Reading list: books read in 2006

Once again, as is the tradition, here is my annual listing of the books I read in the year just ended:

  • Dispatches from a Sporting Life, by Mordecai Richler
  • Andorra, by Peter Cameron
  • The Revolution Script, by Brian Moore
  • Paradise, by Donald Barthelme
  • Rene Levesque; The Fascinating Life of a Separatist Icon, by Megan Durnford
  • Crazy About Lili, by William Wientraub
  • Saturday, by Ian MacEwan
  • My Invented Country, by Isabel Allende
  • Working Identity, by Herminia Ibarra
  • Secrets and Lies, by David Southwell
  • The Curse of the Appropriate Man, by Lynn Freed
  • A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, by Gil Courtemanche (translated by Patricia Claxton)
  • Ascension, by Steven Galloway
  • The Woman Who Waited, by Andreï Makine
  • V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
  • The Age of Longing, by Richard B. Wright
  • Saving Rome, by Megan K. Williams
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel
  • Dawn, by Elie Wiesel
  • Day, by Elie Wiesel
  • Insatiable, by Gael Green
  • Brick Lane, by Monica Ali
  • 30 Days in Sydney, by Peter Carey
  • A Splinter in the Heart, by Al Purdy
  • The Human Stain, by Philip Roth
  • The Bug, by Ellen Ullman
  • Cuba and the Night, by Pico Iyer
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Man in my Basement, by Walter Mosley
  • The Quitter, by Harvey Pekar and Dean Haspiel
  • DeNiro’s Game, by Rawi Hage
  • Rememberance of Things Paris, edited by Ruth Reichl
  • Solo, by Wright Morris

That’s 33 books, up from 29 last year. The list can be broken down as follows:

  • 22 works of fiction, five works of non-fiction, and six memoirs (which are sort of a mix of fiction and non-fiction).
  • 24 books by men and nine by women. (Last year it was 24 by men and five by women, and I made a mental note to read more books by women. I guess it worked.)
  • Two “graphic” books (one a serialized novel, one a memoir).
  • Eleven of the books had “place” as a major theme.
  • Two were about food.

So what can I learn from this? Who cares? I just like making lists!

Reading list, 2005

It’s a bit of a tradition for me to start a year by listing the books I read during the previous one. I’m generally not big on lists for their own sake, but I find this one is a handy way for me to take a few minutes to think about what I’ve been reading, and to see what patterns may emerge.

In light of Jessa Crispin’s recent “what your end of the year list says about you” article in The Book Standard, I find it particularly interesting to put together my list this year. She’s primarily referring to “best of the year” lists, while mine is simply “what I read.” But still, I respect her views and so I am glad to report that my list would likely meet with her approval.

So here, in alphabetical order by title, are the 29 books I read in 2005:

  • Balconville, by David Fennario
  • Best American Travel Writing 2004, edited by Pico Ayer
  • Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
  • Byline: Ernest Hemingway, edited by William White
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss
  • Enough About You, by David Shields
  • Half a Life, by V.S. Naipaul
  • Kafka was the Rage, by Anatole Broyard
  • Nickled and Dimed; On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrereich
  • On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt
  • Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson
  • Remembering Laughter, by Wallace Stegner
  • Sacre Blues, by Taras Grescoe
  • Saints of Big Harbour, by Lynn Coady
  • Screwjack, by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Spies, by Michael Frayn
  • The Bobby Gold Stories, by Anthony Bourdain
  • The Boomer, by Marty Asher
  • The Dark Room, by Rachel Seiffert
  • The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
  • The Main, by Trevanian
  • The Memory Artists, by Jeffrey Moore
  • The Moon is Down, by John Steinbeck
  • The Museum Guard, by Howard Norman
  • The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles
  • The World is Not For Sale, by José Bové and Francois Dufour
  • Them, by Jon Ronson
  • Why Are We At War?, by Norman Mailer
  • You Can’t Win, by Jack Black

As per Crispin’s article, I am happy to note that:

None of these books are, as far as I know, on the New York Times “Notable Books of the Year” list. I wouldn’t object if a few of them were (nor would Crispin) but I’m happy to confirm that my reading list is not overly influenced by advertising and corporate interests.

