Thursday, January 7, 2010


1993 was the first year I began to seriously keep track of books I'd read. I kept a list in 1984 and another in 1990, but they were written in the back of books, and now I have no idea what those books were or where they are. Looking at this list, I'm quite shocked at how many books I can't remember anything about. Was I reading a lot of crap? Was I distracted?

1. Not The End Of The World (novel) - Rebecca Stowe
I don't remember anything about this book.

2. At The Sign Of The Naked Waiter (novel) - Amy Herrick
I don't remember anything about this book, either -- you'd think I would, with that title! What a way to start a year!

3. We Have Always Lived In The Castle (novel) - Shirley Jackson
Finally, we have a winner. Not only do I remember this novel, it's my favorite novel by Shirley Jackson as well as one of my favorites overall.

4. The Object Of My Affection (novel) - Stephen McCauley
I have a vague impression of enjoying a comic novel, deftly written with a gay theme.

5. Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot (memoir) - John Callahan
I laughed at cartoonist Callahan's memoir of being a paraplegic, was ashamed of myself for laughing and then laughed some more.

6. The Haunting of Hill House (novel) - Shirley Jackson
Jackson knocks the ball out of the park again.

7. The Risk Pool (novel) - Richard Russo
I really like Richard Russo's work, so it pains me that I can't remember this novel. Time for a reread.

8. The Girl In A Swing (novel) - Richard Adams
Speaking of rereads, this beautifully written, erudite psychological horror gem was one. Every time I read it, I pick up on something new.

9. Forty Whacks: New Evidence In The Life and Legend of Lizzie Borden (nonfiction) - David Kent
What the subtitle says.

10. Come Along With Me (novel fragment) - Shirley Jackson
I wish that Jackson had lived to complete this novel.

11. The Year It Rained - (novel) Crescent Dragonwagon
I don't remember anything about this novel.

12. Cowboys Are My Weakness (short stories) -Pam Houston
I don't remember anything about these short stories. I'm noticing that this 'mindless' reading seems to last for a couple of books, then move on.

13. Possession (novel) - A.S. Byatt
I loved this novel about two academics who are researching the lives of two Victorian poets. I'd read this one again in a heartbeat!

14. In The Garden of the North American Martyrs (short stories) -Tobias Wolff
I really enjoy the title story; just read it again recently.

15. All The Pretty Horses (novel) -Cormac McCarthy
I didn't like this book when I read it, but I feel differently about fiction and McCarthy now. I'll probably do a reread at some point.

16. The Housewife and the Assassin (novel) -Susan Trott
I have no memory of reading this, but in my reading journal, there's a frowny face drawn next to the title.

17. She's Come Undone (novel) Wally Lamb
Entertaining novel and the song played in my head the whole time I was reading.

18. Small Spaces Between Emergencies (short stories) - Alison Moore
I don't remember anything about this book.

19. Where The Red Fern Grows (novel) - Wilson Rawls
YA crowd-pleasing weepie about a boy and his two hunting dogs. My son and I read this one aloud together.

20. July 7th (novel) - Jill McCorkle
I have no memory of reading this book.

21. Disguises of Love (novel) - Robbie McCauley
I have no memory of reading this book, but I do remember that it was on an upstairs bookshelf at my in-laws' house in Tulsa.

22. The Bridges of Madison County (novel) - Robert James Waller
I thought the characters were uninteresting, the setting snoozeworthy and Waller completely lost me when the male character started comparing himself to a peregrine. The movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep was an improvement, but that's not saying much.

23. The Firm (novel) - John Grisham
My mother-in-law was going through a Grisham phase. I borrowed this and read it to please her, but other than a vague memory of the protagonist realizing that he's joined a really crooked law firm, it didn't make much of an impression on me. I didn't read another Grisham book until 2008.

24. The Easy Way Out (novel) - Stephen McCauley
I don't remember anything about this book.

25. Hairdo (novel) - Sarah Gilbert
I don't remember anything about this book.

26. Ramona Forever (novel) - Beverly Cleary
Another mother-son read. I love Cleary's depiction of the relationships in the Quimby family. There's a slightly gritty feel to this one as well -- Mr. Quimby is out of work, Ramona's mother is working and money is tight.

27. The Duke of Deception (memoir) - Geoffrey Wolff
I know this is about Geoffrey and Tobias' Wolff's father, but I don't remember anything else. Luckily, I have another copy on the shelves!

28. The Evening Star (novel) - Larry McMurtry
The continuing adventures of Aurora Greenway from Terms of Endearment.

29. Rambling Rose (novel) - Calder Willingham
I don't remember anything about this book.

30. Like Water For Chocolate (novel) - Laura Esquivel
I loved the magic realism, Esquivel's storytelling, the great translation and all those recipes! Gorgeous book!!!

31. The Mountain Lion (novel) - Jean Stafford
A few years before this book, Stafford wrote a bestselling novel called Boston Adventure that is really reader-unfriendly, as if she'd been channeling Henry James, but this short novel is its polar opposite, quite folksy and friendly as if she'd been channeling Mark Twain.

32. Bitter Fame: A Biography of Sylvia Plath (nonfiction) - Anne Stevenson
Stevenson was approximately Plath's age and also went to an Ivy League women's' college, so presumably, she can shed a lot of light on Sylvia's life and times. She takes up too much time explaining this to the reader. I've read better books about Plath. I recommend the one by Janet Malcolm and also the one by Dianne Middlebrook.

33. The Lost Language of Cranes (novel) - David Leavitt
I don't remember anything about this book.

34. Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life (nonfiction) - Natalie Goldberg
An interesting and entertaining book about applying meditation techniques to writing. Whenever I meet someone who says that they want to 'start writing', I always recommend this book.

35. Katherine Mansfield: A Critical Study (nonfiction) - Sylvia Berkman
Boring. Zzzzzzz.

36. Good Rockin' Tonight (short stories) - William Hauptman
I don't remember anything about this short story collection. Too bad. I like that song.

37. Jack (novel) - A.M. Homes
Jack, who's just come into adolescence, finds out that his father is gay.

38. Pigs in Heaven (novel) - Barbara Kingsolver
I loved The Bean Trees, the prequel to this novel, but didn't like this one because of the shift in viewpoint from first to third person.

39. Vanished (novel) - Mary McGarry Morris
I don't remember anything about this novel.

40. Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (nonfiction) -Claire Tomalin
Very good biography of Mansfield, with a thorough discussion of the story plagiarized from Chekov and an in-depth look at Mansfield's chronic health problems that started well before she contracted TB which led to her death at 34.

41. Needful Things (novel) - Stephen King
The devil went up to Maine, looking for some souls to steal. He opens a shop that strangely enough, always has the object one desires most. The cost? Bwahahahaha!

42. The Life of Katherine Mansfield (nonfiction) - Antony Alpers
Poor Antony Alpers. The "Life" just could not compare with the "Secret Life" of Mansfield. ZZZZZ.

43. Bastard Out of Carolina (novel) - Dorothy Allison
Terrific, gritty writing.

44. Dolores Claiborne (novel) - Stephen King
Dolores tells her story, but other than a shit husband and an estranged daughter, I remember nothing.

45. Hunger (novel) - Knut Hamsun
This book about a literally starving writer in Christiana --now Oslo-- Norway is a brilliant piece of storytelling. The translation I read was excellent as well.

46. Foxfire (novel) - Joyce Carol Oates
This novel is about a girl gang in the 1950s or 60s. Oates does that intensity of teenage life so well.

Male Authors: 22

Female Authors: 24

Fiction: 38

Nonfiction: 8

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