Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My bookish year

During the past few years, I’ve kept a detailed record of my reading and shared it annually as a quiet celebration of the printed word. This year, though, the list fell by the wayside. Making it simply didn’t seem interesting or feel necessary. You know I read, I know I read. You know I collect old books, and I know it. As for remembering what I read, that has never been a big concern of mine. I read it, and, like the very life I live, I love it, I savor it, and it goes.

Still, there were a few highlights this year, beginning with the Sir Thomas North translation of Plutarch’s Lives, which I enjoyed immensely in a beautiful limited edition published in 1928 by the Houghton Mifflin Company and printed in eight volumes, in its original spelling, by the Shakespeare Head Press at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

I also read all of Thackeray’s major novels.

Since July, my book-reading has been almost entirely in Spanish. This change in gears caught me completely by surprise. One day, I simply decided out of the blue that I was going to switch languages. I have no real goal, other than fluid reading, proper pronunciation, and reasonable comprehension. It’s going quite well. I’ve read books for children, books for young adults, a translation of Machiavelli, several volumes of literary criticism focusing on the novel, from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth, and a few other things. This quiet, solitary process gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. It has revealed to me a lot about learning, and about how I learn in particular. Don Quixote is waiting in the wings. No doubt Cervantes will have the last laugh, but what could be more fitting?

Anyway. There you have my bookish year, in all its vague and unremarkable glory.

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