and lo, the new year calls

Let me start with an apology. I don’t keep close and careful track of the topics I work my way through here, and so it may be that I cover ground that’s already been covered. And more interestingly, it may be that I cover old ground along a different path, and I’m certain that I will.

One thing (among admittedly many) that I’ve let slip over the past few years is the annual reading project. The first in 2017 was the Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, the tales of the Arabian nights, the Sir Richard Burton translation. The second, through 2018 and the first half of 2019, was the collected works of Kurt Vonnegut.

I then, in a fit of what can only be described as ambition, set myself the task of reading the literature of humanity in chronological order, from the beginning. That was a task made in ignorance of the volume of what we’ve written and what we’ve translated. I am still reading around ancient Sumer, because I find it an interesting place to visit and spend some time.

For 2021, I picked a list of 100 fantasy books to read, and I’m still working my way through that list; I’ve read a few on that list and I’ll continue to read. But for the purpose of a reading project, I don’t feel that for me, such a list makes a good project.

What I enjoy about a reading project is to immerse myself in the works of a single author, and this is something that the lists don’t offer. And so, I find myself asking, what should be the reading project for 2023. Or rather, who should be the reading project for 2023.

But how to decide? What is my process for making such a decision, since I’m deciding with whom I’ll spend a lot of 2023. (And I’m thinking about the process, because I find myself teaching a module of algorithms in semester 2 and so I’m thinking a lot about decision making processes in general).

One idea was to walk through the house and examine the various book cases and ask, whose books have I bought over the years. From whom do I have a complete or near complete collection. One idea is to ask, who do I want to read.

One idea is to do something a bit different and play two authors off one another. The benefit of this, as I learned while reading Vonnegut, is that sometimes the conversation with a single author can invoke a bit too much familiarity with their voice, depending and depending, and that sort of alternation might then prove helpful.

I’ve not read all of Samuel Delany, and so perhaps this is the year. I’ve not read all of Octavia Butler, and so perhaps this is the year. Roll on 2023.

~ by Jim Anderson on 8 January 2023.

2 Responses to “and lo, the new year calls”

  1. Have you read all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s work (fantasy, SF and a little non fiction)? If not i heartily recommend them. I did catch up with a lot of her back catalogue in one binge, but that was about 15 years ago and I’ve been reading the rest on the day of publiciation. Personally, i don’t feel as though I’ve read widely enough, so to confine myself to one (or two) authors would be to ignore all the other ‘good stuff’ out there.

    • I’ve not but I’ll add her to the list for future years. And I will try to read others as well over the year, but it’s interesting to read one author, in chronological order, as a type of conversation.

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