Sunday, November 01, 2009

42 for 42

This post and list are a bit overdue, but, all things considered (school), I thought I would improved my chances for success in the 41 for 41 challenge by giving myself until the end of the month to finish up a few books, rather than ending, mid-read, on my birthday. 

I am pleased to report that 41 was a huge success. I read ten of 41 titles—a quarter of the list—compared to last year’s five of 40 titles. Still, looking through the 41 list, I realize there are many books I wish I had read, that I would like to read eventually, and they may make the 42 list. 

The gist of the list is to round up books that are on my radar—newly released, buzzed about in the previous year, or liberated from my shelves where they’ve sat for years. As my fried Caryl reminded me last year, when I thought I’d forego the list, I may not read every book, but I will have a record of where my interests are at the moment. And, I love making lists. 

This is my fourth such list. Unread books from previous years will make a repeat appearance. Other sources include my alma mater’s Conversation with Books as well as the National Book Award and Booker Prize 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 serves 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.
One thing you may notice about this year’s list is some double and triple offerings from an author, as well as some themes. Over the past year, I have begun collecting comic books, mostly in trade paperback, where multiple issues are bound together, and I’ve included a few I’d like to make a point of reading soon.
Herewith, 42 for 42, in no particular order:

The Photographer (Emmanuel Guibert)
A graphic memoir/photojournal of the author’s journey into war-torn Afghanistan

Seven Gothic Tales (Isak Dinesen)
Short stories by an author I’ve never taken an opportunity to read 

A Gate at the Stairs (Lorrie Moore)
A much anticipated, some say long-overdue, novel

In Patagonia (Bruce Chatwin)
Genre-defining and classic travel essay. Shelf-sitter.

Motorcycle Diaries (Che Guevara)
A road journey and politics. Shelf-sitter.

Bicycle Diaries (David Byrne)
Urban cycling journey by the former Talking Head

Wanderlust: A History of Walking (Rebecca Solnit)
About walking and thinking and culture; quite frankly, all Solnit’s books appeal to me. Shelf-sitter.

A Design for Living (Lillian Langseth Christensen)
John recommended this memoir by a woman whose parents moved in Josef Hoffmann’s artsy circles

The Year of the Flood (Margaret Atwood)
New Margaret Atwood, speculative fiction, that’s all

Down the Nile (Rosemary Mahoney)
I really liked Mahoney’s Singular Pilgrim and anticipate more of the same in a boat on the through Egypt. Shelf-sitter.

Zeitoun (Dave Eggers)
New Eggers, NOLA.

Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout)
2009 Pulitzer Prize winner and a 2010 Conversation with Books selection

Murder in the Marais (Cara Black)
Looking for a new international mystery; Paris setting. Shelf-sitter.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Steig Larsson)
Highly recommended by many, including Mr. Bibliotonic, who ordered the third and final book in the series from Amazon.UK because he can’t wait until next June

Dud Avocado (Elaine Dundy)
A re-read, 15 years overdue

White Lioness (Henning Mankill)
Highly recommended Swedish crime fiction; shelf-sitter.

Year of Living Biblically (A.J. Jacobs)
an A.J. Jacobs marathon is in order

The Know It All (A.J. Jacobs)
Part of an A.J. Jacobs marathon. Shelf-sitter.

My Life as an Experiment (A.J. Jacobs)
Part of an A.J. Jacobs marathon

One Good Turn (Kate Atkinson)
Read books one and two in ’09; love Jackson Brodie 

Drown (Junot Diaz)
Oscar Wao was all that; must. read. more. Diaz.

The Last Supper (Rachel Cusk)
Author’s family spends a year living in Italy—isn’t that everyone’s dream?

Arlington Park (Rachel Cusk)
The fiction complement. Shelf-sitter.

The Selected Work of T.S. Spivet (Reif Larsen)
Had this out from the library this summer and loved what I read before I had to return it

London Embassy (Paul Theroux)
fiction-nonfiction duo; novellas, as in Elephanta Suite, which will make my 2009 top 10

Kingdom by the Sea (Paul Theroux)
The nonfiction half. Shelf-sitter.

Far North (Marcel Theroux)
Quietly reviewed post apocalyptic novel, recently nominated as a National Book Award finalist

Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Michael Chabon)
Must read more Chabon; shelf-sitter.

Best American Travel Essays 2009 (edited by Simon Winchester)

I have been buying this annual for the past 10 years, but never manage to read more than the guest editor’s intro

Chronic City (Jonathan Lethem)
Hot off the press; strong galley reads

The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing)
Classic from a Nobel Prize winner

The Unnamed (Joshua Ferris)
Highly anticipated sophomore novel from Ferris; huge amounts of buzz; first book in friend Reagan Arthur’s new imprint

Color: A Natural History of the Palette (Victoria Finley)
A popular history to follow up my intense theory class

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen)
Awesomely funny; birthday present from John

New York Trilogy (Paul Auster)
I will read this in 2010; shelf-sitter.

Finding Beauty in a Broken World (Terry Tempest Williams)
Learning the art of mosaics in Italy, by the author of Refuge

A Journey with Elsa Cloud (Leila Hadley)
A shelf sitter since 1997

Stardust (Neil Gaiman)
Must. Read. More. Gaiman. Also trying to read more of the books that have been given to me as gifts.

Home (Witold Rybczynski)
Synopsis from Powell’s: “a brilliant assessment of the social, cultural, economic, and political factors that have shaped Western concepts of privacy, domesticity, and comfort.” So up my alley. Shelf-sitter.

Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman)
I wish I had read this book before my design thinking class. Shelf-sitter.

Poet of the Appetites (Joan Reardon)
Craving a fat, juicy biography; shelf-sitter.

Gaudy Night (Dorothy Sayers)
It’s almost criminal that I haven’t read Sayers. Yet.

Where do I start?