Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My 2014 in Books

What follows is a brief overview of my year in books. Please do feel free to leave recommendations (or non-receommendations, or anything in between) that are a snapshot of your reading this year, categorized however you'd like, in the comments section.


Book that walks the fine line between post-post-structuralism and nihilism in the perfect way to reassure you when you start to be plagued by the nagging suspicion like the humanities might possibly be a waste of time as a profession: The Past as Text by Gabrielle Spiegel

Yale flashbacks: rereading Cien años de soledad

Dissertation flashbacks: rereading "the task of the translator"

Book that most suffered for lack of a sufficient documentary apparatus: El diccionario privado de Jorge Luis Borges, Blas Matamoro

 Book written by an author with the most Crusading surname: El diccionario privado de Jorge Luis Borges, Blas Matamoro

Best book about Entanglement Theory: Entanglement by Ian Hodder

Worst book about Entanglement Theory: Meeting the Universe Halfway by Karen Barad

Work of theory that really didn't go where I was expecting it to: The Cult of the Factish Gods, Ian Hodder

Best book reread for a course: Don Quixote. (If this is feeling like deja vu from last year it's because there's simply not going to be a lot of competition in this category any year that I use DQ in a course.)

Books I'm reading in Spanish translation for teaching purposes: Los judíos y las palabras, Amos and Fania Oz; Harun y el mar de las historias, Salman Rushdie.

Current academic reading (all of which is curiously late for me): Poetic Trespass: Writing Between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine by Lital Levy; and The Censor, The Editor and the Text by Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin.

But enough of the obligatory, work-related reading (of which this is only a fraction, anyway) and on to the fun stuff:

Special World Cup reading subsection. Because I actually, inexplicably, really enjoy reading about football.

Book that reminded me why I want to write literary non-fiction for an audience of normal people: Among the Thugs, Bill Buford

Book of essays about football not written by Etgar Keret that most reminded me of Etgar Keret's writing: El futbol a sol y a sombra, Eduardo Galeano

Additional football book bought but not read: Fever Pitch, appropriately written by Nick Hornby, self-appointed king of the books bought but left unread


I returned to the James Bond novels with: Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming

Character in an everybody-dies murder mystery whom I was hoping would get killed off but didn't: Mrs. Roscoe, The Jewel That Was Ours, Colin Dexter

Character in an audiobook who was read as the most successful impression of the actor who played the same character in the TV show based on the book: Dr. Bartlett, The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn, Colin Dexter (read by Kevin Whately, who plays Lewis in the TV show)

Audiobook in Progress: Last Bus to Woodstock, Colin Dexter

Spy thriller I was going to read before I saw the movie, didn't get to the book in time and so didn't see the movie: A Most Wanted Man by John LeCarre

Murder mystery that didn't have interesting-enough potential villains for me to actually care about who had actually done it: The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith

Book to which I affixed an "I didn't buy it on Amazon" sticker: The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith

Other books I didn't buy at Amazon: Lexicon by Max Barry; The Pope's Book Binder by David Mason

Book that I'm trying to buy as a gift for someone but can't find a print copy for less than $350 $185: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity, Michael Camille

Academic roman-a-clef that started out funnier than I was expecting, based on the generally terrible judgment of the reviewer from whom I learned about it, but finished up just about as tedious as that reviewer is: Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher.

It totally doesn't count and I can't even try to pass them off as graphic novels because they're comic books plain and simple but I also read: Ms. Marvel #1-#10.


I finally got into listening to audiobooks beyond my favorite audiobook ever (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, fabulous as much because it is read so well by Stephen Fry as it is for the original text written by Douglas Adams) and that's a good remedy to being too tired to look at the printed page once I get into bed after looking at the printed pages all day for my academic work. It's a little fiddly to find the place where you were when you fell asleep and start there again — fiddlier than just picking the book up off your face in the middle of the night and folding down the corner of the page — but I'm liking it.

Final analysis: List confirms what I felt all year, which was that I wasn't doing enough reading for pleasure. I wasn't keeping careful track of my reading in the first half of the year, but there's not much that I missed, I don't think. A goal for next year.

And so to conclude, a few of the books I'm planning/hoping to read or listen to in the year to come, including some of the ones I had intended to read this year: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel; the collected Sherlock Holmes novels and stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; A Strange Death by Hillel Halkin; probably quite a lot of poetry by Yehudah Amichai; Carlota Feinberg by Antonio Muñoz Molina; Fields of Exile by Nora Gold; Dead Certainties by Simon Schama and that book that it's sending up, The Armies of the Night, by Norman Mailer.

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