Like most hopeful and ambitious readers, I always have a teetering stack of books that I’m either reading or planning to read. The stack operates as an ongoing reading resolution throughout the year—and a reminder that life is exciting with infinite possibilities that are damnably constricted by too little time.
That said, to echo the motto Truman Capote jotted in his boyhood journal, “I aspire,” here’s a brief rundown of my reading aspirations for 2011. Just because it’s that time of year.
1) Desert, by J.M.G. LeClezio (because after reading two novels of his I’m doggedly trying to figure out why he won the Nobel)
2) Barthes by Barthes (and other Barthes because I like to revisit one thinker who’s influenced me each year)
3) Sleepwalkers by Hermann Broch (because it’s on my list every year and I know I’ll never read it, so I want to be buried with the book in my hand)
4) Dusk by James Salter (Salter is one of those masters who is like a friend, so I have to get together with him regularly and relish his way of seeing the world)
5) Break It Down by Lydia Davis (as with Salter, I could read Lydia Davis for a lifetime just trying to figure out how to write the perfect short short story)
6) The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch (I loved the Poetry Foundation’s podcast on Koch featuring the brilliant, lively, spirted Dean Young)
7) Fear of Dreaming by Jim Carroll (because I have a strange affection for junkie literature)
8) 2666 by Roberto Bolano (Bolano, bien sur)
9) Just Kids by Patti Smith (two artists in NYC in the early ’70s is irresistable)
10) Logicomix (a graphic novel with some serious thoughts at its core—I need cartoons to guide any intellectual endeavors)
11) Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis (essays about drinking meant to be read while drinking, which should be easy to accomodate)
12) The Curtain by Milan Kundera (just because I’ve read everything else by Kundera)
13) Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes (death must be recognized, always)
I’ll stop at 13–because of its fate as a number, and I’ll be lucky to read even a book a month this year. Ah for the days of yore when I literally structured my daily life so that the best hours could be spent reading and writing. Then I turned 30.
One resolution that’s not on my list is to explore a different literary magazine each week or so. I’ve discovered so many good new ones this year—all of them online mags, which seem more lively and interesting than the old standby print journals. Smokelong, Pank, Word Riot, Frigg, Used Furniture Review….
Let me know a few of your reading resolutions in the comments below.