The Great Read 2020: Half way there

Regular readers of these pages may have read of my attempts  in January of the last few years to read thirty books. That would amount to one book per day, with a day left over at the end of the month to perhaps finish reading an exceptionally long book.

I took on this task in 2017 and was successful in my attempt, in 2018 I was traveling in India at that time of the year, so let myself off, in 2019, however, I only managed to read seventeen books in January. I can’t quite remember why. But this year, so far so good. I am reading book number fifteen and should finish it tonight. In the coming weekend I want to get ahead, as I intend to finish in January with Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, approximately 800 pages.

As usual my reading is random. I can’t abide rules and lists; I like to flow. This can be good or bad.

A few quotes below:

Anton Beans is not having the best of all possible semesters. Tuesday’s introductory workshop was trash, and for the past four days he’s barely been able to squeeze out a single coherent line, not to speak of a full-on poem. Beans has put  pen to paper but the energies are in no way flowing. He’s tried cutting up and collaging a few paragraphs from the Patriot Act but to no effect. His chakras are hermetically sealed, his mojo pathetically quiescent, his lower intestine acting up again. Loudermilk by Lucy Ives.

...a list of Proust’s physical afflictions:

Asthma…Attacks start when he is ten, and continue all his life…

Diet…He gradually becomes unable to eat more than  single and unhelpfully heavy meal a day, which has to be served at least eight hours before his bedtime…

Digestion…’I go frequently-and badly-to the loo,’ …

Underpants…Needs to have these circling him tight around the stomach before he has any chance of getting to sleep…

Sensitive skin…Can’t use any soap, or cream or cologne…

Mice…Proust has a terror of these; when Paris is bombed by the Germans in 1919, he confides that he is more terrified of mice than cannons.

And so much moreHow Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton

Ellen used to think that one day she would kill her father. When she wiped the cutlery after tea, she would linger over the sharp knife, thinking: One day I will do it. I will shove this knife into his soft chest. She never planned how she would do it. She just knew that one day she might be driven to it.And she had always known  that if there was something she had to do, then she could do it. That she could make herself do anything, once she had decided.Perhaps it was one of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost…The Time it Rained Fish by Philomena van Rijswijk

10 thoughts on “The Great Read 2020: Half way there

  1. Oh my Gert, you must have a maid to do all the cooking?
    If you want to know what’s going on in the world here’s my list – The Looting Machine by Tom Burgis – about the rape of African natural resources; – Tailspin by Steven Brill – the reasons and persons behind the fifty year decline of the west; – Dreamland by Sam Quinones – the true tail of the opiate epidemic in the west; – American Prison by Shane Bauer – the institutionalization of slavery within the prison system. Thank heavens for Gearld Durrell and My Family and Other Animals or life would be truly unbearable.

  2. I always think these challenges to read so many books in a (name your time period) are silly. The best way to accomplish the target is to pick short meaningless vapid books and rack up your numbers for the victory. Ditto with that ghastly reward schemes for kids that give out stickers and star for the number read. As if reading were like push-ups. I would rather a kid read one book that they loved ten times that ten books that meant nothing. More books but only with more personal satisfaction. I suppose if people must insist on these measures then perhaps it should be by number of pages. How many lightweight books equal one “War and Peace”? But even then – we should be slowing down the reading. Not trying to speed it up.

    1. It is a personal project, begun initially to see if I could do it. I read both big and small books and love the feeling of detachment from reality it brings for a while.

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