Tuesday, January 2, 2007

year in reading 2006

Happy New Year, everyone. And time for me to crunch the numbers on the reading log:

Total number of books I read last year: 42 (up 7 from 2005)

Novels / novellas: 9 (up four, counting David Markson's This Is Not A Novel and story cycles like David Mitchell's Ghostwritten or Bilge Karasu's Garden of the Departed Cats)

Collections of poetry: 6 (same as last year, counting Geraldine Kim's "poem-novel" Povel)

Collections of short stories: 6 (+5)

Graphic novels / comics anthologies: 5 (-4)

Books on science / technology: 2 (same as last year)

Books of literary criticism: 3 (+2)

Essays / memoir: 3 (+3)

Books on art / architecture / music: 2 (same as last year)

Assorted nonfiction: 7

Authors I read in 2005 who have written at least one book I read prior to 2005: 12 (Manuel DeLanda, Mike Davis, Steven Johnson, David Foster Wallace, Johanna Drucker, Steve McCaffery, Grant Morrison, Rick Moody, Joshua Clover, David Markson, Kathy Acker, Robert Coover)

Trends: whatever I was working through last year seems to have resolved / been repressed: last year I tackled eight heavy books on religion and mysticism, and this year I didn't read a single one. In exchange, this year marked a big return to fiction, with both novels and short story collections up.

Highlights?: Three books especially helped to define the scope of the writing project I'm currently working on: two collections of poems (Geraldine Kim's Povel and Juliana Spahr's This Connection Of Everyone With Lungs) and one experimental novel (Patrik Ourednik's Europeana). A lot of the other fiction I read was less immediately applicable to my own writing, but was impressive on its own merits: traditional novels like Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and stranger fiction like Mark von Schlegell's Venusia, Kelly Link's Magic For Beginners, David Foster Wallace's Oblivion, Kathy Acker's Great Expectations, and Robert Coover's Universal Baseball Association. I also read two great essay collections: John McPhee's Uncommon Carriers and David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster (the latter indubitably being the single best book I read all year).

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