I’m making a special effort for 2013. One hundred books. As close as I can get. It started well. A chance discovery through my book club put me on the rich and wry trail of Alice Munro, the Canadian author of whom no one has ever heard but is about as famous as Margaret Atwood. I snapped up Dear Life, Runaway, The Beggar Maid and Too Much Happiness. I’m still carrying the smart resonances of her perfect, sad worlds – the girl who saves up her year hoping to see the man she met on the way to see Shakespeare and mistakes the snub from his mute, sick brother as a true response from her beloved. Or the woman with the woodworking husband who falls for his apprentice; years later, she discovers herself in a short story by the apprentice’s delicate daughter. Jonathan Franzen writes warmly of Munro, his sincere admiration for the pleasure of her storytelling – but, he says, her fame is dismayingly obscure to some for some simple reasons: she writes about people, she does not give her books titles with grand, national overtones, she does not give her readers the impression they are learning, strictly, anything from her text. She is hard to sum up. She is a pure short story teller. But, he writes, “She is speaking to you and to me right here, right now,” and that is all that matters.
Munro was followed by a few familiar favourites: The Hobbit (in honour of the film release) and When the Greenwoods Laugh (good old Bates discovered on the shelf of a B&B in the Lake District). Then some new finds: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (thanks to Murakami for stamina in my half marathon training), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (yes, I really did), Sweet Tooth (enigmatic, peculiar, diluted satisfaction from McEwan), Nemesis (my first Roth), and glorious finale on A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor. An interwar account of a young man walking from Rotterdam to Constantinople, he reminds me sharply of my friend Charlie, currently cycling around the major continental mass and blogging brilliantly, as well as my Iceland trip last year on the Laugavegur. Plans afoot now to walk the first part of PLF’s journey, complete with tiny knapsack and walking staff, this September.
So, to date: 14 books, excluding the two children’s books I read – I Want My Hat Back, and Katie Morag Delivers the Mail. They don’t really count, do they?
Which means I should be on track for about 80 books. Let’s see if holidays can make the difference.
What about you? Do you have goals of reading a certain number of books? How do you fit it in around work, etc.?