Bait for Bram

on Saturday, December 12, 2009
Two years ago I made a New Year's Resolution to read as many books as I could in twelve months. It was a challenge I had been working towards for some time - one hundred and five in 2006, one hundred and seven in 2007 - but one that I could never have anticipated taking over my life in the way it ultimately did. By the end of 2008 reading had become a chore rather than a pleasure. It was no longer about the substance of the books I was tearing through - I can't even remember what most of them were about. Come December 31 I had demolished 251 books, starting with Maupin's Tales of the City and finishing with Walker's The Colour Purple. Deprived of sleep, having let my work slide and my relationship suffer I still hailed that year's challenge a great success. New Year's Resolution achieved!

This year I set out to read only epics and classics. Noble as it might seem, it was a purely practical decision. My book collection had taken over the house. I couldn't take two steps without tripping over a pile of books. I decided it was time to work through the massive back catalogue I had amassed over the past twenty years but not read - what Umberto Eco calls "the antilibrary". I started the year with Moby Dick, worked my way through Les Miserables, The Grapes of Wrath and The Man Without Qualities and am now reading Utopia. In terms of modern epics, I read The Kindly Ones, 2666, and Brink's An Act of Terror. Unfortunately for my resolution, 2009 was a good year for new books so my mission was waylaid numerous times. With the year rapidly drawing to a close, I guess I ought just come out now and concede defeat. I never got to War and Peace. I'm still putting off Little Women. And, worst of all, I put down Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle a third of the way through because I was excited to read McCann's Let The Great World Spin (my book of 2009). I never came back to the Russian master.

Now, as 2010 looms, I have resolved to do something I've been meaning to do for years - start a blog. I know most blogs go unread and don't presume that mine will be any different. Nevertheless, a boy can dream! I would love for it to become a community meeting place, where similarly-minded book obsessives, irrespective of taste, converge to discuss all manner of topics relating to literature. I hope it becomes a site of heated debates. I hope I can point readers in the direction of books they might not otherwise have read, and vice versa. And, of course, I hope that I bother to keep writing it after January 2.

So here it is. Bait For Bookworms. Cast away!


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