Oddly, I begin my 2013 book report with talk about two 2014 reads. “Can’t be,” you say, “2014 isn’t here, yet.”

Ah, but I know. It’s those two books that arrived in the mail, last week, from Dink and with clever inscriptions in the front, written on an angle, in a typical ‘Dink way’, titled The Southerner’s Handbook, A Guide To Living the Good Life and Don’t Quit Your Day Job. If all goes well these will be on my 2014 list.

God knows my prayers, and in a year that ended in 13, one prayer uttered many times had to do with helping Allan to beat pancreatic cancer – which he apparently has done (brothers and sisters, that’s a miracle!), and another constant one is that I be allowed to keep my eyesight as long as I am on this earth (for if I can’t read, I’d ’bout as soon be gone.) But enough about the future, let’s look at books read this year.

First let me report that I read (every word from cover to cover) 24 books in 2013: three in January, two in February, three in March; one in April; two in May; four in June; two in July; one in August; zero in September; one in October; four in November and; one in December (so far!).

Books read included Quotations of Ronald Reagan (32 pages) and The Last Lion – Winston Churchill Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid. The ‘Churchill book’ is quite a read – 1,053 pages of very fine type. Ask Roland Berry about this as he is presently slogging through my book and, I believe, enjoying every word (there must be a million) of it.

Interestingly, at least to me, but not surprising, is that of the 24 books I read, over half of the books had a ‘southern theme’ or were set in the south. That’s the way it always seems to be when I analyze what I have read during the past year, and I suspect it will always be that way.

Let’s look at the some of the 2013 reads in reverse order of recommendation (all of these were very good plus several that did not make the list).

  1. The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy. I’m drawn to Conroy but I don’t exactly know why. This is part of what I wrote on November 28: “No one can put phrases together like Conroy, and few have a more disgusting tale to tell. What a broken and dysfunctional family.”
  2. One Summer by Bill Bryson. This is about America in 1927. When I finished this book on November 24, I wrote: “And yes, the summer of 1927 was one ‘heck’ of a summer”. Read this to learn about Babe Ruth, Charles Lindberg, Calvin Coolidge, Al Capone, flagpole sitting and much more.
  3. Red Galluses. This is a story of Georgia politics written by Allen Lumpkin Henson around 1945. Dink NeSmith gave this book to me for my March 9 birthday, and I finished it on March 23 writing: “Read it, Georgia history lovers, you’ll be glad you did!”
  4. The Legacy of the Civil War by Robert Penn Warren. I wrote on March 28, “This is not an easy read – very deep… There is lots of profound ‘stuff’ in this book.”
  5. The Life and Music of James Brown. This was written by R. J. Smith. This book, like Brown is “rough”, but I did begin to admire much about “the hardest working man in show business” because of his determination, talent and hard work. Perry’s Fred Daviss is mentioned several times in this 388 page book, which I finished on December 10.
  6. Robert E. Lee, A Biography by then University of Georgia professor, Emory M. Thomas. This book was copyrighted in 1995. I finished reading it on October 27 and wrote, in part, “I commend this book to anyone who is interested in Robert E. Lee and his life – and, also, for those who want to know more about the Civil War…”
  7. Cotton Tenants. This is by James Agee with photographs by Walker Evans. I wrote on July 20… Read it, and you will understand how much of the south ‘used to be.’
  8. A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff. This book was written by Dr. William Rawlings of Sandersville, Georgia. I finished the book on April 8 and wrote: “It is very good – not only about small town life (Sandersville), two families (the Rawlings and the Tarbuttons), and how cotton dominated the economy… but I also learned how four in our family got the “Cohen” name.
  9. Sycamore Row by John Grisham, Like The New York Times says, “John Grisham is about as good a storyteller as we’ve got in the United States these days.” Amen! I wrote October 30: “I have probably read about 25 of Grisham’s books, and in my opinion, this could be the best one he has ever written.”
  10. The Last Lion Winston Spencer Churchill Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965. This is by William Manchester and Paul Reid. I finished this book on August 26 and here is part of that I wrote about this great book in the front of it. “This is an outstanding book – really it is almost unbelievable the amount of research that went into this book, and it is so well written. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. Somewhere in the book Churchill is called ‘the first citizen of the world’ and, at least at that time rightfully so. Without Churchill, Hitler would have certainly captured all of Europe.”

So there you have it: My 2013 report. And, I did not even include Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng, If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Going to Nail My Feet to the Ground by Lewis Grizzard and There Is More than One Way to Spell Wiener by Ed Grisamore. These are three very good books. One other thing, I believe the ‘Churchill’ book will go on my ever changing top-ten list of all time reads.

Now, on to 2014. So much to read, so little time.