Monday, December 31, 2007

Best of 2007 - Goal for 2008

My description of the 2007 goal: "This year, I'll attempt to tackle Time's Top 100, ALA's Top 100, the top 10 books that are banned in 2006/2007, and 5 books about different religions. With some overlap and already-reads, I should reach approximately 90 books for the year."

While I surpassed my reading goal in quantity, I didn't meet my goal for the religious education. I read the Bible and part of the Torah, as well as The God Delusion. The Koran will be read, though it is not part of my 2008 goal.

In addition, I switched my goal mid-way through the year, concentrating on banned books, no matter what year they were published. Throw in a couple "looks good while waiting in line" novels and let's call it a good year.

My favorites for 2007:

A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. A proper prep school novel, and a banned book besides.

A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That, by Lisa Glatt. Simple, succinct prose.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. The best comedic/ironic novel that I read this year.

Finn, by Jon Clinch. An excellent twist on a classic.

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. Worth the wait, and now I get all of the suave references.

The Secret Life of Harry Houdini, by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. More a favorite for personal reasons, like a 9-year-old son with an interest in magic, but still a remarkable biography.

The Terror, by Dan Simmons. Perhaps it's the nightmares it induced, or maybe it's the can't-get-outta-my-head imagery, but probably the unforgettable climax. If all authors took the care to research like Simmons, ah, what a wonderful world it would be.

Atonement, by Ian McEwan. The only almost-TKAM book for the year (To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel that I hold as the example of all that is sacred in the world of writing.) I'm not ashamed to admit that I still weep when I reread the end.

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I'm grateful for this blog because it supplements my terrible memory. Former students always get a happy smile, but I've warned them from the beginning of class that I will not remember their names after finals, even if I remember their knack for metaphor or gift for imagery.

So when someone recommends a book, I check the blog. There have been a few occasions where I start reading a book and have a sense of deja vu, only to see that I have read it already, and most of the time disliked it. This is why you will see more XX posts - reminders to me that no matter how many people suggest it, that book did not work for me. And, in the unforgettable words of a reader, "There is not enough time to read shit books."

Another way to aid my memory is the 1001 books spreadsheet created by the fantastic duo at Arukiyomi. I have read 120 books out of the 1001 that I am urged to "read before I die." While I disagree with many of the selections, I hope that this coming year will encourage others to voice their own opinions, telling me which books I should read in addition to these chosen 1001.

I liked the idea of reading the Pulitzer prize-winners, as well as the Booker finalists. My time will be limited in 2008, however. Between writing two novels and teaching full-time, I've shifted reading aside. Even my bedside table has books hidden now; notebooks and scribbled sheets take precedence.

Thus, the official goal:

I read 150 books in a year, then tackled 90+ of the all-time greats and banned books. For 2008, I will read at least 60 books from the 1001 books "you should read before you die" list, as well as those brought up to challenge these recommendations by my blog readers. I'll continue to review new books that I find challenging and interesting... a high standard for this year.

I wish you all a year of peace and joyful reading.

1 comment:

Ted said...

Ambitious plans!! I look forward to hearing about your reading - happy 2008.