Category: 2011 Reading Project


Reading Project

As of yesterday read 74 books so far this year… thus the original goal of 150 is probably impossible, but if I shoot for three books a week, I’ll reach a hundred.

Failure. Even when combining the two months to compensate. 14.5 books for a total of 5250 pages. Remember, the monthly goal is 12.5… so I’m quite far behind. Best nonfiction book was A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel De Landa. Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary was also extremely compelling, as I could identify with her ambition.

Of the seven novels, Crime and Punishment was definitely the most amazing. Phenomenal. Three Trapped Tigers by Infante was also great. As was DeLillo’s Ratner’s Star. And Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Failure: zero books finished. Maybe 700 pages, but spread amongst five or six books, and none completed.

Instead I completed another draft (fifteenth and final?) Of a novel that’s taken six years too long.

It’s just about ready. Along with a number of stories. Said I’d send them out this month… April is over. Time to act on those tasks I’ve put off for too long…

Oh, and the typewriter is broken, so it must be fixed before work commences on the newest novel.

Success!

13 books for a total of 4316 pages.

The biggest book was War and Peace at 1273 pages. It was written by Leo Tolstoy, and is unlike any other novel I’ve yet read. Many critics consider it to be the best Russian novel. It is also the first Russian novel I’ve ever read, and is the most highly recommended fiction of the year. Thus far.

The three other novels were: We, Journey to the End of the Night, and Omensetter’s Luck, which are all excellent. Each in its own way, and all have been added to my favorite novels.

The smallest book was Gregory Corso’s The Happy Birthday of Death at 91 pages. Cesaire’s The Collected Poetry (clocking in at about 208 pages, as it’s bilingual at 408 pages) was far more enjoyable: a two page poem often supplied ten or fifteen new vocabulary words.

Cortazar’s Blow-up and Other Stories was a bit underwhelming (compared to Hopscotch), but what short story collection isn’t? Also, Barthelme’s Forty Stories may have better stories, but Sixty Stories (read in February) has more cohesion and feels like a more solid collection.

Other nonfiction included: The Professor and the Madman, about the history of the OED, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Chomsky’s Profit Over People, The Poetics of Space and Oulipo.

During this month I started taking notes as I read, and completed about 20 (double sided pages) in a slender notebook commonly used by journalists. Not just vocabulary and ideas, but also stealing amazing lines… the best writers steal.

February Results

Close Success:

11.5 books for a total of 3838 pages (not including the half book).

The biggest book was The Tale of Genji at 1182 pages. It was written by Murasaki Shikubu, a woman serving the Empress in eleventh century Heian Japan. It is the world’s first novel. It’s the most highly recommended fiction of the month, bar none. George Gissing’s New Grub Street is also excellent, especially for fellow writers.

The smallest book was Don Delillo’s newest novel, Point Omega at 117 pages. It is the least recommended book of the month.

January Results

Failure and Success:

10.5 books for a total of 2979 pages.

The biggest book was The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano, weighing in at 648 pages. It’s also the most highly recommended fiction of the month, along with Bastard Out of Carolina.

The smallest book was Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard, which was 164. It’s also the most highly recommended nonfiction book of the month.

Onward to February, during which I have BIG plans (epics)…

Haven’t put aside enough time for this blog lately: only online while in the classroom or at 아린’s (living without a computer has been more beneficial than I ever imagined). Dictated two new blogs a few weeks ago and haven’t fully transcribed them from the voice recorder yet.

Anyway, to get to the main topic at hand: my supreme ambition this year is to read 150 books. I was able to read 104 in 2008 (the majority in the last quarter). Statistics for the following two years were not as impressive, though they’re probably more than most people read these days.

12.5 books a month, 2.88 books a week. It’s possible I won’t finish, but it’s also possible I will…