Surveying my reading habits this time last year, I tended to accentuate the negative (this, you may recall, was the fashion in 2016). But this time, let’s start with the good news.
Firstly, I have managed to keep reading a lot. I averaged a little over a book a week this year, putting me somewhere between Mark Zuckerberg (book-a-fortnight) and Teddy Roosevelt (book-a-day). My eyes hurt like hell but my brain’s never been better.
Last year I complained about not reading any authors from ‘South America, the Antipodes, Russia, or Africa.’ Not so this time.
I’ve read twice as many books by female authors as last year, without any conscious effort to do so.
Non-fiction unrelated to Afghanistan got a look in (science, nature, history).
Plus I dipped my toe into the classics (Hesiod, Plato, and Virgil).
I start 2018 with my head still spinning from some memorable literary encounters. The intricate, clockwork constructions of Borges. The bracing breeze of Whitman. The obstinate voices of ‘Under Milk Wood.’ The defiant trashiness of Bukowski. The quiet humanism of Primo Levi.
These promising first encounters more than compensated for disappointments including ‘Brick Lane’, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, ‘The Children of Men’, and ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.’
Reading resolutions for 2018:
- Keep up the pace.
- Pursue the classics.
- Diversify genres
- Slay the doorstoppers (Mistry, Seth, Tolstoy – that’s you)
- Have a novel of my own to read
What I read in 2017:
‘Bonjour Tristesse’ by Francoise Sagan. **
‘Brick Lane’ by Monica Ali. **
‘Hag-seed’ by Margaret Atwood. **
‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid. **
‘The Children of Men’ by P. D. James. **
‘Elmet’ by Fiona Mozley. **
‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Chambers. **
‘Home Fire’ by Kamila Shamshie. **
‘On the Black Hill’ by Bruce Chatwin. **
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. **
‘Snow’ by Orhan Pamuk. ***
‘Troubles’ by J. G. Farrell. ***
‘The Portrait of a Lady’ by Henry James. ***
‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger. ***
‘As I Lay Dying’ by William Faulkner. ***
‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colson Whitehead. ***
‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf. ***
‘A Moveable Feast’ by Ernest Hemingway. ***
‘The Beautiful and Damned’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. ***
‘The Vegetarian’ by Han Kang. ***
‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ by Arundhati Roy. ***
‘The City and the Pillar’ by Gore Vidal. ***
‘Tender Buttons’ by Gertrude Stein. ***
‘Eugene Onegin’ by Alexander Pushkin. ***
‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes. ***
‘Autumn’ by Ali Smith. ***
‘History of Wolves’ by Emily Fridlund. ***
‘Meadowland’ by John Lewis-Stempel. ***
‘Mao II’ by Don DeLillo ***
‘Declares Pereira’ by Antonio Tabucci. ***
‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’ by Yukio Mishima. ****
‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons. ****
‘Mrs. Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf. ****
‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf. ****
‘Less Than One’ by Joseph Brodsky. ****
‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari. ****
‘Quartet’ by Rabindranath Tagore. ****
‘The Algebra of Infinite Justice’ by Arundhati Roy. ****
‘Leaves of Grass’ by Walt Whitman. ****
‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ by Hunter S. Thompson. ****
‘Homage to Catalonia’ by George Orwell. ****
‘Post Office’ by Charles Bukowski. ****
‘Slaughterhouse Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut. ****
‘The Periodic Table’ by Primo Levi. *****
‘Fictions’ by Jorge Luis Borges. *****
‘The Human Stain’ by Philip Roth. *****
‘Crow’ by Ted Hughes. *****
‘Ethan Frome’ by Edith Wharton. *****
‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas. *****
‘4 3 2 1’ by Paul Auster. *****