The OF Blog: Here's your chance to vote on read books for future review

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Here's your chance to vote on read books for future review

I read a lot of books.  Currently, I am on my 35th book for this month/year, and likely will finish another 2-5 before the calendar rolls on over into February.  I am not as prolific a reviewer, however, although I did review around 150 books at this blog and the practically-defunct SFF Masterworks group blog.  I do have vague hopes of reviewing the majority of the books listed in the poll to the right of this screen, but considering it takes roughly 45-60 minutes at least to write a review, my natural tendency toward procrastination sets in and I end up reviewing a smaller fraction than I intended.

I thought it'd be a fun exercise to put up the books I've already read and have not yet reviewed (with one exception, as that book's review will go live by Wednesday at the latest, plus there is another unfinished book whose review will be readied this weekend for Tuesday posting) into a poll where readers could vote for their favorites.

Note I said favorites.  I enabled multiple selections for this blog so readers won't feel as obliged to choose between two or more favorite works.  When the poll expires on February 5 (the Saturday before the Super Bowl), I'll choose between the top 3-5 selections and write reviews of them over the course of that weekend and the following week.  There are plays, poems, and prose works, fiction and non-fiction alike, to choose from here, in addition to works read in French, Spanish, and Italian, besides English.  Should be a nice variety for readers and hopefully there will be wide participation, as it'd be interesting to see which books intrigue the readers the most.


Anonymous said...

Grimms tales because I've always loved them.

Conrad's Heart of Darkness because I read and enjoyed it very much just a few weeks ago.

Calvino's Baron in the Trees because I'm going to read it (+ The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount) in the near future.

Matthew Cheney said...

I was caught a bit by the word "review" -- at first, because I generally associate "book review" with writing for an audience that isn't familiar with the work under discussion, and somewhat more specifically asssociate it with new books -- at first, I thought, "What, you're going to 'review' Chaucer? Like, 'Mr. Chaucer's language is perhaps a bit archaic, and some of his choices seem to border on bad taste, but overall, adventurous readers will find much to adventure with.' Really?"

But then I thought in some ways my sense of "review" is impoverished by contemporary bookchat usage, because every other way we use the word means simply "to look again", and, that, indeed, seems accurate and even noble -- to look again at a book, to look at books worth looking at again, etc.

(By the way, if you end up doing "Heart of Darkness", I highly recommend the most recent Norton Critical Edition -- I used it with a class last term and the supplementary materials are magnificent. And it pairs brilliantly with Tarzan of the Apes and Things Fall Apart [the latter of which also has a magnficent Norton Critical Edition; I am, as I'm making clear here, utterly smitten with the NCEs, and have been addicted to them since my undergrad years.])

Anyway ... now I should go try to do the poll...

Lsrry said...


I do seem to have this nasty habit of utilizing words in odd ways. Yes, I wasn't thinking of "review" in the sense of covering an unfamiliar book to suss out its skeletal outlines, but rather in the second sense you mention.

I've read virtually all of these works, some of them multiple times (albeit with a gap of 10-15 years in several cases) and what I aim to do is to explore my own relationship to these works, to see what has changed over the years. In some cases (like the James in particular), my appreciation has deepened considerably for what was accomplished. In others, the re-read didn't provide any new insights and that too is rewarding in its own way, oddly enough.

As for the edition I'll be using for Heart of Darkness, I have been reading the Easton Press edition (fancy snob that I'm becoming), so there are no critical notes to it. Much as I admire the NCEs when I used a couple back in college, I'm purposely trying to avoid critical editions for this exercise, as I want as much of this as possible to reflect my own wrestling with the text. I'd worry about "contamination" of thought if I read too many commentaries on textual matters.

The biggest challenge I'm setting for myself in this is not settling for mere platitudes or aping of others' opinions without at first digesting it at length. I hope to be surprised with what I write for these reviews and others this year. That might be the most rewarding part of these essays, in the older sense of "essay."

Unknown said...

I read (as opposed to seeing it performed) Waiting for Godot for the first time last year, and I was surprised to find it was actually still funny in print. Be interested to see your thoughts on it as a text.

More importantly, thanks to that poll I now know that J M McDermott has a new book out! Excellent. Last Dragon is one of the few Spec Fic books from the last few years that has really stuck with me, and I'm looking forwar to reading more by McDermott, so bonus point for letting me know it exists :P.

James said...

I chose Calvino's Il barone rampante and the McDermott.

I just bought the English translation of The Baron in the Trees (because I can't read Italian), so I might just make that my next book to read if you choose to review it.

I chose the McDermott because I plans to read some of his work in the coming months. Probably after Last Dragon is re-released by Apex.

Lsrry said...

McDermott has another book, Maze, coming out later this year, I believe. FYI.

James said...

Yep, I posted about it. Comes out in March, I believe.

Lsrry said...

I think so. I have a PDF of it to read in the coming weeks.

James said...

Good luck with that. Try not to do your eyes in.

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