Friday, January 8, 2010

STL #92: The Year in Reading, 2009

Alas, another extended gap. Again I resolved to post more in the new year... we'll see. If I adapt the adage of "The Good is the enemy of the Great" to "the Horrible is the enemy of the Not Horrible," I may be able to make good on the resolution. I think you'll see what I mean with the following Year in Reading, 2009 edition. This list is presented chronologically by roughly when I started the reading.

Shakespeare's Comedies and Romances.* The first thing I started is actually the last thing I finished. I hoped to tackle all 36 Shakespeare plays as my big reading for the year, but faltered and finished only the comedies by summer. December I read the late comedies/"romances." My favorites: Measure for Measure, The Winter's Tale. This year I started with the histories and plan on moving on the the tragedies.

The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross. I was surprised to see this on the list for this year, because I thought I read it two years ago. Even so, most informative and the kind of book I would like to write (on a different topic of course).

Batman and Robin #1-3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely/Popeye dailies. It was a frustrating year for me and serial comics. I dropped most of the series I had been following.The Batman GM/FQ Batman was mixed-up at its core--by design, since it's the story of a Dick Grayson Batman and a new bratty Robin. But of course Quitely's art is time-consuming, so I dropped it after his three-issue story. Popeye's appeal is evident. The tightly controlled cartooning, the verbal exuberance. Unfortunately, it does wear on.

David Copperfield. Ah, Dickens. I take some big thick 19th century novel with me every plane trip I take. If I don't take another plane trip, will I ever read Nicholas Nickleby? It really makes you wonder.

Parker novels by Stark (not Spencer by Parker). The most entertaining discovery of the year. I read four of the later ones and fully enjoyed the entwining of characterization and heist-planning.

Runaways/Twilight. I couldn't not mention that I read the complete Twilight series. I found out a painless way to do it--read 100 pages, skip 300, and read to the end. You get to skip the awkward telegraphing and repetition that way. Far far better is the complete Brian K. Vaughan Runaways. I'd started on it years before, but picked up recent installments at the library. This triggered a one-day binge on volumes 1-5

Master of Reality/Music From the Big Pink. Apparently, I'm the type of guy who reads books inspired by classic albums. I never wanted to be that guy, but there you go.

Weekend Novelist by Robert Ray. I haven't read that many how-to-write books. This one is okay.

American Born Chinese/Maus. Two not dissimilar books about cultural identity. ABC is much fresher at this point, using three stories and three modes=autobio, outlandish stereotypes with a sitcom, and a magic realist fable that eventually encompasses all three.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. Nothing like the occasional YA near-future sci-fi thriller. It introduces its audience to some privacy tactics for computer monitoring. A kind of Edward Abbey manual of resistence for the surveillance age.

*I originally intended a history of my "big reading" project to be the topic of this STL, but along the way I got sidetracked. I do at least want to record the list:

1995 Ulysses
1996 Swann's Way
1997 Poetry of William Carlos Williams
1998 In Search of Lost Time
1999 Don Quixote

2000 The Divine Comedy
2001 The Cantos
2002 Middlemarch
2003 Bleak House
2004 Paradise Lost
2005 The Recognitions
2006 The Odyssey
2007 "A"
2008 Anna Karenina
2009 Shakespeare's Comedies and Romances

On 1 Jan 2010, I began rereading King John to kick off the completion of Shakespeare's dramas. Assuming I finish all of Shakespeare's plays in 2010 (and I might as well through in the longer poems since I've read the sonnets), I will have read 14 works (not counting Swann's Way for both '96 an '98 counting the collected Shakespeare as one), including 7 novels, 6 works of poetry, and 1 impressive body of drama.