My reading list for 2014 feels a little thinner than I’d like, and the books piling up next to my nightstand seem to confirm that feeling. But what it lacks in quantity, it mostly makes up for in quality.
The best book I read all year, in this under-appreciated 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, was the first one I read all year: the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Guns of August,” aka “August 1914.” That was followed closely by “The Legend of Henry Ford,” which was written in 1948 and holds up tremendously well (although it didn’t give me an answer to my long search for definitive proof that Eddie Cicotte was one of Ford’s Service Department thugs at the Battle of the Overpass in ’37. More on that later, I hope.) Remarque’s book is so powerful, as everyone who’s read it knows; somehow, I had never picked it up before now. Finally fixed that problem this year.
As someone who’s always enjoyed Matthew Bruccoli’s books on the Lost Generation writers, the Ring Lardner biography was particularly enjoyable and gave me a better understanding of not just his baseball work but his place in the canon of American humorists. Tony Horwitz’s books are always recommended. Bill Bryson’s book was a breezy and fun summer read. The Frank Lloyd Wright book, bought after a tour of Taliesin West, was an eye-opening story to me that I didn’t know anything about. It’s worth your time.
Maybe I’ll get around to reading a few more in 2015 … when one of these published books is actually going to have my name on the cover. More on THAT later, too. 🙂
- “The Guns of August” (Barbara Tuchman)
- “Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend” (Gerald Wood)
- “Jimmy Kirkland and the Plot for a Pennant” (Hugh Fullerton)
- “The Mental Game of Baseball” (Harvey Dorfman and Karl Kuehl)
- “Turning the Black Sox White” (Tim Hornbaker)
- “All Quiet on the Western Front” (Erich Maria Remarque)
- “Down to the Last Pitch: 1991 World Series” (Tim Wendel)
- “One Summer: America 1927” (Bill Bryson)
- “The Legend of Henry Ford” (Keith Sward)
- “Outsider Baseball” (Scott Simkus)
- “Sweet ’60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates” (Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, eds.)
- “Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders” (William Drennan)
- “The Drop” (Dennis Lehane)
- “Building the South Side: Urban Space and Civic Culture in Chicago, 1890-1919” (Robin Bachin)
- “Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players” (Bill Nowlin, ed.)
- “Ring: A Biography of Ring Lardner” (Jonathan Yardley)
- “Baghdad Without a Map” (Tony Horwitz)