Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Whims of a Reader

I suppose the freeing thing about reading primarily for pleasure (rather than a school assignment) is that you can choose any reading plan you like.  I am really only constrained by my general lack of time and potential eye-strain, as well as occasionally feeling I would be better off writing rather than reading.  While I am unlikely to ever read every book I own, I probably can finish off my main reading list, then the rest of the novels, poetry and plays on the bookshelves upstairs.


I'm not nearly as certain about the non-fiction books, but I am starting to make some progress on them.  Whether I will get through the books downstairs is definitely a mystery.  At some point, I will probably pull a few more out of the stacks and then elevate them to the top of the reading list just to clear them out.

The main problem, when I browse the list, is that I see something that I really want to read, but basically everything on there is something that I feel at least some urgency to read.  So if I promoted all the books, then I would be back exactly where I started!

That said, I do make adjustments from time to time, and it is very clear looking over the list that I am not reading through it precisely in order.  When library books become available, they generally jump to the top of the queue.

More recently, I decided that I really ought to squeeze in a few classical texts, like The Golden Ass and The Satyricon .  (It does help a bit in deciding to move some book up if it is on the short side.)  And I have yanked Jane Eyre out of its place and expect to start that at some point in April (rather than 2019 or so at my current rate).  I decided it was just not silly not to have read this book when it is regarded as one of the key texts of nineteenth century English lit.

I'll get in these moods where I end up dropping everything and reading some particular author.  I'm feeling close to doing this with Adrienne Rich, but I may stave it off a bit longer.  (I just learned that she has a Collected Poems published, covering 1950-2012, but I have almost all of her individual collections, and that isn't actually tempting, though I may check it out of the library for the final uncollected poems she wrote between 2010 and 2012.)

The siren's call

In terms of other whims, I've already moved Updike's Rabbit novels up quite a bit, though not really to the top.  It looks like at my current rate, I'll probably hit them in early 2019.  I don't think I'll move them further up, at least not right now.

I don't really know what mood will overtake me later in the year.  Books that happen to be calling to me to take them out of sequence are:
Gide The Vatican Cellars
Álvaro Mutis Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll
Jane Urquhart The Stone Carvers
Chatterjee English, August: An Indian Story 
Will Clarke Lord Vishnu's Love Handles A Spy Novel  
Amit Chaudhuri Odysseus Abroad
Faulkner The Sound and the Fury
Stewart O'Nan Last Night at the Lobster
Guillermo Arriaga Jordán The Night Buffalo  
DeLillo White Noise

Aside from the DeLillo, which I sort of feel needs to stay where it is to anchor the Updike (and the Mutis which is a bit on the long side to move), it wouldn't be that bad to take all of these between now and the summer, though I am sure other books will then crop up, asking for the same special treatment (or authors like Mahfouz and Narayan, who were completely knocked out of my reading program for years).  Of all of these above, I would say The Stone Carvers will most likely be read by June, since I do want to review it for the 10th Canadian Challenge.  

I'm not sure about the rest, though odds are that I will probably try to read The Sound and the Fury while Absalom, Absalom! is still reasonably fresh in my memory.  I have a strong suspicion that The Vatican Cellars will also jump the queue, though who knows what kind of chain reaction that would set off.  On the positive side, however, I never feel that I am just bored, since I have a near endless supply of books to get through, rearranging all the while.

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