Thursday, January 02, 2020

2019: The Year in Books (and Technical Reports)

Strand Bookstore, New York City
I started off my reading for 2019 with a charming autobiography by novelist Diane Johnson (Flyover Lives, 2014). I've long admired Johnson's work and this memoir was a nice background to that work (there were two other autobiographies on the list, the late John Perry Barlow's Mother American Night and The Autobiography of Malcolm X). From there, it was an eclectic year with various themes (easy to see if one delves deeply enough) the most obvious one was rereading many books from the past (Nabokov, Woolf, Bradbury, Crumey, McEwan, Voltaire, Camus, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Orwell, Dos Passos, Tevis, Philip K. Dick).

There was a lot of re-reading Shakespeare and Ibsen; a number of books about Scotland (or by Scots authors such as highly recommended Andrew Crumey) for a trip to Scotland in the summer; books about Norway or by Norwegian authors (the highlight being Beatles by by Lars Saabye Christensen).

It also seemed like a good year to re-read The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) by Malcolm X with Alex Haley.

Mercer Street Books & Records, New York City
I also revisited much of the non-fiction work of Virginia Woolf as well as the novels Jacob's Room and the brilliant and transcendent Mrs. Dalloway. Among new discoveries for me was Ted Chiang and his Stories of Your Life and Others (2002).

My year-long book was a re-read of Homer's Illiad (in the Richmond Lattimore translation) finished just as December was coming to a close. Left unfinished, in what may be a 10 year-long read, was yet another attempt at William Gaddis' The Recognitions (1955) (I did complete the posthumous essay collection, The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings, 2002).

And of course a busy year of professional reading which you can see intermixed below and read more about here).

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Here's the list (in reverse order of reading):