Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Reading I Haven't Written About...

Back in January of this year, I blogged about reading and set my self the task of reading and writing about 100 books this year. I've written about 12 books and we're 5 months into the year. Now, I don't claim to be a genius mathematician (seriously, my brain just doesn't do mental arithmetic any more) but I'm pretty sure that I'm running behind schedule here.

Here's the thing; I've read a bunch of books this year that I haven't gotten around to writing about. Maybe I finished reading a book in bed and woke up the next day with too little time to scribble down some thoughts, put it off for a day or two, then forgot to return to it. Maybe I just had something else I wanted to do right after closing a book, put off writing about it for a day or two and forgot about it... you get the picture already, right?

So, I've read more than 12 books this year. Off the top of my head some of the books I've liked or loved enough to remember without a written record are:

Blue is the Night by Eoin McNamee
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
The Front Seat Passenger by Pascal Garnier
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
The Hunter by Richard Stark
(I suspect there are a few more books that belong on this list, but they've slipped my mind)

I also reread The Maltese Falcon and a good portion of The Glass Key (both by Hammett) as well as the unfinished first draft of The Thin Man in the Library of America edition of Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writing. A few short stories here and there (from mammoth collections like Hemingway's First Forty-Nine Stories and the Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, mostly) and the odd chapter from a bunch of books that I wanted to refresh my memory of.

I'd still be running behind schedule, even if I'd written about the listed books, of course, but I'd be comfortable enough knowing that my summer reading boost would have helped a little. I've delivered this year's PhD work to QUB, and following my differentiation at the end of the month, I get a few months to myself (sort of) to read and write before the new academic year starts. This means I'll be free to read whatever I fancy and I'll probably take a break from the academic texts I've been dipping in and out of (I could list those, but I don't think you'd care).

So, do I write about the listed books in retrospect? I'm not sure I want to. I think I'll have lost some of the enthusiasm that sticks with you for a day or two after reading and that'll come through in my short reviews. Plus, I'm clocking up more titles that should go on the list every week or two. But then, these are all books worth talking about. Also, I've a bunch of fiction writing I want to get done (and reading of the work I've written, as the process goes). Or do I just abandon the whole 100 books thing and simply write what I feel like writing about when I feel like it?

You know what? My son wants me to make his some grub right now. I'll think about this later. If I feel like it.

Currently reading The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins and Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction by Patricia Highsmith, by the way.


seana graham said...

I say abandon the project and enjoy your reading life. I have far too many of these sort of reading/reviewing obligations and although I'm usually happy in some sense when they are done, I am still very much looking for ways out of the box.

And yes, get back to writing your own fiction!

Gerard Brennan said...

Hi, Seana. I'll probably go with the majority on this one. A safe bet, because the more I think about it, the more I think you're right, and it's pretty likely you'll be the only one to comment. Thanks for taking the time! :)


PS Can't wait to get back to the fiction writing. Laying out plans tonight so I can hit the ground running tomorrow.

Stina Leicht said...

I'm commenting! I am! So there!

Actually, you've already reminded me of books I need to add to my reading list. I think it's a project worth doing. Although, 100 books may be too ambitious. You have kids. I can't imagine you'd have enough time to read and write about that many books, raise kids, AND write your own works.

Dana King said...

I'm with Seana. Life's too short to tie yourself down to arbitrary projects when there is so much to do along similar lines you'll enjoy without feeling obligated about them.

seana graham said...

See,gb? Just ask us to weigh in on your personal decisions and we come out in droves...

Gerard Brennan said...

Well thank you for stopping by to comment, Stina! You have a point about the ambition vs the reality, right enough. The majority is still with dropping it completely, however (thank you for weighing in, Dana!) and I think I'll stick to the majority rule, especially since it chimes with my own instinct.

Seana, I'm touched. Maybe I'll get personal more often.