Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Reading Year

So April 6, 2006, was the rather arbitrary date that I started keeping a reading journal. I actually think the reason was that the semester ended at the same time it did last year and it took me a week-ish to read the first "pleasure" book of the year. I'm uncertain because I have a terrible memory, which was the reason I started keeping the journal in the first place. That, and estimable friends like Scott and Kerry (damn, I forget how to do links--you know who they are) had such logs, and look how estimable they are. The journal wound up including not only pleasure reading but school books from my summer class, non-fiction on useful topics, and serious journals I read entirely—but not the 30+ "novels" I read for "work" nor my ongoing obsession with reading every word of The New Yorker (that's another post).

So the grand total came in at 61, which means about a book a week, which is about what I imagined. Though I was sort of scared I'd get to the end and it'd be 3 books and I'd realize that I am functionally illiterate. Wait, wait, that's a bad stereotype that I have to stop indulging in. Some smart people don't read, I heard a rumour. Anyway, this reading year ended not with a bang but a whimper, Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue. I love Bryson's travel writing, and I love the English language, what's not to like, I thought? The lack of narrative arc or pacing made it difficult, though each individual chapter was interesting. Interesting seemed to be the highest goal present though--lists were not exhaustive, and what was explained and what wasn't seemed a bit hit and miss. Canadian English got maybe three or four mentions, mostly in relation to its past persecutions in Quebec, and there were some glaring political incorrectnesses (ie. Native American languages referred to as "foreign" tongues in America). And the book was poorly proofread, which makes me bats, especially given the subject.

Nevertheless, I learned a lot, not least that any Bradfordian, not just Ross, could spot a Leeds man or woman a mile out. Good to know. And now, onward.

On the horizon: I'll be reading Frank Wah's Diamond Grill next, because it's on the exam I'll be marking and I don't really remember it from 5 years ago. Just knowing I liked it is probably not enough for the undergrads. And then, hmm...not sure, but likely another reread, Jane Eyre for a project I'm working on. I love that book, but I've only read it once, and then only because I was assigned Wide Sargasso Sea for a seminar and realized I was unlikely to understand without Jane. That is kinda a weird, angry way to experience the favourite book of so many childhoods. And now I need it for a story, so I need to really know it cold, which with my sieve-like brain, requires a reread. So, onward.

I hope y'all had a good Good Friday, Passover Sedar, whatever you're into. I'm off on a mini-jaunt to my folks' place. Shall we reconvene here next week?

I'm gonna stand guard / like a postcard / of a Golden Retriever



Kerry said...

Hello hello hello! How exciting! xo and see you Tues.

frede said...
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frede said...

Paul Simon! I adore him. Do you know he is mean to his wives? That made me sad to hear... 61 books v. impressive. Am not surprised re: the bryson book disappointment. I have read a few of his non-travelogue works and they've left me with a general feeling of blah... Hope all's well.