Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 Reading Goals, Hellz Yeah

I don't do annual resolutions. I fucking quit smoking three weeks ago; I think this should cover me for the year (unless I cave in again with it, but it's going pretty darn well, if I say so myself). Instead, I'm following Annie A's lead and doing a reading resolution list of sorts. Now, this isn't set in stone; it isn't even that I expect to read everything on this list. But I want to see how far through it I can get within the year. The list is comprised in part by texts I really want to read (for example, bunches of books that I'd hoped to read over the winter holiday and will not get to are included), but mostly by books that I think will fill in some gaps in my literary education. So there are some classics on there, even ones that I don't particularly want to read (re: Melville, Hawthorne, Dostoevsky), but also tons of contemporary works that I want to read *and* should hopefully be productive for me as a scholar--if I hope to go into the field of 20th century lit (largely women's lit), there are so many works that I need to get under my belt.

Sometimes I think that maybe these lists are simply things, not unlike NY Resolutions, that we--I--do to imaginatively shove aside mortality. I binge buy books on half.com--under the impression that they're all money well-spent. I have to live long enough to read them, right? Morbid thought, but it was rising up. Not to mention I found out about someone's passing today--someone I didn't know very well at all, indeed, only through an online forum, but well enough for her passing to really make me take pause. In any case, Michelle, you will be missed.

So the lists. I read a little over 80 works in 2009. I've got a list here of about 70 total works, divided by type--nonfiction/theory (ten), poetry (ten), and fiction (fifty). This doesn't include texts I'll read for school, though I suppose it could in the future (seeing as I don't really know what I'm studying in the next two semesters), so this is a really really lofty list. But I'm doing it just out of curiosity--just to push myself, see what I can accomplish over the next twelve months. If I've got any glaring omissions, leave me a comment--I really tried to cover many bases, with classics and contemporary works, men and women (mostly women), various national origins (France, Russia, England, America, Canada, Argentina, Ireland, Colombia, Germany, and Italy are all covered), realist novels and fabulist fiction, gargantuan works and novellas and short fiction...they're all here. Without further ado (and pardon my bookishness)...

Theory and Nonfiction

(image: Julia Kristeva)

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish
Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One
Julia Kristeva, Black Sun
Eve Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet*

Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem or The White Album
Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor
Alison Light, Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life
Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
Alison Weir, The Life of Elizabeth I

[Yehuda Koren, Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes' Doomed Love; Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf]


(image: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes)

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red
Hart Crane, White Buildings
Louise Gluck, The Wild Iris
Sarah Hannah, Inflorescence*
Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters
Stanley Kunitz, somethingorother
W.S. Merwin, somethingorother
Sharon Olds, The Gold Cell
Adrienne Rich, Diving Into the Wreck

[Alfred Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King* (re-read); John Keats, Selected Poems; John Berryman, The Dream Songs]


(image: Angela Carter)

Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones
Anne Bronte, Agnes Grey
Charlotte Bronte, Villette
A.S. Byatt, The Children's Book
A.S. Byatt, The Virgin in the Garden
Truman Capote, In Cold Blood*
Angela Carter, Heroes and Villains
Willa Cather, O Pioneers
Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood
Don DeLillo, White Noise
Joan Didion, Play it as it Lays*
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov*
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
George Eliot, Middlemarch
Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night*
Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education*
Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
E.M. Forster, Howard's End
Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge
James Joyce, Ulysses
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Katherine Mansfield, Stories
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Toni Morrison, Jazz
Alice Munro, Runaway
Iris Murdoch, The Black Prince
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
Philip Roth, Portnoy's Complaint*
Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh
Bernard Schlink, The Reader
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie
Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?
John Updike, Rabbit, Run*
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Sarah Waters, Nightwatch
Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry
Virginia Woolf, The Waves

(image: Virginia Woolf)

[Margaret Atwood, Surfacing; Balzac, Pere Goriot; Angela Carter, The Passion of New Eve*; Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell; J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace*; Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao*; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover; Joyce Carol Oates, somethingorother; Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust*]

* indicates I don't yet own a copy
[] indicate books I'd like to get to, and may substitute for others on the list


