Jan. 3, 2009

Personal Reading List, 2008

Inspired by Matt Webb sooper genius, I’m starting to keep a log of books read. It’s probably a bad idea to be inspired by someone who seems able to knock off several erudite editions per month. But I have to start somewhere.

It’s always hard to find time to read — or rather it seems to be. After a hard day’s programmi management, it’s too easy to flop down in front of the TV. Hence I am making an effort to structure my reading time. Faced by options paralysis in the bookshop yesterday, I decided to limit my choice of books to fiction authors only starting with the letter in the cabinet in front of where I stood: “F”, as it turned out.

I doubt this will be a hard-and-fast rule: I already know that I will break it for non-fiction reading, mainly depending on what my work requires. But it certainly made it easier to choose a set of books and push me to read books I’ve considered reading, but never quite got to. The aim is “structure”, rather than “constraint”. I guess I’ll see how it goes.

  1. Christine Falls“, Benjamin Black (a pseudonym of John Banville)
  2. The Death of Dalziel“, Reginald Hill
  3. White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties: 1964-1970“, Dominic Sandbrook. A monster, it took me several weeks; an intriguing attempt to blend the machinations of the Wilson government with the pop-culture of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
  4. Dark Full House“, Christopher Fowler. Really enjoyed this; had a playful sense of humour that I’ve not seen in crime thrillers for quite some time. (Finished 10th April)
  5. Designing For People“, Henry Dreyfuss. First published in 1955, an easy-to-digest blend of timeless good advice and delightful “oh what were they thinking” archaisms. The “predictions for the future” are more accurate in the 1955 version’s final chapter than the revised 1967 edition (Finished 12th April)
  6. The Merchant of Venice“. In preparation for our impending trip to Stratford to see the RSC production. I can see why it’s called a “problem play” now (13th April).
  7. Don’t Make Me Think!” (Second Edition), by Steve Krug. This has been sat on my desk at work, half finished, since January, and I have finally mustered the energy to polish off the second half. (14th April).
  8. A Clubbable Woman“, Reginald Hill. Comfort reading. (21st April).
  9. The Foreign Correspondent“, Alan Furst. (3rd May).
  10. Towards the End of the Morning”, Michael Frayn.
  11. The Water Room”, Christopher Fowler.
  12. Absalom, Absalom!“, William Faulkner (aborted — unreadable)
  13. Under The Frog”, Tibor Fischer
  14. A Death in Tuscany”, Michele Giuttari
  15. Independence Day”, Richard Ford (4th July - 3rd September)
  16. The Interpretation of Murder”, Jed Rubenfield
  17. Seventy-Seven Clocks”, Christopher Fowler
  18. The Return”, Hakan Nesser
  19. Ways of Seeing”, John Berger
  20. The Sportswriter”, Richard Ford
  21. Così Fan Tutti”, Michael Dibdin (reread)
  22. The Tailor of Panama”, John Le Carré
  23. A Cure for All Diseases”, Reginald Hill
  24. Cop Killer”, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
  25. The Dip”, Seth Godin

So, round about a book every fortnight. This is pathetic in comparison to Mr. Webb. I think this can be improved in 2009. I am starting to find techniques to squeeze in more reading, and less television.

Around 50% of my consumption has been crime fiction, with the percentage increasing towards the end of the year, as my reliance on the letter F tailed off. And some of the first titles of 2009 will be the Ross MacDonalds I got for Christmas. I think it might be time to retire the letter F and switch to a new pattern — Penguin Classics, perhaps.