Thursday, December 09, 2010

Looking forward while looking back

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.

Major projects
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'.


Toyin O. said...

Thanks for sharing.

Hannah said...

What an excellent list! I'm planning to read Herodotus this year and am very pleased to see that you liked the Landmark so much. (Have you looked at the Landmark Thucydides? Is it equally good?)

Your archive pages are an incredible resource. Thank you so much.

Dwight said...

Thanks Toyin and LR.

LR, I have the softcover of the Landmark Thucydides that I will use...well, maybe. Paul Rahe's review of the Landmark series has a couple of paragrpahs on the Thucydides volume (see the section starting with "Strassler's Thucydides had only two defects.")

I need to sort through my bookmarks that are strewn around as I think there is a better translation available online but I need to look into it.

Mel u said...

I do plan to read the annotated edition of FMF's Parade's End by Jan 31-I will attempt a post on what I think I have learned from the new edition done by Max Sauders-I want to penetrate further into Parade's End.

2666-a very powerful work-hard to put down-I think it will become a canon status book in time

The Anatomy of Melancholy-one of Samuel Johnson's favorite books-you might read his Rasselas before the Boswell-you can read it on line-I have read the life 3 or four times-some including Ford Madox Ford says Boswell turns Johnson into a clown and killed his future readership

Hadji Murad-looking forward to reading it, will be the first time, in the new translation-

Dwight said...

Mel, looking forward to your comments on the annotated version. I could tell there was a lot being referenced that I getting.

Hadji Murad is something special

Meytal Radzinski said...

Fascinating list. I like that one of your goals is to read books by certain authors - be introduce, in a sense. I've learned not to set myself goals because I'll just be disappointed in the end when I don't reach them... I'm quite enjoying rereading your thoughts on a lot of these books. Looks like you had some interesting reads this year!

Dwight said...

Thanks Biblibio. And yes, I ran across some good works and authors this year. I'm looking forward to discovering more this upcoming year.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

Boy, you line it all up like that, it adds up - what a lot of great reading.

I'm thinking of doing a Portuguese thing next year, too. Or an Austrian thing!

Dwight said...

Hi AR. It surprises me sometimes how it does add up. I know I'm slow (as measured against what I would love to do), but I'll keep plugging away.

I found a used copy of Fin-De-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture by Carl Schorske the other day and it makes me want to get started on all the Austrian writers now, but I have put Thucydides off too many times...he's next after Trollope.