Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Return of the Preview Post


We talked about returning the "preview post' and I think it's a great idea. I'll even call it a New Year's Resolution. So until we get the ToBX list, this will keep me busy.

I tried to do a couple of things with my list this year. One, I tried to include books by non-American, non-Western authors. I'm always talking about my reading rut, and actually putting some of these books on my list should be a good way to change it up. This year's list is 4 non-fiction books (if you count the Madonna book as non-fiction, that is. Snerk.) Of the ten remaining novels, four of them are by non-Western authors. I don't usually pick alternates, but I definitely want to read all of these four this year!

One book on my list is Please Look After Mom, which won the Man Asian Prize in 2011. The Man Asian prize is the equivalent of the Booker or National Book Award. Knowing which books to read from another country can be difficult, and so looking at prize winners seems like a good strategy. There's also a Best Translated Book Award, which might be another avenue for finding new books.

I also included All The Names by Porgeguese writer Jose Saramago. I was really on the fence about whether to include this one or the sequel to Blindness, called Seeing. I think part of it that Blindness was so emotionally wrenching, and I wasn't quite ready to return to that world. I'm hoping All the Names is a little less...harrowing. 

My one return book this year is by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Of course she wrote my favorite novel of 2013, Americanah. As I said in an earlier comment, I intended to read Purple Hibiscus in December, but forgot it at work. All of the sophomores read it this year after I recommended it to the English department as a book that might fit in their global lit course. Did you hear about the huge boost Adichie got when Beyonce sampled her TED talk, We Should All be Feminists on her new album? Interestingly, it's her TED talk called The Danger of a Single Story that I'm more familiar with---that any decent English teacher is more familiar with! It's great, and if you've never seen them, you should check them out.

That brings me to the book I'm going to tackle first, Snow by Orhan Pamuk It's always so hard to know which book to read first in a year! But this year, given the *insane* amount of snow that we've had in Chicago so far, it seems like the obvious choice! How can you not read a book called Snow when your world looks like this?

Pamuk is from Turkey and won the Nobel Prize in 2006. I've never read anything by him before, but Snow is a book I've seen referenced by other reviewers and authors. I'm looking forward to it.  I've had this book on my shelf for at least 6 years. I know that because our old neighbor, Laura, gave it to me to read at the same time as Await Your Reply. I enjoyed that one a lot last year, so maybe I should trust her instincts. I did return Await Your Reply to her after finishing it, and it was pretty funny. She was so happy to see it again, "Oh! I remember that I really liked this book!" I'll finish this one and give it back to her and she'll probably wonder what else I've been keeping from her!

One other thing you'll notice is that there are far less non-fiction books this year than in previous years. I think I'm worried that starting grad school (exciting!) will suck up a lot more of my free time, and maybe I won't have as much time for big 800 page tomes about whatever war I'm into this year. I have a few longer ones, but figured it was a good year to put more fiction on the TBR list. In fact, I'd love to finish Snow before my first class on the 9th!

As for snowy Chicago, a bit of an explanation: I took the first picture of the boy and his buddies (one of them is out of the picture) sledding this afternoon. LOTS of snow! Here's another hilarious thing, we were then driving to pick up D at work, and the kids see one of the library reading rooms on campus and said, "Wait! Why didn't we sled on that?" It's a huge glass dome and it did look like a massive igloo. I could see why the kids thought it would be a perfect sledding hill: quite majestic, and wildly dangerous! Here's a snowy picture of the library versus its regular appearance. I keep thinking it must be *awfully* cold in there when it's all snow covered! Not to mention that the light must be just fantastically strange. I wish I worked at the University so I could peek in there and see it. Maybe I can convince D to sneak me in there tomorrow---but I promise to leave the sleds at home!



  1. Dude! It's a good thing you didn't put Seeing on your list -- you read it for your TBR list in 2011! I cannot believe you don't remember that because you called it "perhaps the worst book [you] have ever read" and then you wrote, "And I don't mean 'worst' because it was upsetting. I mean because it sucked." HAHAHAHA! How could you forget that?!

  2. (I also enjoyed your photos... yes, it has been a snowy one lately. I was spoiled by my first winter in the Midwest being so mild. Not this year!)

  3. Especially ironic was this line from that review: 'It's nice to see that my reading memory isn't as completely useless as I thought."

    Oops. Back to it being useless.


  4. Also, I should go back and read more of my reviews. They're pretty funny.