Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12 Books in 12 Months

As I was browsing through some new blogs this morning, I came across this post by The Latter Day Bohemian. Since I have dozens of books on my shelves I have yet to read, I love the idea of tackling them one dozen at a time.

I know that in the next few weeks, I'll reflect on changes I want to make in 2011. Reading more frequently will certainly be one of them. To help with that, here's my reading list for the next 12 months:

1. The Portrait of the Young Man As an Artist by James Joyce. I bought this book 
from an English bookstore in Madrid, during the first week of my semester abroad, in September of 2005. As I sat in the cafe/bar portion of the bookstore, the cutest English boy I have ever met joined a conversation I had been thrust into by a half-Iranian girl being hit on by a very drunk Spaniard. After the Iranian girl left, the English boy, Edward, convinced me to go with him to another bar that was quieter so we could keep talking. As I was packing to leave with him, Gabe, a boy from my program, called and invited himself over to where I was going. The conversation was so brief that I didn't even realize what had happened. Gabe, my first real love and the boy I would date for nearly two years, tagged along on my first date with Ed, the man I dated through nearly the remainder of my time in Madrid. I was too busy with Ed(uardo Blanco) to pick it up the rest of the time I was there, and though it has followed me through... 5 moves since then, I've still never finished it.

2. The Flaneur by Edmund White. I picked up this book over the summer while browsing The Strand with Nick. I loved the time I had spent in Paris with Gabe during the summer of 2008 and always dream of going back. Next time with fewer tears, I hope.

3. The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson. I bought this book of poetry from my favorite used bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Raven. Before my good friend Ross moved to Portland this spring, he threw a giant goodbye house party at his house in Upton. Nick and I went for a night and day and then headed to Boston for a few days of exploring. When I found this book, I read several of the poems and fell in love. We spent a great part of the rest of the day reading the poems to each other while sitting next to the lake at the Public Gardens. It was one of the first times we read together and to each other and made him that much more special to me. We always planned to go back and finish reading it together but then the summer started with all of our bar review, then packing my apartment, then only a few short weeks before I had to move to California. By that point, we were looking for more positive, uplifting literature rather than reading the beautiful collapse of a romantic relationship. I would very much like to finish reading it, though, before the winter gets too cold and my disposition regarding relationships gets too hopeless. I get awfully sad during the winter time when I'm away from my loved one. 

4. Belonging: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World by Niloufar Talebi. My very thoughtful friend, Mike, bought this book of poetry for me back in 2009 for my 24th birthday. He said that he had taken the train into the city (he lived in Newark at the time) without a clear idea of what he had wanted to get. After searching for a half hour, he gave up feeling defeated and just sat down on the ground in the middle of an aisle. He looked up and saw this book staring back at him. He knew it would be perfect and he was right. I've often picked up this book and thumbed through it but have never devoted any substantial amount of time to it. I can't wait to do that now!

5. A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield. My dear friend Molly suggested this book to me, nearly three summers ago, after she read this as part of her yoga teacher training in San Francisco. I immediately bought it but never actually found the time to read it with my busy school schedule. I'm sure it would have helped me immensely then but I think I'm more ready to listen to its messages now.

6. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway and 7. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My favorite book of all time is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. Had I never been fortunate enough to read High Fidelity, then my favorite book of all time would have been The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemingway. I became obsessed with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck back in high school and devoured nothing else for months. A few books did fall through the cracks, however, including For Whom the Bell Tolls and This Side of Paradise

 For the record, The Sun Also Rises would have only remained at the top spot in my "Top Five Favorite Books of All Time " list until I read East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Also for the record, my Top Five list looks like this:
(1) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
(2) East of Eden by John Steinbeck
(3) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
(4) Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
(5) Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

8. Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon. James had me read The Crying of Lot 49 a few years ago and I loved it. I picked this one up soon after, believing Pynchon to be a genius. After reading a few pages though, I realized I wasn't quite in the mood for this genre of literature. I still think Pynchon's a genius and still very much want to read this book, though.  


9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. This book is a classic. Everyone knows it. I know it.  It's not that I haven't tried to read this book  before. I have. Several times! I don't know why but I  just can't seem to get into it. I know I need to just suck it up and get it over with. Maybe I'll be blown away, maybe I won't be but at least I can finally get people off my back about it. =P

 10. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Again, this is another book I know to be a classic. I've read and loved  both Slaughterhouse Five and Galapagos. I read about half of Breakfast of Champions but it did not blow me away like either of the other Vonnegut books I'd read. I promised to give Cat's Cradle a chance, though, and I will sometime in 2011.

 11. She Loves Me by Peter Esterhazy. This was one of about two dozen books I had to read in my Eastern and Central European Literature course during my sophomore year of college. I was obsessed with the Cold War and took almost nothing but history and political science classes about it that year. This was one of only two non history/political science courses I took (the other being Spanish since my parents used the promise of allowing me to study abroad as an incentive to study that rather than Arabic or Russian which I had been planning to take). I'm so glad I took this course because it ended up being the best course I have ever taken. I read so many amazing books in that class (The Street of Crocodiles, The Khajar Dictionary, Closely Watched Trains, The Notebook/The Proof/The Third Lie, etc...). I didn't really understand the amazingness of this book at the time, however, especially in comparison to some of the other books we read. I'm hoping to get more out of it.

And finally, 12. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I first started reading this book in the fall semester of 2006, my last at NYU. It was the very first book on the reading list for my Modern Latin America history course. I spent many afternoons at Esperanto Cafe (now sadly closed) savoring each of the first 100-150 pages of the book before the semester started and I became swamped with more scholarly reading and writing assignments. I always planned to go back and finish it but I never could quite get myself to do so. Maybe it's because I stopped reading while everything was still pleasant, before the colonialism I knew was coming. I think it will be bittersweet to re-read since I know the place where I fell in love with this book is no longer the same and because the boy I was falling so deeply in love with at the time later broke my heart. That boy was Gabe, btw, the boy who interrupted my first date in Madrid. And who I later dated for almost two years.

That all having been said, I live in a beautiful city now where it seems to be perpetually a mix of spring and autumn, am closer to my family than I  ever even thought possible, and am dating the best person I have ever met. There are certainly no complaints here about the change in my current circumstances. Except for living so far away from my love. We'll work that out, though. And in the meantime, we'll visit when we can, talk on the phone everyday, and read books with each other over Skype several times a week.

1 comment:

  1. just wanted to say thank you for your comments on the blog yesterday. I appreciate it!