Tough times

Dear Blogfellows,

I am having a bit of a time, I'm afraid. My father is very ill, and the family situation is rough. Blogging may be sporadic and fitful.

Please send positive thoughts and prayers our way.


A look back...and a look ahead

Happy 2008, everybody. I don't know about you, but I'm very glad the holidays are over and done with for another year. Frankly, 2007 was stressful. I switched jobs, for one thing -- and as I reread my journal, I realized that the year as a whole was riddled with anxiety. I took a major trip to Spain and Morocco -- a stress, yes, but a positive one. (Although getting traveler's sickness added a debit on the negative stress side.)

I thought I'd take a look back for myself at what I read this year. Although I lost my list when I had that Blogger sidebar snafu, I've recreated a fair proximation, give or take a few books. I am really impressed at what I managed to read in 2007, both in quantity and quality. One of my "reading resolutions" last New Year's Day was to read nightly -- and to read more classics. I can rightly say 'Mission Accomplished' on both counts. (Sans the aircraft carrier, of course.)

As for 2008, I have joined the Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge which, with Carl V.'s RIP Challenge, will probably be the most I will be able to manage. I'm straggling through Don Delillo's Underworld (I'm not finding the characters or story very interesting or progressing, but he's one of my "challenging" contemporary authors to read) -- as soon as I'm done (if I ever am!) I'm starting in on the third Proust volume, The Guermantes Way.

Below is my list of Books Read in 2007. Boldfaced titles are the ones I enjoyed and remembered most. The only "classic" that I did not enjoy was I Am Legend. I did not boldface Trilby -- it wasn't horrible; simply not in the same league as the others. All the rest were superb -- there is a reason they call them classics! Other thoughts on Reading in 2007:

* Joyous discoveries: Dracula -- a complete revelation. I didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as did. Runner-up: Hunchback of Notre Dame. I really struggled with the long detailed passages that took me out of the story. But the ending pulled everything together marvelously -- it took my breath away. Not many contemporary writers do that, you know!
* Authors to read more of: I just finished Murakami's After Dark -- it blew me away. I can't wait to read more of him. Alas, I cannot get my hands on my copy of Kafka on the Shore. Runner-up: Falling Man by Don DeLillo. I was intrigued by the fact that many DeLillo fans didn't like this book, and I admired it a lot. It seems that this book is not representative of his writing. So, it's time to read more...
* Best nonfiction: American Bloomsbury was a delight to read. On the other end of the spectrum, Imperial Life in Emerald City was disturbing to read...but worthwhile nevertheless.

As for this year, I just have one resolution to fulfill: Must*renew*library*card.

Cheers to reading great in '08!

Books read in 2007

Classic fiction

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, Marcel Proust
Trilby, George Du Maurier
Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Dracula, Bram Stoker
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Persuasion, Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
Love in Excess, Eliza Haywood
Don Quixote, Book 1, Cervantes
Voyage in the Dark, Jean Rhys
The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac
Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathanael West

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas

Modern/contemporary fiction
My Uncle Napoleon, Iraj Pezeshkzad, Azar Nafisi, and Dick Davis
Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood
Falling Man, Don Delillo

Slow Man, JM Coetzee
Memoirs of a Muse by Laura Vapynar
After Dark, Haruki Murakami
Windows on the World, Frederic Beigbeder
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Assassin’s Gate, George Packer
Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Rajiv Chandrasekaran

A Strange Piece of Paradise, Terri Jentz
Jane Austen, Claire Tomalin
The Beautiful Cigar Girl, Daniel Tashower
9/11 Commission Report
Sleeping Where I Fall, Peter Coyote
Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire by Morris Berman
The London Scene: Six Essays by Virginia Woolf

The Autobiography of Margaret Oliphant
American Bloomsbury, Susan Cheever
Ghost Hunters, Deborah Blum
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown