Vincennes Review of Books 2010
Last year, my aim was really to read more books - I had been disappointed by how relatively little I'd read in 2009, and wanted to get my book larnin' game back on.
I did this! Last year, one useful thing that I did was to track books read against commute time (I did not put this graph on the internet as it was not pretty enough). Fairly unsurprisingly, when I was commutng two and a half hours a day, I read significantly more and - since my commute was not going to change - something else had to. This thing was that I stopped putting my book in my bag in the morning, and instead held onto it on the walk down the the train station. Turns out that many mornings I couldn't be bothered to take a book out of my rucksack, which is shockingly lazy now that I write it down.
Obviously this wasn't the only thing I did to increase the number of books I read; I also read some really really short books
. Examples of the works of deathless art I have ploughed my way through this year include a novella
by the guy who writes Hipster Runoff
, Paul Rand's Conversations With Students
and an unauthorized Justin Bieber biography
. Speaking of the Paul Rand, though, I can heartily recommend it if you feel like there is not enough smugness in your life currently! I can also recommend the Justin Bieber biography if you enjoyed the wikipedia entry on Atlanta, GA, but feel like it would be even better if it were printed in a book.
Another thing that I changed about the way I read was to read only non-fiction at home (although I dropped this in order to read Infinite Jest
, of which more later), which definitely ramped the amount of non-fiction that I read -
- although there was no consistent theme to the non-fiction, so this year it would be good to read more around a specific topic.
Part of my non-fiction reading, and a bit that I particularly enjoyed, was reading my friend's PhD theses. I read slemslempike
's thesis on FUN and slightlyfoxed
's thesis on coming out stories
. (Disclaimer! Apparently "that's not my thesis, that's my monograph." But it seems tidier to group them together and it was a thesis at one point). Whilst I didn't know enough to get the most out of either of these, they both introduced me to entire disciplines that I had not known of before - which I did not expect to happen, and which will make for interesting future reading.
I also read some long books! Specifically 2666
and Infinite Jest
continues to haunt me - of all the books I've read this year it is possibly the one that I think about most. On the topic of Infinite Jest
- noone told me it was funny! It's very funny and a much easier read than I was expecting. Although I was pretty shellshocked by the fact that it finished... when it finished. It's possible that by that stage I couldn't really envision a time when I wasn't reading it, since it took about a month. Anyway, if you've not read it and sort of want to but aren't sure, it's excellent and you definitely should.
Aims for next year! I am going to accept that I'm probably not going to re-read Anna Karenina
, but rolling over the "read more Patrick Hamilton" aim that I did not meet in 2010.
- Give Ivy Compton-Burnett another shot, it's possible that I've matured since I decided (in 2004) I couldn't get into her
- Foucault's Pendulum
- this feels like a book I should already have read! Also I enjoyed The Name Of The Rose
(although I enjoyed it five years ago)
- Some of slemslempike
's girlhood studies and related books
Previous years here, by the way - 2009