None of these books were written by a former blogger. If any had been, all it would have said about me is that I’m a blogger too — which is true. But I do agree with her that blogs and books are very different things, and when you try to turn your blog into a book, you end up with something that works far better as a blog than as a book.

I have included at least one graphic novel. Sort of. OK, not really. The Boomer is a quirky little book that is essentially a cartoon / poem(ish) thing, with one panel per page. It’s a very quick read (less than 30 minutes), and is definitely the shortest title on my list (I considered not including it), but it’s not quite a graphic novel. However, there are two graphic novels on my 2004 list and one on my 2003 list, so that should count for something. Mental note: include at least one graphic novel in the 2006 reading list.

There are five women on this list, and none of them are Mary Gaitskill, Joan Didion, or Zadie Smith. Mind you, five out of 29 is a pretty low proportion. It was five out of 25 in 2004 and three out of 24 in 2003. Mental note: try to read more women writers in 2006.

Reading list, 2004

It felt like I spent a lot of time reading in 2004, yet my list of books read isn’t any longer than last year’s list. On the other hand, this does not include countless magazines and unfinished dabbles into various anthologies and journals.

And as with most things, it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity.

As such, here is the list (alphabetically, by title) of books I read and finished in 2004:

Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, by A.J. Liebling
Burning Ground, by Pearl Luke
Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
Daisy Miller, by Henry James
East is East, by T.C. Boyle
In Search of Stupidity, by Merrill R. Chapman
In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman
Mordecai & Me, by Joel Yanofsky
Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
Prague, by Arthur Phillips
Seventeen Tomatoes, by Jaspreet Singh
Someday, Even Trevi Will Crumble, by Neal McDevitt
The Child in Time, by Ian McEwan
The Daydreamer, by Ian McEwan
The End of Elsewhere, by Taras Grescoe
The Fixer, by Joe Sacco
The Great Game, by Frederick P. Hitz
The New Yorker Stories, by Morley Callaghan
The Sky Unwashed, by Irene Zabytko
The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell
This Year in Jerusalem, by Mordecai Richler
Traveler’s Tales Spain: True Stories, ed. by Lucy McCauley
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges
While I Was Gone, by Sue Miller
Youth, by J.M. Coetzee

Reading list, 2003

I have this thing about lists. I like to list the things I have done, such as movies I’ve seen, books I’ve read, and places I’ve visited. I think I have a fear of losing my memory, and in fact, I do tend to forget things very easily. My lists bring me comfort as a sort of defence against memory loss, but also as a way of framing periods of time in terms of culture and activities.

Unfortunately, I’m not very disciplined in my list keeping, which is just as well, as all that focusing on the past is not very Zen-like, is it? One list I have kept up is my list of books read last year (2003). I plan to keep this list going into 2004 and onward. I’m happy to report that I did manage to read quite a few books this year, considering all the other distractions I have to contend with.

Without the list, if you had asked me what books I read last year I might have remembered three or four of them. They’re all still in there in my memory, but I have no sense of when I read most of them. Looking at the list now, I’m quite surprised at some, which I thought I had read two or more years ago.

As such, here is blork’s “What I read in 2003” list:

  • The Adventuristby Robert Young Pelton
  • The Red Badge of Courageby Stephen Crane
  • Port Tropiqueby Barry Gifford
  • Ghost Worldby Dan Clowes
  • 9/11by Noam Chomski
  • Moth Smokeby Mohsin Hamid
  • In Between The Sheetsby Ian McEwan
  • Elegy for Kosovoby Ismail Kadare
  • The Tortilla Curtainby T.C. Boyle
  • The Sun Also Risesby Ernest Hemingway
  • No Great Mischiefby Alistair McLeod
  • Down the Coaltown Roadby Sheldon Currie
  • A Friend of the Earthby T.C. Boyle
  • Life of Piby Yann Martel
  • The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnantby Michel Tremblay
  • The Art of Travelby Alain de Botton
  • Chaos in Cancunby Susan Murray
  • To Hell in a Halifaxby Herbert Krentz
  • Atonementby Ian McEwan
  • Paris in the Fiftiesby Stanley Karnow
  • Aiding and Abettingby Muriel Spark
  • A Cargo of Orchidsby Susan Musgrave
  • After The Plagueby T.C. Boyle
  • The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester