2010 in Reading – Geeky Analysis

Directly inspired by Emily’s 2010 in retrospect (with charts!), and with a nod to Richard’s annual analysis, here is the complete list of books I read in 2010, with links to posts I’ve written about each book.

[* Reread]
[^ Short Story or Short Non-Fiction]

  1. *Julian Barnes – The Lemon Table
  2. Virginia Woolf – Mrs. Dalloway
  3. Michael Cunningham – The Hours
  4. Virginia Woolf – A Writer’s Diary
  5. Moyra Davey – The Problem of Reading
  6. Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse
  7. Lewis Buzbee – The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop
  8. J. M. Coetzee – Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life
  9. J. M. Coetzee – Youth: Scenes From a Provincial Life II
  10. J. M. Coetzee – Summertime
  11. Aldo Buzzi – A Weakness for Almost Everything
  12. Patrick Leigh Fermor – A Time to Keep Silence
  13. Michael Dirda – Readings
  14. Cyril Connolly – The Unquiet Grave – A Word Cycle by Palinurus
  15. Yiyun Li – The Vagrants
  16. Virginia Woolf – The Waves
  17. Rick Gekoski – Tolkien’s Gown
  18. Alberto Manguel – A Reader on Reading
  19. Anne Michaels – Fugitive Pieces
  20. David Shields – Reality Hunger: A Manifesto
  21. Zadie Smith – Changing My Mind
  22. Franz Kafka – Letter to my Father (trans. Howard Colyer)
  23. Louis Begley – Kafka: The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head
  24. Franz Kafka – The Trial
  25. David Shields –The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
  26. Adam Thirlwell – Politics
  27. David Foster Wallace – This is Water
  28. Tom McCarthy – Remainder
  29. Penelope Fitzgerald – The Blue Flower
  30. John Williams – Stoner
  31. Michael Alexander (trans.) – The First Poems in English
  32. Albert C. Baugh and Thomas Cable – A History of the English Language (sections I, II, III)
  33. Robert D. Richardson – First We Read, Then we Write: Emerson on the Creative Process
  34. Seamus Heaney – Beowulf
  35. ^Jorge Luis Borges – ‘Death and the Compass,’ *’The South,’ ‘The Dead Man,’ *’Funes, The Memorious’
  36. Aristotle – Poetics
  37. Philip Larkin – Collected Poems
  38. ^Umberto Eco – ‘The Poetics and Us,’ ‘Borges and My Anxiety of Influence.’
  39. Edith Grossman – Why Translation Matters
  40. Cervantes – Don Quixote (trans. Edith Grossman)
  41. ^*Jorge Luis Borges – The Library of Babel
  42. Stevie Smith – Selected Poems
  43. Leonard Woolf – Growing: an Autobiography of the Years 1904 to 1911
  44. Vladimir Nabokov – Despair
  45. David Pierce – Reading Joyce
  46. *James Joyce – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  47. James Joyce – Ulysses
  48. Declan Kiberd – Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living
  49. Jean-Patrick Manchette – Three to Kill
  50. Honoré de Balzac – Treatise on Elegant Living
  51. Sarah Hall – How to Paint a Dead Man
  52. James Joyce – Dubliners
  53. Louis Begley – Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters
  54. Gabriel Josipovici – The Singer on the Shore
  55. Gabriel Josipovici – What Ever Happened to Modernism?
  56. Virginia Woolf – The Common Reader Vol.1
  57. *Franz Kafka – Dearest Father (trans. Hannah and Richard Stokes)
  58. ^Maurice Blanchot – Orpheus’ Gaze
  59. Gabriel Josipovici – The Lessons of Modernism
  60. Gabriel Josipovici – Touch
  61. Dag Solstad – Shyness and Dignity
  62. Dag Solstad – Novel 11, Book 18
  63. Gabriel Josipovici – Writing and the Body
  64. ^Edgar Allan Poe – The Pit and the Pendulum
  65. *Franz Kafka – The Castle
  66. Simon Critchley – Continental Philosophy – A Very Short Introduction
  67. Andrei Codrescu – The Poetry Lesson
  68. Saul Bellow – Dangling Man
  69. *Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary (trans. Lydia Davis) and here
  70. Hugh Kenner – Flaubert, Joyce and Beckett: The Stoic Comedians
  71. Naomi Klein – The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
  72. Saul Bellow – The Victim
  73. Marguerite Duras – The Malady of Death
  74. Ričardas Gavelis – Vilnius Poker
  75. Max Brod – Franz Kafka: A Biography
Seventy-five books in the year is average for me. Last year, as I’ve written previously, was a distinctively memorable year of reading: Joyce, Woolf, Josipovici, Coetzee, Bellow and Kafka each provided me with content and themes that will echo into 2011.
Now, for some geeky fun (thanks again, Emily, and my apologies for stealing the idea):
Analysing writers by nationality reveals an unsurprising European influence, dominated by those of English origin. Australia and Antarctica are not represented, and other continents by only a small number of titles. The only change I expect in 2011 is a lower Irish representation, this proportion swelled by my Joycean summer, but I am overdue a Beckettian immersion so perhaps not. I did give passing thought to an ethnicity breakdown but it is prone to error and embarrassment.

Breaking the writers I read in 2010 down by gender reveals an overwhelmingly male predominance. I wish to accomplish more balanced reading this year. The listthat readers of this blog helped to compile is part of that intention. Specifically I will be reading more Woolf, Marguerite Duras, Cynthia Ozick, Simone de Beauvoir, Penelope Fitzgerald and Lydia Davis, and hope to get around to reading Muriel Spark, Clarice Lispector, Herta Muller and Nadine Gordimer.

Morbid perhaps, but prior to this investigation I had perceived that most of the writers I read to be long departed. No further conclusions to extract, just thought it interesting.
I’ve never shied away from translated works and fully expect this balance to be broadly consistent in any reading year, even comprising up to fifty percent translations. Each year I vow to read more of classic Greek and Roman texts, perhaps one year I shall.
This surprised me, as I have been thinking that I should read more non-fiction. The latter is composed mostly of literary criticism. In my twenties and thirties I read (and in some cases understood) much more philosophy, and I intend to read more in this area this year, particularly keen to reread Kierkegaard. Of poetry, my ambition is to read Anne Carson more deeply and to tackle Wallace Stevens. There is more poetry in my reading than represented here, as I only record complete books read. In practice, I read Eliot  weekly and Auden monthly.
Goals for 2011 are to continue my immersion into Kafka and Bellow, read more female authors, and undoubtedly to persist in my Modernist theme.

8 thoughts on “2010 in Reading – Geeky Analysis

  1. >I would say that one can't just say significant European influence, because there's a clear difference between a language like French versus Lithuanian in literary translations. You have a fine variety of Eastern and Northern European books. That is certainly something worth boasting about.Wonderful stats (original idea or not…), looking forward to seeing how your reading year plays out.

  2. >Thank you, Biblibio, I was more surprised to contrast the European vs. US influence. If you'd have asked me before I ran the analysis, I'd have expected a greater percentage from across the ocean.

  3. >Yay, love it! I was away for New Years so am just discovering this post, but so glad you liked my charts. Living versus dead is such an interesting idea; I wonder where my own reading would fall. I suspect it would skew to dead, but not sure by how much. And I also plan to dive into more of Carson's poetry this year, so very much look forward to your insight!

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