End of the Year Book Tag

I. Is there a book that you started that you still need to finish by the end of the year?

9781925713329

I’ve just started Nino Haratischvili’s The Eighth Life (for Brilka), which is a good 944 pages long and takes in all of the changes that the twentieth century brought to Russia, Georgia and the Caucasus. I’d be surprised if I can’t finish it by the end of the month, let alone the end of the year, although its enormity makes it not very portable…

II. Do you have an autumnal book to transition to the end of the year?

Image result for m.r. james collected ghost stories

I always read a Dickens in the winter, but haven’t previously had an autumn reading tradition. That may change given that I just finished M.R. James’s Collected Ghost Stories and found them perfect atmospheric reads. They’re not terribly scary while you’re reading, but this is deceptive: two days later, I can’t stop thinking about them. I’ve also found Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels, narrated by Stephen Fry, excellent audio companions to the turning of the season.

III. Is there a release you are still waiting for? 

Good heavens, no. Not in 2019, anyway. There’s one book coming out in November that I have a proof of and may yet read (Unknown Male by Nicolas Obregon), but it’s not essential.

IV. Name three books you want to read by the end of the year.

Just from my current library stack: Paradise by Toni Morrison, The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans. Also, on my bedside bookshelf: Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart, The Need For Roots by Simone Weil, and We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Plus the thirty-six books on my “home” TBR, although those are certainly not going to get read by the end of 2019.

V. Is there a book that can still shock you and become your favourite of the year?

Probably, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m actually kind of sad because although 2019 has been, thus far, an extremely good reading year, I haven’t had the kind of mind-electrifying experience with a book that made 2018 such a pleasure. (It was Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, in case you’re wondering.) I’ve read lots of great stuff–which I will write about in December, because goddammit, we’re six weeks out from New Year’s Eve, it’s much too early to start doing personal roundups–but so far nothing arresting.

VI. Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

Heh. Aren’t I always making reading plans?

In 2020, I would like to continue:

  • reading my way through this crowd-sourced list of the 21st century’s best children’s books
  • reading my way, slowly, through Women’s Prize and Arthur C Clarke Award winners
  • using my local public library a lot more
  • reading backlist paperbacks and classics, including rereads

I want to read everything, you know. Really, I don’t understand–not on any meaningful emotional level–why I can’t.

Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

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Liam Neeson as Father Ferreira in “Silence”
  1. It’s been a while since I did one of these.
  2. We went to see the new Scorsese movie, “Silence”, based on the novel by Japanese author Shusaku Endo, at the BFI last week. It’s about seventeenth-century Jesuit missionaries in Japan, where Christianity was persecuted after the Shimabara Rebellion in 1637-8. It is…rough. I hesitate to use the word “graphic”, because no one gets disembowelled or anything, but there are some pretty distressing scenes. I thought it was a very powerful movie asking very interesting questions about the point at which virtuous loyalty to a faith becomes destructive pride (in this case, the point at which the life at stake isn’t yours, but someone else’s). The Chaos thought it was a very powerful movie with a very superfluous premise, since to him, all religious belief is absurd anyway. I’d really like to read the book now.
  3. Though there are a couple of Endo’s books in the flat, Silence isn’t one of them.
  4. “Reading resolutions” are not really my cup of tea—I like reading somewhat at whim; “challenges” and “lists” strike me as being generally an instance of eyes larger than stomach. However: in the sitting room and the landing bookshelves, we have hundreds of books that the Chaos took from his grandparents’ house after they died. There are many nineteenth and twentieth-century classics (Bellow, Kafka, Lawrence Durrell, Graham Greene); there is a fair amount of Japanese literature and non-fiction; there is quite a lot of science and poetry. I’d like to start reading them. In between new books solicited from publishers and essential contemporary reading (The Underground Railroad, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, etc.), I’ll prioritise those.
  5. This is all I have for you at the moment, I’m afraid: reading, writing my own book (which comes along), turning up to work, and getting quite a lot of cuddles are pretty much all I can manage. January is not my favourite month.
  6. (Although a couple of years ago I wrote a post about how to survive January; it’s on my old blog. It included the advice “eat a lot of oranges”.)