen R. Donaldson)*
– William Shakespeare’s Star Wars (Ian Doescher)
– Allegiance in Exile (Star Trek – The Original Series; David R. George III)
– Space Cadet (Robert Heinlein)
– Star Trek: Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru (Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels)
– Storm Front (Jim Butcher)
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)*
– Vulcan! (Kathleen Sky)
– The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister (G.R.R. Martin)
– The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Chronicles: Art and Design (Daniel Falconer)
– The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Official Movie Guide (Jude Fisher)
– The Time Machine (H.G. Wells)
– Dragon Prince (Melanie Rawn)
– Enterprise: The First Adventure (Vonda McIntyre)
– Star Trek: Legacy (Michael Jan Friedman)
– Star Trek TNG: Survivors (Jean Lorrah)
– The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch)
– The Fellowship of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien)*

 

“Classic” Literature: (30)

– The Moonstone (Wilkie Collins)
– My Ántonia (Willa Cather)
– The Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy)
– A Room of One’s Own (Virginia Woolf)
– Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)
– Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)*
– The Metamorphosis (Kafka)
– The Turn of the Screw (Henry James)
– The Man Who Was Thursday (G.K. Chesterton)
– Beowulf* [Old English]
– Oroonoko (Aphra Behn)
– Svarfdale Saga and Other Tales
– Emma (Jane Austen)*
– Persuasion (Jane Austen)*
– Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky)
– The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)* [Middle English]
– The Saga of the Volsungs*
– Njal’s saga [Old Norse]
– Nitida saga [Old Norse]
– Klári saga [Old Norse]
– The Decameron (Boccaccio) [translation]
– The Teseida (Boccaccio) [translation]
– The Prose Edda (Snorri Sturluson)* [translation]
– The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
– Middlemarch (George Eliot)
– The Song of Roland* [translation]
– The Loeb Classical Library: Cicero [In Catilinam I-IV, Pro Murena, Pro Sulla, Pro Flacco]* [Latin]
– A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
– The Secret Agent (Joseph Conrad)
– Native Son (Richard Wright)

 

Math & Science: (15)

– The Cosmic Landscape (Leonard Susskind)*
– Quantum Electrodynamics (Richard Feynman)
– Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman (Richard Feynman)
– What Do You Care What Other People Think? (Richard Feynman)
– Black Holes and Baby Universes and other essays (Stephen Hawking)
– An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (Chris Hadfield)
– Heisenberg’s War (Thomas Powers)
– The Millennium Problems (Keith Devlin)
– A Mathematician’s Lament (Paul Lockhart)
– A Mathematician’s Apology (Hardy)
– Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science (Lawrence M. Krauss)
– Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality (Edward Frenkel)
– Introduction to Computation and Programming Using Python (John V. Guttag)
– “Electromagnetic Duality and the Geometric Langlands Program” (Anton Kapustin and Edward Witten)
– “Modular elliptic curves and Fermat’s Last Theorem” (Andrew Wiles)*

 

Drama: (23)

– Britannicus (Racine) [French]
– Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)*
– Henry IV, part 1 (William Shakespeare)*
– Henry IV, part 2 (William Shakespeare)*
– Much Ado About Nothing (William Shakespeare)*
– Two Noble Kinsmen (William Shakespeare?)
– Double Falsehood (William Shakespeare?)
– Antony and Cleopatra (William Shakespeare)*
– A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (Thomas Middleton)
– A Fair Quarrel (Thomas Middleton / William Rowley)
– The Revenger’s Tragedy (Thomas Middleton)
– The Playboy of the Western World (J.M. Synge)*
– Six Characters in Search of an Author (Luigi Pirandello)
– Mary Stuart (Schiller)
– The Rez Sisters (Tomson Highway)
– Amigo’s Blue Guitar (Jean MacLeod)
– Copenhagen (Michael Frayn)
– A Short History of Night (John Mighton)
– Scientific Americans (John Mighton)
– Possible Worlds (John Mighton)
– Shadows in Little York (Kyle Climans)
– The Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First (George Peele)
– Edmund Ironside (anonymous – possibly Shakespeare)

 

Other fiction: (18)

– The Iron King (Maurice Druon)
– Surveillance (Jonathan Raban)
– The Elusive Pimpernel (Baronness Orczy)
– Sir Percy Leads the Band (Baronness Orczy)
– The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel (Baronness Orczy)
– I Will Repay (Baronness Orczy)
– Illegal Action (Stella Rimington)
– Isaac’s Storm (Erik Larson)
– The Chess Machine (Robert Löhr)
– The ABC Murders (Agatha Christie)
– Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)
– Tales from Watership Down (Richard Adams)*
– Field Guide: A Novel (Gwendolyn Cross)
– Letters from Pemberley (Jane Dawkins)
– More Letters from Pemberley (Jane Dawkins)
– Bee (Emily Short)
– The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
– Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Raleigh Legacy (L.B. Greenwood)

 

Literary Criticism & Theory: (19)

– Course in General Linguistics (Ferdinand de Saussure)
– Writing and Difference (Jacques Derrida)
– The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse-Icelandic Saga (Margaret Clunies Ross)
– Bridal-Quest Romance in Medieval Iceland (Marianne E. Kalinke)
– Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens: Women in early English Society (Kathleen Herbert)
– Old Norse Images of Women (Jenny Jochens)
– Women in Old Norse Society (Jenny Jochens)
– Women in Old Norse Literature: Bodies, Words, and Power (Jóhanna Katrín Fridriksdóttir)
– Old Norse Women’s Poetry: the Voices of Female Skalds (Sandra Ballif Straubhaar)
– English Medieval Cometry References Over a Thousand Years (E.G. Mardon, A.A. Mardon, C. Herrick)
– Chaucer’s Constance and Accursed Queens (Margaret Schlauch)
– Communicative Language Teaching Today (Jack C. Richards)
– The Medieval Archer (Jim Bradbury)
– Medieval Warfare (Helen Nicholson)
– The Crooked Stick: A History of the Longbow (Hugh D. Soar)
– Writing the Map of Anglo-Saxon England (Nicholas Howe)
– Modern Critical Interpretations: The Knight’s Tale (ed. Harold Bloom)
– Wisdom and Chivalry: Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and Medieval Political Theory (Stephen H. Rigby)
– An Introduction to Old Norse (E.V. Gordon)*

 

Other: (3)

– Canadian Firearms Safety Course Handbook
– Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course Handbook
– The Unencyclopedia (Gideon Haigh)

 

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