Essential Reading: September 2014
The final third of the year is already upon us with the so-called “-ber” months entering the fray. So far, I have finished 43 books out of the 60 that I had promised myself. So that means there’s still four months left for me to read 17 more, a doable feat in my opinion especially if I keep my pace up as GR says that I am currently two books ahead. Anyway, my August reading was a great one especially since it introduced me to four new authors whose works I shall now seek. Here’s a list of the books I’ve finished last month:
- Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (4/5)
- The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector (5/5)
- The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark (4/5)
- In Love by Alfred Hayes (4/5)
Fear of Flying exceeded my expectations since I originally thought that I was going to read an erotica in the vein of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book which has a reputation for vivid sexual imagery. Instead, what I got with Fear of Flying was the story of a woman trying to find her place in the world and attempt to free herself from the chains of gender inequality. The Hour of the Star was a surprise in its artistry and impact despite having less than a hundred pages filled with sadness. The Ballad of Peckham Rye, on the other hand, was a delight from start to finish featuring one of the more compelling protagonists in recent memory. Finally, In Love was indeed, as the blurb described it, “executed with the cool smoky brilliance of a classic Miles Davis track.” It was jazz and melancholy all the way through.
For the month of September, here are the books I’m planning on reading:
- Two Crocodiles by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Felisberto Hernandez – New Directions has compiled two short stories from two authors who are vastly different from each other. Their birthplaces and birthdates alone should at least give the reader an idea on their differences as Dostoevsky was born in 19th-century Russia while Hernandez was born in 20th-century Uruguay. The only similarities that they have is that each made a short story titled “The Crocodile” and both stories are now collected in Two Crocodiles.
- The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud – During the line for Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World, I read the first few pages of The Woman Upstairs and I was instantly hooked by the narrator’s rambling on her unsatisfactory life which made me decide to read this September.
- The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins – Initially, I wanted to read Wisława Szymborska’s A View With A Grain of Sand this month but the lady from Politics & Prose convinced me that Billy Collins’ poetry is really good so my first poetry book for the year (!) will be this slim volume.
- The Winter Journal by Paul Auster – Auster is Auster, one of my favorite contemporary writers, therefore he needs no explanation as to why I picked The Winter Journal as part of my September reading plan. This is his first non-fiction that I would read and I hope it can provide insight into the mind of the man that wrote The New York Trilogy.
I’m also planning on reading Auster’s Moon Palace since I didn’t get to read it last month and Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of AJ Fikry which is our book club’s book of the month. That’s about it for September. Happy Reading!