The Summer 2010 edition of Do Nothing But Read Day is swiftly approaching, and I’ve been making a stack of books to read on the 27th. Here’s a peak at what I’ll be reading this time around. I’m not sure that I’ll read all of these books, and I certainly won’t read all of all of these books — but this is my starting point.
2666 by Roberto Bolaño. This book was a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law, and I’m embarrassed to say that I’m still trying to finish it. I don’t seem to be able to read too much of it at once, and now I’m completely stalled at the beginning of Part 4: The Part About the Crimes. DNBRD is a good time to break the impasse.
The Measure of All Things by Ken Alder. This is the history of the measuring of a portion of a meridian so that distance could be used to establish the meter. That all sounds pretty dry, except when you consider that all of this was going on during the French Revolution (and that astronomy and geometry are fascinating), when it was rather difficult to be running around France triangulating. I’m part of the way through this book already, and will read a couple of chapters on DNBRD.
Thucydides: The Reinvention of History by Donald Kagan. The greatest historian of ancient Greece writing about the historical writing of the greatest of the ancient Greek historians. What could be better? I bought this book several months ago, and have been holding it in reserve, knowing that it will be excellent. After all, everything that Kagan writes is (not to mention his lectures on the subject at Yale, which you can also listen to online or as podcasts).
A Thousand Peaceful Cities by Jerzy Pilch. I know only three things about this book: 1) the author is Polish; 2) it’s a comic novel set in the latter days of the Polish post-Stalinist thaw; and 3) it’s the latest installment of my subscription from Open Letter, one of the leading lights in translated European literature in the US. And for those reasons, I’m looking forward to it exceedingly. I’ll read this one on DNBRD for sure (unless I give in and read it before then).
The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard. I picked up this book at a great bookstore/cafe/bar (where I found some really fine martinis as well) in Washington, DC when I was there for the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in January. It’s been buried under a stack of other new acquisitions since then, but it’s time to dip into it for some of Bachelard’s fascinating tour of home and what it means. I’ve read this several times before (but it seems my other copy went missing), so I’ll just dip in and read a chapter or two, as it suits me.
Selected Writings by John Ruskin. I’ve been oddly fascinated with Ruskin of late. This volume of selections from the Oxford World’s Classics series has just what I need: a smattering of pieces from various works. I’ll merely dip into this one as well, and read one or two of the pieces as a prelude to a full reading of The Stones of Venice later in the year.
The Possessed by Elif Batuman. A memoir about Russian literature, studying Russian literature, and the people who do strange things like study Russian literature. I’ve read only the introduction so far, but I can already tell that Batuman is funny, that her prose is lucid and lively, and that her path into studying literature more than a little resembles my own graduate school oddities. This will provide amusing interludes to some of the heavier material.
Poetry Magazine. I’ve had a subscription to Poetry off and on for more than 15 years now. As usual, I’m well behind on the issues. I seem to let four or five of them stack up, at which point I read them all at once, in order of publication. When I do this, it’s like entering another world, one in which everyone cares enormously about poetry. I’m a fast reader of poetry, so the five back issues will only take me an hour or so to read. I’ll blow through them quickly and mark the ones that I like for later rereading.
The Paris Review. Another periodical that I do not seem to read until there’s a small stack, which is even sillier than it sounds, since it’s only published quarterly. Besides interviews with John McPhee, Ray Bradbury, R. Crumb, and David Mitchell, there’s the usual mix of short stories, poetry, photography, and visual arts. All good stuff, but given the height of my stack of books for DNBRD, I’ll probably read only the interviews; I always read them first.
What are you reading on DNBRD? Sign up and let us know — you could also, as Amanda says, win stuff.