Saturday, January 2, 2010

Six Hundred Books

So, a new year and a new decade, both of which inspired me to look back at my reading list to see how I've done. I used to read about a hundred books a year, but in recent years I've slowed down and now average about sixty or so. Partly this is because I read a good deal on-line -- certainly more than I used to do with the occasional newspaper or magazine. Partly it's because I listen to a lot of recorded books, which I don't count in the reading list (and which I've never been able to keep a separate list for, for whatever reason). Partly it's because these days I read a lot of manga, which again doesn't count. And of course all the anime I watch (usually during meals when I'm by myself, or at night before going to bed) cuts into what used to be reading time.

Still, I find I do get through a fair amount. January 1st 2000 found me reading book #II.2204, MURDER IS SERVED [1948] by Richard & Francis Lockridge -- one of the Pam & Jerry North mysteries I'd picked up years before; I'd been curious to read this because my sister was named after Pamela North (from the tv show based on the books).

And January 1st 2010 finds me finishing up #II.2816, THE LOST STRADIVARIUS by Jn Meade Falkner [1895] -- an absolute dud of a ghost story more interesting for its sanctimonious passages that are almost a parody of Victorian public piety than for any merits as a story.

And in-between? Rather than list all six hundred and twelve books, here's a sampling of ones that I was particularly struck with at the time, either because I thought they were especially well-written, or thought-provoking, or for some other reason really stood out from the crowd.

--CASE CLOSED by Gerald Posner [1993]
--uncollected short stories by Lord Dunsany
--SEVEN NIGHTS by Jorge Luis Borges [1984]
--ONLY YESTERDAY by Frederick Lewis Allen [1931]
--*THE LAND OF LAUGHS by Jonathan Carroll [1980]
--CADMEAN LETTERS by Martin Bernal [1990]
--*THE DYING EARTH by Jack Vance [1950]
--an unpublished piece by Verlyn Flieger [circa 2001]
--THE LOST CHRONICLES OF THE MAYA KINGS by David Drew [1999]
--*TEA WITH THE BLACK DRAGON by R. A. McAvoy [1983]
--TO THE CHAPEL PERILOUS by Naomi Mitchison [1955]
--*A NIGHT IN LONESOME OCTOBER by Roger Zelazny [1993]
--BLACK ATHENA STRIKES BACK by Martin Bernal [2001]
--*THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD by Patricia McKillip [1974]
--A PLEASING TERROR by M. R. James [2001]
--*SWORDS AGAINST DEATH by Fritz Leiber [1970]
--*A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS by David Lindsay [1920]
--*THE BRIDGE OF BIRDS & *EIGHT SKILLED GENTLEMEN by Barry Hughart [1984 & 1991]
--*THE DREAM OF X & *THE NIGHT LAND by Wm Hope Hodgson [1912]
--NIGHT WATCH by Terry Pratchett [2002]
--*THE SECRET MOUNTAIN & *THE BOOK OF THREE DRAGONS by Kenneth Morris [1926 & 1930]
--*HOBBERDY DICK by Katharine Briggs [1955]
--*THE SILENT MIAOW by Paul Gallico [1964]
--THERE & BACK AGAIN: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF J. R. R. TOLKIEN by Matthew Lyons [2004]
--LOST LANGUAGES by Andrew Robinson [2002]
--*PERSUASION by Jane Austen [1818]
--THE LORD OF THE RINGS 1954-2004: SCHOLARSHIP IN HONOR OF RICHARD E. BLACKWELDER ed. Hammond & Scull [2006]
--*LUD-IN-THE-MIST by Hope Mirrlees [1926]
--INTERRUPTED MUSIC by Verlyn Flieger [2005]
--PERILOUS REALMS by Marjorie Burns [2005]
--COLLAPSE by Jared Diamond [2005/2006]
--MISQUOTING JESUS by Bart Ehrman [2005]
--PALESTINE: PEACE NOT APARTHEID by Jimmy Carter [2006]
--HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS [2007]
--OWEN BARFIELD (biography) by Simon Blaxland de Lange [2006]
--CORALINE by Neil Gaiman [2002]
--BEOWULF A (verse) & BEOWULF B (prose) plus the PWYLL fragment & misc. related texts, tr. J. R. R. Tolkien [unpublished]
--THE FRODO FRANCHISE by Kristin Thompson [2007]
--*THE GODS OF PEGANA by Ld Dunsany [1905]
--THE LEGEND OF SIGURD & GUDRUN by J. R. R. Tolkien [2009]
--MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE TREES by Th. Pakenham [1996]

A fairly mixed lot, I wd say. Looking through the list, I see I don't re-read Tolkien nearly as often as I used to, but that probably because when I get the itch to do so I'm just as likely to listen to it on audiobook -- which I really shd upgrade from cassettes to cds.

And now, on to the next book.

--John R.


* (an asterisk indicates this is a rereading)







1 comment:

John Anealio said...

I loved Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October. A great mix of humor, mythology, and the supernatural.