Books I Did Not Read This Year

This whole gambit reminds me of that moment in David Lodge’s Small World where academics confessed titles they had not read. I’ll see Crooked Timber’s list, and raise the ante with more egregious not-reads, this year or any other year:

1. Anything written by Jhumpa Lahiri
2. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
3. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
4. Anything written by the Believer ultra-vixens (Vida & Julavits)
5. The Bug by Ellen Ullman
6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
7. Anything written by ZZ Packer
8. Anything written by J.M. Coetzee
9. Anything written by Jane Smiley
10. Anything written by Kinky Friedman
11. My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey
12. Bruce Wagner’s cellphone trilogy

Boo yah, baby! Take that!

Of course, I was too busy reading Quicksilver, catching up on William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, Kevin Starr’s California Dream books, Robert Caro’s LBJ biographies, and Richard Powers, along with discovering folks like Frederick Prokosch and John P. Marquand, the latter now judged by the silly copy you see on his covers. (He ain’t delicious trash, baby. He’s a clean writer; a tad dated perhaps, but no less relevant. Write a novel more brilliant than Sincerely, Willis Wayde and then come back to me, darling.)

But, really, where do you people find the time to read all this stuff? What dimensional plane do you folks saunter off to? Or perhaps my rampant quasi-literacy has a lot to do with the fact that I’m attracted to big books, generally around 700 pages or so, written in microscopic fonts and requiring regular assualts on the unabridged.


  1. Read Coetzee’s Nobel acceptance speech and you can tick that off your list. 🙂 (Disgrace has been on my book pile all year, but I haven’t got around to it yet.)

    Haddon’s book seemed to make a lot of end-of-year lists in the papers, so I might have a look at that eventually. Everything else, a big ditto to your boo yah.

  2. Rory: Technically, I did read the speech before posting that. But we’re talking books, man. The bloodlife that runs through your hands!

    Barring independent income, I honestly don’t know if there’s any way a reasonable person could keep up with the pack. Particularly if they’re as curious a reader as I am, and one book leads to further questions, gaps of knowledge that needs to be filled. (Case in point: this Abigail Adams bio I’m almost finished with now has me hungry to revisit our nation’s roots, which are ironic in light of current events.)

    And then you have guys like Stephenson who are determined to deluge us with 3,000 pages in 18 months. Go figure. 🙂

  3. christ, all i read this year was non-fiction. well, unless you count the transcript of the state of the union address back in january, but i guess that’s not really a book.

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