Saturday, January 12, 2008

If I Only...



Last year at this time, I posted my 2007 New Year’s resolution, which was to finish 42 books by year’s end. How did I do? I think the proper term is “failure.” I only managed to finish 28. Halfway through the year I realized I was behind schedule and planned a huge push to meet my goal. A few months later, when I realized I still wasn’t going to finish the fabled 42, I said “screw it” and stopped worrying about it.

On the one hand, this isn’t too disappointing. One of the reasons for the exercise was to read more than I normally do, which I accomplished. The other reason was to have something to write about in this online journal. However I stalled after writing about book #8, a collection of Brecht’s plays, even though there are things I wanted to say about each book. I will eventually post about each of the books; if not a full essay, then at least a paragraph.

Why didn’t I manage to finish 42 books? I’m too easily distracted by other media, of which I have plenty. Those who have been to my apartment know I have piles of dvds, cds, comics, magazines, and a dvr that’s always filled with movies and tv shows to watch. I’m also lucky enough to live in a city of perpetual distraction, a land where there’s always a band playing, an art gallery opening, or a walk to be taken. Like a child at school who’s always up from his desk, it takes effort for me to sit and concentrate and I’m not big with the self-discipline. Once I do manage to sit and read for more than a few minutes, I’m hooked and I don’t want anything else. It’s just getting over that small roadbump that’s the trouble. It’s the same with my meditation.

The 28 Books I Finished Last Year:
1. Bottomfeeder by B. Fingerman
2. Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
3. What If Our World Is Their Heaven? Edited by Gwen Lee and Doris Elaine Sauter
4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
5. Not God but God by Reza Aslan
6. The Baron In The Trees by Italo Calvino
7. A Void by George Perec
8. Brecht: Collected Plays Vol. 2
9. The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris
10. Endless Things by John Crowley
11. Hatchet Jobs by Dale Peck
12. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Froer
13. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
14. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
15. Untold Stories by Alan Bennett
16. Mischevious Art of Jim Flora
17. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
19. Heroes & Villains by Angela Carter
20. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
21. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
22. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
23. Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years by Michael Palin
24. How to Read by Harold Bloom
25. As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem
26. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
27. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
28. I Am Legend and other Stories by Richard Matheson

Favorite Non-fiction: The Nuture Assumption (runner up: Untold Stories)
Favorite Fiction: Endless Things (runner up: Life of Pi)
Biggest Surprise: how much I liked Franny and Zooey
Biggest Disappointment: how much I was bored by Michael Palin’s diaries

So what’s my New Year’s resolution for 2008?

To read 43 books. By God, I’m going to keep trying this until I accomplish it.

Hope everyone has a good year.

11 comments:

Carol said...

Still an impressive list -- you averaged more than 2 per month. Plus they weren't Harlequin Romances! There are a bunch on your list that I've got on my (endless) list of to-be-reads.

Bob Fingerman said...

The symmetry of your having read my vampire novel first and my favorite vampire novel last is pleasing.

the hanged man said...

Carol -

I have a separate list of the Harlequin Romances I read this year. I always have time for those.

Years ago, when I worked at Walden Books (or Walled-in Books, as I thought of it) there were a number of ladies who knew which day the new Harlequins came out and knew that we generally had them on the shelf around noon. There were a few times when either the delivery was late or we couldn't get the books out because we were short-staffed. The Harlequin fans were not shy about making their displeasure known.

Thanks for your encouragement, but when I see how many books you zip through in a month, it makes me feel like a mo-ron.

the hanged man said...

Bob -

I noticed that, too. I began and ended the year with vampire novels, both of which are concerned with verisimilitude. Bottomfeeder serves as an accurate time capsule of pre-9/11 New York. I Am Legend's vampires are the result of disease, the natural rather than the supernatural, and takes pains to explain how the disease manifests.

littlejoke said...

I am having to use blogspot's clumsy back and forth (when will they wise up and let there be off-blog notes to one another as on LiveJournal?) but I appreciate your note discovering my note and Ron Drummond's.

You might want to follow up with John Crowley's crowleycrow.livejournal.com blog, Ron Drummond's own (which I think is just ron_drummond, but I wouldn't bet anything on it) and my own LiveJournal joculum. Just for the fun of it, since you, like myself, have other interests than Endless Things.

Which you would not know since I just posted about re-reading it (albeit the post was friends-only).

Anyway, good to make your acquaintance early in the new year.

Erin2171 said...

You know the people who read Harlequin Romances are the same people who read Star. I'm just saying.

Um. . .do you think I could maybe borrow the Michael Palin book, even though it was boring?

the hanged man said...

Erin -
Yep, I'll give you the Palin diaries next time I see you. They weren't terrible - he's a modest, decent man whose reflections on things don't always make for the most exciting reading. I guess I was just disappointed.

the hanged man said...

Littlejoke -

Good to make your acquaintence, too. I have been enjoying Crowley and Drummond's blogs, but thanks for mentioning them.

If you want, you can always email me by using the link on the main page. I just realized that you can comment anonymously on livejournal. I don't believe that was always the case.

For others that are wondering, littlejoke wrote very flattering things about this blog on his blog. I'm far too modest to post the link here, but you can find it in the comments section of the Endless Things entry.

Erin2171 said...

"Erin -
Yep, I'll give you the Palin diaries next time I see you. They weren't terrible - he's a modest, decent man whose reflections on things don't always make for the most exciting reading. I guess I was just disappointed."

I understand. Thanks for letting me borrow it,though.

Julie said...

John,
I want to say that I appreciated not only your willingness to loan books out but your reviews of them. I greatly enjoyed Bob's book (in fact I'm hoping for a sequel)and I was totally charmed by The Baron In The Trees.

the hanged man said...

Hear that, Bob? Sequel!

Julie - I was wondering what you thought of The Baron In The Trees. It is definitely charming without being annoying. Glad you liked it.