A year in review and a year in anticipation!

Happy New Year! This is going to be quite a post. I thought I would go ahead and ramble a bit about my 2011 reading successes and failures, and then put down in writing what my goals are for 2012.

What I Read in 2011:

First off, I signed up for two challenges as I remember it– the 50 books in a year challenge and the lowest level of the people of color challenge. For the 50 books in a year challenge I wanted to make sure that I read entirely new books, rather than re-read books I was already friends with. I succeeded in all those challenges! Whoo! Links go to Amazon so you can check out these hunks of awesome for yourself.

1. The Inferno by Dante, translated by Robert Pinsky
2. Labyrinths by Jorge Louis Borges
3. Sunstroke: Selected Stories by Ivan Bunin, translated by Graham Hettlinger
4. The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle
5. Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire, translated by somebody I don’t remember because I borrowed this from the library and then returned it and can’t remember what it looks like.
6. The Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Basho
7. Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction by Derek Attridge
8. Melodies Unheard by Anthony Hecht
9. The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography by Delehaye
10. Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello
11. The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O Factor by Bruce Smith
12. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
14. Book of All Saints by Adrien Von Speyr
15. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet
16. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
17. The Folk of the Air by Peter S. Beagle
18. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (Why is it that I inexplicably feel the need to include certain author’s middle names? Turner is like this. And David Foster Wallace. And a lot of southern authors from the late 1800s [George Washington Cable, Charles Waddell Chesnutt, Thomas Nelson Page…])
19. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
20. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
21. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
22. Rooms are Never Finished by Agha Shahid Ali
23. The Metamorphoses by Ovid, translated by Charles Martin
24. Danger on Peaks by Gary Snyder
25. Life Studies by Robert Lowell
26. What Narcissism Means to Me by Tony Hoagland
27. Truth Barriers: Poems by Tomas Transtromer translated by Robert Bly
28. Selected Poems by Tomas Trastromer translated by Robin Fulton
29. Invisible Strings: Poems by Jim Moore
30. Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
31. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
32. Black Zodiac by Charles Wright
33. Swann’s Way (Remembrance of Things Past, Vol. 1) by Marcel Proust, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff
34. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
35. Horse Lattitudes by Paul Muldoon
36. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
37. Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
38. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
39. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
40. The Pisan Cantos by Ezra Pound
41. Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen Out of Desire by Helen Vendler (also known as the book written in the 80s that said everything I wanted to say in my thesis about Stevens… Sigh…)
42. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
43. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
44. Yeats and the Poetry of Death: Elegy, Self-Elegy,and the Sublime by Jahan Ramazani (also known as the book written in the 80s that said everything I wanted to say in my thesis about Yeats… seriously dudes? Sigh…)
45. This Is Water by David Foster Wallace
46. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
47. The Chameleon Couch by Yusef Komunyakaa
48. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
49. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
50. Pegasus by Robin McKinley

6 Books that were amazing and I’m so happy I put the time in to read: Swann’s Way, The God of Small Things, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Labyrinths, Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen Out of Desire and Yeats and the Poetry of Death. Just, awesome. Ramazani and Vendler’s books really showed me how elegant criticism can be, and they made me think more deeply about what I want to say with my thesis. The other four books are just… delicious.

Books that I regret reading:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
— maybe it’s just not my jive. I don’t particularly like crime/mystery, but I figured I’d give it a shot. The characters felt undeveloped (especially Lisbeth, who felt like a complete caricature), and it was very slow to start. I read it, but I’m not going to read the sequels. I also might have disliked it so much because I read it right after The God of Small Things which was beautiful and wonderful and my second favorite read of the year after One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Pegasus– Don’t get me wrong. This book is… hmm… it’s bangin’. It’s great. I love every second of it. However. It ends on a cliff-hanger. Mid-scene, basically. When’s the sequel coming out? Frickin’ 2014. I’ll definitely read the next one, but I’m sad that I have to wait two full years at least before I get to continue the story. If I had known the sequel is so far off and the way it would end, I definitely would have waited until 2013 at least to read it.
Invisible Strings– I picked this up randomly from the new books section at Alderman Library. Huge mistake. Everything I dislike about most contemporary poetry that’s being churned out.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian— The problem is I don’t <3 middlegrade fiction. Really. Also the drawings really… irked me. I think I’m getting more picky, grumpy, and pretentious with my reading tastes as I get older. Which is sad.

The Great Vast Unknown of 2012—

2012 is going to contain a lot of changes for me. Fingers crossed, I will write (by now this verb should really be “finish writing”…) my thesis and graduate from UVA with a master’s that’s basically useless (perhaps that is winter cynicism speaking). Then I’m either going to find a beautiful job, find a terrible job, live on the street, or get a second master’s in library science. So, I have no idea what kind of time I’ll have for reading for pleasure. But I still want to complete these challenges:

The Unread Book Challenge: As I was organizing my books over break, avoiding writing the thesis of doom, I realized that I have a tremendous amount of books that I keep planning on reading. This year I want to make a conscientious effort to check books off this list. I definitely want to read, from my TBR pile: The Collected Tales by Nikolai Gogol, The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault, The Music of What Happens by Helen Vendler, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (I finally own it! And can read it without fear of a library recall ruining everything), As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, and Selected Poems by James Merrill. Bam.

The “I Want More” Challenge: reading more by authors you already love! Well. I love this challenge. I’m signing up for the medium level– which is “give me more” (5-8 books). I wanted to read another novel by Arundhati Roy, but oh wait she hasn’t written another one (yet). I’m planning on hitting up Faulkner, John Green (!!!!!! The Fault in Our Stars I am so excited that you exist so soon!!!!), David Foster Wallace, Charles Wright, and Garcia Marquez. In fact, I already checked Garcia Marquez off the list– having just finished Memories of My Melancholy Whores. Bam!

The Dewey Decimal Challenge: Well, since poetry counts… I’m gonna go ahead and be a boss and say I’m signing up for the master level– that’s 16-20 non-fiction books. Last year I read 17, I think, and I felt like it was a relatively novel-heavy and poetry-light year. So, I’m stoked! Poemz! And Criticism. Right. That too.

The 50 books in a year challenge that I don’t have a link for because I don’t know if it has a home: I want to keep this the same as last year and only count new books that I read. I’d also like to try to have at least five books (10%!) be novels written in the 2000s that aren’t YA. I feel like this is a huge gap in my reading life, and one that I’d like to address. I’ve already read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro which was beautiful. I would like to read 1Q84 by Murakami (but it is a veritable tome and Infinite Jest is already weighing down my purse threateningly), The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin (technically 1999 but whatever), Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, and A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry.


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