Completed Books, 2010

*indicates that the text was on my goal-list
#indicates a re-read

Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics, finished 01/03/10
*Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, 01/09/10
*Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, 01/13/10
#Anne Sexton, To Bedlam and Partway Back, 01/23/10
#Anne Sexton, All My Pretty Ones, 01/26/10
#T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, 02/01/10
#Anne Sexton, Live or Die, 02/03/10
Paula Salvio, Anne Sexton: Teacher of Weird Abundance, 02/04/10
#Anne Sexton, Love Poems, 02/08/10
#Diane Middlebrook, Anne Sexton: A Biography, 02/18/10
#Anne Sexton, Transformations, 02/21/10
#Anne Sexton, The Book of Folly 02/23/10
bell hooks, feminist theory: from margin to center, 02/24/10
#Anne Sexton, The Death Notebooks, 03/02/10
#Anne Sexton, The Awful Rowing Toward God, 03/06/10
Angela Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, 03/08/10
#Anne Sexton, 45 Mercy Street, 03/10/10
Anne Sexton, Words for Dr. Y, 03/12/10 (finished The Collected Poems)
Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love, 03/14/10
Sylvia Plath, The Colossus, 03/16/10
*James Joyce, Ulysses, 03/22/10
*A.S. Byatt, The Children's Book, 03/24/10
#Sylvia Plath, Ariel, 03/24/10
#Diane Middlebrook, Her Husband: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, A Marriage, 03/25/10
#Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters, 03/30/10
Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran, 03/30/10
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, 03/31/10
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie, 04/05/10
The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath, ed. Anita Helle, 04/07/10
#Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, 04/08/10
Anjali Arondekar, For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India, 04/11/10
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood, 04/11/10
Louise Gluck, The Wild Iris, 04/11/10
Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, 04/13/10
Diane Hume George, Oedipus Anne, 04/17/10
#Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts, 04/17/10
#E.M. Forster, Maurice, 04/25/10
*Alison Light, Mrs. Woolf and the Servants, 04/26/10
Samuel Beckett, Krapp's Last Tape, 04/28/10
Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas, 04/30/10
*Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 05/09/10
*Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go, 05/20/10
A.S. Byatt, Little Black Book of Stories, 05/24/10
*Virginia Woolf, The Waves, 06/09/10
Philip Pullman, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, 06/15/10
Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None, 06/20/10
Stephen King, The Shining, 06/28/10
*Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, 07/07/10
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 07/08/10
*Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 07/09/10
*Alison Weir, The Life of Elizabeth I, 07/10/10
*Alice Munro, Runaway, 07/16/10
*Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, 07/18/10
*Angela Carter, Heroes and Villains, 07/21/10
*Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood, 07/22/10
*Mary Shelley, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, 07/26/10
*Sharon Olds, The Gold Cell, 08/11/10
*Susanna Clarke, Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, 08/12/10
*Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, 08/20/10


  1. Middlesex (Eugenides) was awesome, and I think you'll like it -- it might be a nice break from the more classic literature, as it is a relatively simple read.

    Stories (Mansfield) was assigned during Nancy's class, and I really enjoyed reading and talking about it/them. Wonderful use of "moments of being" as a literary device.

    Recently read "The Reader (Schlink), which was wonderful and a very quick read. I think I started and finished it in a single car ride during my post-grad roadtrip.

    And I remember being surprised how much I enjoyed Frankenstein (Shelley) during high school. I had minimal expectations, but devoured it.

    Enjoy and best of luck!

  2. JAMIE! I am HONORED by your latest post.

    I am also shamed: my list is (was) entirely fiction, and you'll notice I quietly added Butler and Sedgwick to my own list. Oops and thanks!

    Please keep us posted with reviews, etc! This looks to be an exciting year for all, you guys :)

  3. Hey Jamie,
    It's Omar - I found your blog through FB, mind if I read along? I have one too where I post fledgling stories and such. Was just reading through your list and saw a lot I want to get to as well!

    Also, Hart Crane - The Bridge is his "epic," but is pretty difficult. I like his first book, White Buildings, and Voyages.

    Have you read anything by Frank O'Hara? Read a fun biography of his earlier which piqued my interest in his later "I do this, I do that" stuff.

    Absalom, Absalom is a beautiful book.

    And Infinite Jest is probably the book I'd like to muster up the willpower to read more than any other. We'll see if it happens this year. For now, contenting myself with his stories and essays (which are hilarious and sad). Good luck!

  4. Thanks, guys. And Omar-definitely glad to have you follow along. I decided on White Buildings, per your recommendation. I've read a little Frank O'Hara, which wasn't necessarily up my alley, but I should probably give him a second chance.