Reading Plan: January 2016

3 comments


I don’t really understand all the fuss about a new year. Yes, it’s a convenient bookending of time that allows us to hope that tomorrow may be better than yesterday but as clocks around the world strike the final twelve seconds of 2015 and cheers fly forwards through eternity to the one moment that signals a new year, aren’t we really in just the same position we are at every other moment in our lives? The future sprawling unknown before us and the past collapsing into the picture book world of memory. Are we not in an ever present where all history weighs upon us – slyly heavier after each passing second – and the future remains elusive and sacred? Is that not the human condition for 31,536,000 seconds of each year? Why do we attempt to splice time into any neater system than this. *Coughs* I mean, erm, happy 2016 and that.

I’ve decided to do something a bit different for 2016 here on my little blog. I normally aim (and fail) to read 50 books each year but this time I’m firming up the aspiration by writing a list of 40 books to try and get through before we do this whole ‘new year’s’ thing again. (40 rather than 50 as I know I’ll end up reading books that come randomly across my path throughout the year so I’m factoring in at least 10 of them).

So here’s my list for 2016, what do you think?

(To be honest, some of these will be re-reads but I’d like to revisit and write reviews for them this year. Also, this was going to be a chronological list but then I couldn’t be bothered to look up any dates so it is quasi-chronological. In the non-chronological sense.)


Pre-Eighteenth Century

01. Fanny Burney, Evelina


Nineteenth Century

02. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

03. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

04. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

05. Jane Austen, Persuasion

06. Charles Dickens, ? (something by Charlie D. Maybe The Old Curiosity Shop)

07. Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

08. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

09. Thomas Hardy, ? (something I haven’t read from Hardy yet but I’m not sure what)


Twentieth Century

10. Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

11. Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway

12. D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love

13. Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

14. Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

15. Philip Roth, The Human Stain

16. Don DeLillo, White Noise

17. Albert Camus, The Plague

18. Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

19. Daniel P. Schreber, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness

20. D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love

21. Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

22. Franz Kafka, Amerika

23. Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm

24. Mario Puzo, The Godfather

25. Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

26. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

27. Ian Fleming, Casino Royale

28. William Burroughs, Junkie

29. Chinua, Achebe, Things Fall Apart

30. Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

31. L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between

32. Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint

33. Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

34. J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye


Twenty-First Century

35. Matt Haig, The Humans

36. Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

37. Alex Ferguson, Leading

38. Polly Morland, The Society of Timid Souls: or, How to Be Brave

39. NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names

40. Robert Crawford, Young Eliot


Isn’t it fun making lists of books you’ll probably never read? This is more of a guide to what I’m aiming for anyway, and you’ll notice that it is rather heavily weighted towards Dead White Males (a sad fact noticed only on reflection, but that’s just how things fell) so I am happy for suggestions to be made.

In the meantime, all the best for 2016 to all of you – and tell me what you’ll be reading this year!

3 comments:

Di said...

Nice to see Frankenstein there. Tell me if you read the 1818 or the 1831 edition. I read the 1818.
I look forward to your thoughts on Persuasion. I've just read Jane Austen's 2 fragments The Watsons and Sanditon- my heart is broken that she couldn't complete the latter.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall goes well with Mansfield Park. I mean, you should think of the Jane Austen book whilst reading it.
Is Mrs Dalloway a re-read or...? It's a great book.
Why Women in Love instead of something else by Lawrence? Do you like Lawrence? (You mentioned the book twice in your list, btw).
I'm not very interested in the new Harper Lee book now. I was, when there was news of its publication, but not any more after the negative reviews. And I'm not interested in rereading To Kill a Mockingbird either.
The Godfather, let's talk about the films. Are you team part I or team part II?
Invisible Man is a wonderful book. I suggest reading it with Notes from Underground. I once wrote an essay comparing the 2 books- you'll see what I mean.
Things Fall Apart is a masterpiece. I don't understand why I haven't read anything else by Chinua Achebe.
I'm surprised to find Breakfast at Tiffany’s there. Haven't read it but I've watched the film, several times. Have you? Check it out if you haven't, and then check out Hors de prix, which was inspired by it.
Now I've talked too much. Calm down, calm down....

Matthew Selwyn said...

Glad to hear you approve of a few of my selections. Well spotted on the D. H. Lawrence - that's what happens when you just jot things down off the top of your head and don't re-read them! You'll have to recommend me something to replace it with now.

Women in Love for no good reason, just picked almost at random. I like what I know if Lawrence but as with many things, that is but a little. If there are two British writers of the early to mid-twentieth century that I would like to read more it is Lawrence and Graham Greene. (Although I realise Greene isn't on the list at all.)

Thanks for the connections - I will have to remember your advice when I get round to them. Invisible Man is excellent - I feel like we might have talked about that on here briefly before or maybe my memories are muddled (in fact, they almost definitely are). The rhythms of the voice in it are excellent anyway.

Why surprised to find Breakfast at Tiffany's? I've read it before and seen the film. I'd be interested to know how you compare the two if you ever read the novella, which ending works better particularly. I recognise the cover for Hors de Prix but I don't know anything about it at all. Will keep an eye out.

Hey, and Di, happy 2016!

Di said...

Nah, this time I won't recommend anything. Once I start, I can't stop :D
Regarding Graham Greene, I once had a maths professor that loved him. Loved. I hate The Quiet American though.
I don't know why I was surprised to find Breakfast at Tiffany's. I just was.
And yeah, thank you. Happy New Year.