Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Still Standing: A List of the Books I Read in 2015

If there is one thing living has taught me, it is that the calendar is a poor judge of the beginnings and endings that pass within. Thought ripens in its own time. Loneliness and grief fall away when their uses have been fulfilled. Undue harshness towards ourselves fades in the light of self-understanding. Love, there all along, astonishes when we least expect it with the unfolding of her wings. Suddenly we see truth and joy have no basis in the weary thing called Time. For every page torn from the calendar, countless are inscribed in the heart. Behold your hands and face. See what is written there, some of it quickly, some of it slowly, none of it ambiguous, all of it artistic, subtle, and sure.

Now, it might be safely and sanely asked what any of this has to do with this year’s reading list. My answer, of course, is, everything. For in 2015, no day has passed in which I have not read. The very act is my grateful prayer of the predawn hours, and many other hours besides. Reading is my rhythm, my companion, my faithful, illuminating guide. Through it, inches become miles, hours days, days years, years lifetimes.

Along the way, my own writing and drawing constitutes a kind of running commentary, an extended marginalia which, though not always traceable to any given work, is enough to suggest the thoughts, ideas, and transformation thereby aroused.

This year, too, I rearranged my reading space to accommodate a big library-style dictionary ever open at my side, and made a habit of looking up every word doubtful in meaning or pronunciation. This steady, gentle exercise has had its rewards, the focusing of attention and the cultivating of patience not least among them.

Following, then, is a complete list of the seventy-four books I read this year. The very last, a little volume I picked up recently, I am not quite done with, but expect, if I live, to finish before year’s end. All but one are vintage hardcovers, pictures of which I have shared on occasion. The photo above is of the old Carnegie library in my hometown. Sadly, it is no longer standing. But I am. For now.


The Waverley Novels
by Sir Walter Scott

Unusually Illustrated
In twenty-seven Volumes

Adam & Charles Black


Edition de Luxe
Limited to Five Hundred Registered and Numbered Copies. Number 90.


Volume I

Volume II
Guy Mannering

Volume III
The Antiquary

Volume IV
Rob Roy

Volume V
Old Mortality

Volume VI
The Black Dwarf and A Legend of Montrose

Volume VII – Volume VIII
The Heart of Midlothian

Volume IX
The Bride of Lammermoor

Volume X

Volume XI
The Monastery

Volume XII
The Abbot

Volume XIII

Volume XIV
The Pirate

Volume XV
The Fortunes of Nigel

Volume XVI-Volume XVII
Peveril of the Peak

Volume XVIII
Quentin Durward

Volume XIX
St. Ronan’s Well

Volume XX

Volume XXI
The Betrothed
The Highland Widow
(Chronicles of the Canongate)

Volume XXII
The Talisman
The Two Drovers
My Aunt Margaret’s Mirror
The Tapestried Chamber
The Laird’s Jock
(Chronicles of the Canongate)

Volume XXIII

Volume XXIV
The Fair Maid of Perth

Volume XXV
Anne of Geierstein

Volume XXVI
Count Robert of Paris

Volume XXVII
The Surgeon’s Daughter
Castle Dangerous
Index and Glossary
Characters Introduced and Principal Incidents


The Poems of Sir Walter Scott

Unusually Illustrated
In two Volumes

Merrill & Baker


Edition de Luxe
Limited to Five Hundred Registered and Numbered Copies. Number 90.


Life of Sir Walter Scott

by J.G. Lockhart

Unusually Illustrated
In four Volumes

Merrill & Baker


Edition de Luxe
Limited to Five Hundred Registered and Numbered Copies. Number 90.


The Book-bills of Narcissus
by Richard Le Gallienne

The Quest for Corvo : An Experiment in Biography
by A.J.A. Symons

Alfred de Musset : A Biography
by Henry Dwight Sedgwick

The Intimate Journal of George Sand
translated and edited by Marie Jenney Howe

by Frederick Lawton

Spiritual Adventures
by Arthur Symons

The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne
by Sir Edmund Gosse

The Life and Letters of Sir Edmund Gosse
by Evan Charteris

The Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne
edited by Sir Edmund Gosse and Thomas Wise

A Study of Shakespeare
by Algernon Charles Swinburne

The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson,
(Two Volumes)

The Painting of You
by William Michaelian

Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle
(Two Volumes)

Arthur Conan Doyle : A Life in Letters
edited by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower, & Charles Foley

Letters of James Russell Lowell
edited by Charles Eliot Norton
(Two Volumes)

James Russell Lowell : A Biography
by Horace Elisha Scudder
(Two Volumes)

James Russell Lowell and His Friends
by Edward Everett Hale


Standard Library Edition
The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
With a General Index and a Memoir
by James Elliott Cabot
With Steel Portraits and Etchings
In Fourteen Volumes


Volume I
Nature, Addresses, and Lectures

Volume II
Essays : First Series

Volume III
Essays : Second Series

Volume IV
Representative Men : Seven Lectures

Volume V
English Traits

Volume VI
The Conduct of Life

Volume VII
Society and Solitude : Twelve Chapters

Volume VIII
Letters and Social Aims

Volume IX

Volume X
Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Volume XI

Volume XII
Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers

Volumes XIII and XIV
A Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson
by James Elliot Cabot


The Confessions of St. Augustine
Translated by Edward Bouverie Pusey

The Imitation of Christ
by Thomas à Kempis
Translated by William Benham

The Pilgrim’s Progress
by John Bunyan

The Complete Poems of John Milton
Written in English

Lowell & His Poetry
by William Henry Hudson


Joseph Hutchison said...

Hello, William. Just wanted you to know that I linked to this fine short essay on my blog — http://www.jhwriter.com/?p=6690 — and that you inspired me to publish my own 2015 reading list, which will post tomorrow morning. Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

William Michaelian said...

Many thanks, Joe, and the same to you. I’ll be looking forward to your list.

Mr. Allen said...

I want to do a list too. Looks like William is inspiring all sorts of people to discuss what they read over the past year. Although, my list will not be as academic as yours.

Jonathan Chant said...

One of my favourite posts of the year. Always look forward to this list.

Happy new year William.

William Michaelian said...

And a good year to you, Jonathan. Thank you.

Thank you, too, Scott. Whatever your reading interests, it’s both revealing and informative to see where that journey leads.