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Caro

Reading choices for 2010

It's nearly 2010 here and I am wondering what to read to start the year off.  I am only luke warm about the book I am reading about travelling by narrowboat to France, so I am looking for something else.

I have wondered about the non-fiction book tempting me from the library called The Gaol about Newgate Prison, or another non-fiction one about transported convict history.  Then there are the Alice Munro short stories, or I could continue with David Copperfield or Testament of Youth, or I could try something lighter.  Or some NZ fiction.  

But I have decided that this is definitely to be the year of Anna Karenina so I think I will start on this tonight.  I expect to vary it with others but NY's Eve seems a good time to start.  

What are you starting the New Year with?

Cheers, Caro.
Mikeharvey

Hello Caro, I, too, have decided to read 'Anna Karenina' this year!  I read 'War and Peace' about this time last year so I think I'm ready.  Since I retired I've been tackling the Great Unread and have demolished 'Don Quixote', 'Moby Dick' and 'Paradise Lost'. However 'Middlemarch' stares at me accusingly unread from my shelves.  And it's a lovely copy with illustrations by Robin Jacques (Hattie's brother. Really!)
Evie

Inspired by Michael Harvey's exhortation, I will read Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which I bought recently.

Maybe I should read Anna Karenina too...I read it a long time ago, but would love to read it again - have never read either that or War and Peace again.  We'll see.

Michael, I am sure you can fit both Anna Karenina and Middlemarch in this year...the latter remains my favourite novel of all, it's a stunner.

I have decided to read all the books on my TBR shelves.  It's a TBR pile built up over a number of years, so there is quite a range of things there - will have to count and see how many there are, and whether it's doable in a year - and I may ask you all from time to time to help me choose what to read next!
Chibiabos83

My reading plans for 2010 look a little like this:

Trollope - Framley Parsonage
John Updike - Rabbit, Run
more Dickens
more Montherlant
the complete Roald Dahl short stories

3 American Noir novels
4 of Himadri's Top 100 Novels
4 of Mike's Top 85 Novels
5 winners of the Carnegie Medal

I dare say more will be added in time. This at least gives me some license to choose what I feel like at any one time while keeping up with the challenges. Watch this space!
Evie

I have realised that I don't want to make too many plans.  I do want to make decent progress with my current TBR pile, and I also want to read Scott's novel Kenilworth, since I now live in that town again (and grew up here).

But my aim for 2010, rather than making specific reading plans, is to concentrate harder and be more thoughtful about what I read and write better reviews of books as a consequence.  I find concentration difficult - a side-effect of depression, with which I have a constant battle, and it's been a fairly bad year with it - but I aim to try to read more carefully, whatever I end up reading.
Caro

Sorry to hear that your depression was bad last year, Evie, and hope this year will be a happier one for you.  I have (more or less) never suffered from depression, but still find concentration very difficult.  I used to think it was just that as I got older I didn't put the effort in, and that may be true to a degree, but I remember when I sat exams at university and school, I had problems concentrating for the full time and my mind would wonder for half an hour and then I would run out of time.  Which may have been partly why my results - good enough - weren't really good enough.

Now I sit down to read for half an hour and am up at the computer or the kettle in a few minutes.  Or deciding a little puzzle would be a good idea.

Cheers, Caro.
Evie

Thanks, Caro.  It does affect my reading, and I hate that - my reading rate has really dropped off this year, and I have trouble remembering what I have read - though as you say, it could just be that I am getting older!!

I do want to try to read things more thoroughly this year.
MikeAlx

I've had much the same problem this year (not quite full-blown depression, but I've certainly been struggling to remain upbeat at times). It's been very hard to focus on anything. I've tried reading lighter stuff, but have often found it unrewarding. Hopefully things will improve this year!
Mikeharvey

I used to suffer from depression and anxiety, the depression has gone but I still take medication for anxiety - getting palpitations and sinking feelings in tummy etc. Since my partner died in September 2006 I tend to wake up with a feeling of 'Oh God.. another day', but once I'm out of bed and start on the duties of the day (like those characters in 'The Gondoliers') I'm not too bad.  Thank goodness for books and friends and music and the theatre and the cinema. And a lovely day like today.  I do sympathise with anyone who suffers from depression or anxiety. It does go away after a while.
I once had a year's psychotherapy for depression (so-called) at University College Hospital.  The best moment was when I was talking to my therapist and he yawned!!  And once coming away from a session I got stuck in a lift for half-an hour and managed to extricate myself by climbing through a gap.  I regarded it as a sort of metaphor for my condition and its cure. I told my therapist all about it and he showed no interest whatsoever.
Evie

