As I do every year on this blog, I am making note of last year’s reading. This year my reading actually made the news after I donated a book to the library that turned out to have been stolen from a library in Great Britain. So far 130 of my donated books have made it onto the library shelves. I admit that my donations are not selfless: I buy books I like, read them and pass them on to the library, where I can visit them anytime I wish and where they won’t take up precious shelf space in my house.
I read a lot of Kindle books this year, because I got a Kindle Fire. And I read a lot of British historical true crime. My first book of the year was Channel Island Murders by Nicola Sly, in Kindle edition. It’s part of a series where they covered interesting historical murder cases in every part of England. I think I’ve read just about all of them. (I also read almost the entire Grim Almanacs series this year, starting with A Grim Almanac of Jack the Ripper’s London 1870 – 1990 by Neil R. Storey. This also covers various parts of England, with an unfortunate event — often a crime but not necessarily so — for every year.) My last book of the year was a children’s book in dead tree edition, If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche, which was surprisingly informative.
Almost all the books I read this year were nonfiction. Notable non-crime titles included:
- All My Georgias: Paris-New York-Tbilisi by Redjeb Jordania. The author was the son of the first democratically elected president of the Republic of Georgia (during its brief period of independence from 1918, after the Russian Revolution, until the Soviets invaded in 1921). Jordania writes about his father, and his childhood in Paris and later life in New York, and how he went to Georgia for the first time in 1991, just as the country was declaring its independence.
- Hidden Natural Histories: Trees by Noel Kingsbury. This book is kind of an encyclopedia of different types of trees. Dad borrowed it and was so impressed that he says if he ever teaches economic botany again, he’ll include it as a textbook.
- Keep Out of Reach of Children: Reye’s Syndrome, Aspirin, and the Politics of Public Health by Mark A. Largent. I got this free from LibraryThing. I was shocked to learn that it is not a proven fact that aspirin causes Reye’s Syndrome and in fact no one every really found out what causes Reye’s Syndrome. The author contracted Reye’s Syndrome as a toddler and he was NOT exposed to aspirin. Reye’s Syndrome has pretty much vanished in any case and it’s probably perfectly safe to give aspirin to your kid.
- The Diary of Rywka Lipszyc by Rywka Lipsyzc, edited by Alexandra Zapruder. I wrote about this here. In the summer of 2015, Zapruder came out with a second edition of her anthology of Holocaust diaries, Salvaged Pages. (And Amazon mistakenly delivered the book to me one month before it was supposed to come out, woo!) She mentions Rwyka’s diary in the appendix and says she thinks she died in that German hospital.
- The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut’s Mummy by Jo Marchant. I borrowed this from the library’s collection of Kindle books. It’s about all the things that happened after King Tut was discovered, and all the studies they’ve done on him and the many and contradictory conclusions they’ve made about him.
- Lost in the Taiga: One Russian Family’s Fifty-Year Struggle for Survival and Religious Freedom in the Siberian Wilderness by Vasily Peskov. The story of a family who were basically religious fanatics and fled deep into Siberia in the 1930s to practice their strange version of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in peace. They lived in isolation for the next 40 years or so, missing World War II entirely, and never saw another human being until the 1970s, and after they were discovered by a team of geologists, they refused to leave the taiga. The last in the family, Agafia, is still alive and still living largely in isolation.
- The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport. A biography of Olga, Maria, Tatiana and Anastasia Romanov.
- Blue Corn and Square Tomatoes: Unusual Facts about Common Vegetables by Rebecca Rupp. This was very interesting and my dad liked it too. Square tomatoes, by the way, were developed so that they could fit efficiently into boxes for shipping. They apparently had nothing else to recommend them and tasted terrible.
Altogether I read only 155 books in 2015, down from 188 in both 2014 and 2013. My reading peaked in 2010 with 475 books, over one per day. I’m honestly not sure what happened.