Last year, I issued myself a bold challenge: Read one hundred books from my shelves (i.e., books in my collection before the end of 2018), including at least 24 non-fiction titles and at least one book from each of the following “special collections”: Shakespeare, poetry, NYRB, Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates, philosophy, art, and children’s / YA. I met the special collections goal, but of the 42 non-fiction titles I read last year, only 18 were RFS (read from shelves). And of the 120 books I read last year, only 53 were RFS. (Here is last year’s summary.)
Without fanfare, I renewed the challenge for 2020, and I’m enjoying significantly more success. At this writing, I’ve read 69 books, 51 of which were in my collection before the end of 2019; and I’ve read 27 non-fiction works, 23 of which were RFS. As for the mini-challenges:
Shakespeare RFS: Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It and The Tempest
Poetry RFS: Aimless Love (Billy Collins)
Joyce Carol Oates RFS:
Philosophy RFS: How to Die: An Ancient Guide to the End of Life (Seneca); How to Keep Your Cool: An Ancient Guide to the Anger Management (Seneca); How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life (Marcus Tullius Cicero); and How to Be Free: An Ancient Guide to the Stoic Life (Epictetus)
Children’s / YA RFS:
I’m three stories into Joyce Carol Oates’ 2010 collection, Give Me Your Heart; and I recently pulled Mother Night from my Vonnegut shelves. The narrator is a Nazi propagandist, so the choice may prove an interesting complement to The Plot Against America (Philip Roth, 2004), which I read last month. I haven’t made decisions about the other categories.
My unfinished business from last year is Chris Chester’s Providence of a Sparrow, which is a gorgeous memoir. I simply need to finish it.
So with eight months remaining in the year, I’m experiencing a sense of (cautious) optimism about meeting all of my 2020 reading goals. In fact, I have been toying with increasing my Goodreads challenge, which is currently 104 books. We’ll see.
And, yes, book talk in the midst of a pandemic may seem like the equivalent of putting my hands over my ears and saying, “La, la, la! I can’t hear anything.” I do hear. Books are what keep me sane afterward.