Thursday, 25 December 2014

To Read or Not to Read

Wishing regular readers and random visitors a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Don’t read books!
Don’t chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don’t turn into a haggard old man,
it’s annoying for others to have to hear you. 

It’s so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
burn incense.
It’s beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you’re tired go to sleep.

From Zen Poems

I think I will continue to risk my eyeball withering, and I find that becoming haggard is inevitable. Tis time for the annual reading roundup: forty eight books reviewed this year, down a bit, but not as much as I expected, on recent years.  Both 'The Luminaries' and 'The Goldfinch' were well worth the effort they took, wonderful, demanding reading, but I have to go with 'All the Birds, Singing' by Evie Wyld as my favourite read of the year.

Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne
A Coward's Tale by Vanessa Debbie
It's Hard to be Hip Over Thirty by Judith Viorst
Stoner by John Williams
Monkeys with Typewriters by Scarlett Thomas
How Should a Person Be by Sheila Heti
The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough
Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
The Humans by Matt Haig
The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin D Yalom
Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
The Man Who Disappeared by Clare Morrall
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Sweetness by Torgny Lindgren
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Innocents by Francesca Segal
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
Natural Flights of the Human Mind by Clare Morrall
Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston
Schroder by Amity Gaige
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Death at Intervals by José Saramago
The First True Lie by Marina Mander
The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend
Overheard by Jonathan Taylor
An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry
Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen
The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut
A Boy, a Bear and a Boat by Dave Shelton
The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf
The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
Everything I Found on the Beach by Cynan Jones
The List of my Desires by Grégoire Delacourt
Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernieres
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Grace, Tamar and Lazlo the Beautiful by Deborah Kay Davies
The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne
First Aid by Janet Davey
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

Read but not reviewed, just because:
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Faraway Nearby By Rebecca Solnit
On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored by Adam Philips
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker (in progress)
Collected Stories of Lydia Davies (returned unfinished)
How To Be Both by Ali Smith (unfathomable, but also in a queue so returned to the library)
In a fit of wholesome enthusiasm I started Middlemarch by George Eliot but Dorothea was so irritating it has sat unloved on the bedside table for a couple of months. 

1 comment:

  1. Good list of books. My book of the year was Message from Martha by Mark Avery, an amazing (though sobering and saddening) book about the Passenger Pigeon.

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