I have struggled with it since my teens, and it simply won't go away!  Though it does get better at times, and rarely do I sink to the depths I reached in my early 20s.  I nearly failed my finals at university, and didn't sit two of my exams, but an excellent GP (who had seen me for a couple of years before that and knew me well), and a fabulous personal tutor, got me through - very disappointing result, but at least I got a degree.  It is a horrid thing, because no one really understands, however kind they are - they think you can pull yourself out of it, or do nice things to make yourself feel better, etc, but nothing takes away the utter leadenness and inability to focus.  I have been treated with drugs, psychotherapy, and spent a year going to a day hospital when I graduated, but nothing has really made much difference - I would still love to find a good therapist, but currently don't have the funds to pay for one!  I am not starting the new year in great mental shape, but I have certainly been worse.  I think moving house was a mistake.

However, in terms of reading, I just keep trying, as I do want to read serious literature again - just have to wait for the energy to return!  And do what I can to push my way through the fog.
Ann

I'd heard that doctors had found reading a help with depression so I googled and came up with this link which I had to post here. I think the picture of Sarah Palin is enough to bring anyone down! I hope this is not being insensitive because one of my daughters suffers and I have a lot of empathy and sympathy about the condition.   http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/8/9/144857.shtml
Evie

Hmm, not sure about reading too many self-help books - but the Sarah Palin photo is good for a laugh, perhaps that's part of the therapy!!

It reminds me, though, that I need to finish reading a book I began months ago, based on the Myers Briggs system - which remains the only thing that has really given me any long-term help.  Thanks to the late, much lamented PhilipTom for that recommendation (it's OK, he's not dead, just not here!), and to another poster here for introducing me to Myers Briggs some years ago!
Green Jay

Sorry to hear about this, Evie, and also that you think moving, which is such an upheaval, was not the right thing to do. I do sympathise and hope that everything works out better soon, even if only with it being the spring and more warmth and daylight!

I have experienced acute depression several times in my life and think I have a slight tendency to it now, though only a mild reclusiveness and apathy and not being able to enjoy or appreciate things I know I should be able to. My dad, who is very old and quite poorly, seems to me to get depressed in  the winter months now, so maybe it's hereditary. My mum thinks he should just pull himself together - shes always been a very positive and active person and can't understand. But then he's old and ill and life isn't frankly a bowl of cherries for him, what could he look on the bright side about?

I've never had treatment, but had to study psychotherapy for a while (about it, not to practice it) and all the books write with reverence about the therapist and their almost magical relationship with the client, but at the same time everyone I know who has had therapy tells me dreadful tales about the practitioners, like Mike's comments above - either manipulative and exploitative or just inattentive and careless.
Green Jay

By the way, what is the Myers Briggs system?
Apple

Yeah well I understand only too well what Mike and Evie are saying, I have suffered with depression on and off for years, Being the type of person I am (bloody minded and stubborn) I try to fight it as much as I can, there have been times in the past where it has got the better of me and I have had to resort to medication but that is better than a bottle of whiskey and the kitchen knife slicing arms and legs to ribbons which I have also tried on occasions.  (Not recommended I assure you and I am not proud of that either trouble is I will always have the scars to remind me of how low I got and how stupid I was for thinking that would help) or shutting myself off from everything I normally do. This time of year is always a bad time the anticlimax of post christmas.  People who haven't been there don't understand there is no physical thing to see and because they don't understand you get used to putting on a front and hiding how you are really feeling it becomes second nature.

The best therapist I have ever had is my dog!! believe it or not, since I had him, I have not sunk as deep as I have done on previous occasions, my doctor said that dogs are excellent therapy for depression as well, and that its a recognised fact. having him sit with me and I fuss him and stroke him is very calming and relaxing and I walk miles with him over the fields which I find also helps.
MikeAlx

There was some research a couple of years back which found that reading poetry was just as effective as Prozac at treating depression. However, when my wife had clinical depression (many years back now) she could not read at all. In fact she could scarcely get out of bed. It put her degree behind by a year, though she did get very good results in the end (narrowly missed out on a first).

