Sunday, 25 January 2009

The 2009 Book List

On November 8th, 2004, I quit theatre school.

It was the second-best decision I ever made. (The best being the one I made shortly thereafter when I decided to move to British Columbia.) Why on earth is this significant? It's significant because that fall, I forced myself to keep track of what I read until I went back to school. I was actually shocked to discover how MUCH I read in those ten months - I think it was upwards of 80 books. Granted, an embarrassing percentage was what my mother long ago dubbed 'modern crap fiction' (and the publishing industry apparently calls 'formulaic') but I also read a frightening amount of non-fiction, most of it politics, history and economics.

For a very long list of reasons, this year I find myself, once again, a university drop-out. So I'm going to track what I read again, to make sure that my brain doesn't atrophy between now and whenever I decide to suck it up and complete the almost-illogically low number of credits necessary for me to get a degree (nb. I say A degree because getting the degree I actually WANT is significantly more involved than just completing a few upper division classes in whatever-the-heck-I-feel-like).

My system is simple: I divvy books up into basic fiction vs. non-fiction categories, where non-fiction counts for about five times as much brain-atrophy-prevention as fiction... unless it's fiction that's won the Booker, a GG, an ALA award, the Giller, a Pulitzer or the Nobel prize for literature.

1. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
2. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
3. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
4. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer (I could argue that these were read partly as a means of researching a specific publishing market. Mostly it was Christmas and I wanted something fluffy to read and people kept comparing one of my characters to Edward Cullen...)
5. Go Ask Alice - Anonymous (Jan 25) *this book says it's non-fiction - everyone else says it's fiction
6. The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova (Feb 14)
7. Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (March 2) -don't give me grief about this being a graphic novel. read it first, then come tell me it's not more literarily sound than half the modern crap fiction on the market...
8. Chief Honor - Sigmund Brouwer (March 25th) Utter trash. Why write a book about hockey and then have less hockey in it than an NHL commercial? If this is what I'm up against... well, it bodes well for my shot at a book deal...
9. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis (March 26th) Classic. Despite what I believed at the time, I probably would have liked this when I was seven.
10. The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman (March 29th) Loved this. About time I read it since Nancy told me I'd like it about, oh, EIGHT YEARS AGO.
11. Call Me Mimi - Francis Chalifour (March 30th) Surprisingly good. And short. Like a good TV movie, not the trashy Tori-Spelling-in-1996-kind, the sort-of-flaky-but-actually-kind-of-poignant kind.
12. The Chrysalids - John Wyndham (April 16th) Incredible. Simply incredible.
13. Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (April 28th) Best book I've ever had as assigned reading. Thank you John Harriss.
14. Something Blue - Emily Giffin (April 29th) Someone compared my writing style to hers; I'm a little flattered, although I definitely don't think I'm *quite* as girly as she is.
16. War Brother - Sharon E. McKay (August 3rd) Historical/political fiction about the LRA in Uganda, but fiction.

as of yet, nothing... precisely why I'm engaging in this exercise...
(March 2nd - still nothing. I am a lazy arse.)
(March 26th - this is getting ridiculous... trying to determine whether or not reading Ken Dryden's The Game counts as non-fiction...)
(April 16th - this is just SAD.)
15. The Game - Ken Dryden (May 25th)

See my "books I'm halfway through" list for a general gist of what I'm trying to motivate myself to read. I'm actually halfway through ALL of them. It's pathetic really, that my attention span isn't long enough to last... oh wait, Pity the Nation is 689 pages long, THAT'S WHY I haven't finished it!

Goals for 2009
1. Finish at least 25 non-fiction books THAT I ALREADY OWN.

2. Read at least a dozen 'literary' novels. I'm not so good with finding these, so I'm open to suggestions. That said, if anyone suggests I read Yet Another book wherein any of the main characters goes all Oedipal on someone's ass, I will scream. (I don't care if it's won the GG, the Booker AND the Nobel prize!) Just so you know.

3. To not buy any new books.* (BAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!) This sounds a little messed up seeing as my whole objective is to read voraciously, except that I moved to BC with 25 books (I left the other couple thousand in storage in Ontario - trust me, it took me four days to decide which 25 to bring, it was like picking 25 children to save in a war... okay, not that bad, but it was tough!) and my shelves now contain 201 books (not including textbooks, reference books, dictionaries, academic journals and custom courseware), 102 of which I have not read yet, at least not in their entirety.

*those in this colour are those that have been bought therefor breaking this...

Some girls buy shoes. My weakness is books. I probably won't last the month. Seriously.

LATE EDIT (Feb 13th): I did actually survive January, but, in all fairness that was after having bought myself eight books over the Christmas break (and receiving another four as gifts).

EVEN Later Edit (Feb 14th): No wait, I didn't. I definitely bought myself a 4$ copy of The Game by Ken Dryden two days after I originally wrote this post. Books are my personal brand of heroin.

.. yeah yeah... (March 26th):
# of books in Van: 209
# of books unread in Van: 108

The Vancouver Public Library has its annual book sale (April 16th):
# of books in Van: 213
# of books unread in Van: 112


ali said...

My absolute favorite piece of fictional literature is "The Scarlet Pimpernel." I read it in British Literature many moons ago, but it's great. It's a mystery, but also historical and deals with the French Revolution.

I don't know about finding a copy of it though, I've been trying to find one in a bookstore for awhile now, but have yet to. I think I'm just going to have to break down and buy it used online.

I wish I had time to read books that weren't textbooks or books that need read for a class....

Best wishes with your reading!

Susan said...

@ Ali--I love "The Scarlet Pimpernel",too! Another new series I have found, dealing with the same time period are the Pink Carnation books by Lauren Willig. The first one is "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation". Lots of fun!
I read lots, basically all the time I can spare, everything from sci-fi to mysteries to history.
"Kings of Russia" by Dave King is a good one, it is about the year he spent in Russia as coach of Magnitogorsk's team. One of his players was Geno.

mer said...

@ ali - I saw the musical version of 'The Scarlett Pimpernel' at Straford a few years ago - all I remember was the very beginning and the lighting design being absolutely UNREAL. That a the costumes clashing completely. (Theatre-dork-much?) My favourite Charles Dickens book is 'Tale of Two Cities' though, and the French Revolution was kind of the (second) beginning of the modern era, so I may have to check it out.

@ susan - I may need to track down a copy of 'King of Russia'... after I finish 'Open Ice' and Ken Dryden's 'The Game;...

Lauren said...

Books are my weakness, too.

You know how little children read everything from cereal boxes to magazines to books to the ticker across the screen on the news when they are first learning to read? 18 years after learning to read, I still do that.

If you're ever in need of some recommendations, I'm your girl.

Susan said...

I've got a notebook full of recommendations, too. One I really liked was 'The Host" by Stephanie Meyer. Very, very different from her Twilight books, but I think it was even better. Maybe because it was more sci-fi. It has a totally different feel than the Twilight books, although I really enjoyed them, too.

Lauren said...

I also read "The Host" and really liked it :)

Susan said...

@Mer I see an update to this blog on my Google update page, but I can't seem to get the page, I get a message that that page is unavailable. Help, I want to read what you have to say!

mer said...

susan - i posted it when i was super-tired and then went back and re-read it and decided to sleep on it; I wasn't about it, that's all.

Susan said...

Okay, as long as nothing is wrong :)
Hey, we are having an ice storm in Tulsa. Bumper Cars at 5pm! Whoopee!
This is why I hate winter, we don't get much snow, just ice :(
Slip sliding away...