Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thinking About A New Year's Resolution

Every year I make a New Year's resolution. Some years I even keep it.

This year, I'm considering a 52 week challenge: read a book a week for the full year. I managed to do it when I was in college, and I remember it as one of the best, most invigorating, most challenging years of my life.

In starting to think about taking on such a project, I started looking through my bookcases for a few dozen seed books. I'm looking for a mix of lengths, topics and styles; and for this round, I want to consider books we own that I haven't read.

A few titles on the opening list:
Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin
Natasha by David Bezmozgis
If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino
World's Fair by EL Doctorow
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
A New Life by Bernard Malamud
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
Natalie Natalia by Nicholas Mosley
Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
I Married A Communist by Philip Roth
Don't Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk

I think there are 6 books on this list that I've started before (Bezmozgis, Calvino, Mann, Pynchon, Roth, Wouk), and they're all books that I've honestly been meaning to read. I figure there's (very roughly) 40,000 pages here that I'd propose to read in about 3 months.

(There are other books in the book case I've been meaning to read that I simply won't be putting on this list: DeLillo's Underworld, Pynchon's V., Ulysses and The Unnameable are all undertakings for another time. Books are funny things: two people may have very similar tastes, yet two "similar" books [perhaps even two different books by the same author] may not appeal to both readers; I think this is different than movies or art in that the activity of reading demands that fraction of additional participation; one of our two readers may struggle with one book's flavor, it's tone and timber, in ways make the book inaccessible for the other.)

To make this list a little less daunting, I'll be thinking up some plays, novellas and graphic novels that have been on my list. Maybe after I've paid off the holiday bills I'll let myself go book shopping.

Now there's a happy thought for a Wednesday morning!

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