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50 Books: 37-48

I almost reached my goal. If you count the two folk song books I received for Christmas (and I did read them cover to cover), then I reached my goal. Here's the final tally.

First, I read two books about the resistance on the Isle of Crete during the Second World War: The Cretan Runner, the memoir of resistance fighter George Psychoundakis, and Patrick Leigh Fermor's account of the abduction of German General Kreipe, Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete. I've written about Fermor elsewhere, as he is one of my favourite writers.

Then, I read the following:

  • Gabrielle Roy. Children of my Heart. A prairie novel by one of Canada's finest writers.

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (trans. by Simon Armitage).

  • Geoff Chapple. Rewi Alley of China. Biography of a New Zealander who spent his life serving the people of China.

  • John Fothergill. An Innkeeper's Diary. Published in 1931. Wickedly funny in places. The forerunner to Basil Fawlty.

  • H.V. Morton. Through Lands of the Bible. A travel book from 1938. Quite interesting in light of everything that has happened since it was written. Morton has a marvellous power of description.

  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Notes from Underground. An early novel by the great Russian writer, a warm-up for his more famous work, Crime and Punishment.

  • Adam Shoalts. The Whisper on the Night Wind: The True History of a Wilderness Legend. Canadian adventurer travels to remote Labrador by canoe to investigate early twentieth-century reports of a sasquatch-like monster. Very fun read.

  • Laura Lee Davidson. A Winter of Content. In the first winter of the Great War, a writer decides to spend the winter on an island in a lake in the Canadian Shield. I quite enjoyed this, but I was left wondering why she did it. She says she was escaping city life, but it felt like there was more behind her decision than she let on.

  • Bill McKibben. Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks. If you enjoy introspective travel books that involve long journeys on foot, you will love this.

And that wraps up the year's reading for 2021. It was an interesting experiment, but I'm not sure I'd do it again. Setting a goal did get me reading regularly again, which was the object of the challenge, but reading to reach a goal somewhat spoils the experience of sinking into a good book. Next year, I hope to continue the momentum I've gained, but I think I will challenge myself with some longer, more difficult books and not worry so much about the numbers.

Happy New Year! Let's hope 2022 is a healthier year for everyone.


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Since the Hilary Weston Prize announcement, my life has gotten busier, and I haven't had much time to read, but I haven't forgotten the challenge I set myself. Here are the latest titles I have read.

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