Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013 Reading ... and One Really Good Book

I'm not going to spend a lot of time here on the blog discussing what I read in 2013. You can see the list on the right sidebar (for now; eventually the 2014 books will be up.) My reading doesn't follow much of a pattern, except that I don't have much time to read. The audio books are what I listen to on my weekly commute. I borrowed more audio books from the library than what you see listed here, but if they're boring or just don't catch my interest, I return them quickly. I do the same with printed books. So to say that any of these books was my favorite would be misleading: the list was already culled before it appeared here. I tend to favor biographies and non-fiction, with a dose of humor thrown in to keep things interesting. Of course, my reading is limited to what I can borrow, although a few of these are ones I've purchased. I finally finished The Pale King. It's a long book, and I read it in stops and starts. I like to think of it as the Moby Dick of the IRS. I love David Foster Wallace's writing, but as with almost all authors, I prefer his essays to his fiction. And of course, this was a posthumous book anyway.

Some other notes: My enjoyment of Philip Roth's writing has only increased over the years. I was talking with a friend earlier this fall about favorite writers, and we both mentioned Roth, and the look on his face when recalling "Goodbye, Columbus" somehow summed up the Roth experience for me.  (And I like "The Conversion of the Jews" in that collection even more.) Of course, there's much I haven't read, but every time I read something by him (or in this case, listen to something), I enjoy it. Yes, for those whom it bothers, there's a lot of sex. But I sometimes think that because it's so over-the-top, it almost ceases to be offensive. And the reading on the audio books was quite good. There's an old interview with Roth in the Paris Review online here that I have to make time to read. Relatedly, I'd read little or no Updike (memory fails here), so I tried the only audio book of his the library had. Some of it I liked, but some felt dry and repetitive. Perhaps the short-story collection wasn't his best work. I might make him an author to read in 2014.

I love biographies, so there are quite a few on my list. And of course concentration camp books are one of my favorite genres. (You can see I'm a niche audience.) Plus some self-help and a little humor. I especially liked Steve Martin's autobiography. He is such a thoughtful person, and while there was humor in it, much of it was a very serious reflection on his life. Nothing beats a well-read, educated comedian.

Finally, my favorite book of the year is one I haven't finished yet -- Magic Search: Getting the Best Results from Your Catalog and Beyond (Kornegay, Buchanan, Morgan). The real subtitle is at the top of the cover: "Subdivide and conquer with LC subdivisions!" This slim book (under 150 pages) lists the best Library of Congress subdivisions to use for various subject searches in library catalogs. It's geared toward reference librarians, but it's also helpful for catalogers. Since I do both, I'm working my way through the book a little at a time, taking notes. The book has too much information to do a quick read-through. This is one book that will definitely stay in my collection of librarian tools and one that I will refer to many times. Highly recommended!

1 comment:

  1. Mentioning Philip Roth there is a 90 minute 2013 PBS documentary on him (Philip Roth: Unmasked), which is basically a compilation of his interviews. For those that are an Amazon Prime member they can watch it for free. Otherwise you can rent or buy it (electronically) from Amazon and itunes. You can also purchase the DVD from Amazon.

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