An entire life spent reading would have fulfilled my every desire; I already knew that at the age of seven. The texture of the world is painful, inadequate; unalterable, or so it seems to me. Really, I believe that an entire life spent reading would have suited me best. Such a life has not been granted me…
― Michel Houellebecq, Whatever
From 2009 I’ve kept a list of the books I read. These are only those that I read from cover to cover. I tend to intersperse fiction and nonfiction, and am always trying to read more poetry. Books I re-read are marked with an asterisk (*). Short stories or short non-fiction are marked thus ‘^’.
Sometimes I compile bibliographies of writers I intend to explore deeply: Sebald, Beckett and Kafka for instance. I also keep lists for reading ideas, but I rarely follow them in any meaningful way, as my shelves are filled with unread books: Joseph Brodsky, Cyril Connolly, Alberto Manguel, Neoliberalism and Studies in Modern European Literature and Thought.
From 2017 I’m keeping a list of the books I abandon unfinished. Most years this list is longer than the books I read from cover to cover. If you are a writer and I’ve included your book, please don’t take it too personally. Reading is such a deeply personal activity.