Exercise is also supposed to be good (perhaps part of the dog phenomenon!), but of course the lack of energy problem makes this difficult, and it's not always possible for people with health problems etc.
Evie

Yes, I have certainly been in the 'can't get out of bed let alone do anything as energetic as reading' state in the past - I did wonder how they expected depressed people to read books!  Though I am sure this misguided treatment is aimed at milder forms of the illness.

It's interesting how many of us have suffered from clinical depression - I wonder if there is a link between depression and reading?!

In the classical world and in the Renaissance, melancholia was closely linked with genius...   Wink
Apple

Yes the can't get out of bed thing sounds fun (or lazy) to anyone who hasn't been there but the fact you physically can't get out without breaking down in tears or worse is no fun at all.  I agree with the not being able to read as well when I am bad with depression, I just shut myself off from everything and everyone, I wouldn't go out if it wasn't for the dog, which is why I think he has helped because he needs his walk and has to go so I have to force myself to get up and go even if I really don't want to and when I am out there it does make me feel better even if its only a quick walk around the block. But I find I start out the intention of just a quick one to get it over with but when I get going especially if its a nice day, I end up walking further than I first intended and sometimes go miles.

We seem to have a group therapy session going on right here. I have never spoke publicly about the mental health issues I have although I have spoken privately to to people and in a weird sort of way its kind of a release.
iwishiwas

It seems to be a topic which is discussed a lot more at this time of year for obvious reasons. Depression is not something I have suffered from in the past but I do feel closer to it as I get older. Christmas and January I seem to dread more each year. I do agree with you Apple about getting out with the dog each day, it can be an effort but is always worth it. Do you find people are more friendly to you when you have a dog in tow? I am often left wondering why this is so.
Sandraseahorse

I'm sorry to hear about your problems, Evie.  I don't really feel competent in this field to offer any advice except, as Apple says, sometimes it helps to talk about these things.
Green Jay

Perhaps depression is just very common, whether people have had actual diagnosis and treatment or have just let it go by, like me, fighting it and denying that that was what it was - or not recognising it at the time as it did not have what I thought were "typical" symptoms. I have never been paralysed into the can't get out of bed state, but do recognise putting on a front all the time until you feel unreal. Thus weeping on trains seemed quite a low point for me, as I couldn't even put on a front at that stage.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, where low light levels and few daylight hours are meant to add to problems, seems quite common. I could never live somewhere with very short or no winter daylight. Sussex is bad enough in winter for me! As I get older I like winter less and less and dread it rather. When I was under 25 or so I met every season with relish for its changes. Equally, I would not like to live in a static climate like S. California. I like my changing seasons (could do with just three, not winter) and my weather, so long as they are not too extreme.

And today we're snowed in down here, and my heating boiler broke down at the weekend and no one can get out ot fix it. Reminds me of my childhood, only one warm room and lots of layers on. Cooking in hat and gloves. No hot water is a b****r, though.
Apple

iwishiwas Wrote:
Quote:
I do agree with you Apple about getting out with the dog each day, it can be an effort but is always worth it. Do you find people are more friendly to you when you have a dog in tow? I am often left wondering why this is so.


I don't think its the fact people are more friendly when you have a dog, its more like people are more suspicious of you if you haven't got a dog especially if you walk over fields and public footpaths and off the main roads and the like, men are immediately classified as being up to no good if they are seen wandering along public footpaths alone with no obvious purpose and if a middle aged man walks through the local park then all eyes are following his every move if he is alone. Whereas if you have a dog in tow the reason you are there is obvious and you immediately become less of a threat.

I think it also depends on the type of dog you have, some people tend to be wary of mine he's a lab/staffi cross he is bigger than a staffi but slightly smaller than a lab he looks obviously like a staffi with his colouring and with the bad press (which is totally unfair) staffi's are getting lately some people tend to be a bit scared of him.  I was never a big fan of Staffi's as I was swayed by the prejudices surrounding them but they are the most affectionate, loyal and loving dogs you could wish to come across, and they are called "nanny dogs" because they are so good with children, and thats half the problem, these yobs are getting them and training them to be nasty and staffi's are so eager to please their owners and are highly intelligent and loyally do what their owners are telling them to but dogs can't distingush between one set of circumstances and another and thats when the problems and tragedies occur.

