Books acquired: “The Accordion Repertoire,” Franklin Bruno.
Books read: “Around the World in 80 Days,” Jules Verne; “We’ll Always Have Paris,” Ray Bradbury; “The Brazil Series,” Bob Dylan; “Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” Joan Didion; “Holy Land,” D.J. Waldie; “America (The Book),” Jon Stewart and The Daily Show; “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac; “Icons of the Highway,” Tony and Eva Worobiec; “Exile on Main Street (33 1/3 series),” Bill Janovitz.
Welcome to my first Reading Log of 2013! This is the monthly feature where I track the books I read the previous month and you share your own reading habits, as well as reacting to anything I’ve read, generally if you’ve read it yourself or have meant to. What I’m reading is, almost without exception, books from my own collection. It’s rare that I read anything current. I like fiction, science fiction and related genres.
Seemed like a good idea to remind us all what this is all about as well as to welcome newcomers who wonder if this is a book review column. It’s not. It’s simply that I’ve accumulated an embarrassing number of books over the years. This begins Year 5 of my intensive effort to reduce my backlog. Tracking my reading by month encourages me to keep going, as well as providing a haven for fellow book lovers to gab.
I know I read differently because of these Reading Logs. If I weren’t grouping books by month, or sharing what I was reading for that matter, my book-by-book choices would be different. If I didn’t have an end-of-month deadline, I’d read fewer books, too. But there is an element of entertainment and performance here, and frankly, with several hundred unread books around the house, virtually all of them of interest, it’s kind of all the same to me which ones I read when. And so, some months I gather books with a loose connection, if only in my own mind.
Such was the case in January, when I read books that at least purported to be about places and/or travel. One benefit was that all six of my bookcases were represented this month. If left to my druthers, I might sit in my room and read only sci-fi. The fact that this grouping in effect forced me to read the Didion and Kerouac books, which I’d owned for close to a decade, was another plus. (The first essay in Didion’s book is about a 1964 murder case in Alta Loma, and I feel better about myself for having finally read it.)
You don’t want to read commentary about nine books, do you? Especially after this preamble? To take them in the order listed up top, there was a comic adventure novel about a bored Englishman who bets he can circumnavigate the globe at a then-breakneck pace; Bradbury’s last book of stories; a book of paintings by the songwriter; a classic book of 1960s essays, many about California; a poetic memoir about Lakewood, Calif.; a satirical look at American history written as a mock textbook; a novel of Beat generation America; a book of photos of theaters, diners and the like from the western U.S.; and, finally, a song-by-song look at the Rolling Stones album “Exile on Main St.”
My favorites of the above would be “Slouching,” “America,” “Icons” and “Exile.” Verne’s book, by the way, I began reading on the bullet train between London and Paris on Feb. 24, 2012, and put down almost immediately. Yes, it took me almost 11 months to read a 200-page book. It didn’t grab me, needless to say, its characters being so broad, but I read a chapter every now and then, determined to finish. I read the whole thing on my Kobo e-reader but, reloading the text simply for a photo seeming impractical, I used my paperback copy for the photo.
As always, your comments are encouraged. Next month: books with food titles. Yum!