Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Books

On the first morning of 2016, having reread the first six Narnia books over Christmas, I read C.S. Lewis' distasteful, apocalyptic The Last Battle while suffering from an awful champagne hangover, and somehow I feel that set the wrong tone for the year.

On this the last evening of 2016, I read Harold Bloom's life-affirming, slightly nutty Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human while eating Eritrean food and a nice glass of red wine, so that I could end the year having finished a book that I started in April 2016, the month of the #Shakespeare400 celebrations.

And in the meantime? I read about 50 other works; here's the full rundown. As is my custom, I split my reading into 2 lists, one for plays/screenplays and one for everything else (primarily novels and nonfiction). I count plays only if they are published and available for general consumption. Works that were rereads for me this year are marked with an asterisk.

  1. *The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis
  2. The Magician’s Book, by Laura Miller
  3. Coldwater, by Mardi McConnochie – my thoughts
  4. Beautiful Chaos, by Carey Perloff 
  5. The Rule of Women in Early Modern Europe, anthology edited by Anne Cruz and Mihoko Suzuki
  6. Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons 
  7. Personal Writings, by Ignatius of Loyola
  8. Loitering with Intent, by Muriel Spark
  9. A Writer’s Paris, by Eric Maisel
  10. Zuleika Dobson, by Max Beerbohm
  11. After Alice, by Gregory Maguire
  12. *Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  13. Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter – I wrote a review of this for the Theater Pub blog
  14. Love & Friendship, by Whit Stillman
  15. *A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster
  16. *The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter
  17. *Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  18. *The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
  19. The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
  20. The Magician’s Land, by Lev Grossman
  21. The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill – my thoughts
  22. Lyric Poems, by John Keats
  23. 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, by Sarah Ruhl
  24. English Melodrama, by Michael R. Booth
  25. Bellwether, by Connie Willis
  26. *Persuasion, by Jane Austen
  27. *The White Album, by Joan Didion – my post from when I first read this, in 2014
  28. *The Arkadians, by Lloyd Alexander
  29. *Seven Gothic Tales, by Isak Dinesen – my post from when I first read this, in 2008
  30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  31. *The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon – my post from when I first read this, in 2008
  32. Winter’s Tales, by Isak Dinesen 
  33. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom
These books, by the numbers:
  • 16 American, 11 British, 2 Danish, 1 Australian, 1 Spanish, 1 Canadian, 1 anthology 
  • 17 books by 15 different men, 16 books by 14 different women
  • 22 new reads, 11 rereads 
  • 22 fiction, 10 nonfiction, 1 poetry
Plays & Screenplays
  1. Light Up the Sky, by Moss Hart
  2. Five Finger Exercise, by Peter Shaffer
  3. The Private Ear, by Peter Shaffer
  4. The Public Eye, by Peter Shaffer
  5. White Liars, by Peter Shaffer
  6. Black Comedy, by Peter Shaffer
  7. The Royal Hunt of the Sun, by Peter Shaffer
  8. Shrivings, by Peter Shaffer
  9. *Equus, by Peter Shaffer
  10. *Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer
  11. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by Jack Thorne – I wrote about this for American Theatre's website
  12. The Woman in Black, by Stephen Mallatratt – my thoughts
  13. Really, by Jackie Sibblies Drury
  14. *Blithe Spirit, by Noël Coward
  15. *Hay Fever, by Noël Coward 
  16. *The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde 
  17. *Private Lives, by Noël Coward 
  18. Design for Living, by Noël Coward – my thoughts
  19. Barcelona, by Whit Stillman 
  20. Metropolitan, by Whit Stillman 
These plays and screenplays, by the numbers:
  • 15 British, 4 American, 1 Irish 
  • 19 plays by 7 different men, 1 play by 1 different woman 
  • 14 new reads, 6 rereads 
(As always, I'm struck by how my "non-plays" reading is about 50/50 in terms of gender balance, and the plays I saw this year were about 60:40 male:female, but I always seem to end up reading way more plays by men than by women. My best guess is that this happens because I prefer seeing plays to reading them, and most "important" new scripts make it to the Bay Area within 5 or so years after they premiere. So the plays that I read tend to be classics that I've overlooked or never had the chance to see staged—and "classic" plays are disproportionately written by men.)

Previous Years in Reading lists: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

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