Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Janus post

As I've said before, 2006 was a good year for reading. My favorites--and I'm calling a book a favorite if I finished it convinced that I'd like to read it again someday--are as follows:

The Judge. Rebecca West
The People's Act of Love. James Meek
Suttree & The Road. Cormac McCarthy
The Amalgamation Polka. Stephen Wright
One Good Turn. Kate Atkinson
Black Swan Green. David Mitchell
Triangle. Katharine Weber
Swann's Way. Marcel Proust
The Echo Maker. Richard Powers
The Red and the Black. Stendhal
Twilight of the Superheroes. Deborah Eisenberg

What do I intend to read next year? I'm going to qualify my "Read at Whim!" mantra with a "From the Books I Already Own" tag. I'm going to do my level best to ignore the new book cart at the university library and to keep my holds at the public to a minimum. I want to read the hardbacks already purchased before stockpiling any more. Well, many more.

I've tweaked the list of thirteen classics to read in 2007 that I made back in the fall into this list:

1. Charterhouse of Parma. Stendhal (haven't decided yet, but I may substitute Dumas' The Three Musketeers)
2. Germinal. Zola
3. Tristram Shandy. Sterne
4. A Sentimental Journey. Sterne
5. Buddenbrooks. Mann
6. Return of the Native. Hardy (although I may wind up reading the top-tier novels in chronological order once I start on Tomalin's bio of Hardy)
7. The Turn of the Screw. James
8. The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoyevsky (maybe I'll feel up to tackling another Dostoyevsky novel by fall, but at the moment I'm not going to commit to it)
9. Robinson Crusoe. Defoe
10. Ward No. 6. Chekhov
11. Doctor Faustus. Marlowe (because we have the opportunity to see the play this spring and Paradise Lost may have been a little too much for me to tackle right now)
12. The Blithedale Romance. Hawthorne
13. The Metamorphoses. Ovid

And I'm going to continue with Proust at least through The Guermantes Way. I have Sodom and Gomorrah on hand in the new translation as well but haven't decided whether I'll order the rest of In Search of Lost Time from the UK or go with the more readily available Moncrieff. And even more importantly, since I read Proust so slowly and cannot always predict when I can focus in on it the way that I should, I'm not inclined to commit to making my way through the remainder of the volumes next year; however far I get is fine.

I intend to resume working chronologically through Rebecca West's novels and I hope to read a few Christina Steads as well. I'd like to return to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series and touch base with some Southern lit.

We'll see how it goes.

Happy reading in 2007, everyone.


  1. Happy new and happy reading year to you as well! I too want to feed my 'read at a whim' personality with some of the stuff off my piles throughout the year! I need to, the piles are getting overwhelming!!!

  2. I'm already compiling a list of books I'd like to read for your next challenge, Carl. Fortunately I have many on hand that will fit.

  3. Oh...I'm so glad to see ONE GOOD TURN, BLACK SWAN GREEN, and ECHO MAKER on your "favorites" list! I have them on my TBR list; a confirmation is always a good thing. :)

  4. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Your favorites list reminds me of a few books I'd like to read.

    What fun that you are planning on Tristram Shandy and Robinson Crusoe! I will be hoping to compare notes! Happy New Year!

  5. Happy new year! Lots of good stuff there -- I'm pleased that you and Stefanie plan on reading Tristram Shandy and Robinson Crusoe, and I love A Sentimental Journey too. And Buddenbrooks! I'll start that one very, very soon.

  6. Anonymous4:04 AM

    Happy new year! Quite a list you habe there. I'm tempted to make my own, but I'm bad at sticking to a schedule, especially when it comes to reading. I've wanted to tackle "Tristram Shandy" ever since Dorothy recommended it to me. And "The Turn of the Screw"...I read that for Carl's Autumn reading challenge, and it's probably the hardest book I've ever read in my life! It's very ambiguous--so much so that, for me, it was infuriating--and James's prose style doesn't make things any easier. That's not to say that it was bad, it's just...that book...I'm so ambivalent towards it. Best of luck with "Doctor Faustus." I admit, it's intimidating and I haven't yet been ready to tackle it--I've read bits and pieces--so I'm looking forward to your thoughts on it. As for "Paradise Lost," it's one of my favorite poems! Satan is a great character and it's very thought-provoking, especially considering Milton's insights into the human mind--"The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." That's my favorite passage. And what's even more amazing is that Milton was completely blind when he composed "Paradise Lost."

    I could talk about "Paradise Lost" till I'm blue in the face. I should stop. :)

  7. I'm watching The Innocents which is a movie version of The Turn of the Screw.

    I would like to read Tristram Shandy this year

  8. If you keep talking about Paradise Lost I'll have to drop everything else to read it now. ;)

    I meant to read The Turn of the Screw last fall for Carl's challenge; maybe I'll read it for the same challenge this coming fall.

  9. Anonymous11:25 PM

    I really need to read the S. Wright book this year and I am looking forward to reading Triangle--glad to hear it made your top ten, as well as the Atkinson (though I am way down on the library list for that one). Happy Reading to you in 2007, too!


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