A year of reading randomly
It’s beautifully brrr in Kent at the moment – still freezing at 11am with bright blue skies.
Last night, I went to hear Andy Miller (who is not Andrew Miller) speak at the Reading Series at Kent Uni. He is the author of The Year of Reading Dangerously which I have yet to read and was a brilliant, engaging, thought-provoking, funny, self-deprecating and enthusiastic speaker. If you get a chance to hear him speak, go. He was wonderful.
I haven’t read his book yet – I bought it last night and it’s sitting here on my desk and my fingers are itching … might just allow myself a peek over lunch but know I’ll be hooked.
There were many things that struck me in his talk – and all of them pertinent to bibliopoetry therapy. Here are a few random ones:
- He called his list of books to read The List of Betterment.
- The list included Dan Brown (I was given the Da Vinci Code one Christmas, thought it would go straight to the charity shop but a few hours later I’d read it cover to cover and, um, really enjoyed it).
- He rates Middlemarch and found The Master and Margarita difficult.
- Lists are really helpful.
- Anita Brookner writes genius prose. As an editor, he could tell early on whether a mss was in the top 8% of those that came across his desk. I’m similarly fascinated by how when tuning into radio drama, I can tell by a few lines of dialogue whether it’s by a great playwright – sentences matter.
- He worked as a bookseller and sees the commercial and literary, consumerist and artistic as all part of one whole. So did I. So do I.
- Although it took him years to write his book, it’s worth writing about reading.
So here’s my incomplete list of what I read in 2016. I notice:
It doesn’t include much poetry even though I read many collections last year. I am permanently surrounded by piles of poetry books in different stages of being read. Note to self – organise my poetry reading better and document it better.
And not that many novels. Note to self – go back to the classics. I knew someone who read Anna Karenina once a year. When I read it, once, several years ago, I lived it to such a degree, I couldn’t do or think about anything else. Hence putting off War and Peace.
The list also reveals my guilty secret – I love self-help books but I haven’t listed those I read on my Kindle. Why’s that? Because it’s not ‘proper reading’ in some way? Note to self, find out just what is on my Kindle?
I bundle writing about place and travel writing in with Nature Writing – which is an old-fashioned term, but I like it.
So for what it’s worth, this is my list of reading randomly in 2016:
Reading Diary 2016
Helen Macdonald H is for Hawk MEMOIR
Sarah Howe Loop of Jade POETRY
Brene Brown Rising Strong SELF-HELP
Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See NOVEL
Sara Maitland, Gossip from the forest NATURE WRITING
MARCH / APRIL
Dr Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm The Buddha Pill PSYCHOLOGY
Rob Cowan Common Ground NATURE WRITING
Deborah Alma Emergency Poet POETRY
David Sedaris Naked MEMOIR
William Ayot Re-enchanting the forest NATURE WRITING
Sharon Blackie If Women Rose Rooted NATURE WRITING
Charlotte Hobson The Vanishing Futurist NOVEL
Suzanne O’Sullivan It’s All in Your Head PSYCHOLOGY
Andrew McMillan Physical POETRY
Mark Oakley The Collage of God SPIRITUAL
Marion Coutts The Iceberg MEMOIR
Richard Coles From Pop To Pulpit MEMOIR
Simon Sebag Montefiore One Night in Winter NOVEL
Alex Preston This Bleeding City NOVEL
Jose Eduardo Agualusa A General Theory of Oblivion NOVEL IN TRANSLATION
Han Kang The Vegetarian NOVEL IN TRANSLATION
James Doty Into the Magic Shop SELF-HELP
Gavin Knight The Swordfish and the Star NATURE WRITING
Richard Rohr Falling Upward SPIRITUAL
Louis de Bernieres Red Dog NOVEL
Lauren Slater Spasm MEMOIR
Ethan Watters Crazy Like Us PSYCHOLOGY
Jeanette Winterson Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal MEMOIR
Elif Shafak The Architect’s Apprentice NOVEL
Sebastian Faulk Where my heart used to beat NOVEL
Kathleen Jamie The Overhaul POETRY
Hannah Kent Burial Rites NOVEL
Lionel Shriver The Mandibles NOVEL
David Grossman Out of Time GENRE-DEFYING
Elizabeth Speller The Sunlight on the Garden MEMOIR