Having said all that where I walk though and at the times I walk I tend to be in a routine and see the same people most days with their dogs, and we all know each other by sight, no-one knows anyones name but everyone knows the dogs names!!
Evie

Thanks for everyone's comments and kindness about depression - it's been interesting and definitely helpful to hear everyone's experiences and thoughts!  I struggle with dogs - sometimes spend a week or two looking after my brother's two English springer spaniels, and very quickly end up screaming, sometimes at them - but can see how rewarding other people find their dogs!

Anyway, back to reading choices - I have decided not to make definite plans - I do have a fairly large TBR, and have decided that that is definitely my priority, to work through that.  Doesn't mean I won't buy more along the way!  And I am looking forward to our Good Read books.
iwishiwas

Apple you are probably right about this suspicious culture which has become part of our daily living. Our children are always amused to hear my husband and I refer to people via their dogs name. Mrs Rex or Mr Meg etc. We do know the proper names of many people now and have made some good friends just by regular dog walking contact.
Evie I am also hoping to make an impression on the pile this year and am trying not to buy too much. (I say that every year!) I'm not making any definitive list but just choosing as the mood takes me.
Ann

This really shouldn't be in this section but did anyone see the fascinating Horizon on dogs last night? (Please do move this to a more chatty section but it just followed on from the subject of discussion.) Mental and physical health have been proved to be better in dog owners.
Evie

I did try to change the subject back to the original thread - but since I was the one who inadvertently kicked off the discussion of depression, I can't complain!

But we should get back to discussing our reading choices for 2010.   read2
MikeAlx

Ann wrote:
Mental and physical health have been proved to be better in dog owners.

That doesn't necessarily prove cause and effect though. Perhaps depressive people feel less inclined to take on the responsibilities of dog ownership. Or perhaps there's a third factor that relates to both things.

Similarly, there is evidence that, among older men, those who exercise regularly are more likely to be healthy. But it's quite difficult to prove that exercise makes men healthier rather than that illness makes men less likely to exercise.
Evie

Yes, I was thinking along those lines.

But it really is time to move this discussion to the chat area...if people have more to say, we can start a new discussion there.   Very Happy

Anyone got more 'reading choices' for the year ahead?
Apple

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
I did try to change the subject back to the original thread - but since I was the one who inadvertently kicked off the discussion of depression, I can't complain!


and...

Quote:
But it really is time to move this discussion to the chat area...if people have more to say, we can start a new discussion there.


Can you do that please? - pick out and move the chat part of the thread over and create a new one in the chat section it is such an interesting discussion and it is sort of obvious people still have things to say on the subject of depression (and dog ownership!)

Sorry if I derailed it more than it would have gone with my dog ownership experiences but it was only polite to reply to a question.  Smile

Finally

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
I struggle with dogs - sometimes spend a week or two looking after my brother's two English springer spaniels, and very quickly end up screaming, sometimes at them - but can see how rewarding other people find their dogs!


Springer Spaniels are notoriously boisterous energetic dogs and can be a handful for anyone so I wouldn't take that as the norm with all dogs Springers are highly intelligent and yet in some ways highly stupid dizzy dogs and its not always a good combination!!
Evie

Sorry, only just seen this - it's probably best just to start a new discussion if you want to carry on - too fiddly to pick out posts, and might leave other bits of the conversation a bit disjointed.
Apple

Just in case there is anyone who hasn't spotted it I have copied the chat part about depression (and dogs) over to the chat section. So this thread can get back to books.
Gul Darr

Carried over from 2009 I still have a re-read of The Brothers Karamazov planned and also the remaining 3 parts of Hugo's Les Miserables.
I'm looking forward to reading La Fortune Des Rougon by Emile Zola, the first in his Rougon-Macquart series (with a vague notion of attempting a translation at some future date).
Also on my wishlist:
That Summer by Andrew Greig
The Light Of Day by Graham Swift
And maybe something by Barry Unsworth too.
I usually try and fit in a Dickens and a Hardy each year. Still quite a lot of Dickens to choose from, but only minor novels and short stories by Hardy left unread.
That should be plenty to keep me going.

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