Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 in reading

Happy 2016!

2015 was a great year for reading. Could read a lot, perhaps most in a year since I have started keeping this blog. Read wide as well - some very interesting books, short stories, essays, sci-fi. And mostly loved what I read.

I recently took a sabbatical (should I call this holiday a sabbatical?) which allowed me to read non stop. Luxuriously spent this time discovering the beautiful open secrets of Sydney - parks and harbour views, walked and walked during spring when Sydney turned purple, clicked lots of Instagram-able pics, explored endless aisles in bookstores and the city's wonderful libraries and read to my heart's content. Half of the books I read in 2015 were read during this break - the last couple of months or so (15-20). I think I read well through rest of the year as well. The essays and 2666 were big achievements earlier this year.

Book list from my Recent Reads page:
  1. Moments of Reprieve by Primo Levi. (January). **** Short Stories
  2. The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer 
  3. Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano (March) **** three short novellas
  4. Emerald City and other stories by Jeniffer Egan (April) **** short stories 
  5. One flew over the cuckoo's nest by Ken Kesey (April) 
  6. Drown by Junot Diaz *** short stories
  7. Both Flesh And Not, David Foster Wallace ***** essays
  8. Less Than One, Joseph Brodsky ***** essays
  9. 2666, Roberto Bolano **** 
  10. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain ***
  11. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway *****
  12. The Festival of Insignificance  by Milan Kundera ****
  13. My Struggle 1 - A Death in the Family - Karl Ove Knausgaard ***
  14. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov ***
  15. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton *** 
  16. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou *** 
  17. V. by Thomas Pynchon *** kindle
  18. The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald **** Oct
  19. Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace *** short stories
  20. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut ***** 
  21. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut **** 
  22. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke ***
  23. African Stories by Doris Lessing **** short stories
  24. Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu **
  25. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood ***
  26. The Search For Roots - A Personal Anthology by Primo Levi ***** (anthology/ extracts - essential reading as recommended by P. Levi)
  27. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandra Solzhenitsyn *****
  28. Rama II by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee *
  29. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway ****
  30. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse ****
  31. The First Forty-Nine Stories by Ernest Hemingway **** short stories
  32. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner ***
  33. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf ***
  34. Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari ****
  35. Between You and Me by Mary Norris ***
A few notes:
  • This is the year when I read Hemingway and around Hemingway and enjoyed his works a lot. Hope to read more.
  • Happy with the number of short stories I could read. 2016 - I have started reading Borges to keep up the tempo. Loved some of the short story collections I read in 2015. They were worlds in themselves. Esp, African Stories by Doris Lessing and Hemingway's pursuits and life depicted in his stories. Love both of their writing. Sketches; Like an art gallery - a short story collection.
  • Lots of essays. By the masters. My notes on them are long overdue, but I am glad that I read through them. They were savoured, read slowly. Both Wallace and Brodsky are masters, and written words from them are worth their weight in gold. (That would make Infinite Jest very expensive!) They dive so deep and still maintain a lightness, poetry - quite a privilege to read these authors.
  • 2666 was one surprise book of the year. Quite liked it - the structure, the way it gets tied up (though the violence was a lot to deal with).
  • Lots of science and future fiction too. Discovered Kurt Vonnegut. Liked the novellas. Loved Rama by Arthur Clarke even though the series was disappointing. Was saddened by Handmaid's Tale. 
  • Tried reading Knausgaard, but not sure whether I want to read the next books in the series. During the year, I tried reading book 2 often but could not complete it. Yet to try Elena Ferrante. Another similar book was the one about Hadley and Hemingway.
I love these breaks whenever one can get them. This year holds a lot of my aspirations and ambitions. The future is still hidden, a yet-to-be discovered territory ...we'll get there when we get there. Until then, we try to read more and read better.

Happy new year, and happy reading.