Has everyone been having a lovely Christmas? I do hope so. Things have been very peaceful here, and we have been very lazy, just sitting about watching television and reading and eating and so on. I find there’s nothing like indolence to bring about a host of planning, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my reading for 2011. I love having reading plans, but I don’t like being hemmed in by too many specifics. I’m very fickle and change my mind from moment to moment about the precise book I’ll read next, but there are areas, and books on my shelves, that I particularly want to get to.
I know very little about British 19th century literature because this is what you study in school and college, and I was devoting myself to European literature at that time. Plus, I was never fond of Dickens, thought that Hardy was a misery and had been put off Eliot by too much religious thought, which seemed dull to me as a teenager. I would like to read less standard works and so at present am considering:
Mary Braddon – Lady Audley’s Secret
Margaret Oliphant – Miss Marjoribanks
Ellen Wood – East Lynne
I’ve got the BBC adaptation of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell to watch, too. If anyone has any further suggestions for other books, I’d be glad to hear them.
Again, a huge omission in my reading. I’ve never read any, and must say I hadn’t been especially tempted. But just recently I came across a couple of modern classics that sounded family-saga-ish and therefore more approachable, and decided to give them a go (don’t tell Mister Litlove; the books are on their way).
Junichiro Tanizaki – The Makioka Sisters
Yukio Mishima – Spring Snow
I could use one more title to add to that list, but have no idea what to put in, again, if you have good recommendations, I’d love to know about them.
This was supposed to be my run-up to Christmas reading, but you may recall the order hadn’t arrived in time. The books did turn up eventually – typically the last one came just as amazon had credited my account for it. I had several books on the shelves already that I wanted to add into the reading, so there’s quite a few to choose from here.
Hans Christian Anderson – Fairy Tales
Michael Ende – The Neverending Story
Philip Reeve – Here Lies Arthur
Neil Gaimon – Stardust
Salman Rushdie – The Enchantress of Florence
Anthony Hope – The Prisoner of Zenda
Gregory Maguire – Wicked
Michelle Paver – Dark Matter
I think YA is where all the interesting cutting-edge stuff is happening at the moment. I hope to read
Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games
Cara Hedley – Twenty Miles
Sarwat Chadda – Devil’s Kiss
I’m going to do a biography writing course online from February onwards and would like to do some reading in advance. I’m never going to write a biography all about one person – the story is always the same; interesting childhood, middle years of excessive busy-ness and then a sad ending and death. But I like the thought of doing something different, short form biography or group biography. That’s worth a bit of exploratory reading:
Katie Roiphe – Uncommon Arrangements. Seven Marriages in Literary London 1910-1939
A. J. A. Symons – The Quest for Corvo. An Experiment in Biography
Jenny Diski – Skating to Antarctica
Michael Holroyd – Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers
Lisa Appignanesi – Mad, Bad and Sad. A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present
Sarah Bakewell – How to Live; A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
I’d also like to read some more crime fiction, as 2010 was distinctly lacking in it. I’ve half a mind to read through all the Miss Marple novels again – guaranteed pleasure. Has anyone read any really good crime this year? Cozies, please, or good thrillers, rather than the gritty, violent end of the spectrum (which never appeals to me in January and February).
I won’t promise to keep to all these plans, but this is the way my interests are moving. What are other people looking forward to reading next year?