I read 34 books in 2014 -- every word of every book. That compares with 24 books read in 2013. It doesn’t include several books started, but not finished, and probably never to be completely read.
Unlike in the past, I gave each book a numerical grade, when finished, with 10 being the possible best. The highest grade was 9.8, and the lowest was 7.0. The average score of the 34 books read was 8.56.
Seventeen books got a 9, or above. Five books got an 8 or below. Two books got a 7, including the last one read, which I finished on Dec. 17. Seven was the lowest score given. Remember, if I didn’t like a book, I did not finish it or include it.
Let’s get to my 10 best list (this is hard given that 17 books were given a 9 or above). As in the past, I will start with No. 10 and go to No. 1.
10. “Paris Trout” by Pete Dexter (9.5). 306 pages. Dink Nesmith gave me this novel. It is obviously “set” in Milledgeville and is a little graphic in places, but the writing and story are excellent.
9. “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” by George Packer (9.5). 430 pages. This was not a typical read for me, but as I wrote in the front of the book when I finished it on May 9, “I read it, and am glad I did.... I thought the book was excellent reading.” It’s about what has happened in and to our country the past 30 years.
8. “At Home” by Bill Bryson (9.5). 532 pages. My daughter, Wendy, gave me this extraordinary book after it was recommended to me by my friend, Bryant Culpepper. This is what the Minneapolis Star Tribune had to stay: “At Home is both insightful and entertaining, leaving a deeper appreciation of the stuff of home life that will never again be viewed as mundane.” The Star was right.
7. “Don’t Fence Me In: An Anecdotal Biography of Lewis Grizzard” by “Those Who Knew Him Best” (9.5). 289 pages. If you love Grizzard, you’ll love what his friends had to say about him.
6. “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham (9.75). 368 pages. It’s Grisham. It’s currently No. 1 on the best-sellers list. Enough said.
5. “Untamed: The Wildest Women in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island” by Will Harlan (9.75). 307 pages. A wild woman in the wilds doing wild things. This is a great read.
4. “The Earl of Louisiana” by A.J. Liebling (9.75). 251 pages. As I wrote on Oct. 12, “If you like politics, Southern style, or at least how it used to be, you’ll love this book.” Jim Minter, who knew Liebling, personally, agrees that this is a great book with great writing. This book was copyrighted in 1960, and is in at least its third printing.
3. “The Boys In The Boat” by Daniel James Brown (9.75). 370 pages. As the cover reads: “Nine Americans and their quest for the gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” “Breathtaking,” “Suspenseful” and “Riveting” are other proper and correct words on the cover.
2. “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” by Rick Bragg (9.75). 471 pages. I love Rick Bragg’s writings and I loved this book. I thought it was going to be my No. 1 for 2014 and it well could have been. As I wrote in the front of the book on Nov. 8: “This is an awesome and amazing book -- a true story that at times is so bizarre it seems to be fiction.”
1. “The Education of Little Tree” by Forrest Carter (9.8). 216 pages. This is not a new book. It was originally published in 1976 and my copy, a 2004 edition, was the seventh clothbound printing. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry if you read this wonderful little book. A little Indian boy, his grandparents, the moonshine business, etc. And you’ll see why it was my No. 1 read in 2014.
Next week: My recommendations on an “all-time 10” to read.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly, and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: email@example.com.