Doug Bruns

Reading list: 2009

In Books, Literature, Reading on January 10, 2010 at 10:19 am

Here’s what I read last year (2009):

  1. Nothing to be Frightened of, Julian Barnes (Jan 3)
  2. Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (Jan 10)
  3. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living (Jan 12)
  4. The English Major, Jim Harrison (Jan 15)
  5. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux (Feb 22)
  6. The Reader, Bernard Schlink (Mar 5)
  7. The Soloist, Steve Lopez (Mar 12)
  8. Atmospheric Disturbances, Rivka Galcheon (Mar 22)
  9. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce (Mar 31)
  10. Digging to America, Anne Tyler (April 9)
  11. Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouck (April 11)
  12. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery  (April 23)
  13. The Writing Life, Anne Dillard (May 17)
  14. Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Joan Didon (May 26)
  15. The White Album, Joan Didon (May 31)
  16. 2666, Roberto Bolano, (June 26)
  17. Shadow Country, Peter Matthisen (July 13)
  18. Snakeskin Road, James Braziel (July 18)
  19. Self’s Murder, Bernhard Schlink (July 22)
  20. Heroic Measures, Jill Ciment (July 27)
  21. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, Geoff Dyer (Aug 4)
  22. An Underachiever’s Diary, Benjamin Anustos (Aug 6)
  23. Homer and Langley, E.L. Doctorow (Aug 9)
  24. Under This Unbroken Sky, Benjamin Anustas (Sept 2)
  25. Last Night in Twisted River, John Irving (Sept 21)
  26. This is Water, David Foster Wallace (Sept 25)
  27. The Boy Next Door, Irene Sabatini (Sept 30)
  28. Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon (Oct 13)
  29. After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, Evie Wyld (Oct 20)
  30. Supreme Courtship, Christopher Buckley (Oct 28)
  31. Johnny Future, Steve Abee (Nov 3)
  32. The Convalescent, Jessica Anthony (Nov 15)
  33. Manhood for Amateurs, Michael Chabon (Dec 9)
  34. Noah’s Compass, Anne Tyler (Dec 19)

The list is shorter than 2008 when I paced myself at about a book a week. But last year I had a couple of BIG ones on the list, 2666 and Shadow County, both weighing in at over 900 pages. So, I’ll use that excuse. One book I tackled, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, didn’t make the list, not from lack of effort. It is massive and dense and, by all accounts, brilliant. But I couldn’t wade through it, giving up after a couple hundred pages. But it sits on the shelf, as if knowing I will come back for another pass.

It was good to read Joyce again. I read Portrait while traveling in Nepal. It was, I think, the third time and is remains a contender for my favorite book (of fiction). Favorite living authors, Jim Harrison and Paul Thoreux both had postings on my list last year. If asked, I would say that This is Water was my favorite read of 2009, though I don’t consider it a book, but an essay. The DFW industry is alive and well, not, sadly, the man himself. It was industry that turned a brilliant short talk into a “book.” 2666 was probably the most rewarding artistic read of last year, not counting Joyce, of course. The biggest suprise was The Convalescent by local Maine writer, Jessica Anthony. It is brilliant.

Much of what I read last year can be found at MostyFiction dot com, the web site for book reviews, including a few of mine. It’s a good gig. I get my books for free and get to write about them. It does, I admit though, sometimes feel like work. But that is whining, isn’t it?

And 2010? I’m off to slow start. I’m not sure why, exactly. There are a lot of distractions, it seems, starting out. But, maybe I’m just catching my breath, setting a pace. There are some writers I want to get to this year, and they are all dead. Last year was all fiction. I love fiction, good literature, a story well told, big thick books, bubbling stories. But this year calls for some philosophy (Camus, in particular). Yes, philosophy. I’m 54, what can I say? Stay tuned.

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