Friday, October 31, 2008

Reading plan for 2009

Feel free to skip is essentially me thinking out loud...

This blog originally started as a conversational place for personal finance bloggers who liked to read. It floundered quickly for various reasons, not the least because it was everyone’s second or third place to post on top of having to deal with everyday life. But in the course of trying to get it started, I noticed that reading with the intent to write…to discuss the work with others, made me read much more attentively. But I found that translating my feelings when reading into a logical point or argument was difficult. This was a skill I wanted to work on and improve. So I decided to resuscitate this blog in order to read more carefully and hopefully make writing a little easier.

I use to be very good at setting goals and, not coincidentally, achieving a lot as well. Over the last decade, I have slacked on the former and (not surprisingly) on the latter, too. There are a few secondary goals for this blog besides the ones above, but they all tie back to the primary ones. What the blog will lead to is another matter…I still haven’t thought it through completely (teaching in "retirement" or other things?). As I was trying to figure out what books to read next, I thought some sort of general framework for the next 14 months would be helpful. There are a few general areas I'd like to concentrate on while not restricting myself to only those areas. In addition, I thought laying out a general plan would help me focus on my limited resources (time and money) and generate some input (“If you like xxxxxxx, you’ll love yyyyyyy” or finding overlooked works).

My Modernism reading is about finished for now. But in I would like to revisit a couple of works by Faulkner that I haven’t read since college before “formally” calling it quits on these works for the near future. The quotes are around “formally” since I plan on coming back to at least one work each of Conrad, Woolf, and Ford in the next year. Since I don’t have nearly as much time as I would like to read, I know I am overstating how much I can get to in the next year. Not to mention that as I discover and enjoy new (to me) writers, a Sterne-like digression usually follows. All that being said, the following is a working draft covering the books I want to read and areas I want to explore in the next year or so:

Early 20th century works:
William Faulkner As I Lay Dying, Light in August (both re-reads)
Joseph Conrad The Secret Agent
Virginia Woolf Between the Acts
Ford Maddox Ford Parade’s End

New (to me) authors:
Vladimir Nabokov Lolita, Pale Fire
Honoré de Balzac Old Goriot, and one other work (Cousin Bette?)

Ancient Greece:
Homer The Iliad, The Odyssey (both re-reads)
Herodotus The Histories (a re-read, but I can’t wait to see the new Landmark version)
Sappho, Pindar
Thucydides The Peloponnesian War (partial re-read)
Plays: two or three each from Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes
I’d like to get to some of Plato’s dialogues, but I don’t think that is realistic until the end of next year

Russian literature:
Aleksandr Pushkin Eugene Onegin, other works?
Ivan Turgenev Fathers and Sons, A Sportsman’s Notebook
Nikolay Gogol Dead Souls (re-read), other works?

Jonathan Swift A Tale of the Tub
Alexander Pope
François Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel

Two plays by Shakespeare and at least one play by Marlowe

Spanish & Portuguese language literature
Miguel de Cervantes Exemplary Stories
Leopoldo Alas La Regenta
Fernando Pessoa The Book of Disquiet
Machado de Assis Dom Casmurro
Alejo Carpentier Explosion in a Cathedral (or another work?)

Short stories
I would like to do at least six posts on short stories during the year. Considering that some of the writers I've enjoyed recently excel in the shorter format, I don't want to shortchange myself.

Group reading
The Fairie Queene (Heather at The Library Ladder proposed this one and I figured I would give it a try. The schedule looks doable and should be fun with a group.)

Shoot, and I was hoping to include at least one Austen novel, and one work from the Renaissance, and…

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