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Saturday, December 31, 2005

2006 Reading List

We were supposed to go to Lisa’s New Year’s Eve party tonight, but I’ve been having “wellness” issues all day (the details of which I am not about to put onto a public forum). When I hesitatingly broke the news to Bruce and my mom this evening, that I didn’t feel up to going out, they sighed with relief and both said they’re not feeling so hot either.

So here I am blogging instead.

Another year has gone. Tonight will be the last time I ever write (or read) anything in 2005.

Lately, I have been back in a book-buying mode, with as many as 15 purchases and/or acquisitions of books in the last week or so. I also just submitted a lengthy list of reading requests to the library. There are currently four waiting to be picked up.

One of my interesting book moments came last week when I brought home a couple new ones from the freebie bin at the library. They are both older books, World War II era. I had never heard of either of them, and there were no dustjackets, but they looked appealing to me (i.e. the feel of the paper, the typesetting, the binding - who really knows what excites a bibliophile). When I got home I “googled” both titles, and found on Alibris that one of them, in the same exact condition as the edition I have, is worth $85. Cool. So, it’s been placed on my “antique” and autographed books shelf.

With so many books, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to read in 2006; the very top priorities. I reviewed my various book lists tonight; lists of top picks from places as varied as The Modern Library, the BBC, and my friend Virginia. One of my favorite lists is from a guy named Brian Kunde, who I think is with Harvard or some highbrow college like that. Anyway, he calls his list “The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century.” It really is a good list. It’s got 223 books on it, of which I have read 78.

In any case, the following, in no particular order, are the books that jump out at me whenever I review my various lists and my bookshelves. I hope I get to them this next year. I own all of them but the newest Amy Tan:

Shopgirl, by Steve Martin (haven't seen the movie yet, but loved the trailer enough to want to read the book)
Don Quixote, by Cervantes (voted the best novel of all time - how could I resist a qualification like that?)
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Graham
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (can you believe I moved to Alaska without ever having read it?)
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe (no idea what it's about, but it shows up on a lot of lists)
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
Until I Find You, by John Irving (I don't care how bad the reviews are, I owe Irving my love for all things literary)
Saving Fish From Drowning, by Amy Tan
The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
Spook, by Mary Roach
Something by… Philip Roth (I want to get through his entire oeuvre so that I can understand what he's trying to tell me)
Something by… Henry James (I have like six of his novels, got to try at least one)
Something by… Thomas Hardy

I reserve the right to not read any of these (especially ”Don Quixote”).

I read 75 books in 2005 (pitiful), 48 of which were borrowed from the library or friends. The previous year, none of the books I read were borrowed, so this is a vast improvement. (She CAN be taught.)

In the past couple weeks I am proud to have finally read “To Kill a Mockingbird” (marvelous! – why did I wait so long?… Oh, I know, because I played Mayella Ewell in the high school play, and I’m still a bit ashamed of my close identification with the Ewell family). I also read “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde this month (much different than I imagined and kind of fun).

Tonight I finished reading “No Country for Old Men,” by Cormac McCarthy. I’m not a big McCarthy fan, but since it’s gotten such good reviews, I thought I’d give it a shot. Oh my gosh! Fabulous! It starts out with a classic McCarthy feel, but alternates back and forth between third-person action and first person reflections. The ideas of the author come through clearly, and while there are a lot of sad and discouraging aspects to the story, there are also moments of heart-wrenching tenderness (i.e. when the first-person narrator, Sheriff Bell, talks about his wife, which is often). The whole book left a lump in my throat and feeling a bit of melancholy. The dialogue is smart, and the action carries a lot of momentum. This is a truly great book, both for how it is written and what it says. For those used to reading popular fiction, it will not be an easy read (the lack of punctuation can throw one off, but McCarthy never loses control of it), but it is definitely a worthwhile one. At least, understanding Spanish isn’t a prerequisite for reading this one (unlike other McCarthy novels). The language should be savored like a piece of fine dark chocolate.

Well, time to start another book. This time: “Paradise of the Blind” by Vietnamese author Duong Thu Huong. This is a book-club book. Then, after the kids get to bed, a couple of adult movies... I mean, GROWN-UP MOVIES! (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Must Love Dogs”)

Happy New Year!


At 1:39 PM, Blogger Gateway School and Learning Center said...

I can't believe you still haven't read "Into Thin Air". Get with it girl. I might have "Things Fall Apart" if you don't have it yet.


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