Not as many as I expected to read, since I went on one of my periodic Agatha Christie kicks, but the new books I read in 2016 were:
The Only Pirate At The Party — Lindsey Stirling and her sister
This autobiography is a quick read, taking just a few hundred pages of large type to cover her childhood antics and growth pains, career path, missionary work, battle with an eating disorder, and the joys and trials of her mini-celebrity life. There are pictures too. One of the purposes in writing the book is clearly to encourage others who suffer from disorders of their own. There are also passages aimed at those who want to achieve some daunting career path of their own, as Stirling takes several opportunities to talk about moments when she had to endure the scorn of others and come out stronger for it. If none of this sounds interesting to you, it’s probably not a book for you, but I enjoyed it.
“Live From Cape Canaveral”: Covering the Space Race, From Sputnik to Today — Jay Barbree
What it says in the title — Barbree was an NBC correspondent from the very first NASA missions up through at least 2007 or so, when this book was published. The highlights include the personalities of the early astronauts and the mischief they got into, a short jaunt with Jimmy Carter, and a look behind the scenes of the Challenger disaster coverage. Unfortunately, with only about 300 pages, unmanned missions scarcely get mentioned at all. Maybe the worst part is when the author confidently predicts that we’d be well on our way back to the Moon by now. Worth a read.
A Separate Peace — John Knowles
Short novel about boys at a boarding school on the cusp of becoming eligible for the WWII draft. One of them gives in to a moment’s spite and consequences follow. Introspective without being plodding or navel-gazing, the novel delves into the adolescent male psyche very realistically. I enjoyed it.
The Small Bachelor — P.G. Wodehouse
Not one of his Jeeves books, this is about a lovestricken introvert and his antics with his beloved’s family, a policeman, and a man with very strict ideas about living. The absurdity of the frequency with which all these people run into each other is part of the fun. Quite funny in narration, plot, and characters, and I hope to read more of his novels in the future.
Ring for Jeeves — P.G. Wodehouse
Shockingly, this one has Jeeves in it (but not Wooster). It also has horse racing and ghosts and is just about as enjoyable as the other one I read. There’s the same pattern of new plot threads appearing and immediately entangling with others to comedic effect, which helps to keep things moving quickly.
Thirteen Detectives — G.K. Chesterton
A collection of detective stories by Chesterton. The preface makes it clear that Chesterton had Ideas about what makes a proper detective story, and in that context, some of these stories felt more like demonstrations or exercises than yarns. Quite a different feel from, say, Agatha Christie or Doyle. But they are inventive, amusing, and very readable. I think my favorite was “The Hole in the Wall” for its atmosphere, but special mention to “The Donnington Affair”, where Chesterton provides the solution to another author’s setup so thoroughly that the reader is left without any doubt that this must have been what the original author meant all along. It was also interesting to come across a story that possibly was the source material for one of Christie’s books.