ms_bracken (ms_bracken) wrote,

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. 2666 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, 2007, 2006.
Tags: vrb
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