Saelan (twoheaded_boy) wrote,

Books I read in 2008

A lot fewer than I'd hoped to! I was aiming at 52 (a book a week), but only managed 34 (a book every week-and-a-half). A couple people posted lists of their reading back in the summertime that were this long already. Embarrassing, given that I work at a bookstore, but I do work three jobs and I have writing to do, too. Plus, this doesn't count any of the magazine and blog reading that actually accounts for the bulk of my reading time.

I also lost my notebook in september when my bag got stolen, so I had to reconstruct this list from memory. I think I got all the titles up to the point where I lost the notebook, but I still don't think I have the order right (not that it really matters).

Colour coding works like this:

-literature (novels and short story collections): 16
-philosophy and art criticism: 13
-music: 3
-erotica: 3
-graphic novel: 1
-children's lit: 1
-writing reference: 1

Some are double-counted as more than one genre.

I didn't read any poetry, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery/thrillers, horror, or science books all year, or any non-fiction that wasn't art criticism, philosophy, or music. I bought and consulted a couple cookbooks, but decided not to bother including them in the list.

Slavoj Zizek was my most-read author at three books. J.M. Coetzee, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Donald Barthelme all had two in the list.

1. Roberto Bolano, The Savage Detectives

One of the best contemporary novels I've read in years. All the hype I heard was true, and then some. Truly fresh and thrilling, formally inventive, almost impossibly diverse, and always painfully real and believable. Emotionally and intellectually rich. It's the kind of masterpiece that seems to contain everything.

2. Slavoj Zizek, Violence
The best book of his out of the three I read this year, and prior to this year, I'd tried reading a few other ones but was never able to finish them. Every Zizek book is a fairly rambling collection of the same ideas restated, but this is the most concise, most effective, and most relevant deployment of his thought I've found so far.

3. Caetano Veloso, Tropical Truth: a story of music and revolution in Brazil
My favourite musician in his own very eloquent words. The best biography (musical or otherwise) that I've ever read, hands-down.

I'll add that I enjoyed pretty much all of these books a great deal. There wasn't a single one that I ended up regretting having read. That said, Mishima's The Sound of Waves was maybe the least engaging of this year's crop, and I had some difficulty with Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Not that it was hard to read (just for being so unrelievedly bleak), but I'm just not convinced that what he was doing with the book was good. The whole ethos of it left kind of a bad taste in my mouth, and the ending left me unsatisfied. But it was still McCarthy. He's a powerful stylist and a major voice. You can't ignore the guy and it was worth reading.

Paul Virilio, Ground Zero
Boris Vian, The Foam of the Daze
Julian Stallabrass, Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction
Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles
Franz Kafka, The Trial
Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Suffering of the World
Carl Wilson, Let's Talk About Love: a journey to the end of taste
J.M. Coetzee, Boyhood: scenes from provincial life
Donald Barthelme, Overnight to Many Distant Cities
Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
Martin Amis, London Fields
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Strunk, White, and Kalman, The Elements of Style
John Darnielle, Black Sabbath's Master of Reality
Slavoj Zizek, The Fragile Absolute - or why is the Christian legacy worth fighting for?
Anais Nin, Delta of Venus
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals (fiction and essays)
Mario Vargas Llosa, In Praise of the Stepmother
Slavoj Zizek, How to Read Lacan
Mario Vargas Llosa, The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto
Yukio Mishima, The Sound of Waves
Caetano Veloso, Tropical Truth: a story of music and revolution in Brazil
Dick Hebdige, Subculture: the meaning of style
George Steiner, Nostalgia for the Absolute
Sigmund Freud, On Forgetting

Donald Barthelme, Snow White
Darren O'Donnell, Social Acupuncture
Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good

Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, vol. 1
Aaron Peck, The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis
Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Roberto Bolano, The Savage Detectives
Tove Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll

Slavoj Zizek, Violence

Started but not Finished:

Sven Lutticken, Secret Publicity
Susan Sontag, Styles of Radical Will
Claire Bishop (ed.), Participation

All three being collections of essays and art criticism, all very good, but I've been reading them in a scattershot, piecemeal fashion. Will definitely finish these at some point.
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