Happy New Year blog readers! I hope you had a nice book-rich Christmas and are looking forward to an exciting reading year in 2012. I've had a nice break, read some great books and am looking forward to my challenge for 2012.
So, what books did you get for Christmas? Mine were:
The Bees by Carol Anne Duffy
Runaway by Alice Munro
Selected Stories by Alice Munro
Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust (book 2 of In Search of Lost Time)
These were great acquisitions for me as they support my reading goals for 2012. This year I'm aiming to go short and long; I want to read more long fiction - books with a page count of 600+ - as I feel like I'm in the right sort of place to absorb those kinds of books, but I also want to explore the short story a bit more. I'm hoping that by examining shorts a little more I'll maybe be inspired to do more short story writing myself. And then maybe some longer stuff. Maybe.
For my 'long' reading list I think I'm going to try and do one per month. I've started already, being ambitious as I am, and leapt in with the behemoth The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shibuki. Weighing in 1184 pages it's certainly a whopper, but already I'm finding it an excellent read. If I'm not in love with 'The Shining Genji' by the end of the novel, there's probably something wrong with me. Watch this space for more thoughts as I read through the book.
Other 'long' reads I'm looking at are:
A Winter's Tale - by Mark Helprin
2666 - by Robert Bolano
Anna Karenina - by Leo Tolstoy
Infinite Jest - by David Foster Wallace
In Search of Lost Time - by Marcel Proust
Ulysses - by James Joyce
The Old Curiosity Shop - by Charles Dickens
Middlemarch - by George Eliot
Kristin Lavransdatter - by Sigrid Undsert
The Magic Mountain - by Thomas Mann
Gravity's Rainbow - by Thomas Pynchon
Mickelsson's Ghost - by John Gardner
I have others (I've gone ever so slightly mad this past couple of weeks book buying) which may creep in if I find the time, though I'd like to save myself some whoppers for the rest of my life too. No good doing it all at once.
One major 'long' read which I'm also hoping to work my way through in stages this year is Don Quixote. For some reason, and I really don't get why, I have real trouble reading Don Quixote. It doesn't make a great deal of sense. I enjoy reading it, it's a good book. I love the characters. It's pretty easy to read and it's funny. But for some reason it's a real effort to pick it up and keep going. So my plan for this year is this: last year we bought a tent and we went camping quite a lot and we want to do the same this year, so I take Don Quixote as my 'camping book' and whenever we camp that's what I'll read. And that way I'll work my way through it. It's a plan anyway. I'll let you know how it goes.
For the short stories, wow there's a lot of scope! I hadn't realised there were so many excellent short story writers out there. So I have in mind that I'll read some Angela Carter (she's my favourite) but also some Cees Nooteboom, Alice Munro, Kate Chopin, Robert Coover. I've also ordered a compendium of stories called The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories which is going to take a little while to arrive but which looks really good. So I've got a lot to be going on with. Plus I've got other books too that I keep meaning to get around to: The Leopard by Leopardi being one of them, and I want to keep reading the Icelandic Sagas - I recently ordered Njal's Saga - and also reading up more about the Norse myths. So I've got my work cut out this year, but it's been fun already.
Here's to a 2012 filled with fun, inspiring and excellent reading.