Friday, September 21, 2007

drawing to a close

Last October, I posted a list of 39 books I would endeavor to read beginning on my 39th birthday. As I’m nearing my (gulp) 40th birthday, I thought I’d evaluate the project.

How did I do? I read ten books, almost a quarter of the list! As I mentioned in the post that introduced the project, I’ve never been able to follow a reading list. Also, when it comes to books, I’m easily distracted by word of mouth, reviews, and other reading opportunities that pop up when I least expect it. Which is all to say that I'm pretty pleased with a 25% "sell-through" rate.

Here are the books I finished (each one is linked, at right, to Powell's):

Memento Mori (Muriel Spark), a 2006 discovery
The Big Oyster (Mark Kurlansky), delicious micro history about Manhattan and oysters
The Keep (Jennifer Egan), fall ’06 new release from a favorite author
Heat (Bill Buford), summer ’06 hardcover purchase
Play It As It Lays (Joan Didion), shelf-sitter and 2007 discovery
Yiddish Policemen’s Union (Michael Chabon), spring ’07 Talking Volumes selection
The Whole World Over (Julia Glass), 2007 Conversation with Books selection
The Places in Between (Rory Stewart), best NYTBR review I read in ‘06
Brief History of the Dead (Kevin Brockmeier), word of mouth made me read it
Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon), another shelf-sitter

Can I cram in a few books over the next few weeks? Doubtful. I’m currently reading four books, one of which is due back to the library soon. The others I’d like to wrap up before my vacation so that I may start new books. I have yet to start the next book group selection and my book group meets next week. There is a remote possibility that I will finish
Pride and Prejudice, which I’m listening to on my commute, but I don't want the story to end.

As the Reading Year draws to a close, I somewhat regret not getting to M.F.K. Fisher or Carol Shields, yet again. But, there's always another list.

Over the next week, I’ll compose my 40 at 40 list. I have already started culling the random titles I’m known to jot down on scraps of paper. I have the 2008 Conversation with Books list in hand, and I'm contemplating an Internet reading challenge or two. I'm open to recommendations, so feel free to leave them in comments.

Stay tuned!

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