Sunday, March 06, 2005

My Queue

Note: This post appeared originally on 01/01/05 on the Down With blog. I updated it there for a while but since I'm going to keep at it I'm going to clean it up a little and transfer it here. And I'm going to work on including more comments on what I'm reading (in new posts.)

I was inspired by this post from the Smart Bohemian:

Keeping track of Books Bought and Books Actually Read .... [and] not allowing myself to buy new books (with few exceptions), thus forcing me to read the ones I already have. This could be combined with another gimmick, say, starting from authors beginning with A and seeing how far I get.

My first response was that it's impossible to not buy new books in order to force yourself to read the ones you have in the queue (or, at least, it is impossible for me to do that because I have no self-discipline.) I love browsing bookstores (especially used bookstores) as much as I love browsing CD stores (especially used CD stores)... but inevitably I end up wanting to buy a few souvenirs... I mean, what fun is it to just find F/32 if you can't take it home with you to commemorate the event? Then I decided that... well, it might be worth a try anyway. Or, rather, making overtures in that direction should produce more results than just hoping for the best... thus I shall list, for all to laugh at, my queue.

This list is going to be all fiction (including dramatic fiction, i.e. plays) mainly because that's the brunt of my reading.

For plays I'm only going to include books with a single play... I'm not going to, for example, list plays in Six Plays of Strindberg I have yet to get to; there are a number of collections like this that I'm cycling through non-linearly... which makes tracking difficult. I also read a lot of poetry but it's more difficult to deal with. Also there are about 9 books of poetry that I'm semi-actively reading through (cycling through non-linearly) and a few others I haven't started. I'm not going to include philosophical or religious texts because I'm not going to. I'm not going to include Durant's Story of Civilization series but I am going to keep soldiering on through. I'm not going to include any other historical partially because there are almost none and partially just because. I'm not going to include anything else because that's all I can think of.

As of 01/01/05 I had no in-process novels. I'm in the middle of 60 Stories by Donald Barthleme but since it was started in 2004 it won't go on the list.

Yikes. Oh, well. Here goes nothing:

UPDATE: At the end of 2005 there are 58 books are currently in the queue (this includes no in-process) and there are 6,558 pages of finished reading through 23 books (12/31/05.) Also, yes, I understand that "pages" sucks as a counter - for example Pattern Recognition was about 75 pages longer than F/32 but the latter had more words and took longer. Oh well, I'm not going back to estimating words in a book, I don't care that much. Yet.
  • Acker, Kathy: Don Quixote - I've read two books by her (Empire of the Senseless; Blood and Guts in High School) and like both. I don't see her stuff used very often so I tend to pick it up when I do.
  • same: Great Expectations - (continued from above:) Hence two books from that same author where neither is exceedingly high in the queue. Other than alphabetically, that is.
  • Barthleme, Donald: The Dead Father
  • same: The King
  • Cervantes: Don Quixote - Bought at the same time as Acker's take-off. It's very long.
  • Conrad, Joseph: Lord Jim
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot - I've come a long ways from reading one chapter of Crime and Punishment for senior (high school) English.
  • Eco, Umberto: Foucault's Pendulum - This was recommended to me (sort of) like 8 years ago when I jokingly wrote a rather paranoiac analysis of the lyrics of Dream Theater. This book isn't mine; a friend loaned it to me... uhh... a year ago (to the day.)
  • Faulkner, William: Soldiers' Pay - My favorite author, hands down.
  • same: The Reivers
  • same: The Hamlet
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Short Stories of... - Almost 800 pages yet still only a collection.
  • Fo, Dario: Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas - I think I have one or two remaining in a separate book of plays that I'll read before getting to this one.
