Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December/January Readin' List

NaNoWriMo was great, but it did severely limit my reading time. And after the breakneck pace of this November, sitting back and relaxing on December 1st seemed a bit dull. So here I am again, with a big list of books to read and even more on my radar. It's a little intimidating, yet fun and exciting -- a little bit like NaNo, in fact.

To Read
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius -- Nearly done, 25 more pages. This one's been on my list for months, though more from a feeling of obligation than irresistible desire. It is unnecessarily convoluted, maybe a little too "learned" for its own good. Though he does love to repeat himself, which aids in comprehension. And I appreciate that he put what he wrote to practical use everyday, yet the philosophy seems to deviate very little from the general teachings of the Stoics. Disappointing. Yet in the end, this book is worthwhile if only as a small look into the mind of an Emperor.

Imperium
, by Robert Harris -- A "novel of Ancient Rome" in which Cicero's private secretary tells the story, the trials and tribulations, of his master. I'm not expecting Pulitzer-quality stuff, but this might still be a fun way to learn more about Cicero and the late Roman Republic.

Memoirs of Hadrian
, by Marguerite Yourcenar -- A Goodreads friend was reading this, so I borrowed it from the library on an impulse. Its title betrays its premise: another fictional look into the life of a great Roman man. Though the man was Emperor, and the book is told from his POV. I was struck by the book's origins: written in the 1920s and 30s by a French woman, Mme. Yourcenar.

The Poems of Catullus -- As classical literature goes, this is rather fun and fluffy. And it works well as a companion to the Meditations. Catullus was clearly one to love the good life -- to enjoy himself, frolic with his friends, fall for his girls, and through it all, turn blind to everything beyond his little bubble. Poem 5 says: "Lesbia/ live with me/ & love me so/ we'll laugh at all/ the sour-faced/ strictures of the wise."

Othello
, by Shakespeare -- My sister and friend had to read this for English class, so I decided to read along. But now they have finished with it -- ready to take a test on it before the holiday break -- and I haven't even started. Oh well, it is on my list.

The Song of Roland -- I'm not quite sure, yet, what to expect from this. I've been into epic poetry lately, the story seems sound, the poetry certainly has its flowing merits -- and yet, it's French. Ouch.

Ruth Hall
, by Fanny Fern -- I have to be quick with this one, as I have it slated as a Christmas gift for a certain someone. It is a 19th century novel, by a woman, that has plenty of original flavor and character to it. No offense intended to the Bront√ęs, Austen, et al., but it's nice to see such a book that doesn't end in a marriage -- and deviates from the familiar pattern in many other ways.

The Gambler
, by Dostoyevsky -- I say, I have to develop some kind of a relationship with the greats of Russian literature. Up to this point, I have not a read a word of any of it. In correcting this situations, why not start with a relatively short work like this one?

The History of the Franks, by Gregory of Tours -- I am not jumping for joy at the prospect of reading this. Yet, what other method is better for learning history? As developed as the world of history-writing has become, I still lean always towards the primary sources. If nothing else, they are there so why not read them? Then you can return to the safety of our 21st century.

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
, by Alan Alda -- Don't ask me to explain why I bought this, or why I like Alan Alda. Really, he is an actor from before my time -- I don't even like M*A*S*H that much. Anyhoo -- this is his second autobiographical book. (No. I have not read the first.)

The Space Merchants, Frederik Pohl -- I don't know. More old science fiction, more "humor" and "laughter." How -- cautionary quotes aside -- could that be bad?

Finished
The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett
Boomsday, by Christopher Buckley
Fountains of Paradise, by Arthur C. Clarke
The Stainless Steel Rat, by Harry Harrison
Rock Bottom, by Joe Casey
Abe Sapien: The Drowning, by M. Mignola
Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, by Ethan Gilsdorf
The Gum Thief, by Douglas Coupland
[To read my reviews of some of these and other books, kindly visit my Goodreads review page.]

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