Sunday, December 31, 2006

Books Read - 2006

This is the final list of books I completed reading in 2006 (most of the links are to posts in which I've either written about the book or the author, or posted excerpts; others are to publisher or author pages):

1. Slow Man, J.M. Coetzee
2. Athena, John Banville
3. The Education of Arnold Hitler, Marc Estrin
4. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
5. The Human Country, Harry Mathews
6. The Questionnaire, Jirí Grusa
7. The Sea, John Banville
8. Odile, Raymond Queneau
9. Badenheim 1939, Aharon Appelfeld
10. Swann's Way, Marcel Proust
11. Little Casino, Gilbert Sorrentino
12. The Origin of the Brunists, Robert Coover
13. On Glory’s Course, James Purdy
14. Veronica, Mary Gaitskill
15. In a Shallow Grave, James Purdy
16. The Assistant, Bernard Malamud
17. Notes from the Underground, Dostoevski
18. Anarchism, Marxism, and the Future of the Left, Murray Bookchin
19. Despair, Nabokov (re-read)
20. Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
21. The Brooklyn Follies, Paul Auster
22. Rip It Up and Start Again, Simon Reynolds
23. Acid, Edward Falco
24. Garner, Kirstin Allio
25. In a Hotel Garden, Gabriel Josipovici
26. A Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey
27. The Sleepwalkers, Hermann Broch
28. Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag
29. Shroud, John Banville
30. Illuminations, Walter Benjamin
31. Eustace Chisholm and the Works, James Purdy
32. The American Woman in the Chinese Hat, Carole Maso
33. A Bad Man, Stanley Elkin
34. 20 Lines a Day, Harry Mathews
35. Little, Big, John Crowley
36. Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
37. Berlin Childhood around 1900, Walter Benjamin
38. The Rotters' Club, Jonathan Coe
39. Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs
40. Mulligan Stew, Gilbert Sorrentino
41. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
42. Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
43. The Origin of Capitalism: a longer view, Ellen Meiksins Wood
44. The Case Against Israel, Michael Neumann
45. Murphy, Samuel Beckett
46. Rituals, Cees Nooteboom
47. Across, Peter Handke
48. Things in the Night, Mati Unt
49. Phone Rings, Stephen Dixon
50. Phosphor in Dreamland, Rikki Ducornet
51. Austerlitz, W.G. Sebald
52. The Magician's Doubts: Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction, Michael Wood
53. The Woman Who Escaped from Shame, Toby Olson
54. Look at Me, Jennifer Egan
55. The Book of Proper Names, Amélie Nothomb
56. The Life of Hunger, Amélie Nothomb
57. Old Masters, Thomas Bernhard
58. Lost in the City, Edward P. Jones
59. Loving Sabotage, Amélie Nothomb
60. Remainder, Tom McCarthy
61. The Turn of the Screw & Daisy Miller, Henry James
62. The Insult, Rupert Thomson
63. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
64. Prisoner's Dilemma, Richard Powers (re-read)
65. Indiana, Indiana, Laird Hunt
66. The Intuitionist, Colson Whitehead
67. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
68. The Echo Maker, Richard Powers
69. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
70. Stranger Things Happen, Kelly Link
71. Vertigo, W.G. Sebald
72. Waterland, Graham Swift
73. Everyman, Philip Roth
74. Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture, Chris Knight
75. The Left-Handed Woman, Peter Handke
76. Foreign Parts, Janice Galloway
77. Doting, Henry Green

Some statistics
Number of books written by men: 58
Number of books written by women: 19 (!)
Number of books acquired via the Big Dalkey Get: 9
Number of other Dalkey books: 2

Number of books of fiction: 61
Number of authors represented: 52
Number of books by female authors: 14
Number of female authors: 13
Number of books by American authors: 30
Number of American authors: 26
Number of books by African-American authors: 3 (!)
Number of African-American authors: 3
Number of books by non-American, English-language authors: 15
Number of non-American, English-language authors: 13
Number of books in translation: 16
Number of authors of books in translation: 13
Number of translated books by female authors: 2 (both by Nothomb)
Most represented foreign language: German (6 total, w/2 each by Handke and Sebald)
Number of books from before 1900: 4
Number of books from 1900 to 1949: 5 (including Despair, heavily revised in the 60s)
Number of books from 1950 to 1989: 19
Number of books from 1990 to 2004: 24
Number of books from 2005 or 2006: 9

Number of non-fiction books: 16
Number of books by female authors: 5
Number of books in translation: 4
Number that are memoirs of sorts or letters: 5
Number that are books of criticism: 3
Number that are about politics or economics or history: 6
Number about pop music: 1
Number about science: 1

Comment & Observations:
Overall, this has been a good year of reading. When some other bloggers made reading 75 books a challenge, I thought it would be fun to see if I could reach it myself. Last year I'd read something like 55 books. I made my goal, though admittedly this was in part facilitated by my reading several short books. Not that their being short meant I could breeze through them. I was pleased to have read for the first time Proust and Beckett, both of whom I plan to spend a lot more time with in 2007 and years to come. (I sheepishly admit that part of the reason I did not continue with Proust is because I knew it would take me a lot of time.) I also read my first books by, among others, W.G. Sebald and Peter Handke, Gabriel Josipovici and Walter Benjamin. I continued to read great writers as diverse as Thomas Bernhard and Gilbert Sorrentino and James Purdy, as well as old favorites like Richard Powers, J.M. Coetzee, and John Banville. I made some conscious efforts to stem the steady flow of male authors, to little overall effect. In that vein, I'm all too aware that each of the writers I've just name-checked are men. I read more books in translation than in any previous year. I re-read just two novels in 2006; as I tell myself every year, I hope to do more re-reading in 2007. I finally read the Brontës, though they represented half of the pre-1900 books I read. A surprisingly large chunk of the fiction I read was published since 1990, though "only" nine in 2005 or 2006. Of these nine, my favorite was easily Tom McCarthy's Remainder.

As usual, I read fewer non-fiction books than fiction this year, by far. I expect the ratio to change somewhat in 2007. Not because I consider non-fiction more Important (I don't; fiction is what I enjoy reading most), but because I have some specific areas of interest I want to explore and have a lot of books on politics, history, and economics back-logged. Some of the non-fiction I read this year has been crucial: especially those books by David Harvey, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Michael Neumann, Chris Knight (I'd recommend them each of them, of course, though I think that Harvey's Brief History of Neoliberalism and Neumann's The Case Against Israel ought to be read by all). That's not even mentioning the criticism (some of which I read just pieces of, not necessarily reading whole books straight through; for example, I read half of both Italo Calvino's The Uses of Literature and William H. Gass' Fiction and the Figures of Life). Anyway, non-fiction tends to take me longer to read, especially when it's something huge and dense, such as Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, which I'm still 200 pages from finishing. I hope to read more philosophy (that is, any) and literary criticism in the coming year(s), both of which should pay dividends with fiction, but which will only slow me down further. This is ok. This is what I want. The point, after all, is not quantity. I will set no goal for number of books read in 2007. I will continue, however, to ostentatiously list on the sidebar those books I do finish, simply because I like lists and it's easy and I can.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on reaching your goal! It took me a while, but I just finished putting together a list of all the books I read in 2006: all 110 of them! This is more than double what I read in 2005, due to various factors (explained in more detail in the post). They're broken down into categories, and I denoted the ones that I liked the best. :)

Tracy said...

Ok, you've inspired me. I'm putting a similar list on my blog, although I'm sure it won't be as long.