images.jpgI heard that you should have a general knowledge of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to fully enjoy and benefit from reading Ian McEwan’s novel, Nutshell. Let’s see: a brother and his brother’s wife conspire to kill the married brother and assume the marriage rites for themselves. But the wife is pregnant and her very well spoken unborn child (the narrator) is against the murder plot and has a lot of thoughts on the nature of existence even before the mother’s water breaks.

Sounds a lot like Hamlet? And how many other narratives involving a wife and her lover plotting the murder of the old, boring husband?

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More Winter Reading

TH70-SK-1.jpgThe most recent Winter Reading edition of Tin House magazine is out and for many it will provide welcome relief from all those big fat books calling us from our bucket lists.

I find literary journals such as Tin House and Conjunctions both introduce me to new and often exciting authors, but they also provide a less demanding effort on my part, if only in that such journals generally contain shorter pieces and excerpts. This allows the little gray cells to rejuvenate while still being jiggled around a bit.

I find this especially important in the winter months when I might not be able to run around in the sun to restore my batteries (actually, I don’t run around anywhere nowadays … my best exercise comes from a rousing coughing binge).

Here is what the editor says about the #70 issue of Tin House:

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New Titles For the Last Month of 2016

images-2.jpgThis new reading list follows the scheme I developed a few months back. I notice that despite having several titles by the two or three selected authors, I tend to only read one or at best two and cover the majority of my reading with the unconnected titles. Perhaps this is a good plan since it allows me to have 15 or 16 new titles to chose from and also 9 or 10 titles focused on specific authors. Since I general only read about 8 books each month, the ratios seem valid.

I have been selecting titles that are mostly new. But this means there are numerous books being skipped over that I really want to read. I’m going to have to schedule a make-up month soon to catch up on some of the great reading I just didn’t have time for.

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A Pile of Books Is Called a ???

images-1.jpgWow! It’s December tomorrow and I haven’t even thought about next year’s reading selections.

I have an uncharacteristic urge to just wing it: selecting one book at a time with no preplanning whatsoever. I knew a woman who was a strong reader but she insisted that she never planned her reading in advance. Of course back in the pre-digital days (and the pre-Amazon days) our reading plan was whatever we found at the library or in the local bookstore.

Then computer access to the library allowed us to look for and request specific books to be held for pickup on our next visit. Targeting specific books sounds like a plan to me. Add in the internet, online bookstores, and the once flourishing big-box-bookstores (brick and mortar) and we all had a variety of ways to obtain reading material. But short of just scanning lists of books for catchy titles or flashy covers, isn’t this all based on a reading plan, even if of short duration?

Lists of books others create, especially those Top 100 lists (even 1001 for the truly adventuresome), are a clear example of planning for reading, even if the titles are pre-selected for us.

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