Saturday, October 18, 2008

41 for 41

If it’s October, then it’s time for me to compose another list of books for my reading year. Considering the limited success of this past reading year, when I managed to read just five out of forty books I selected. The point of the list—as my friend Caryl reminded me—isn’t necessarily to read every book, but to serve as a record of where my interests lie at the moment. This was all the justification I needed to begin the 41 at 41 Challenge, with a stronger than usual commitment for more strikethroughs. Besides, I’m an inveterate list maker, so I may as well make a short list from the very long TBR list I keep.

Since this is my third such list, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. First, I wait for other lists to be announced. These include my alma mater’s Conversation with Books and the National Book Award nominees. Next, I check my publishing resources, including, which has, in each of its sections, a “coming soon” subsection where you can see many of the books that will be published in the next three to six months. By anticipating new releases, I can factor into my list the books that would normally derail me.

Still, I can’t catch every book that serve as a distraction, such as those I learn about by word of mouth and reviews. Also, my book groups determine their books on a month-to-month basis so there’s no advanced planning for those.

That said, this year’s list includes a healthy number of shelf-sitters, recent purchases (in a year of overindulgence), and borrowed books that I need to make a concerted effort to return to generous friends. Additionally, I want to read more short stories and classics this coming year. I have also included a few carryovers from previous lists because I still really, really, really want to read MFK Fisher and Carol Shields and John LeCarre and many many more.

Herewith, 41 for 41, in no particular order:

1. something by Haruki Murakami
just finished reading his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and want to read more
2. Out (Natsuo Kirino)
impressed by her latest, The Real World, I’d like to read another; I have a borrowed copy
3. The Other Side of the Island (Allegra Goodman)
loved Kaaterskill Falls years and years ago; this is YA and speculative
4. The Eight (Katherine Neville)
a re-read of a favorite
5. The Fire (Katherine Neville)
the long anticipated sequel to The Eight
6. Once and Future King (T.H. White)
a classic I have long meant to read
7. Maps and Legends (Michael Chabon)
a beautifully packaged collection of writings
8. Mysteries of Pittsburgh (Michael Chabon)
a re-read
9. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)
hot title at the moment; I’m slightly obsessed with many things Swedish
10. Plague of Doves (Louise Erdrich)
a Conversation with Books ’09 title
11. Loving Frank (Nancy Horan)
a Conversation with Books ’09 title
12. Unaccustomed Earth (Jhumpa Lahiri)
a Conversation with Books ’09 title; story collection
13. Lulu in Marrakech (Diane Johnson)
Diane Johnson, Morocco, girl spy—an irresistible combination
14. We (Yevgeny Zamyatin)
shelf-sitter, classic
15. The Thirty-Nine Steps (John Buchan)
arguably the first spy thriller
16. Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons)
rural novel parody that has been recommended to me many times over
17. Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
carryover from 40 at 40
18. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (Barbara Kingsolver)
carryover from 40 at 40
19. The Summer Book (Tove Jansson)
summer discovery that I have yet to read
20. Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (David Mura)
a debut novel by a local writer
21. Consider the Oyster (MFK Fisher)
this. is. the. year
22. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
a classic
23. Suite Francaise (Irene Nemirovsky)
a critically acclaimed book; borrowed
24. Alice, Let’s Eat (Calvin Trillin)
a classic foodie title
25. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Karen Russell)
story collection
26. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Alexander McCall Smith)
favorite author; borrowed book
27. Alaska Sourdough (Richard Morenus)
one of my father’s favorite books; borrowed
28. A Circle of Quiet (Madeleine L’Engle)
29. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
classic scary novel
30. Omelette and a Glass of Wine (Elizabeth David)
another foodie classic; shelf-sitter
31. Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
shelf-sitter; 15th anniversary
32. Annapurna (Maurice Herzog)
classic climbing/adventure book; shelf-sitter
33. something by Neil Gaiman
must see what the fuss is about
34. Curriculum Vitae (Muriel Spark)
memoir by a favorite author
35. Anathem (Neal Stephenson)
because I bought the door-stopper in hardcover
36. Snow Leopard (Peter Mathiessen)
30th anniversary of this nature classic
37. Elephanta Suite (Paul Theroux)
strong NYT book review; favorite author
38. Ghostwalk (Rebecca Stott)
December book group selection
39. Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
just saw the Guthrie production
40. The Camel Bookmobile (Masha Hamilton)
birthday gift from my sis
41. The Discovery of France (Graham Robb)
birthday gift from my Mr. Bibliotonic

also rans that have been much on my mind and that may sneak into the mix:

Judgment of Paris, George M. Taber—wine
Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon—Chabon
Final Game, Valerie Plame—spies
Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk—editor Reagan Arthur
The Emperor's Children, Claire Messud—NYC
The Raw Shark Texts, Steven Hall—je ne sais quoi
something by Philip Roth—American classic
Amnesia Moon, Jonathan Lethem—speculative
Blindness, Jose Saramago—Nobel-prize winner
Tree of Smoke (Denis Johnson)—National Book Award–winner
something by Roberto Boleano—comes recommended; rediscovery
and, quite frankly, anything unread from the 40 for 40 list, 'cause I really do want to read them all.


Caryl said...

Ooh, so much fun! Thank you for posting this; I've been having a blast looking over your selections. What a great list, and what a great year you have ahead.

jennifer said...

Thanks for the encouragement to write this list! It was fun. And, I hope you'll join me in reading some of these books.