Sunday, December 27, 2020

Reading Oscars 2020

For my 2020 reading I managed only 22 books.


non - fiction


The weirdest People in the World by Joseph Henrich. 

Interesting book with topics on race differences, education, social strata. Interesting stuff but balancing on the edge of what the right - thinking citizen of modern society will accept. Interesting but like always with these subjects: Controversial.


Wagnerism: How a Composer Shaped the Modern World by Alex Ross. 

The impact of Wagner on every cultural aspect of the late 19th and early 20th century is impressive and not widely known. That is until one reads Ross. Another brilliant book by this music critic.


Trieste by Jan Morris

It is about has a dreamy feeling and it is about nowhere.


Signatures: Literary encounters of a lifetime by David Pryce-Jones. A collection of very entertaining reminiscences of the bibliophile who met them all: Bowles, Auden, Huxley


A short walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby. 

Funniest book of the year, hugely entertaining! It deserves a reread and a review.


The decline of the novel by Joseph Bottum. 

Can’t remember what it was about…


How to read water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea by Tristan Gooley. 

The book describes exactly what is said in the title. Occasionally very interesting stuff for sailors and walkers.


A.N. Wilson: Dante in Love. Fascinating book about the world in which Dante wrote his comedy. Good enough to start an immediate rereading.


The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. 

Travel lit. from the seventies. Not bad, but not wildly exciting either. Again, Chatwin was right. Tortuga is Matthiessen’s better book.


WINNER: ERIC NEWBY with his Afghan travelogue




La gloire de mon père by Marcel Pagnol. 

A fine read that triggered remembrances of things past: my adolescent years in a French collège.


Hav and lettres fom Hav by Jan Morris. 

A travel guide for an unexistent city. Not bad but Jan Morris presence in the book is a bit too much.


La neige était sale by George Simenon. 

Very believable naturalistic written "fait-divers” against a second war back-ground. Impressive tight writing and a scisseled dark atmosphere.


Silk by Alessandro Baricco. 

A dreamy story of travels to the far East and a mysterious women.


Gabriele, girofle et canelle by Jorge Amado. 

A Love story playing out in the city of Bahia. Ah the voluptuous “Brésiliennes".


WINNER? No real favorite. No price discerned this year.




Topaz by Marcel Pagnol. 

From Rags to Riches by scheming and dealing. Life as it is. At may be a comedy, but it describes the things like they bloody well are.


Knock ou le triomphe de la médecine by Jules Romains. 

Funny modern take on the money - making business of being a doctor.


Both books are good reads!


WINNER? A tie between Pagnol and Romains




Cathay: A critical edition by Ezra Pound. Interesting book if and only if you are interested in Pound’s writing method and techniques. So, only for the interested academician and the amateur delecting in the eclectic.




Marcel Proust, a biography by George Painter. 

Very good bio of Proust. Enjoyed every page of it. Why did I stop reading?


Le Port des brumes by George Simenon. 

Again, the genius of Simenon in sketching in a few words tons of atmosphere and drama. Again, why did I stop reading?


Stalingrad by Vassily Grossman. Fighting in Stalingrad. 

Can you imagine that this book bored me to death? Stopped reading when the first bombs start falling.


The enchanted hour: The Miraculous Power of reading aloud in the age of distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon.

I ordered a wrong book.


WINNER: Best unfinished book: Marcel Proust by George Painter


OVERALL WINNER: A short walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby.