The reading that I set for myself this year requires me to read twenty books in various categories. Here is my challenge: An author you have never read before, Biography or autobiography, A book recommended by a friend, Romance novel or Western, Mystery, Historical subject, Science fiction or fantasy, A book started but given up on, Graphic novel, A book published in each decade I’ve been alive 1940’s – 1950’s – 1960’s – 1970’s – 1980’s – 1990’s – 2000’s – 2010’s, A book of short stories or essays, Part of a series of books, and to round it out A book of any kind. I’ll be bringing you updates as the year goes on. In fact, this is the first update.
The first book that I read was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig. The book was first published in the 1970’s, though I first read it in the early 1980’s. I had planned on reading it last year for the challenge, but ran out of time before I could get to it, so I started the year with it. The book was a best seller when it was published. It feels as if each time I read the book I understand a little more about what Pirsig is saying about Quality, but I do get bogged down in some sections. Having said that, I must admit that the term that best describes my feelings when reading the book is “comfortable.” Pirsig might say that “comfortable” is an intellectual construct of Quality. But I may have misinterpreted that section of the book. I recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t mind working at their reading.
To the other extreme, my second book this year was Larry McMurtry’s The Last Kind Words Saloon. I chose to read a western rather than a romance novel this year. I had planned on picking up something by Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour, but after wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble without finding anything, I turned to Larry McMurtry. McMurtry is an excellent writer, and I’ve enjoyed some of his other books. This book, however, seemed like it was put out just to trade on his other excellent work. The story was just too short to please me. I mean, I read the entire book in one day. I’ve spent more time on graphic novels.
I seemed to slow down in my reading when I came to the third book this year, Conspirator: Lenin in Exile by Helen Rappaport. This fills the Biography part of my challenge. I realized a few years ago that almost everything that I had read about Lenin and Stalin was in the context of spy thrillers. This year I decided to finally rectify that situation by reading a biography of at least one of them. I’m not sure why my reading speed slowed down with this book, because it is quite interesting. Perhaps next year I’ll find a biography of Stalin to read.
After reading non-fiction I decided to go to something that I could get through quicker, so I chose a graphic novel to read. I chose Jupiter’s Legacy, Book 1 by Mark Millar and Frank Quitley, for the obvious reason that the art intrigued me. At first look indicated to me that Quitley’s art had been strongly influenced by Jean Giraud (Moebius) and perhaps also by Frank Miller. The story (the first five comics in a series) by Millar reminded me of Watchmen by Alan Moore. Truth be told, I enjoyed Millar’s story more. I may actually look for Book 2 so that I can read more of the story.
I feel like I’ve already fallen behind on my challenge, so I’m going to get cracking on the next book…after I work on my Stamp Collection for a bit.