It's that time of the year again. I'll now write about 2016 in reading.
It wasn't much. This year I spent more time living, experiencing, exploring, experimenting, absorbing "all the vast range of impressions that life could offer", then moved to Leeds and became extremely busy with studies. Over the past months I've mostly read non-fiction books in or for my course.
I read 2 new books: ****: The Anatomy of Melancholy by my blogger friend
Matthew Selwyn, and the Pulitzer prize winner The Sympathiser by Viet
Thanh Nguyen, who is in my facebook friend list. I don't think very
highly of the latter, which deserves a long essay/ review, but by the
time I finished reading it (which took a very long time), I was tired
and just wanted to move on with my life. My thoughts summed up in 2 words: "too American".
Let's look back at my reading ideas for 2016.
I didn't read more Russian literature- no Dostoyevsky, no Turgenev, no Gogol, no Nabokov... Highly interested in Vasily Grossman at the moment but unable to find time for Life and Fate. However, I did read another Tolstoy book, consisting of "The Cossacks" and "Hadji Murad" (speaking of which, a rather good-looking guy started a conversation with me online a few days ago, but I lost interest the moment he said Tolstoy's a misogynist that was also a bad writer and his wife rewrote all of his novels).
I didn't read more Dickens. Gave up on Bleak House. Instead was another Victorian writer who never seems Victorian- Lewis Carroll. People who associate Victorian literature with social realism and thus tedium should read the 2 Alice books, or someone like Robert Louis Stevenson.
Recently I've just read an Edwardian writer, E. M. Forster's A Room with a View. A rather thin book, enjoyable enough but not great, and maybe this reader was in the wrong mood to appreciate it.
I neither reread Madame Bovary nor got acquainted with other French writers of that period.
I didn't read Norwegian literature.
I didn't read Faulkner or Woolf. Nor early James Joyce, though I did borrow Dubliners in Leeds.
I didn't read another Henry James. Nor Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edith Wharton.
Looks like a year of failures.
Except that it couldn't be a bad year, as I discovered Moby Dick, a masterpiece, a novel unlike any other, a book that had a profound impact on my views on literature as well as on my life like Anna Karenina previously did; fell in love with Herman Melville; revisited "Bartleby, the Scrivener" and spent time with the other 2 great Bs "Benito Cereno" and "Billy Budd, Sailor"; read the wonderful "The Encantadas", at least twice, and a bunch of Melville's short stories; and again went to sea with Melville with The Confidence-Man.
That, I suppose, isn't too bad.
Reading ideas for 2017? I'm going to be more busy, not less. There's 1 book in the list: Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. Anyone's in for a read-along?
As I'm in Vienna, and have just gone to a concert, here's some music: