2008 Retrospective Reading List

Tis the season for literary retrospectives. Around this time of year, my retrospection is always tempered by a certain amount of guilt and a sense of failure (alas, the plight of a Calvinist who loves literature). As I pass by our bookshelves--in the living room, in the front hall, above my desk, behind my desk, in the bathroom--I'm always a bit overwhelmed: even in my own rather humble libraries, there are volumes and volumes of "classics" calling my name: from the Odyssey and Dante's Vita Nuova to yet more McCarthy, Updike and Julian Barnes. There's half a shelf of Wodehouse, a collection of Sir Walter Scott novels, and twentieth-century landmarks like Bellow's Adventures of Augie March and Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. From across the pond, I'm still looking at James Joyce and piles of Evelyn Waugh, and the remaining volumes of Proust seem to turn up their nose in condescension when I walk past.

And here we are at the end of another year and my shelves are still weighed down with books I've yet to read. So I thought I'd do a little inventory; ranging across the shelves with my notebook, I recorded the books that I actually did manage to read (entire books, mind you; I'm the master of sampling, but that doesn't count). And it turns out that, though there are all those uncracked spines staring back at me, I did manage to wade into a decent number. (I've not done this before, so I don't have any comparative "sample.") Most importantly, there are books on the list that I've wanted to read for a long time and finally had the opportunity (our time in England was a change of rhythm that made this possible). Closer to the end of the year, after grades are submitted, I hope to comment on five or ten of my favorites from this past year (some I've already blogged about). Until then, in no particular order, here's my 2008 Retrospective Reading List:
[When I'm looking for more excuses to avoid grading, I may comb through my periodicals, magazines and collections and come up with a list of short stories read this past year.]