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: The Sorrows of Young Werther - his plays are good.
  • Ionesco, Eugene: Killing Game - Of the books on this list this may be the one I've had the longest. I've read a lot of Ionesco, have not yet gotten to this one (duh.)
  • Joyce, James: Finnegan's Wake - I also have A Shorter Finnegan's Wake as edited by Anthony Burgess.
  • Lem, Stanislaw: The Star Diaries
  • Mamet, David: The Cryptogram
  • Nabokov, Vladimir: Bend Sinister
  • same: Ada
  • Proust, Marcel: Swann's Way - I figured eventually I need to get to A la recherche du temps perdu ... but not in French.
  • Rand, Ayn: Atlas Shrugged - OK, I hated We the Living but... I don't know how to finish that sentence.
  • Robinson, Kim Stanley: The Years of Rice and Salt - He has a newer one that I, surprisingly, have not yet bought (because I haven't started this one.)
  • Rowling, J. K.: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - I haven't read any of these books. And I've only seen one of the movies (the 2nd one, because my sister had seen the first one and was kind enough to stick around while I was drugged up after having my last wisdom teeth out. I may read the first one first, I may not read any of them; occasionally it's nice to rip right through a long book - which is what I expect here.
  • Shaw, Bernard: Man and Superman - I haven't read any Shaw. There, I've admitted it.
  • Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath - I have, however, read Steinbeck. Just not this one.
  • Sturgeon, Theodore: The Cosmic Rape - I need to go back to Ellison's intro to Angry Candy (which was better than any of the shorts) and see what other sci-fi authors he lamented. The two Alfred Bester novels I read were necessary and I liked the first Strugeon novel I read. Here's another.
  • same: Starshine - And here's some short stories.
  • Queneau, Raymond: Zazie in the Metro - Louis Malle directed a film adaptation of this book. I haven't seen any Malle. There, I've said it. As much as I'd like to end this little note on that I don't have any more Queneau in the queue so I need this space to say that Queneau is an odd one.
  • Welsh, Irvine: Filth
  • Welsh, Irivine: Marabou Stork Nightmares - Trainspotting was brilliant, I tried to start... I think this one. Several years ago. I need to try these again.
  • Woolf, Virginia: Jacob's Room - I bought this one to get The Waves (two novels in one volume.) Now I'm trying to figure out if I liked that one more than To the Lighthouse. Her prose is just gorgeous... Nabokov (when he tries for that sort of thing) and Faulkner are the only I know that are in the same class.
  • same: Orlando
  • same: A Haunted House and Other Short Stories - I've actualy read 3 (of 18) so this could count as in-process (along with the Dick and Barthelme.)
    • New Addtions (bought in 2005 - I didn't even last two weeks before the first lapse)
  • Burgess, Anthony: A Dead Man in Deptford
  • Lawrence, D.H.: The Complete Short Stories (volume 2)
  • Mamet, David: Wilson
  • Colette: The Collected Stories - OK, I'm not sure where I heard about her or why I figured I needed the book when I saw it... but... oh well. It's here. Five books (i.e. this one and the four that follow in this list - the Collected Stories is not in five volumes) cost me a total of $9.95 so I'm not real worried.
  • Heinlein, Robert: Assignment in Eternity
  • same: The Menace from Earth
  • Johnson, Denis - The Name of the World
  • Jones, Terry - Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic
  • Durrell, Lawrence - Mountolive
  • same - Clea
  • Celine, Louis-Ferdinand - Guignol's Band
  • Egan, Greg - Permutation City
  • Gates, David - Jernigan
  • Mamet, David - The Water Engine and Mr. Happiness (plays)
  • Smith, E. E. - Triplanetary
  • Stephenson, Neal - The System of the World [I didn't buy this.]
  • Acker, Kathy - In Memoriam to Identity
  • Garland, Alex - The Coma
  • Johnson, Denis - Resuscitation of a Hanged Man
  • Bukowski, Charles - Septuagenarian Stew (Stories and Poems)
  • Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle - Lucifer's Hammer
  • O'Brien, Flann - The Third Policeman
  • Morgan, Richard - Altered Carbon
  • Marcus, Ben - The Age of Wire and String

