Since I became an audiobook fan over two years ago, I often have two books “in progress” at any given time, one in print and one in audio. But for the past couple of months, I’ve had three or four books going most of the time. My current audio is Villette by Charlotte Bronte, and it’s a good 22 hours long. Since I often listen while cleaning the house, those weekends where I have things scheduled (like wall-to-wall basketball), or when I’m achy and under the weather, I get little or no cleaning done, and so I make no progress with Villette. I’ve also had a library book, recently renewed for the second time but I really need to just give up on it, a collection of essays on literature and life called A Mirror in the Roadway: Literature and the Real World by Morris Dickstein. I like what I’ve read – thus keep renewing it – but haven’t read enough and know I won’t be able to finish it in the next few weeks – so I’ll return it soon, and perhaps it will cross my path again someday. I’ve also had two books I sort of alternated depending on my mood: my book group’s selection for December, How Fiction Works by James Wood, and my LibraryThing Early Reviewer book, Soldier’s Heart by Elizabeth Samet. I finally finished the latter last evening.
So where am I now? I’ve only got about four hours left of Villette, so I’m hopeful I’ll be done before the year ends. (I think that will put me at 47 books finished in 2008, which is really excellent when you consider how busy our lives are!) My book group has chosen short stories by Chekhov for January, and Crime and Punishment for February, and luckily I own a collection by Chekhov PLUS the Dostoevsky novel, so will attempt to read both of those before we meet to discuss them. (I read Crime and Punishment a LONG time ago; it should be good to revisit it.) There’s also going to be a discussion at TSCPL in late January about the novel Atonement, and I checked out the CD in hopes of making that my next audiobook after Villette.
Beyond those three, I don’t have definite plans, but there are books that have been “calling” to me from my shelves in recent months, that I hope to get to in 2009. I think the one I’ve had the longest is Vanity Fair, so despite its length, it’s on my short list of “likely leisure reading” for the coming year. Other novels that are in my sights: Brookland by Emily Barton, The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Keep by Jennifer Egan, Poison by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, and The Lightning Keeper by Starling Lawrence. I’m also looking forward to reading a second collection of stories by Lydia Davis, called Varieties of Disturbance. I just got that one for Christmas, so it’s the “newest” (to me) book on my potential list for 2009. I’ve picked up several books of poetry in the past two months as well, including four on Black Friday. They all look good, and unlike the novels I listed, they’re all quite short and should be quick reads. 😉
I continue to struggle with emotional eating and my love of fattening coffeehouse drinks. One book I had on my wish list for a long time was The Hungry Self: Women, Eating, and Identity by Kim Chernin. I found and bought it not long ago, and would like to fit that in between novels, and sooner than later. I’ve also had a bizarre kind of thought, that what I need to do is replace my addiction to food and sugary beverages with a “safer” addiction. If it were possible for me to get hooked on exercise, that would be the best thing, hands down, no question — but seriously, ME, addicted to exercise??? That seems VERY unlikely to happen. But what if I could feed my love of reading, what if I could “binge” on books? And I don’t mean just BUYING more books, though I certainly LOVE buying them and having them, but READING and “sampling” them, FEEDING myself with words, DEVOURING and INGESTING them – the books I already own. I saw a book some weeks ago that seemed to reflect this train of thought, and yes, it was an impulse purchase: Crack Wars: Literature, Addiction, Mania by Avital Ronell. This and the Chernin book are on my short list of non-fiction for the first months of the new year.
I have been writing this post off and on for about three hours. Jeff has said a couple times, “You’re still writing that?” (And standing behind me a moment ago, he said, “Oh, this is the part where you talk about what’s going on right now…” That Jeff, he can be funny, and then other times he thinks he’s being funny but he’s not.) But I’m glad I got a bit of an outline started – what I’m reading, what I plan to read soon, and the next batch of books on my radar. Just one small step toward getting my head in order.