Books Read in 2013


Every year I keep track of the books I read and post the list to my blog. This year my six year-old son started to get into graphic novels and so I read quite a few of those with him. I read a lot of great books over the year. A few that stand out for particular praise are: Debt; The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber; Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology, Sallie McFague TeSelle; Orlando, Virginia Woolf; After Virtue, Third Edition, Alasdair MacIntyre; Local Histories/Global Designs, Walter Mignolo; and, of course, Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. I have read Don Quixote before, in 2003 or so when I was staying in a Zapatista community in Chiapas, Mexico, and it remains one of my three favorite novels (the other two are The Brothers Karamazov and Moby Dick). This year I read Cervantes while walking the Camino de Santiago. Someplace in me is a long essay about Cervantes, pilgrimage, social justice work, colonialism and decolonial theory. Maybe someday I’ll write it.

The two books I was probably least impressed with were: The Spanish Civil War, Stanley Payne and En La Lucha/In the Struggle; Elaborating a mujerista theology, Asa María Isasi-Díaz. I disliked Payne’s history of the Spanish Civil War because I read it as having a right-wing bias. He claimed that the civil war and the right-wing uprising were reactions to social chaos brought on by the rise of the Popular Front government. Such an explanation is line with the story almost every right-wing coup leader tells about why he organized a coup against an elected government. As for Isasi-Diaz, I wanted to like her book. I was engaged by her methodology (enthnography), inspired by her commitment to remain in dialogue with and accountable to her community and liked her writing. Her theological argument, however, was completely disconnected with the work of latina theorists like Gloria Anzaldua, who were her contemporaries. This disconnection was unfortunate. I find Anzaldua’s work, and that of those who respond to her, much richer than Isasi-Diaz’s. If Isasi-Diaz had integrated some of the work latina theorists into her own work I think she would have written a powerful text. As it was, I was left feeling like her text was rather flat, not particularly useful and not part of the same dialogue of many of her contemporaries. 

I should probably also mention that I had a real love hate relationship with David Hall’s A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England. On the one hand, it is one of the best intellectual histories of 17th and 18th century New England Puritanism. On the other, it made almost no mention of said Puritans relationships with the indigenous peoples of New England. I would like to say that I found this to be inexcuseable. But truthfully, I find it more perplexing than anything. Hall is a great scholar and I simply don’t understand how he could make such an obvious omission. I imagine that most people would just chalk it all up to some form of unconscious white supremacy but I have a nagging suspicion that explanation is deeper than that.

Here’s the full list of my 2013 books:

The Signal and the Noise; Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t, Nate Silver
Debt; The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber
From Here to There; the Staughton Lynd Reader, Staughton Lynd
The Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism, Staughton Lynd
Accompanying: Pathways to Social Change, Staughton Lynd
Stepping Stones; Memoir of a Life Together, Alice and Staughton Lynd
Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology, Sallie McFague TeSelle
Rumpole a la Carte, John Mortimer
Transmetropolitan: Year of the Bastard, Warren Ellis
Transmetropolitan: back on the street, Warren Ellis
Transmetropolitan: lust for life, Warren Ellis
A Machiavellian View of the Ministry, Brandoch Lovely
A Theology for the Social Gospel, Walter Rauschenbusch
Parish Parables, Clinton Lee Scott
Transmetropolitan: the new scum, Warren Ellis
Rumpole and the Angel of Death, John Mortimer
The Cosmic Race, Jose Vasconcelos
Elfquest Vol. 1, Richard and Wendy Pini
Elfquest Vol. 2, Richard and Wendy Pini
Elfquest Vol. 3, Richard and Wendy Pini
Elfquest Vol. 4, Richard and Wendy Pini
Elfquest Siege at Blue Mountain, Richard and Wendy Pini
Elfquest Kings of the Broken Wheel, Richard and Wendy Pini
The Spanish Civil War, Stanley Payne
Transmetropolitan: one more time, Warren Ellis
Transmetropolitan: the cure, Warren Ellis
Transmetropolitan: dirge, Warren Ellis
Transmetropolitan: gouge away, Warren Ellis
At the Same Time, Susan Sontag
Local Histories/Global Designs, Walter Mignolo
En La Lucha/In the Struggle; Elaborating a mujerista theology, Asa María Isasi-Díaz
Red Rackham’s Treasure (Tintin), Herge
The Seven Crystal Balls (Tintin), Herge
Contentious Politics, Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow
Tintin and the Picaros, Herge
Ethics for a Small Planet, Daniel Maguire and Larry Rasmussen
Under the Net, Iris Murdoch
Los Borgia Intergral, Alejandro Jodorowsky (Spanish)
Don Quixote Vol. 1, Miguel de Cervantes
El Señor Cocodrilo Está Muerto De Hambre, Joan Sfar (Spanish)
El suspiro, Marjane Satrapi (Spanish)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 1910, Alan Moore
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 1969, Alan Moore
Nemo: Heart of Ice, Alan Moore
Don Quixote Vol. 2, Miguel de Cervantes
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 2009, Alan Moore
Orlando, Virginia Woolf
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling
When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris (audio book)
Thank You Jeeves, P.D. Wodehouse, fiction (audio book)
Private Lives, Noel Coward, drama, (audio book)
MacBeth, William Shakesphere, drama (audio book)
When Jesus Came To Harvard, Harvey Cox
Rumpole Misbehaves, John Mortimer (audio book)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling
The Names of the Lost, Philip Levine
The Time of the Doves, Merce Rodoreda
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka
Take the Cannoli; Stories from the New World, Sarah Vowell
The Star Thrower, Loren Eiseley
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
The Ocean at the End of the Land, Neil Gaiman
Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill
Utilitarianism: For and Against, J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling
A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England, David Hall
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant, translated by H. J. Paton
Living for Change: An Autobiography, Grace Lee Boggs
The Sources of Normativity, Christine Korsgaard
The Next American Revolution; Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, Grace Lee Boggs with Scott Kurashige
The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, Gordon Wood
Chico & Rita, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba (Spanish)
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, Eric Foner
Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
After Virtue, Third Edition, Alasdair MacIntyre
Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Bernard Williams
Attack of the Deranged Killer Monster Snow Goons, Bill Watterson
They Feed The Lion, Philip Levine
Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, James and Grace Lee Boggs
Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers, Alexander McCall Smith
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, Kiran Desai
The Days are Just Packed, Bill Watterson
Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga
Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat, Bill Watterson

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