03 January 2013

Welcome 2013 / 2012's Books

Happy New Year!

I resolutely refuse to make New Years Resolutions....but one of the things I hope to do this year is be more regular with posts here on the blog. Of course with Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social networking, blogging is now SO 2005, and may soon be going the way of the typewriter and snail mail. But since I still send cards and notes via US Mail, I guess I'll stay back here in the dark ages for a while longer.

I recently mentioned to a friend (via Tweet of course!) that I read over 60 books in 2012. Actually looking at my list of titles, I managed to hit 70 before 1/1/13 (With a push I might have made it to 71, but I finished Colm Toibin's luminous Testament of Mary on New Years morning.)

Hello, my name is Reggie, and I am a book-a-holic.

Yes, I am one of those people who can read more than one book at a time - so long as they are sufficiently different. I often have a fiction and a non-fiction book going at the same time, unless one totally grabs me and I can't put it down. Reading poetry takes me LONGER to read than other forms of writing, so a 'slim volume of verse' may take me a while to get through. I also write reviews, and have been on the judging panel for book awards in recent years, so that ups my numbers. The real secret, however, is having a healthy commute - 45 mins each way on the NYC subway for reading every weekday to and from work. That undivided time has greatly increased my ability to devour books. As the marvelous Underground New York Public Library tumblr site shows, I'm not the only one. Sorry, Baltimore - New York is "The City That Reads!"

Ms. Donalay Thomas reading "Resurrecting Midnight" by Eric Jerome Dickey on the A Train (NYTimes 9/6/2009).
It is also amazing to see the incredible range of books people around me are reading, which goes far beyond the usual best sellers list (Although in 2011 it did seem as though *everyone* was making their way through  Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy). One of the negative things about e-readers I feel is that while it increases privacy it masks what you are reading, making the act of reading in public less social. Everyone is curious about other people's books, whether they are on the lookout for the next thing to read, or so they can recall their experience reading that title, or so they can wonder "Why on earth are they reading that!?!"

My reading tends to be pretty random. I do have favorite authors and a couple of them (see Winterson, Delany and Schulman, below) came out with new books in 2012. Every now and then you'll catch me with a best seller; more often than not I'm in the middle of something a little older, or something I 'should have read' a long time ago. I may try to keep up with new poetry, but otherwise it's difficult to predict what I may be reading.

Rather than the ubiquitous "Top 10 List," here almost in the order that I encountered them during the year are a few of the books that really stood out for me. And yes, I know I'm being too coy by half in not mentioning poetry...so sue me!

Paul Russell - The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov
Colm Toibin - The Empty Family: Stories
Jeanette Winterson - Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Keith Haring - Journals
Samuel R Delany - Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders
Sarah Schulman - The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination
Martin A Lee - Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific
George Lois - Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent)
Valerie Martin - Property
David Byrne - How Music Works
Ayana Mathis - The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

1 comment:

John K said...

Actually blogging isn't in decline among black folks, but you're right about the general trend. A great list, and I must confess to only have read Sarah Schulman's book of your list, though I'm trying to get through Delany's. It is a challenge. But you are one of the best sources for recommendations, so I hope to take up many of these, and read as much as I can that's NOT required for class (though class-related new books, like Ellen Ullman's Technophilia and Luz Argentina Chiriboga's Drums Under My Skin were revelations. In general, though, that's the downside of academe: so much of the reading isn't for pleasure of the kind you describe, but for...work! Thanks for the list!