Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What I read last year.

Last year would have to be my worst book-reading year for a long time. I reckon I would have to go back to well before I arrived in Wang, about 15 years ago, to a year when I read less. I only read five books last year. Pretty pathetic really, even if I was tired for just about all of the year.

I do most of my reading at night, just before bed. A few months ago I started to read The Swan Book, by Alexis Wright, and found the first few pages almost impossible to comprehend – it didn’t help that I kept on falling asleep. I tried to get into the novel over the next week or so, but had the same problem. Not the fault of the writer I am sure, just me being too tired.

Of the five books, three were very good science fiction novels, one was an insightful book of poetry – yes I actually read a book of poetry all the way through, so it must have been good – and a western.

The three science fiction novels were Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood, Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie and Lexicon by Max Barry. All were very good, but perhaps the best was Lexicon. It gets the nod because of its originality and it was fun to read – it’s not a comedy, but it is written in a slightly amused tone. I have reviewed all three of the novels on this blog.

The western was Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a Tsunami of descriptive passages. I can’t imagine a desert being described in so many different ways. It’s a novel where all the characters are either sociopaths or fools or both. The main character turns out to be the desert and the effect it has on a gang travelling through it. I had read McCarthy’s The Road and thought it one of the best apocalyptic novels going round. It too is full of descriptions of the desolate countryside.

Caged Without Walls, by Anthony J. Langford, was the book of poetry. To me, you either get a poet’s writing or you don’t. I am not into re-reading to find hidden meanings or to find any meaning at all in a poem. I am also not into pretty poems about how lovely the world is and how lovely love is. Neither is the writer of this collection. Most of his poems are observations on human nature and how misguided and flawed we are. Caged Without Walls spoke to me. I also reviewed it in a post this year.

I picked up a book last night for the first time this year, and did not fall to sleep while reading its first 35 pages. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes certainly has an intriguing set-up. Hopefully I will be posting a review of it in a couple of weeks.

The one good thing about reading only five books last year is that it should be easy to better that total this year, double it, triple it, quadruple it…


Anthony J. Langford said...

Thank you Graham. That's very kind of you.

Funnily enough I had a bad year too. About the same number. Though you've had a big writing year. which is great.

Thanks again.

Graham Clements said...

Maybe that's why writers I know are not talking about books, they aren't reading them. Just writing them, and they keep on piling up. Two facebook connections have books out in the coming weeks, when will I ever read them?

I did read for a second night in a row last night.