Year-end brings out the list-makers—I’m hoping to use this post to help focus on where I want to go with my reading. In addition, any comments on specific works or the direction I’m going are always appreciated. I’ve mentioned that I have some general plans on what I want to read but I try to remain flexible in order to work in some new “finds” or authors I want to explore. Sometimes my reading progression feels like it was planned by someone with ADHD, but I want to remain open to new (to me) finds as well as never wanting to feel that I have to read something because I said I would.
I felt frustrated that I didn’t get to much of what I wanted to read this year but looking back at 2010’s posts made me realize I achieved more than I thought I had. I ended up with a couple of major projects (one planned, one not) as well as discovered some new (to me) authors. Links to the posts can be found on the sidebar.
The Histories, Herodotus (re-read)
Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford
Both highly recommended. I enjoyed Herodotus even more this (second) time through it, possibly because of the wonderful edition I read. Parade’s End was one of those reads I wasn’t too sure about as I started it but came to appreciate and enjoy it. I’m guessing that the upcoming annotated version of it will make approaching this work much easier. I laughed when listening to The Recognitions and the Reverend Gwyon’s father mentions that upon looking up after having fallen down a well he could see stars in broad daylight—shades of Tietjens in the trenches.
Update: Mel u at The Reading Life informs me that the annotated version of Some Do Not... is already available from Carcanet Press. No More Parades should be released next month. This is great news and I look forward to his comments, but I don't think I can return to the book so soon.
Authors new to me
Butcher’s Crossing and Stoner by John Williams
The Struggle for Life trilogy by Pío Baroja, made up of The Quest, Weeds, and Red Dawn
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
Ryszard Kapuściński's Travels with Herodotus
Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Bulgakov
Andrei Bely’s Petersburg
All very different and all highly recommended. I plan on reading more works by these authors soon.
No hesitation in recommending
In the First Circle, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
2666, Roberto Bolaño
The Gambler, Fyodor Dostoevsky (re-read)
The Lost Books of the Odyssey, Zachary Mason
Hadji Murad, Leo Tolstoy
Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization, Richard Miles
The Way We Live Now, Anthony Trollope(should finish before the end of the year)
First Circle surprised me when I read it. I thought I had read this back in my teens but now I’m not so sure. If I did, it was the excised version—make sure and read the recently released ‘full’ version. 2666 is a sprawling mess that I could not put down. Read some of this out loud—even in translation Bolaño’s prose resonates like his poetry. I’m surprised how much I like the Trollope (well, after the first 75 pages or so) and will want to read more books by him.
Pilgrims and early America
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, Nathaniel Philbrick (re-read)
The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, Mary Rowlandson
Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford
Mourt’s Relation, George Morton, William Bradford, Edward Winslow and Robert Cushman
Good Newes from New England, Edward Winslow
I’ll blame Philbrick for rekindling my interest in reading the original works/writers…it turns out he did a very good job of consolidating the various works. I picked up the works individually but I see that Penguin has selected writings from much of what I read in an edition called The Mayflower Papers. There are some recent history books on King Philip’s War (or Metacom’s War) that look like they would provide additional information on that important period.
A Hidden Life: A Memoir of August 1969, Johanna Reiss
Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? , James Shapiro
A Summons to Memphis, Peter Taylor
Too numerous to list, so I’ll link to them
Books I tell myself I will definitely read in 2011
History of the Peloponnesian War , Thucydides (January)
Hellenika, Xenophon (I hope to get to more writings/plays by the ancient Greeks, but will at a minimum commit myself to these two books)
The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton (I have wanted to read this ever since enjoying Tristram Shandy)
New authors (to me) to explore next year
Robert Musil, Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth
I briefly commented on these in an earlier post. In addition, after reading a little bit about Curzio Malaparte I want to read Kaputt. I have never read anything by Samuel Johnson…this will change soon, probably starting with Boswell’s biography. While thinking about it, I need to add Anthony Powell to the list.
Authors or books to revisit or explore more
Eça de Queirós
Machado de Assis
Actually there’s a lot here and I’m sure the list will grow as the year passes. Hmmmm, planning is almost as fun as actually reading these. Well, maybe not 'almost'.