Wednesday, January 10, 2007

favourite books

What's amazing about this, is not so much how many books Art Garfunkel has read (967 in 28 years) but the fact that he has kept a list of the books he has read since 1968. I wish I had kept a list of all the books I have read and when I read them. I have thought this several times over the last few years, and still not done anything about it. I hate writing reviews, so blogging about the books I have read would be difficult. I sometimes blog about books I have read, but not consistently. I can probably produce a list of favourite books though - but the top ten would be different depending on when you asked me. Still, I'll try... here goes, in no particular order (though I think Hallucinating Foucault is one of the few books where I got to the end and wanted to read it all over again).
I suppose what I look for in a book is an element of the magical and mystical side of life, but embedded in the everyday - kind of magical realism, but not in a formal sense. And I want there to be a hint in the book that life has meaning. It doesn't have to have a happy ending, but I don't want to read stuff that is nihilistic. And it must be beautifully written.

Pip has kindly directed me to LibraryThing, a social networking site for book-lovers.


The Silver Eel said...

I went to a writing-advice thingy at Waterstone's in 2000 which was designed to set people up for entering the Scotland on Sunday/Macallan short story competition. Laura Hird was due to speak and had to pull out. Her replacement was a chap whose name I've sadly forgotten, but one of the most telling things, at least for me, that he said was, you know, if I read a book a week I think I'm doing pretty well, so allowing for holidays that's 50 a year, and I think I'd be lucky to get to the end of that bookcase [he pointed at a bay] before the end of my life.

He wasn't being pessimistic, exactly, more resigned. But there's another quote somewhere, from a French author whose name I've also forgotten, which runs something along the lines of, any time I feel sad, I think of all the great books that are waiting to be read, and then I am happy again.


Wishing you a very Happy New Year (in Scotland you can continue saying this to people until mid-February, or so it seems).

Yewtree said...

Yes, books make me happy. Strangely my list has now reached 52 (which is one a week for a year). I'm sure I read more than one book a week, though. Currently reading the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver (Wolf Brother, Spirit Walker, and The Soul Eaters). I've read the first two, just about to start the last one. It's very good, evoking life in the Mesolithic era very vividly.

Happy New Year to you too.

Joe said...

Wolf Brother was excellent - I met Michelle Paver at the Scottish Book Trust and she signed my book and used a stamp to put a paw print on it! When researching the books she lived with hunter-gatherers, including natives in Alaska where she came face to face with a bear - very cool lady and brilliant book.

I have no idea how many books I have read in my life - I know from compiling 'best of the year' lists for the work blog that I have to rake through my memory just to remember the books I read in the last twelve months to pick a few out. Just as well I put a lot of them (although rarely remember to put all) on the sidebar of my blog.

Weekly average jumps around - right now Hal Duncan's second book, Ink, is massive and hard work, so it's taking a while, then other times I might hit something like Perez-Reverte's Alatriste books and devour the first two in a couple of days.Right now I'm juggling one history book, one novel, two indy Filipino comics and two graphic novels and it still isn't enough! So many more to read, but as with you guys that makes me happy knowing I have a ton more waiting to read and that's before considering some of the books I know are coming up later this year. If science perfected longevity for us tomorrow I could spend a couple of millennia just reading and still not fit in all I want. Which is good - if you accomplish everything what's left?