Monday, December 26, 2011

book list 2011

This post was originally entitled 'reddit'. As in, when someone asks if you've read a certain book, and you mumble, I might've reddit but can't remember, I ought to make a list or something. My nephew just showed me a website called 'reddit' where people post, well, anything they want, it seems, and some of it was screamingly funny. I've since decided to retitle the post because what I read has nothing to do with reddit. But this reminded me to look at the list I'd started of the books I've read since January. At year's end I am startled to see there are not so many, around 20. I used to read several books a month when I rode the subway in the city, enough that I'd spot at least one book I'd read on every shelf in the literature (or biography, or food writing) section at the library. Not that they were all gems, but they transported me far from the rattling cars and jostling crowds. I wish I'd kept a list of some of those books, anyway. A few float back to me from time to time, triggered by a memory or mention. I read parts of the New Yorker, the Times and whatever of interest I stumble across online, which are difficult to catalog but do augment the overall amount of my reading material, plus the rereads. I used to compulsively reread books when I was a kid, flipping to the front as soon as my eyes had reluctantly flicked over the final page. Maybe lots of young readers do that. It was always so satisfying.
A few of this year's books (some of which I've already enthusiastically written about):
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen (thick sprawling story-of-a-family/ environmental commentary novel)
Blue Nude, Elizabeth Rosner (slim artsy sometimes brooding, character's-psyche-probing novel)
Just Kids, Patti Smith (great story of her early life & friendship w/Mapplethorpe, young, broke, free in the city)
Blood, Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton (well-written, spirited memoir of food, cooking, starting a restaurant)
O'Keeffe: The Life of an American Legend, Jeffrey Hogrefe (detailed, slightly weird bio to prime myself for NM)
The Life and Art of Georgia O'Keeffe, Jan Castro (better bio that I got in a store in T or C, includes letters & pictures)
The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball (absorbing & humorous first-year-of-farming memoir)
The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer (intelligent, thoughtful, creative narrative of photography through history)
The Accidental Masterpiece: The Art of Life and Vice Versa, Michael Kimmelmann (brilliant.. history, passion, aesthetics, philosophy, ways to look at and think about art)
The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton (thoughtful essays of travel experiences, its essence & philosophy, invoking other writers & artists)
Edible Stories, Mark Kurlansky (short surreal interconnected food-related stories)
Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence (no description needed of this long, classic novel)
Everything Beautiful Began After, Simon van Booy (lovely, sometimes sad novel of 3 intertwined lives, also psyche-probing)
Painting Below Zero, James Rosenquist (a full, vigorous life in art)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (no description needed for this one either)

Plus, there's this new incentive I've just added, that if I'm going to report selected books at year's end, it might make me more conscious of my choices, raising the bar. Ah, there will always be more to read than I can even dream of.. the list of books I've wanted to read but didn't get to is several times longer.

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