Spring went from March 20th to June 20th this year, which amounts to about 13 weeks. During that time I read 8 books, a much smaller quantity then usual partially because I wasn’t listening to audiobooks in lieu of several podcasts and radio stations and a two-week stint in Japan, where little reading was done other than maps, pictures in restaurant menus, and travel guides. Still, it was a good time. Death in Midsummer and Other Stories, Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired, The Making Of, and Davita’s Harp are favorites without disparaging everything else I read. Here’s the breakdown:
No Swank by Sherwood Anderson
A hit-and-miss collection of essays by Sherwood Anderson which make clear why he was America’s top writer in the 1920s and at the same time (though not in the same essays) why he was out of the mainstream by his death in 1941.
Death in Midsummer and Other Stories by Yukio Mishima
A brilliant collection of stories with the through-line of tension between individuality and social protocols.
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
The plot is enjoyable, and certainly a commentary on society, but Dick is unable to justify his fabulations with a plausible explanation. The end of this book comes quickly and is ultimately unsatisfying. The rest is worthwhile, though.
The Bodhi Tree Grows in L.A.: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America by Bhante Walpola Piyananda
Interesting anecdotes laced with Buddhist teachings. Would’ve liked more story without less Buddhist teachings.
Burning Chrome (au) by William Gibson
If anything provides an introduction to cyberpunk in relatively short bursts, this is it. Gibson (and co-authors) demonstrate their ability to create compelling settings, characters, and plots quickly.
Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired by Till Roenneberg
Taught me about the study of and results from experiments about sleep and chronotypes that made me want to be a scientist.
The Making Of by Brecht Evens
Everything I’ve come to expect from Brecht Evens: Cool illustrations and a expressive, slightly downbeat storyline. Looking forward to more Evens in English when it comes.
Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok
Young Ilana Davita searches for her identity under the influence of the various viewpoints around her. This is a story in every sense of the word, carrying with it recurrent images like a small door harp, poetic prose, and a plot full of emotional depth that is difficult to shake off. This is the type of novel that show us why we read fiction.
So that’s the list for the Spring. I’ve been thinking over the past few days about how to plan my reading a little bit better. It’s not a necessary change, but considering I have shelves of books at home and a Goodreads to-read list a mile long, plus an American authors list that I’ve been ignoring, a little detailed forethought wouldn’t hurt. After pondering the issue, I’ve decided to do two things. First, because summer is approximately 13 weeks and I’m pretty comfortable with one book a week, I’ve put together a list of 13 books that help alleviate some of the above backlogs while still proceeding with other reading. Of course, I know that I may not be able to restrain my impulses when it comes to exciting books of all sorts, so I won’t be too hard on myself if I engage in, shall we say, extracurricular activities.
When I put it up, the list will Link from here.
The second way I’m thinking of working on my reading is to occasionally “live” blog some of my reading in this space. I noticed how Trevor over at The Mookse and the Gripes is reviewing Sherwood Anderson’s Collected Stories one-by-one and thought that might be a good idea. But he’s already doing Anderson, so maybe I’ll do someone else. Or maybe I’ll do Anderson as well? Who knows. Suggestions welcome.