The Year 2017 in Reading: 35 Books (The Bronze Books)

When challenged to read books in 2017, I joined friends who had set individual targets  based on their interest level and the challenges life had in front of them. Three friends proposed to read 15 books. Three really ambitious readers proposed reading 50 books, 60 books, and 75 books in succession with varying degrees of reported success. In fact, I had one friend that reported reading a few hundred pages per day to the tune of 379 books read.

In joining a friend in the aim to read 24 books, or two books per month, we both exceeded our goal by landing in the thirty-plus books range. On a rating scale of 1-star to 5-stars, Matt with Matt Lynn Digital rated the 35-books mostly as worthy reads.

Five (5) books landed with ratings of less than average, which is to say at 3.25-stars or less.  Eleven (11) books landed at average with a rating of 3.5-stars while one (1) landed at slightly above average with 3.75-stars. These seventeen (17) books will be collected into this remembrance of 2017. Simply follow the links for a fuller review of any particular book.

Ranking as above average at 3.75 stars in 2017 included this one (1) book:

Having written in a style reminiscent of Agatha Christie, I particularly liked the notion of there being two mysteries in a single book to unravel. One might remember that I spent an entire blog post in 2016 reviewing the Agatha Christie books read in 2016.

Magpie Murders 1

Ranking as average at 3.5 stars in 2017 included these eleven (11) books:

I stayed mostly in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with these books, with Candide being the notable exception.

Candide 1

Ranking as just below average at 3.25 stars in 2017 included this one (1) book:

Live By Night 1

Ranking as slightly below average at 3.0 stars in 2017 included these three (3) books:

My ranking of James Joyce came as the biggest disappointment here as I had hoped for something that would resonate more fully with me. Perhaps the larger issue here was my coming to the book in my forties rather than as a younger man.


Ranking lowest at 2.50 stars in 2017 included this book:

That final book lands in the pulp fiction genre; the book itself was recommended by Stephen King, whose writing has some quirks to it though has been entertaining to me. The bottom line for this book for me is to realize that not all influences to authors that entertain me are books that I would want to read.

At the Mountains of Madness 1

The above listing of books reflects the bronze listing of books. A silver and gold listing will follow shortly.

Matt – Friday, December 29, 2017


The satiric parody that is Voltaire’s Candide pokes fun at a few interesting sacred cows

The satiric parody that is Voltaire‘s Candide pokes fun at a few interesting sacred cows.

Pointed first, last, and mostly at the classic philosophical notion of Gottfried Leibniz‘s Essays of Theodicy on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil, Candide the novella lampoons Leibniz through the philosophical transformation of the character Candide from indoctrinated follower of mentor Professor Pangloss’ “best of all possible worlds” and instead chooses to see the end resolution as one where “we must cultivate our own garden,” a calling out of self-reliance rather than an Edenic result.

Voltaire brings his satiric wit that aims to parody the adventure-romance plot that we saw in part with the recent book review of The Three Musketeers. The rapidly articulated yet detailed series of horrible events that Candide encounters is obviously tongue-in-cheek for having been so vast and overwhelming within such a short span of storytelling. Characters nearly and neatly escaping death over and over tells anyone willing to think about what is happening with the compounding psychological of each tells you to laugh and see that larger, satiric points are being made.

Further attacks are taken against European governments contemporary to the novella’s 1759 publication. The Jesuit order of the Roman Catholic church is also lampooned. The singling out of an El Dorado on earth, when taken in positive contrast to mostly everything else in the novella, points to the fact that nothing is so good as this while certainly the rest is not as bad as it is declared. None of the characters could realistically be as two-dimensional as they are presented unless, as should be clear, they were drawn as such by authorial intent.

Candide 2

Overall, the novella Candide is pithy, witty, and tackles serious subjects with an irreverence that mostly hits the mark. As some point out elsewhere, the piece is perhaps Voltaire’s most influential accomplishment. My overall ranking is 3.5-stars out-of-5.

Matt – Monday, March 13, 2017