Essential Reading: November 2015

I really don’t know why I still keep up this feature in my blog. I make a list of books to read for a certain month yet I always abandon some of the books in order to read something else entirely. For the month of October, I abandoned Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find and Elizabeth Taylor’s A Game of Hide and Seek in order to read a completely different set of books. Just goes to show how fickle-minded readers are when it comes to their books. Anyway, here’s the amended list of my October reading:

  • The Children Act by Ian McEwan (4/5)
  • Fixed Ideas: America Since 9/11 by Joan Didion (5/5)
  • An Enemy of the People by Arthur Miller (4/5)
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller (5/5)
  • Red Lights by Georges Simenon (4/5)
  • On Booze by F. Scott Fitzgerald (3/5)
  • Three Years by Anton Chekhov (3/5)

Ian McEwan has already secured his place in my heart with Atonement and On Chesil Beach which is the reason why it is always disappointing when I read a work of his that does not live up to his aforementioned masterpieces. Granted, The Children Act is still classic McEwan, combining readability with profundity, yet I felt that it wasn’t as complete and as deftly written as the other two. Reading Fixed Ideas, I remain convinced that Joan Didion is one of the greatest political writers that America has ever produced. I know she is mostly known for her personal writing yet it is still her fierce intellect and vivid dissections of the American sociopolitical sphere that continues to fascinate me. The two Arthur Millers that I read in commemoration for the author’s centennial were both great plays although The Crucible was better than Enemy of the People. Simenon’s Red Lights was a a good read about a man’s exploration of his darker side and its consequences and the book had the potential to be great yet it seemed to me that the ending wasn’t as good as the rest of the book. On Booze contains The Crack-Up, one of the best confessional essays I’ve ever read, yet the rest of the book was mediocre with some of the contents feeling like they’ve just been included just to bring up the page count. Three Years is definitely not Chekhov’s best as it meanders at certain points of the narrative and it felt like it would’ve been great as a short story but ultimately fell short as a novella.

For November, here are the books that I plan to read:

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  • A Sorrow Beyond Dreams by Peter Handke – My second attempt at reading Handke with my first a considerable failure, not even reading more than 10 pages. I expect this one to have a more favorable result since A Sorrow Beyond Dreams is really the Handke book that I’ve wanted to read ever since it came across my radar while reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides who also provided the introduction to this NYRB Classics edition.
  • The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson – My first Carson and I know next to nothing about this except the rave reviews about the book that I’ve come across online.
  • The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith – Aside from being a reader, I’m also a film buff and one of the movies I’m excited about this month is Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara which was based on this novel by Highsmith about the then-forbidden love between two women during the 1950s.
  • The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa – Admittedly, I know nothing about this novel and its author yet I was compelled to buy and read this because of a blurb by Paul Auster.
  • Mean Woman by Alicia Borinsky – An unknown writer from Latin America whom I know nothing about? Count me in.

That’s it for my reading list this November. Until next time, folks.

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