Wednesday, January 24, 2018

This One Goes to... 5: Favorite Books Read in 2016

In the past, my 'Favorite Books Read' lists have included 11 works of fiction and 11 nonfiction works. This year, that isn't the case.

To be honest, 2017 wasn't a great year in reading for me. Not only did I read far fewer books in general, of the books I did read, there weren't many that were really outstanding. Thus, a list of '11 Favorites' would be impossible.

Still, I did read some really great books. Here are my favorites for 2017, in no particular order. 



FICTION
  • The Book of Weird by Barbara Ninde Byfield (This vintage hard-to-classify gem is a witty encyclopedia of a fantastical alternate Europe. I wish I read this book back in my Dungeons & Dragons days.)
  • The Chronicles of Solar Pons by August Derleth (Yes, Pons is an unabashed pastiche of Sherlock Holmes. But he is also a great pastiche of Sherlock Holmes. The stories are a great deal of fun and I actually think August Derleth is a better writer than Arthur Conan Doyle.)
  • Lost Worlds Vol. 1 by Clark Ashton Smith (Along with H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, Smith was one of the "Big Three" writers for Weird Tales. His fantasy stories are very dark and nightmarish. I especially liked the ones set in the dying earth landscape of Zothique.)
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (This tale of a convent that trains novice nuns in the ways of assassination is one of the best new fantasy novels I've read in a long time. Great setting and characterizations. Features some good quotes about fighting and martial arts.)
  • Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (Gorgeously written, surreal, and dreamlike. A novel to read slowly and savor.) 

NONFICTION
  • A Buddhist Grief Observed by Guy Newland (I struggle with grief and loss. So does Guy Newland. He eloquently writes about his Buddhist beliefs both helped and at times failed to help him deal with the death of his wife.)
  • The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights by Norm Phelps
    and
  • A Plea for the Animals: The Moral, Philosophical, and Evolutionary Imperative to Treat All Beings with Compassion Hardcover by Matthieu Ricard (Two excellent books about animal rights, both written from a Buddhist perspective. Phelps especially makes some very strong, substantial arguments regarding the place of veganism in Buddhism.)
  • Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women's Self Protection by Tim Larkin (The title is a little misleading; the book is not really a "total guide" nor is it only of use to women. Larkin address mindset more than specific techniques, and I find the things he has to say to be perfectly valid. His observation that "violence is rarely the answer, but when it is... it is the only answer" is spot-on.)


SPECIAL MENTION

  • Lazarus Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Incredible dystopian graphic novel series that explores themes of wealth inequality and environmental destruction. Very timely and relevant... unfortunately.)
(My list of favorite books read in 2016 can be found here, and favorites of 2015 can be found here.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bong Soo Han on Patience

Research shows that instant gratification is making us perpetually impatient. That is not a good thing. This anecdote about Hapkido master Bong Soo Han from Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams is a perfect illustration of the value of patience.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Books Read, 2017


For various reasons—a new job, some sinus issues that affected my eyes, etc.—I read far fewer books in 2017 than in previous years, much to my chagrin. Also, for various reasons—mostly laziness, really—I wasn't as good at logging the books I read in 2017, so I might have actually read more books and just neglected to keep track of them

That all being said, below is my Master Reading List for 2017, in alphabetical order by title. I'll try post a list of my favorite books read last year soon.

FICTION
  • Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
  • Bloodfire Quest: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks
  • The Book of Weird by Barbara Ninde Byfield
  • Calix Stay: The Circle of Light, Book 3 by Niel Hancock
  • The Chronicles of Solar Pons by August Derleth
  • Dhampir by Barb and J. C. Hendee
  • Faragon Fairingay: The Circle of Light, Book 2 by Niel Hancock
  • A Feast of Sorrows: Stories by Angela Slatter
  • The First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks
  • Lost Worlds Vol. 1 by Clark Ashton Smith
  • Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
  • Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
  • Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
  • Squaring the Circle: The Circle of Light, Book 4 by Niel Hancock
  • Tales of Mithgar by Dennis L. McKiernan
  • Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
  • The Unlikely Ones by Mary Brown
  • Wards of Faerie: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks
  • Witch Wraith: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks

NONFICTION
  • Aikido Basics by Phong Thong Dang  and Lynn Seiser
  • The Art of Peace by Morehei Ueshiba, translated and edited by John Stevens
  • Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom by Rick Hanson
  • A Buddhist Grief Observed by Guy Newland
  • Do The Work by Steven Pressfield
  • Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation by Gelek Rimpoche
  • The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights by Norm Phelps
  • Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm
  • Martial Virtues: Lessons in Wisdom, Courage, and Compassion from the World's Greatest Warriors by Charles Hackney
  • A Plea for the Animals: The Moral, Philosophical, and Evolutionary Imperative to Treat All Beings with Compassion Hardcover by Matthieu Ricard
  • The Shambhala Guide to Aikido by John Stevens
  • Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, & Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye by Brad Warner
  • Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women's Self Protection by Tim Larkin
  • The Sword Polisher's Record: The Way of Kung-Fu by Adam Hsu
  • Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
  • The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, translated by Red Pine

GRAPHIC NOVELS
  • Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood
  • Lazarus Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark
  • Lazarus Vol. 2 by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark
  • Lazarus Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark
  • Lazarus Vol. 4 by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark

(Previous years: Books Read, 2015; Books Read, 2016)