Just before Christmas I read a delightful book by Andy Miller called The Year of Reading Dangerously. On the surface of it, it is about reading all the books you've always promised yourself you'd read, but the book doubles as a witty semi-autobiographical look at how reading shapes who we are and how we ended up being whoever we are. I liked it a lot, in other words. After my career path changed and I ended up doing, well, knitterly things, I have found myself an increasingly out-of-shape reader. I used to tackle tomes with confidence and read 100+ books a year (granted, I was single, unemployed and just out of university). These days I am lucky if I manage 40 books. My Kindle is partly to blame: I do read more but I tend towards reading easily digestible trash where I don't need to flip back and forth between pages. Far too many of my books err towards the The Dastardly Duke's Devillish Duel side of things when I really yearn to sink into a rich, gorgeous book with layers. And I don't know why I don't do that more often.
Inspired by a Twitter conversation I had with Andy Miller, I decided to look at my book shelves. I have so many that I already own and that I really want to read - but for some reason they just sit there. Here's a list of books I really want to read and hopefully by listing them, I will actually start to become a fit reader again (post-modern push-ups, fictional flexibility, muscular metafiction .. the bad puns write themselves).
In no particular order:
- Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse.
- Iris Murdoch: The Sea, The Sea.
- Laurence Sterne: The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy.
- Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin.
- Tom McCarthy: Remainder.
- James Robertson: And the Land Lay Still.
- Salvador Plascencia: The People of Paper.
- Djuna Barnes: Nightwood.
- Anne Bronte: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
- David Mitchell: The Bone Clocks.
- Kathleen James: Sightlines.
Eleven books. Six female writers. Three books I've begun but abandoned for various reasons (I forgot my Tristram Shandy Everyman edition in a Swedish forest one midsummer. Long story). A mix between current fiction and a few pre-1930 ones. Some I can read straight off the bat, others I'll need to approach after my reading fitness improves. Some authors I have read before with much pleasure (Atwood, Robertson and Mitchell in particular) and others new to me (James, Barnes, and Plascencia). It's a good mix.
I am not one for book groups or read-alongs, though a few of you have suggested such on Twitter. I'd love to see others look at their book shelves and rediscover their own unread books, though. Maybe a casual Twitter hangout ever so often to check in? (Many of you are much better at this than me.)
I'm about 120 pages short of finishing Andrew Drummond's A Hand-Book of Volapuk (it's a novel, I swear) and then I'm going to start my little reading project.