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52 Weeks of Reading - 2017
Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:54 pm
This year I'm committing myself to consuming as much art as possible, much like last year. I wanted to experiment with some structure to keep myself from endlessly browsing without engaging (a very bad habit of mine), so I've set aside in my mind the task of at least reading a book a week, hopefully more. Since we've had a thread for this two years running, here's a new one for those who wish to join in or just share their reading experiences from this year.
I just finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It lines up quite perfectly with my already existent philosophies and was filled to bursting with proverbs and quotes that actually did a great deal to soothe my fears and anxieties and set my mind on my own work again. It's an excellent book, if a bit, well, cheesy at times, but these allegorical sort of stories tend to feel that way if you're even the least bit cynical (which, of course, I can definitely be). I would wholeheartedly give it thumbs up, though, if not just for the gorgeous flow of prose alone. I'm a sucker for works that feel legitimately enriching to read and this one was a book I'm certain I'll return to.
1: Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist
2: John Fante, Ask the Dust
3: Abe Kobo, Kangaroo Notebook
4: Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly
5: Don DeLillo, Point Omega
6: Osamu Dazai, The Setting Sun
7: Don DeLillo, The Body Artist
8: Greg Sestero, The Disaster Artist
9: Patton Oswalt, Silver Screen Fiend
10: Joyce Carol Oates, Zombie
11: Vladimir Nabokov, Despair
12: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
13: Kurt Cobain, Journals
14: Genichiro Takahashi, Sayonara, Gangsters
15: Anna Kavan, Ice
16: Yasutaka Tsusui, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
17: Ryu Murakami, Popular Hits of the Showa Era
18, 19, 20: Junji Ito, Uzumaki Vols. 1-3
21: Junji Ito, Gyo
22: Philip Roth, Everyman
23: Urs Allemann, ****
24: Michael Chabon, The Final Solution
25: Philip Roth, The Dying Animal
26: Stephen King, The Mist
27: Taichi Yamada, Strangers
Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:01 pm
1. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris Jan 1-7
2. Crow Shine, Alan Baxter Jan 8-14
3. Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris Jan 15-21
4. Club Dead, Charlaine Harris Jan 22-28
5. A Feast of Sorrows, Angela Slatter Jan 29-Feb 4
6. Dead to the World, Charlaine Harris Feb 5-11
7. Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris Feb 12-18
8. Definitely Dead, Charlaine Harris Feb 19-25
9. Short Bus Hero, Shannon Giglio Feb 26-Mar 4
10. All Together Dead, Charlaine Harris Mar 5-11
11. From Dead To Worse, Charlaine Harris Mar 12-18
12. Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris Mar 19-25
13. The Nightly Disease, Max Booth III Mar 26-Apr 1
14. Dead in the Family, Charlaine Harris Apr 2-8
15. Dead Reckoning, Charlaine Harris Apr 9-15
16. Deadlocked, Charlaine Harris Apr 16-22
17. Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris Apr 23-29
18. Primordial, Alan Baxter and David Wood Apr 30-May 6
19. The Long Way Down, Craig Schaefer May 7-13
20. Redemption Song, Craig Schaefer May 14-20
21. The Living End, Craig Schaefer May 21-27
22. A Plain-Dealing Villain, Craig Schaefer May 28-Jun 3
23. The Killing Floor Blues, Craig Schaefer Jun 4-10
24. The White Gold Score, Craig Schaefer Jun 11-17
25. The Castle Doctrine, Craig Schefer Jun 18-24
26. Double or Nothing, Craig Schaefer Jun 25-Jul 1
27. The Confessions of St. Zach, Gene O'Neill Jul 2-8
28. The Burden of Indigo, Gene O'Neill Jul 9-15
29. The Near Future, Gene O'Neill Jul 16-22
30. The Far Future, Gene O'Neill Jul 23-29
31. Ice Station, Matthew Reilly Jul 30-Aug 5
32. Area 7, Matthew Reilly Aug 6-12
33. Scarecrow, Matthew Reilly Aug 13-19
34. Hell Island, Matthew Reilly Aug 20-26
35. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, Matthew Reilly Aug 27-Sep 2
36. The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel Sep 3-9
37. The Valley of Horses, Jean M. Auel Sep 10-16
38. The Mammoth Hunters, Jean M. Auel Sep 17-23
39. The Plains of Passage, Jean M. Auel Sep 24-30
40. The Shelters of Stone, Jean M. Auel Oct 1-7
41. The Land of Painted Caves, Jean M Auel Oct 8-14
42. Sacred Band, Joseph D. Carriker Jr. Oct 15-21
43. Storm Front, Jim Butcher Oct 22-28
44. Fool Moon, Jim Butcher Oct 29-Nov 4
45. Grave Peril, Jim Butcher Nov 5-11
46. Summer Knight, Jim Butcher Nov 12-18
47. Death Masks, Jim Butcher Nov 19-25
48. Angel of the Abyss, Hand Schwaeble Nov 26-Dec 2
49. Human Trees, Matthew Revert Dec 3-9
50. Gnomon, Nick Harkaway Dec 10-16
Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:33 am
Week 2: Ask The Dust by John Fante.
