Fat Books & Thin Women

Anticipated Reading, 2011 Edition
December 15, 2010, 2:11 pm
Filed under: meme | Tags: , , ,

This shaping up to be a Month In Which I Complete No Books, I’ve been spending a fair amount of my free time (usually sitting inches in front of my coil heater, trying to find the strength to follow the plotline of whatever romantic comedy I’ve most recently found a non-pirated dvd of on the mean streets of, well, wherever in Macedonia) thinking about what I want to read. So it works out well for me that even though it’s Wednesday and I’m a day late for this Top Ten Tuesday prompt at The Broke and the Bookish, said prompt asks about most anticipated books of 2011. Because, hell if I have anything else to write about on here.*

My list may look a little weird. The thing about being in the Peace Corps, at least relating to books, is that (a) there are no box bookstores or independent bookstores or used bookstores over here, so I can’t buy new releases; and (b) I’m not earning money, in American terms, so I’m reluctant to spend anything on kindle releases. This means my list is heavily skewed to rereads and classics. I should start making another list of books I am really, really looking forward to reading when I get back to the States – because I keep reading about books like Room and Skippy Dies, and seeing photos of the New York Review of Books books, and wanting desperately to read them.

Without further ado, because I’m late enough already, here are the ten books I am psyched to read next year.

1) Vladimir Nabokov – Ada, or Ardor – my mom mailed this to me halfway around the world because I was experiencing Nabokov withdraw when I first arrived in Macedonia last year. But it’s been over a year now, and the book is still sitting in my home, un-re-re-read except for a few favorite lines.

2) Roberto Bolano – The Savage Detectives – one of my volunteer friends received this book as a donation to her school’s library, and I’ve had it since about a week after it hit her door. If I were to make a list of poor books to give to the library of a primary school in a village in Macedonia this one would be near the top, and fortunately she feels the same way. I read this book the summer after graduating college, I think, and I’m ready to reread and try to get some of the parts I didn’t last time. I also want to read Bolano again because once I get home, it’s time to tackle my copy of 2666.

3) Edith Wharton – The House of Mirth – It might be a misnomer to call 2010 my year of Edith Wharton, since I’ve only read two of her books this year; but in that I’ve finally “discovered” her as a stunning writer, it’s been my year of Wharton. I’d like to continue this next year and finally read The House of Mirth.

4) Rebecca West – Black Lamb & Grey Falcon – Should I even include this book on such a list? I’m not sure I’d call this read “anticipated”; it’s closer to a dreaded read, actually. I read about 100 pages of West’s history/travelogue of the Balkans in the month before moving to Macedonia, but have made no progress since. I’d like to start this book again while I’m still in the Balkans.

5) Olivia Manning – Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy – see the above, kind of. This book isn’t available for purchase anywhere in Macedonia, nor is it available on the kindle. But I read a review of it on a blog (wish I could remember where) and ever since have wanted to read this so much that it may warrant asking my parents to mail it to me.

6) Dennis Lehane, generally – I read Shutter Island this year. That book alone was enough to convince me that Lehane is one of the best writers we’ve got, and I have a couple of his books loaded on my kindle, waiting only for me to finish rereading Lord of the Rings.

7) Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude – This book lands near Ada as a favorite – I am reluctant, actually, to insult this book by noting it as only my “second” favorite book of all time, since it’s kind of next to Ada but a smidgen lower. Imagine my face, if you can, when I found this book in the Peace Corps library. This is the book I keep looking to as the one I’ll read the second the regional spelling bee is over.

8) My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me – a relatively new book finally finds its way onto my list. I’ve got a real fondness for stories that play with the lines of stories embedded in our collective consciousness, particularly stories that remake fairy tales. This is that rare book I dropped $10 on to get a copy for my kindle. I am expecting an awesome read.

9) The Collected Stories of John Cheever
– I packed this book when I moved to Macedonia, read a few stories, and then got caught up in other things. If nothing else, my mission over this coming year is to read, or finish reading, all the books I brought with me so that I can deposit them in the Peace Corps library, or bring them home free of the shameful knowledge that I could’ve left the book in NJ to start with.

10)Don Delillo – Underworld – I made it almost all the way through Underworld a few years ago, and I’m still not sure why I didn’t finish. I might not label Delillo a favorite writer, but I generally like his work, and since I’ve read a few of his other novels it’s time I get to this one.

* Making steady progress on The Fellowship of the Ring and The Monk and Rory Stewart’s The Prince of the Marshes, though, so probably there will be a flurry of completed books and reviews after I finish my nightmarish spelling bee project in… three days. Three days!



I’m hoping to read The House of Mirth next year as well! I’ll watch for your thoughts, if you get to it :-)

Comment by Erin

it’s way up on my list…i’ll look forward to reading your thoughts on it too.

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

Wow I can’t even imagine rereading Ada. Then again, it took me ten years to get through that book…

Comment by Amanda

haha. i remember the first time i tried reading it…for some reason it was the first book i tried by nabokov. impossible. i think i read about a hundred pages and gave up.

probably the reason it seems doable to me is that the first time i did actually read it, i was doing so for a seminar in college. it was my own book choice, to write a paper on, but reading it during a course on other nabokov works made it easier to get through. and then i did my college thesis on “ada” and some of nabokov’s other works, so it gave me the chance to talk about the book with my advisor, a LOT. i know there are huge gaps in my understanding of the book though, so i just kind of ignore the things i don’t “get.”

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

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