Summer reading list ’12. (AKA: Yes, another one.)

So I’m back in KL and stuck in the sordid heat of Malaysian summers (it entails a lot of haze, a lot of heat despite not being able to see the sun through aforementioned Indonesian forest-fire haze, and vast amounts of humidity). I am still somewhat unable to drive on my own (primarily because I got my driving license the day before I left, and I left for 8-9 months), though I am making slow progress with re-starting this whole business by doing small laps around the building/area/city. Well, so far I’ve only done building, but tonight I am going to do the area WOOHOO. At this rate I will be DRIVING MYSELF ALONE to PLACES, eventually.

But until that happy time, I am also somewhat stuck in the house, trapped at the top of this tower (read: on the 20-somethingth floor of a tall building) like Rapunzel. To put it bluntly: I am sort of BORED.

So I delved into the depths of my sadly small book cupboard (most of my books had been taken to Oxford; 189 of them are currently packed and on their way to Singapore by boat. I sincerely hope the boat doesn’t sink because I will be MISERABLE if anything happens to even one of them!) and fished out a surprisingly large pile of Stuff I Haven’t Read. This is my attempt at a) keeping busy and b) dreaming of a productive tomorrow, so I have divided them into little piles and categories, and hope to begin on them soon (as soon as I finish faffing around on the net of course!).

GROUP 1: Good books that I really must read, because it would be wrong to die without having done so.

  • David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (sort of began this in the UK, but it is massively confusing, and I was a bit too busy/tired to concentrate. Not now, though!)
  • Italo Svevo, Zeno’s Conscience (about a man who can’t give up smoking & starts a diary – ha ha!)
  • Gabriel Marquez Garcia, One Hundred Years of Solitude (bought it ages ago)
  • Cervantes, Don Quixote (I began it once many years ago and loved it, but I have never finished it so….)
  • Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji (This has rolled on over from last summer I think, and I want to read it in conjunction with DQ, because it’d be interesting to compare these two very different origins of the novel!)
  • Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths (my attempt to understand the short story, and where better to start?)

GROUP 2: Really deep and interesting, but not novelistic, stuff that I should read/again, that it would be wrong to die without reading.

  • Michelangelo, Life, Letters, Poetry
  • Plato, Republic
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Nietzsche, Ecce Homo
  • Rousseau, The Social Contract
  • Dante, The Divine Comedy
  • Milan Kundera, Testaments Betrayed
  • Arabian Nights

GROUP 3: An assortment of various narratives I have desired, and thus bought, over the years, but the desire soon vanished and so I have never read them but probably should.

  • Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh
  • Fanny Burney, Cecilia
  • Fanny Burney, Evelina
  • Tobias Smollett (!?), Roderick Random
  • Alexandre Dumas, La Reine Margot
  • Honoré Balzac, Cousin Bette
  • Anais Nin, Henry and June
  • Brecht, The Threepenny Opera
  • James A. Michener, The Novel (I’m scared and sorry to say – this looks really boring :( )
  • Robert Service, A History of Modern Russia (no better time than now to read it, I guess, with Pussy Riots & bans of gay pride parades…)

I’m going to try and read as many as possible, but I’m slightly scared because quite frankly, I have found it difficult to settle down with books since finishing. (I always do; it always takes a month or two; unsure why – “how ironic and sad,” I like to say, “that my English degree has put me off reading!“). But hopefully I can start again. Sadly all the notebooks I scrawl down little quotes and observations to myself in are also in boxes on the sea somewhere. I may need to improvise.

Das books! (I like my piles.)

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