Now what I'd really want would be for people to comment upon these works; which one's should head the list, which ones I should not bother with, what's missing, how long I you think I can hold out before breaking.

Also: This color means I have yet to read the book, let's say I'll use mauve (or whatever that is) for what I've finished and green for short comments on what I thought (longer comments will have their own blog post.)

UPDATE 03/28/05: I've decided to list the completed books down here. Also I've realized that I'm not doing very well at being consistant with the color scheme. Oh well.

  • Stephenson, Neal: The Confusion - Speaking of ripping right through a long book.... Just borrowed this one (from the same guy I got the Eco from - yes, he's willing to loan me another book) and this is the next one I'm going to start. Then, eventually, someone else will loan me The System of the World or, who knows, I could give in and buy it myself. Only having read the first one of the cycle I'm figuring that it all could easily be considered one 2700 page book; we'll see how that turns out. Eventually. I predict I'll be done with this one before the new moon. - Wow. I do need a break before I go and get The System of the World but.... Anyway F/32 is next.
  • Eurudice: F/32 - OK, fine, I didn't find this in a used bookstore; I bought it on eBay for about $4 which still shocked me... I didn't expect to find this. Ever. It's been on my notification list at Powell's for a while but I had started to doubt that there were enough copies out there for that to yield anything. Also I forget why, exactly, I wanted this one - that is to say where I got it in my head that I needed to read this. I finished this while camping and went fairly directly into the Gibson. This book was, well, odd. This is one reason I wanted to read it. Anyway the bit with Jessey Norman was just sublime.
  • Gibson, William: Pattern Recognition - Done. Less than seven days, this one. See comments in their own entry on 02/19/05. I don't know what's next. [Note: comments were posted to a different blog.][Bought in 2005]
  • Calvino, Italo: The Baron in the Trees - I liked this book but it was a little too effective at aping and 18th century styles and conforming to their conventions for me. I mean, it's clever but it's still, in the end, a little silly.
  • Aldiss, Brian: Supertoys Last All Summer Long and other stories of Future time - Short stories, now complete. They were interesting without striking much of a chord. The titular story was similar enough to that portion of A.I. but the other two short stories in the cycle and Kubrick/Spielberg's movie have little in common (tone, plot, purpose, etc.) The stories were filled with environmenal and other typically leftist themes (I don't remember the Westerners in A.I. mentioning their surgically inserted bioengineered tape worms) though many would not see that as fair. [Bought in 2005]
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: Egmont - did I mention that I adore Iphigenia auf Tauris?
  • Card, Orson Scott: Shadow Puppets - Done. This one was real quick. Very light, very much like the other books in the Shadow series (a subset of the Ender series) in that clever things are going on but you don't have to worry about understanding anything because Card is very eager to have everyone understand how clever his characters are. [Bought in 2005]
  • Leyner, Mark: My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist - See the seperate entry. Also I'll note that I' m counting the "About the Author" bit at the end (in the page count) because it, at least, was brilliant.
  • Bukowski, Charles: Factotum - Not much different from Ham on Rye... excpet with less plot development. Interesting though. I liked the end, the last chapter was built nicely and appeared to be gearing up for something... yet it ended anticlimactically (Err, sorry, but I'm serious about being impressed by this.) [Bought in 2005]
  • Wright, Richard: Native Son - See the seperate entry.
  • Egan, Greg: Diaspora - See the seperate entry. I've been doing more seperate entries because this post is hidden in the archives of this blog. [Bought in 2005]
  • Durrell, Lawrence - Justine - When I found out what Durrell was doing with these books I had to have them. I am about halfway through this, it is very, very good. And no, it hasn't taken me 20 days to get this far; I worked on some non-queue reading before starting Justine. - I don't have a whole lot to say on this one. The prose was beautiful in a very dense way. I'm guessing that I'll have more about this one once I've read the others; that plan is certainly still on... well, at least the reading them all before too long part. I plan on finishing all four this year... but I'll probably read more than a single book inbetween days [Bought in 2005]
  • Palaniuk, Chuck: Diary - What can I say? Chuck is Chuck. Invisible Monsters feels like a first book (it's not entirely shocking that it was rejected... though I'm not knocking it) but he hasn't really stopped since he got mad and wrote Fight Club. [Bought in 2005]
  • Farmer, Philip Jose: Father to the Stars - See the seperate entry. [Bought in 2005]
  • Carson, Ann: Glass, Irony and God - I keep liking Carson's work. I also keep needing to reread everything she writes because it is generally so short. [Bought in 2005]
  • Mishima, Yukio: The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea - Not sure what to say. I'm not yet ready for The Sea of Fertility - his quartet on 20th century Japan - but I certainly want to keep reading his books. I have not seen them around much, however. [Bought in 2005]
  • Saunders, George: Pastoralia - Short stories. This author - along with Ben Marcus and Judy Budnitz were recommended by someone who's name I didn't get with whom I talked at the Electrelane show. From the Boston Globe quote on the back cover: Saunders is "a master of the self-flagellating interior monologue." Very good, modern fiction. [Bought in 2005]
  • Durrell, Lawrence: Balthazar - started near the end of the Midwest trip. See the seperate entry. [Bought in 2005]
  • Palahniuk, Chuck - Haunted - When I bought Diary the clerk pointed out that they had first edition copies of his new one available. "That's a bunch of short stories, right?" I was talking about Haunted, I was just mistaken. I hadn't realize it is a novel - in much the way Pale Fire is considered a novel. [I - do I really need to say this? - don't mean to imply that Haunted is (anywhere near) as good as the Nabokov. For one I have no idea, I haven't read the former, for two, there are less than a dozen books as good as Pale Fire so the odds that any single book is in that neighborhood are miniscule, and for three, that whole bit about mentioning two things in the same sentence automatically implying that you're wholly equating the two is ridiculous. Godwin's rule is practical/useful but only because people are stupid about such things.] - There are comments on this book included in a seperate entry.
  • O'Brien, Flann - At Swim-Two-Birds - Quite delightful. There are comments elsewhere, but yes, I did finish the book; it just took me a lot longer than I had expected. [Bought in 2005]
  • Cooper, Kim - 33 1/3: In The Aeroplane over the Sea - There are comments elsewhere. [Bought in 2005]
  • Le Guin, Ursula K - The Left Hand of Darkness - My first Le Guin book. It was strong; there was a lot going on that was left unexplained. That is to say she didn't fall into the OSC-ian trap of explaining all the cool things she was doing. The universe was interesting and the story was good. There was a long stretch near the end that moved a bit slowly but I think that was on purpose, preparing the reader for the big and glorious ending. [Bought in 2005]
  • Fante, John - Ask the Dust - In looking for info on Bukowski I heard Fante mentioned as an influence. This is clearly correct, though CB lays it on a little thicker. And this was a better story than anything I've read from CB. [Received in 2005]

I'm not doing so well at not buying books but I am, at least, reading the books I buy. Or, at the very least, I haven't read a book bought before 2005 in two months.

UPDATE, December: I shall be rewriting this and reposting for 2006. I'll reorganize the list and probably add a short list of what I actually expect to start up next (when I have ideas on such.) I also may kick myself in the pants for adding 25 books to the queue that were not read (compared to the 16 books acquired in 2005 that were read.) Oh, my. That means that I only actually knocked 7 books off my pre-2005 reading list. That's just terrible.

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