Tuesday, January 01, 2008

End of/beginning of year reading ruminations

I cringed a bit compiling my list of Favorite Reads of 2007. What does it say about me that so many of my favorites didn't get much of a mention, if a mention at all, here on my blog at the time that I read them? I really must make more of an effort to write about what I read and love instead of allowing myself to be so frequently distracted by life, the universe, and the next book in the queue.

Favorites, for me, simply mean ones that I finished knowing that I'd love to read again at some point. This year's new favorites are (in order read):

Ward No. 6. Anton Chekhov
The Terror. Dan Simmons
Pedro Paramo. Juan Rulfo
Heyday. Kurt Andersen
Out Stealing Horses. Per Petterson
The Violent Bear It Away. Flannery O'Connor
Other Voices, Other Rooms. Truman Capote
The Thinking Reed. Rebecca West
The Used World. Haven Kimmel
Sons and Lovers. D.H. Lawrence
The Gathering. Anne Enright
Daniel Deronda. George Eliot

How well did I follow last year's reading resolutions? I completed only five of the 13 classics I intended to read, although I did read 23 classics in all. I didn't touch Proust. I did continue reading Rebecca West and I began reading Christina Stead for the Outmoded Challenge instead of continuing to put her on hold. I returned to the Aubrey/Maturin series (I'd read none in 2006) and I read quite a bit of Southern literature. The piles of ARCs I picked up at the ALA convention and the occasional review copy that's sent my way helped me break my habit of placing library holds on soon-to-be published and just-published books that always took priority over the books I already owned.

What do I intend to read in 2008? Ulysses. It's time. I have a Teaching Company lecture series and a couple of guidebooks for handholding. I won't start until after the bedroom renovations are complete and the upstairs no longer resembles Humpty Dumpty post-crackup, and I'll try to keep my whining to a minimum once I do, but read it this year I will.

Once again I'm going to read at whim from my own shelves, but with fewer new purchases joining their brethren on those shelves. And I'm going to read Rebecca West and Christina Stead and both Jessica and Nancy Mitford and maybe Ivy Compton-Burnett. And books for all the challenges I've signed up for, and at least a book or two for the Planet Earth Reading Challenge that Sylvia mentioned over the weekend. I'm going to read more nonfiction than I did in 2007. More short stories.

That's it.

Happy reading, y'all.


  1. I like your idea of including the Teaching Company, especially Dr. Vandiver's Illiad. She is one of the most accessible lecturers and keeps up a high pace that keeps one's attention.

    You may find my Teaching Company user forum helpful where I review all lectures in their new courses. Maybe the Illiad could be reviewed soon also.



    Doug van Orsow
    forum administrator

  2. Thanks, Doug. We LOVE Elizabeth Vandiver in this household although we don't have her series on the Iliad.

  3. What a nice list of favorites! I'm resolved to buy fewer books this year too. We'll see how well that works out. Good luck with Ulysses. I plan to read it one of these day. I don't quite feel mentally prepared for it--yet.

  4. Not only does buying so many books make a financial dent, finding places to put them becomes difficult.

    Love the list of your favorites, and I'm going to have to try on Rebecca West for size.

    One resolution I have for next year is to finish O'Connor's letters. Why, when I so enjoy them, to I keep putting them aside? I couldn't count it as one of this year's nonfiction because in spite of countless resolutions to finish, there it sits, neglected and forlorn. Did you finish?

  5. JenClair: No, I didn't finish them. I loved reading them so much that I sent the library book back and bought my own copy, but when it came, I only read a letter or two more and put it aside for later. Maybe I can finish it this year.

    Stefanie: I feel that I'm already in a mental decline, so it's now or never!

  6. What no Rainbow--LOL. Good luck with Ulysses--I want a big challenging read this year, but I think I'll set my sights a wee bit lower since I've yet to read any Joyce (I'm in fear of the man). I'm glad you liked the Petterson book enough to list him! I'd like to read more classics, too! Good luck with those challenges! :)

  7. I have Joyce fear as well.

  8. What an interesting and varied list! I so want to get to Daniel Deronda this year! We'll see. Happy reading and blogging in 2008, I look forward to reading you.

  9. Joyce is one of my authors for the Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge. I need to take on Ulysses, but I may chicken out and do Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. But, perhaps if you are brave enough, I will follow your example. Gulp.

    Guess I need to Google Teaching Company lectures...hmmmm...

    Happy reading for 2008!

  10. Nice list. I agree with JenClair, I am absolutely running out of room to put all of my books. I have got to stop buying so many and start reading the ones I have and maybe even check some out of the library. I know it's a bit shocking, but I'm a librarian that doesn't check out books. I have to buy them. Oh well, have a happy and healthy 2008!

  11. I'm with you on writing more about books I loved and not racing onto the next one!
    Just picked up Out Stealing Horses from the library today and was astounded that no one else had reserved it. So, I have it for 4 weeks! Which is completely necessary as there are Just So Many Other Books In the Queue.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

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