Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reading resolutions

The TBR pile is 86 books big, plus a couple more that are coming through the post. Last year, I read 109 books... that means that if I read everything in the TBR pile, I should see the year through to October without buying any more books, especially since some of the babies in that pile are seriously long.

Of course book lust will grab me and I will feel that I simply cannot do without a quick hit from Amazon...but I am going to do my uber-best not to order any more books until the TBR pile is down below 50. There are some great reads in there. I've winkled out the books that I've started and really won't finish (S. Meyer's New Moon, step forward, ditto AM Holmes' This Book will Save your Life). So that is resolution number 1.

And in this Darwin Bicentenary year, I am going to read The Origin of the Species.

Meanwhile, I've finished The Thirty Years War, which was a slog, although I do think I am now clear on the differences between Ferdinand II and Ferdinand III and I certainly know who Maximilian of Bavaria is, though I am still confused about Margraves and Landgraves, Electors John George, George John, Frederick, Charles Lewis of Saxony, Brandenburg etc etc etc.

Have now started Dark Fire by CJ Sansom, and Matthew Shardlake is better than ever - I am really going to eke out Sovereign and Revelation, because this guy is good....The worldbuilding is flawless, the characterisation sympathetic and the stories convoluted and intriguing. Yes, 80 pages in, I did end-read, and now I can settle back to see how the tale unfolds, because of course, it's not the way that it ends, but the way that it is told that matters.

Which reminds me of the joys of Jarvis Cocker, who edited the Today programme on Wednesday morning and used as his thought for the day the words of Alan Watts, an Englishman who devoted his life to philosophy and exploring Buddhism. Cocker chose an excerpt of Watts talking about the way we are so goal-oriented - and as a teacher, peddling the notion that one must jump through hoops to achieve one's full potential, the extract resonated. I suppose my real resolution for reading this year is to encourage the students I teach to believe in reading themselves, to take up and relish reading so that it becomes innate to them, and thence, a consolation, a revelation, a refuge, a door opening up new worlds and new ideas. Not because they should, not because they must, but because they can read. How lucky they are to have such possibilities before them.

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