So this novel was a big inspiration for Bukowski, who I also read a story by this week, and it's plain to see. Arturo Bandini is a nigh-insufferable, impulsive little twerp, but in his blatant bad habits and ingrained negative behaviors, I see a real and darkly understandable character. This is probably because the character was a fictionalized version of the author himself, but reading Bandini's internal monologues, as they flit from poetic to dark and spiteful, is a stream of consciousness experience that I found super interesting. It was also interesting to get a small snapshot of 1940s LA.
Also read a Ryonosuke Akutagawa short story about the death of Basho and its reflection upon his disciples. It was actually a very enriching read, pushing further home some of my own principles about death and highlighting the self-reflective nature of grief.
Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:18 am
My first book of the year was Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, a novel about a Laguna Pueblo man and his struggles upon returning home after serving in World War II. The author is a master at "show, don't tell", and especially in the first half of the book the narrative is almost surreal in the way it shifts back and forth between times and places and perspectives. It can be confusing at times, but it was a great read and I would definitely recommend it.
1. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko - 4/5 (Jan 15)
Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:56 pm
Crow Shine, Alan Baxter
Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:02 am
[QUOTE="Valigarmander, post: 1618727, member: 30663"]My first book of the year was Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, a novel about a Laguna Pueblo man and his struggles upon returning home after serving in World War II. The author is a master at "show, don't tell", and especially in the first half of the book the narrative is almost surreal in the way it shifts back and forth between times and places and perspectives. It can be confusing at times, but it was a great read and I would definitely recommend it.
1. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko - 4/5 (Jan 15)[/QUOTE]
I think it's confusing at times because it puts the reader in the main character's struggle with PTSD. We're confused with him. I studied that book intensely in my Native American literature class. There's a lot of beautiful motifs with lightness and darkness and the cycles of life and death. It's one of my favorite books.
Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:16 pm
Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris
Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:53 am
Week 3: Kobo Abe's Kangaroo Notebook
Surrealist thrill ride. It read like a long, unbroken dream and followed, flawlessly, the dream logic I relish in surreal work. This one may not be a classic, but it was a blast to read and I don't doubt it'll hold an influence in my own creative work.
Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:43 pm
Club Dead, Charlaine Harris
Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:03 pm
Late to post but,
Week 4: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. As someone who has been around and involved in similar circles to the ones described in this novel (though I've never used hard drugs), I can't help but immediately be engrossed by the author's personal closeness to the subject and intimate anecdotal style of storytelling here. The story itself is fundamentally simple, an undercover narcotics agent attempting to wiggle his way into busting the big guys in charge, but the book focuses more on the psychological struggles and paranoia in the drug- house and it does this beautifully. I personally felt the last few chapters dragged a bit, but I appreciated their narrative purpose.
Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:37 pm
I finally finished Yu Hua's Boy in the Twilight yesterday, which I started on, erm...
It was actually fantastic, as everything I've read by him has been, but I don't read fiction much. >_>
Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:32 am
Just read The Nazi Conscience by Claudia Koonz, which explores the campaign waged by the Nazis to vilify Jews and other so-called undesirables in the eyes of the the German public, and pave the way for their ostracism, persecution, and eventual extermination. A very enlightening book; it taught me a lot I didn't know and cleared up a number of misconceptions I had about the Third Reich. It's a very important history lesson, one everyone ought to understand. A must-read.
1. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko - 4/5 (Jan 15)
2. The Nazi Conscience by Claudia Koonz - 5/5 (Feb 4)
Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:44 am
Week 5: Point Omega by Don DeLillo
I sorta thought I'd have limited reading time this week, so I selected this short novel from an author I've been dying to give a read. I am certainly not disappointed. This is a compact narrative about a filmmaker spending a time out in a remote house in the desert trying to convince a former war advisor to film a documentary that features only an uncut and raw interview. The narrative examines time and vastness and the narrowing and widening of perception, all while keeping itself grounded to a small cast of central characters. Despite its short length, characters are allowed room to breathe and develop. DeLillo, as I had hoped, is a master of economic prose with singing word choices flowing into one another with savor. The only thing I found myself annoyed with was the sometimes obsessive focus on repeating details of very small actions, though this is done on purpose in the context of the narrative and it is certainly effective when viewed in that light.
I also read Harlan Ellison's classic "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream". This is a fantastic and truly scary end of the world involving a man-made super computer called AM who has gained sentience and worldwide power. Out of pure hatred, it has wiped out all of mankind and left only 5 people, made almost unkillable, subjects to his creative eternal torture. I'm a fan of the PC game, so I already had a good idea about all of the characters involved here. That said, I was engrossed in Ellison's bleak apocalypse, which he peppered with his acutely horrifying glimpses of omnipotent cruelty.
Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:50 am
Week 6a: The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai.
This is a novel about the troubles and downward spiral of an aristocratic family post- WWII in Japan. Post- war Japan was a hotbed of cultural change, and as with all previous huge governmental shifts, entire classes were pared away from the social structure. Dazai, himself a man of good birth, homes in on the post- war despair that takes almost tangible shape in this novel, and it leads to a bleak, though very compelling, read through a harshly beautiful portrait of human hopelessness.
I'll likely read another one over the course of the week since I finished this one very very quickly. It sorta pulled me in.
Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:58 pm
Feast of Sorrows, Angela Slatter
Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 12:33 pm
Week 6b: The Body Artist by Don DeLillo.
Inspired to pick up DeLillo's other novella by the joy of reading the last one, I was even more blown away by this one in comparison. Point Omega often dwelled on repetitions for effect, but this novel does it much more jarringly. The narrative, which concerns a grieving performance artist who finds an inexplicable man living in her home, weaves time haltingly and then melts time away, stretching and thinning and slowing down when necessary. This skewed time sense plays into the novel's themes, and the intimacy with which we see into the titular Body Artist's unique thought processes further cements this as a mind- bending and gorgeous quick read.
Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 3:30 am
Re-reading the first HTTYD book. It's been at least 4-5 years since I've read any of these books, but I recently learned that the series finished, so I'm re-binging the ones I already have to remember how the story goes before reading the last couple.
I'm falling in love all over again. I remember thinking that the series got better in progressive installments, so while I expected to be entertained I thought maybe this first one would fall flat considering the last time I read and loved it, I had very different tastes. No. I underestimated it. This series had imagination and heart worth loving from the very outset. It's legitimately funny but also has a really nice story set in a world that's simultaneously a 100% parody of itself but also quite compelling.
I tend to enjoy children's books and children's stories (if told well), so that helps. Even though there might be obvious morals, they're presented complexly, interestingly, and in ways that respect the intelligence of the reader. With the occasional fart joke, of course. I LOVE these books and I respect Cressida Cowell so much. ((I also love how the core of this story was adapted in the movie, because it translated and tweaked almost everything about it but still preserved the themes. The soul of this book and the journey of its protagonist are its most important aspects, and the movie is so much more respectful of what made this book good than a "faithful" adaptation would be IMO.))
Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:11 am
Finished book 2. Fave quote:
"Stoick the Vast, Terror of the Seas, Most High Ruler of the Hairy Hooligans, O Hear His Name and Tremble, Ugh, Ugh, picked up his son and hugged him."
Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:50 am
Dead to the World
and Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris
Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 5:41 pm
Have read books 3-8 since last post.
I love every installment, but the first 6 are more or less standalone episodic adventures with worldbuilding and then 7 marks a turning point before 8, which introduces the ~Plot~. Which is like, damn, this is touching on some **** I was not anticipating at the series outset. But I'm 1000% into it. Book 8 is SO GOOD.
((Also, I'm a huge sucker for ghost stories within fictional worlds. Like the Katatsumuri Mountain ghost story in Persona 2. So book 8 was particularly appealing to me because it opens with a ghost story and then explores the history of where that story came from. I'm a sucker for fictional works that intersect history and legend in their worlds...))