2005 Books Read

Here is the complete list of books I read in 2005.

Underworld: A Novel, by Don DeLillo – which I had started in the fall of 2004- before I went to Ireland – and it took me FOREVER to finish it. The damn thing is so LONG though that I didn’t feel like i could stop reading, even though I eventually found it so boring. I had put in so much time that I had to finish it. So no – the whole book wasn’t worth it. But the opening 100 pages? Cannot be touched. The rest of the book doesn’t live up to it … but that opening. I still pick it up and read it on occasion.

Okay – I won’t comment on every book but on that one I had to.

George Washington, A Life – by Willard Sterne Randall

The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams – this is probably my 5th time reading it all the way through

East of Eden (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) – John Steinbeck (a re-read. I love this book. I’ve read it about 4 times)

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson – Joseph Ellis (this is one of the best books I’ve ever read on Thomas Jefferson)

Darkness at Noon – Arthur Koestler – it far surpassed my expectations. Chilling – couldn’t get the book out of my mind

The Prince – Machiavelli (this is a re-read. I have periodically gone back and re-read all the stuff I was forced to read in high school.)

The Great Terror: A Reassessment – by Robert Conquest (huge post about it here) One cannot fully understand the events of the 20th century without having read this book.

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers – by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

Crowds and Power – by Elias Canetti. (Woah. That’s all I have to say)

Chechnya: To the Heart of a Conflict – by Andrew Meier (yawn. Not that the Chechnya situation is a yawn – but Meier somehow made it all about HIM. Blech. If a Robert Kaplan or a Rebecca West traveled through the region – I wouldn’t have been so annoyed – because even though they are characters in their own travelogues – they do not come across as annoying or … too pleased with themselves. Meier’s book, to me, read like: “whoo-hoo! Look at me! Risking my life! I’m like Robert Kaplan now!” Uh, no. You’re not.)

Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine – by David Edmonds and John Eidinow (some fun excerpts here, here , and here.)

The Aran Islands – by John Millington Synge. Ahhhh. Love this book. (Here’s a huge post I wrote about Synge)

Charming Billy: A Novel, by Alice McDermott. Wonderful novel.

A Secret History of the IRA, by Ed Moloney. The jury’s still out on this one.

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, by Margaret Atwood

Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Wow!!! I blithered about it here.


On Writing, by Stephen King (phenomenal)

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, by Brenda Ueland (writers out there: do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Dumb title. Great great book.)

Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir, by Garson Kanin. So good I never wanted it to end.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.

The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, by Bernard Lewis

Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May – September 1787, by Catherine Drinker Bowen. This book was literally like injesting crack. Even though I’ve never injested crack. I am a drug addict though. A Second Constitutional Congress drug addict.

Letters to a Young Contrarian (Art of Mentoring), by Christopher Hitchens. hahahaha

Reflections on the Revolution in France (Oxford World’s Classics), by Edmund Burke. Another re-read. Even better than the second time. Is it wrong to have a crush on him? Don’t worry, Anne – I won’t steal your dead boyfriend. I already have my own.

The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, by David Halberstam – a wonderful book about Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr (here’s one of my favorite stories from that book)

Cary Grant: A Biography – Marc Elliot. Good and interesting on the development of Grant’s extraordinary career.

Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season – Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King (a re-read. So much fun. Again. Like crack.)

A Room with a View, by EM Forster

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – JK Rowling – I had read it before. But then lost track of the series. I am a latecomer to the mania. So this year I decided to read the entire series, get caught up. So glad I did.

The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (Authorized Edition). To go from Harry Potter to that… Welcome to my world.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets – JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire – JK Rowling

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix – JK Rowling

The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing – Jayna Davis (I guess I like my Harry Potter experience to be bookended by the war on terror.)

Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media – by Seth Mnookin – really really enjoyed this book. Fascinating.

Rose Madder – by Stephen King. Not wacky about it. Had to force myself to finish it

The Pigman – Paul Zindel (one of my favorite books – this is a re-read)

The Pigman’s Legacy – Paul Zindel (see above comment)

Pardon Me, You’re Stepping On My Eyeball – Paul Zindel (LOVE this book – another re-read – I think it’s one of his best.)

The Children of the Arbat – by Anatoli Naumovich Rybakov

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) – by JK Rowling

Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults by Steven Hassan – written by an ex-Moonie who is now one of the world’s leading “exit counselors”. He prefers that term to “deprogramming”. Terrifying book about brainwashing – very very good.

The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats – by William Butler Yeats

The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery, Vol. 5: 1935-1942 – by L. M. Montgomery

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion – just finished it. A devastating book written in the aftermath of the death of her husband of 40 years. It’s up there with CS Lewis’ book on grief. It should become a classic in the genre.

I suppose I should also count all of the plays I re-read this year – especially the entire work of Tennessee Williams.

Looking back over this list makes me think that I really want to read more fiction in 2006. More than I did in 2005, anyway. And so I will!!

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4 Responses to 2005 Books Read

  1. tracey says:

    Well, Sheila, just logged on to distract myself from the Chargers’ LOSING again. Why do I bother? Sigh…..

    Anyway, let me be the first to CONGRATULATE you on this! I think it’s quite an achievement, all those books, all the ways you’ve embiggened your brain. I’m quite serious. So, hooray for you!

    Oh, and, YES — “Life of Pi”? Just finished it the other day. FABULOUS. Can’t say enough great things about it. Hope you like it, too, when you read it.

    Now, listen, have a “wonderful and funky and jazzy” New Year!

    Hahahahahaha — still love that!

  2. red says:

    Oh Tracey – hahahaha Can’t you just see it?

    “You’re the one that I want
    You are the one I want
    Oooh – ooh ooh …”

    SO “funky and jazzy”.


    Can’t wait to read Life of Pi!! Very excited!

  3. tracey says:

    You should be!!

    And at least you were dancing to that and not “Beauty School Dropout”?

    Or … were you?

  4. It’s been some time since anyone has harped on you to read Good Omens, so read it already!

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