Thoughts on 2010 and 2011 Reading

Before this year is over I have a week on business in New York, and a fortnight’s trip to the Far East. That’s almost forty hours of reading time. I’m looking forward to the periods of sustained concentration, and pondering what to read to occupy those long hours on the aeroplane.

This year is already a watershed in my reading life. My Joycean summer and discovery of the sheer brilliance of Ulysses alone would mark 2010 as pivotal. But in the same year I have fallen heavily for the novels and diaries of Virginia Woolf, and the critical works of Gabriel Josipovici. The thrill of reading Don Quixote is merely the cherry on the trifle.

The transition between years is arbitrary, but a useful juncture for reflection. Next year I plan to complete my immersion into Saul Bellow’s novels, read my unread Virginia Woolf novels and more of her diaries and essays, and read more deeply of Kafka’s non fiction. Also on my list is to sample more deeply the works of Cynthia Ozick, Thomas Bernhard, Robert Walser, Marguerite Duras and Peter Handke. I’m musing with trying once again to sustain a reading of Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m also thinking it is time to reread Proust and Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time, but we shall see. I hope also to discover a new writer or two from my Reading the Girls List.

I have lost my innate scepticism about the concept of reading groups. This year’s shared reading of Madame Bovary, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves has been revelatory. The posts and ensuing discussions in comments have, in each case, enhanced my understanding and appreciation of each book. I thank Frances for getting me started and very much look forward to reading, posting and commenting along with some of “The Wolves” selections for 2011. I’ll be posting my thoughts on ‘Vilnius Poker’ later in the week.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on 2010 and 2011 Reading

  1. >This might sounds completely weird, but I always feel you are such an intelligent blogger. A perfect fit for bloggers such as Frances or Emily, I cannot help but be a little jealous and feel very much a teenager compared to your more "grown-up" reading. I wonder if I will ever feel ready to take on Ulysses, or Woolf. Maybe it will take a few more years, or maybe I am simply not made for those books? I don't know. Anyway, I like reading your thoughts on them. And I just wanted to let you know.

  2. >If you'd asked me a year or two ago, Iris, I would have said precisely the same about Ulysses and Woolf. This year has been a watershed because after reading and loving Ulysses I feel ready to tackle anything. But, to be honest, in my first reading of Ulysses and probably Woolf's novels, I am sure I've only scratched the surface. There are depths there inaccessible to me. I'm a little jealous of those that have been privileged to study literature.You've written some kind words, Iris, thank you. You can't imagine how much I appreciate your comments. It has been great to meet you online this year, and read your words on the blog and Twitter.

  3. >It sounds like you have had a fantastic reading year. I'm hoping to take on Ulysses next year since I will finally, finally be done with library school and have free time once again. I'm also stuck in the middle of Proust and hope to pick him back up again. I'm interested in tackling Musil sometime so I hope your reading goes well. I look forward to hearing about it. I also hope your travels go smoothly!

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