Sunday, March 24, 2013

Books to read

I haven't quite figured out how to list the books on deck the way that some of those sophisticated bloggers do (maybe it is a rolling list or something).  It would be kind of weird to keep coming back to this post as I update the list, and I have noticed that John does repost some version of his TBR pile with some frequency.  So I may do that.

The real reason I am writing this list out is that I tracked down my TBR list from 2010, and I realized that I basically just stopped cold mid-list and had totally forgotten that I was even planning on reading some of these books.  This is particularly true for books I had planned to get from the library, as opposed to those in my personal library.  I remember I had very high hopes of getting through the complete novels of Mahfouz, Narayan and Nabokov that year.  This isn't completely out of character for me.  In 1994-95, I read the complete works of Bellow (stopping short of Ravelstein, which of course hadn't come out then), Barbara Pym and Graham Greene.  I was notably more successful then, but I only had work responsibilities and no children!  Generally, I only tackle these projects if the author has 10-15 books, since it means just one a month, which seems somewhat manageable (I did have to double up on Greene most months, but his novels tend to be short and are engaging reads).

Since then I have gotten partway through Don DeLillo's novels, but I also set that aside, at least in part because I kept just missing out on his earlier books at Swap-a-Book.  The other thing that came up is that I got really tied into the Canadian book challenge promoted at Bookmineset. And in fact, I succeeded in reading all of Robert Kroetsch's novels, save his very first one. I think my current plan is to get through 2013 with my current list, which is a little heavy on travel novels but with some classic Russian novels thrown in (I'm basically topped up on Canadian fiction for the moment) and then it gets quite random. 

Then I will circle back to the 2010-2011 books and try to finish up Mahfouz, Narayan and Nabokov.  Now the truth is, I just really was not enjoying Nabokov at all, and I may drop him in the end and substitute in DeLillo.

If I don't do that, then I will probably do another three author combination of DeLillo, Steinbeck and perhaps Josef Skvorecky.  I think I will eventually get through all of Margaret Atwood's and Timothy Findley's novels and all of Alice Munro's short stories, but I don't feel I need to get through them in a single intense burst.  Stretching them out over time seems more reasonable.  Depending on my free time (and how much other creative writing I do), this will probably last me to close to 2017!  If I manage to make it through that, I would probably tackle Perec's Life: A User's Manual, Musil's The Man without Qualities, Updike's Rabbit novels, possibly Palliser's The Quincunx and then the Library of America volumes that I actually own (and the non-LOA Faulkner as well).  So I guess I had better buckle down.  (While it may be only of marginal interest, I will set up another post where I go ahead and track my progress across these 7 or 8 authors.)

Current TBR list
Michael Crummey Galore
Mark Twain Life on the Mississippi 
John Steinbeck Travels with Charley
Julia Alvarez In the Time of the Butterflies
Vasily Grossman Everything Flows
Nabokov Lolita
Steinbeck The Short Reign of Pippen IV
Dostovesky The Idiot
Marilynne Robinson Housekeeping
Tolstoy Anna Karenina
Achebe Things Fall Apart 
Z.N. Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God
Mahfouz The Cairo Trilogy:
                  Palace Walk
                  Palace of Desire
                  Sugar Street
Tom Rachman The Imperfectionists 
Klima Love and Garbage
Mahfouz The Children of Gebelawi
Faulkner Light in August
Proust Remembrance of Things Past:
                                  Swann's Way
                                  Within a Budding Grove
                                  The Guermantes Way
                                  Sodom and Gomorrah
                                  The Captive
                                  The Fugitive
                                  Time Regained
    (perhaps a good time to take a break and read some graphic novels for a while)
Edward P. Jones All Aunt Hagar's Children
Hugh MacLennan Two Solitudes
Gabrielle Roy The Tin Flute
John A. Williams The Man Who Cried I Am
Joseph Heller Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man
Dostovesky The Demons
Ken Kalfus PU-239
Eduardo Mendoza The City of Marvels
Oscar Cesares Amigoland
Vargas Llosa The Bad Girl
Garcia Marquez The General in his Labyrinth
Hamid The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Elizabeth Taylor A Game of Hide and Seek
Charles Baxter The Book of Love
Elizabeth Bowen The House in Paris
John Nichols The Empanada Brotherhood
Kate Christensen Jeremy Thrane
Faulkner As I Lay Dying
Dos Passos U.S.A. Trilogy
John A. Williams  !Click Song
Vassily Aksyonov The Burn
Hanif Kureishi Intimacy and Midnight All Day
Geoff Nicholson Bleeding London 
Ivan Vladislavic The Restless Supermarket
Gabrielle Roy The Cashier
Ivan Vladislavic The Exploded View
Gabrielle Roy Street of Riches
Machado De Assis Epitaph of a Small Winner
Machado De Assis Philosopher or Dog?
Michael Ondaatje The Cat's Table
Witold Gombrowicz Ferydurke
Henri Alain-Fournier Le Grand Meaulnes
Nescio Amsterdam Stories
Carlo Gadda That Awful Mess on Via Merulana
Amara Lakhous Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio

