The Annotated TBR #1
It’s no secret to frequent readers of this blog and among my bookish friends that I’m a book hoarder. My criteria on what books to buy casts a very wide net and such a wide net yields piles and piles of books. Right now, my books are haphazardly piled atop each other and, unless I buy a bookshelf, they will remain as such. Of course, the reasonable course of action would be to stop or at least lessen my book hoarding but who are we kidding? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I clearly won’t submit to such logical and reasonable ideas when it comes to books.
The consequence of my book hoarding is that my TBR is increasing at a rate that I cannot hope to catch up with. Don’t buy books until I’ve read my entire TBR? Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve been ignoring a lot of books for the past couple of years simply because I don’t have the time to read them all and some of these books I badly want to read. Sometimes, I vow that I will lessen my book buying then I see a wayward NYRB at a second-hand bookstore or a Paul Auster book that matches the covers of the ones that I have or the collected stories of a forgotten writer’s writer and then my resolve crumbles faster than you can say “mine.”
So what will I do then? Why, make a feature about it on my blog (my default solution to everything bookish) and hope that I can keep it up. There’s already the BOOKLOVE feature here on my blog that chronicles my most recent acquisitions but I’m of the opinion that it’s not enough. Enter The Annotated TBR, a brilliant feature that I read over at Other Sashas, and the idea behind such a feature is to give an assessment of the books on my TBR: why I bought then, why it remains unread, and when would I likely read it. Here’s the first of the bunch:
There has always been a kind of synergy between the books that I’ve read and the movies that I watched. If a book I love/like has a movie adaptation, I watch a movie and if I find out that a movie I love/like is based on a book, I become interested in the book. Such was the case when I watched the movie adaptation of The Road and became enthralled with its bleakness and nihilistic philosophy. I then bought a copy of The Road and tried reading it but I just couldn’t progress with it. The language and the sparse prose got to me so I put it down. Over time, I read (and loved) McCarthy’s other works, No Country for Old Men and Blood Meridian, and I hope that this will enable me to be still for a moment and read through The Road.
One of my obsessions back then was with “The Lost Generation.” After reading Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea and A Moveable Feast in succession, I became curious with the world that Hemingway inhabited and the writers that he socialized with particularly F. Scott Fitzgerald, who featured prominently in A Moveable Feast. I then chanced upon A Short Autobiography by Fitzgerald, a book that seems similar to Hemingway’s memoir. However, before I got to read it, my obsession passed. After that, I read a couple of Fitzgerald’s fiction but still his nonfiction works seems unappealing to me at this time, a prejudice that I would like to shake off because I haven’t read any of Fiztgerald’s non-fiction work and because I actually like his fiction.
There is a certain allure to the books written by Nobel laureates even though the only thing that I know about their writing is that a society, often accused of elitism and Eurocentrism, has deemed it worthy enough to be included in the pantheon of the world’s greatest writers (although this is debatable). Yet, I could not resist buying Beloved, the masterpiece of Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. A lot of people swears by it, often branding it as a landmark of American literature, and I admit that it was one of the reasons why I bought Beloved but I couldn’t find the necessary frame of mind to plod through what I assume is a depressing piece of literature. Or that’s just my excuse.
Fun fact: I can easily get attracted by the blurbs on the back covers of books. It may be a blurb that states the author’s ingenuity or a blurb from an author that I admire but, either way, even if I don’t know anything about the book or the author, I can be swayed to buy the book by the blurbs it has. This is the case for The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen since it had the good fortune of having the phrase “magic noirism” in one of its blurbs. It’s ridiculous to think that a phrase from a blurb was all it took for me to buy the book but there you go. Also of note is the fact that I bought this at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland and its one of the events that I enjoyed when I was in the United States. I am very hopeful that I will read this book soon.
There’s a funny piece over at CollegeHumor that chronicles a conversation between a copy of Infinite Jest and a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow on how their owner has ignored them for a significant amount of time. As for me, I can imagine my copy of Gravity’s Rainbow grumbling in it’s place between Jorge Luis Borges’ Collected Fictions and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road about how I have ignored it over the years. But you can’t blame me because, not only is Gravity’s Rainbow a tome, it is a postmodern tome and that spells trouble for a reader who wants to live a life without wondering what is happening to a huge array of characters and discerning meaning from the events of their lives. Someday, I will read Gravity’s Rainbow but not today.