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Books of the Year 2010, and Reading plans for 2011
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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:03 am    Post subject: Books of the Year 2010, and Reading plans for 2011  Reply with quote

Of all the books I read this year for the first time, Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year would be my nomination mfor my Book of the Year. Defoe is known primarily for Robinson Crusoe, and also for Moll Flanders; but having now read the superb Roxana, and now, The Journal of the Plague Year, he strikes me as being up there with the very best, and is, perhaps, the most underrated of English novelists.

But if I am to include re-reads, then my Book of the Year is The Brothers Karamazov, which I have now nearly finished. Yes, I know, there is  much that is wrong with it: there is much that didn't really seem to make much sense; and also much that is crude and unpolished. (And - let's be honest - there's also much that went over my head, even at third reading.) But really - so what? I've read many novels far more refined and polished than this, and far less flawed, but they didn't affect me the way this does. Given the immense riches this novel has to offer, what does it matter that it's flawed?

Next year, I want to re-read more. There have been many books I read when I wasn't, perhaps, quite ready for them, and didn't get as much out of them as I should have done. There are also many books that  demand to be lived with, and not merely to be read once and then put away on the shelves. A novel like The Brothers Karamazov is a novel to be lived with, and there are not too many novels of which I could say that.

Among the books I want to re-read is Moby-Dick, which, like The Brothers Karamazov, is vast and craggy and flawed. This one is very is high on my list.

I shall also continue with reading the Bible (indeed, given that Moby-Dick is full of Biblical references and resonances, it makes little sense trying to read it without also having a good knowledge of the Bible).

And I also want to read something by Walter Scott because, despite being not to modern taste (which really ought to count as a plus-point for me!) he was vastly influential in European literature, and I'd like to know why. Amongst his admirers was Dickens, and even Austen, that most un-Romantic of authors (Austen once said something to the effect that she shouldn't really like Scott, but couldn't help doing so). Perhaps one of his major novels - e.g. Old Mortality - would be a good one.

PS Looking through the Amazon reviews for Moby-Dick, I find this little gem: "It seems to be another of those massive tomes such as ‘War and Peace’ or ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ that the reader convinces themselves to be a ‘masterpiece’ on completion, simply because they cannot bear to admit that they have been duped into wasting such a massive amount of time and energy." Well - that's me told!  Very Happy


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3360


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Next year I must read the one remaining Dickens I haven't read 'The Old Curiosity Shop'. Its reputation isn't very great but I neeed to read it for completion.  And, yes, this is the year for 'Middlemarch'!  And (blushes) 'Anna Karenina'.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and that reminds me ... I also want to read the various bits of Dickens I haven't got round to yet. I've read all the Dickens novels & novellas, but have yet to read all the short stories, Sketches by Boz, American Notes, Pictures From Italy, etc.

I have the complete works in thise green-bound Heron Books series, except for the 2 volumes of Miscellaneous Papers, and I'm still scouring 2nd hand bookshops for these.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3360


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And there's the Complete Journalism collected in a splendid four-volume edition from Dent.


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Hector



Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 294


Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Himadri - and there was me thinking your favourite would be To the Lighthouse...

As always, it's difficult to settle on a pick of the year as most of the reads have been pretty good. I can't remeber if I finished Saul Bellow's Herzog in 2010 or the end of 2009 but if it is this year then it would certainly be in the reckoning.

Whilst I also especially enjoyed (if that is the right word) Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, I think my choice would go to Patrick White's Voss. I've not read anything like it before.

Regards

Hector[/i]


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think my book of the year would be A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor - unusual for me not to choose a novel, but it really is an extraordinary book.

It may also mean that it hasn't been an outstanding year for me in terms of novel-reading...but I loved Penelope Fitzgerald's Gate of Angels, Don DeLillo's Point Omega (even better on a re-read), Robert Silverberg's Dying Inside, EH Young's Chatterton Square, and there is probably something glaringly obvious that I have forgotten about...but it's the Leigh Fermor that really stands out as a superb book.

For 2011, I'll be joining you with Walter Scott, Himadri, though will be reading Kenilworth, something I've been meaning to do since I moved back to the town 18 months ago.  Am hoping to take it up to the castle and read it there from time to time!  Not sure what else, though as ever I intend to work through my shelves of unread books before buying any more...but I say that every year.  Jose Saramago is someone I want to discover this year.


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Claire Fifi



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 15


Location: Twickenham

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I discovered Penelope Fitzgerald this year and thought "Offshore" a wonderful read - although "The Bookshop" is great too.."The Beginning of Spring" I found to be rather mystifying.

As for classics, well, I am going to embark upon "Madam Bovary" shortly as one of my fellow earthly Book Club members was shocked when I told her I had not read it.  She informed me that it is one book that MUST be read in your lifetime"! Shocked



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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bookshop is very good, and The Blue Flower is excellent - I was less impressed with Offshore, though I did enjoy it.  She is quite a versatile writer.  If you haven't read The Gate of Angels, I would recommend it!

Mme Bovary is an excellent novel, look forward to hearing your thoughts, Claire.  I feel a new thread coming on...what book would we say must be read in one's lifetime...?


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county_lady



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 633


Location: N Worcs.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie wrote:
[i]  I feel a new thread coming on...what book would we say must be read in one's lifetime...?


Hi Evie, I presume LOTR must be one. hiding


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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 1751



PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

County Lady Wrote:
Quote:
Hi Evie, I presume LOTR must be one
 Laughing

I totally agree County Lady!! - After the hard slog you put in reading that Evie when you didn't even really like it, it HAS to make the list!!



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