(Getting through this list would clear out a fair number of books that I don't want to have to move again.  I really hope to have made a lot of progress by the summer of 2014.  I haven't thought too much beyond this, though I have a lot of random books still, and I probably would want to read more Dostoevsky in the Pevear and Volokhonsky translations, which is almost like reading them as completely new novels.  I'll also have to make sure I add a few more Canadian novels to keep from getting kicked out of the Canadian challenge!  And I feel quite badly for neglecting Narayan so badly, but I'll get back on track eventually.)

Now the TBR pile from 2010 (with minor edits)

Mahfouz Children of the Alley 
Narayan Mr Sampath
Joyce Johnson In the Night Cafe
City of Light Cyrus Colter (This was a terrible book, esp. the ending, and it is not recommended)
Jedediah Berry The Manual of Detection
Nabokov The Gift
Mahfouz Thief and the Dogs
Narayan The Financial Expert
Nabokov Invitation to a Beheading
Zachary Mason Lost Books of the Odyssey
Narayan Waiting for Mahatma
Mahfouz Autumn Quail
Nabokov The Enchanter
B. Mukherjee Miss New India
Ama Ata Aidoo Our Sister Killjoy
Charles Johnson Oxherding Tale
Abdourahman Waberi In the United States of Africa
Muriel Barbery The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Muriel Barbery Gourmet Rhapsody
Machado De Assis Dom Casmurro 

(to be inserted after the 2010 list:
Alain Mabanckou Broken Glass
Dany Laferrière How to Make Love to A Negro (without Getting Tired)
Dany Laferrière Heading South
Marilynne Robinson Gilead
Adiga Last Man in Tower
Yamashita I Hotel
Lethem Chronic City
Eileen Chang Love in a Fallen City
Renata Adler Speedboat 
Christina Garcia Dreaming in Cuban

So if I get through all this, and the Library of America volumes, then consume the bulk of Dickens and eventually Trollope, I guess I can die fulfilled or something.  I know I'll never read all the non-fiction books I own (at least not cover to cover), but I may be able to get through all the fiction, poetry and drama on the bookcases (clearly leaving myself an out for all those books that didn't quite make the cut and are still in boxes in the basement...).  Well, we have to have goals after all, or we'd barely make it out of bed in the morning, right?

Given that I have actually made pretty good headway on the older, longer novels, I probably will add a few more to the list, maybe interspersing them with the 2010 list.  I'm thinking in particular some lighter novels like Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody, Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, and Smollett's Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle and Humphrey Clinker (in that order).  Then I would want to tackle Thackeray's Vanity Fair and Trollope's The Way We Live Now.  Eventually I will get back into Trollope in a more systematic way, but this is probably the most self-contained novel (and might pair up well with Vanity Fair). 

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