In which I break the conventions by following them

In a decade of blogging, I have learnt a few things about myself: that I enjoy reading memes but not joining them, that reading challenges are not for me (pressure, guilt trips and all… no thanks), and that my reading plans mostly get derailed by random choices and nice covers of new acquisitions at the library.

That is why I usually refuse to set any precise good resolutions regarding my reading. At most, I did vague intentions. On the other hand, I am surrounded by shelves full of books that I own (jointly with Mr. S., that is) that I’ve never read. In the face of an impeding house move (mmh, not really soon, but keeping me busy), I can’t really live with the idea that I’ll move boxes after boxes of unread books just so that they will gather dust in another home.

It seems only logical that 2017 would be the year I start reading the books that are at arm’s length, instead of those from the bookshop and the library. (I swear, it’s not my first purpose to weed out our shelves, I don’t hope to read disappointing books that will get donated – but surely once I’ve read them I’ll take a decision).

Knowing my tendency to be distracted by shiny new literary objects that cross my path, I don’t want to set a number that I will surely fail (more guilt trips? no-no). I have only the objective to read a certain number of books according to a list, and not the majority of my yearly reading.

That’s where I come full circle and find myself back where everyone is traditionally in these few first days of the year: making book lists for 2017. I have pondered over my overcrowded shelves and here’s my 10 books for a start:

  • Javier Marias short story collection: While the women are sleeping (1990)
  • Dorothy Whipple, The Priory (1939) – the Persephone bestseller
  • Wallace Stegner, Crossing to safety (1987) – I must have read the first few pages ten times already, it’s high time I follow through.
  • Maylis de Kerangal, Réparer les vivants (2014) – I have loved Kerangal book about bridge building, everything indicates I should love this one, but I couldn’t get to it, even though it was made into a movie
  • Emmanuel Carrère, le royaume (2014) – I am a self-professed Carrère fan
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, the White Guard (1926) – why am I afraid of Russian literature?
  • Alison Lurie, Real People (1969) – because Lurie + writing retreat…
  • Pawel Huelle Short story collection in French “Rue Polanski”
  • Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, Deconstructing penguins – it’s about talking books with the kids, and go beyond “was it good?” and “did you like it?”. I bought it in the US but I could use some good idea now.
  • Barbara Vine, the Child’s Child (2012) – Vine’s beginnings are always slow but normally the ending leaves me bedazzled and quite proud to have persisted.

I finally left out big names that I still hope to read this year, like Chandler, Simenon and others, for whom I’ll go to the library and do some research. I hope I can at least stick to that list and if I do I’ll be able to be more ambitious next time! Which one should I start with in your opinion?


6 thoughts on “In which I break the conventions by following them

  1. Crossing to Safety is a Marvelous book! I am so glad to see it on your list–you are in for a treat when you get to it as his writing is superlative. You should let me know when you plan on reading the Barbara Vine (as I just bought it, too) and I was thinking that The Priory might be my vacation read, but then I chose something else (and shorter likely….). Lots of good books to start out with and then it is always fun to pick up new ones along the way. This won’t be news to you in France, but Dumas’ The Red Sphinx has been translated into English–it is one of the sequels to The Three Musketeers (which I loved) and I am contemplating buying it–only it is still in hardcover…..

    • I love Dumas and had never heard of this one. It must be said that he was paid for serials and therefore needed to write a lot (maybe too much?). Beware I see that in English it’s advertised as the sequel of the Musketeers, but it doesn’t say so in the French version, that is called the Count of Moret (less glamorous)

    • I don’t dread it because I have done it once already, and I have been culling out regularly. I remember 10 years ago the movers said “you sure like books”, and we have more of them now, I wonder what they’ll say.

  2. Pingback: Taking a Ticket for the Rollercoaster by way of London | Smithereens

  3. Pingback: 2017 in Retrospect | Smithereens

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