Goodbye 2020

I made two miscalculations last month. First, my reading schedule included too many fat books and I never did get around to slipping the really big one in, and second, I made the mistake of assuming Carlyle’s French Revolution would be a pleasant educational break from all that confusing fiction.

I forgot: It’s all fiction!

But despite hating the Carlyle, there were several larger books that allowed me to escape the horrors of 2020 and even some frothy entertainments to slow down my brain and take some time off. This month’s reading list is not much different, although I have reined in the more sizable texts.

It is the last month of the year and although it seems like we should be marking a milestone, I suspect that January will bring more of the same .. maybe even worse. They’re talking about folks returning from the Thanksgiving holiday unsuspectingly spreading more and more virus around. Deaths in the country may double. And I’m worried about reading Robert Burton?

At least we’ve driven the vermin out of the White House and can start fumigating and sanitizing without much further delay.

Speaking of horror and plagues, I watched Vincent Price in The Masque of the Red Death earlier this month and highly recommend reading the original Poe story. Unlike the fake blood of a Roger Corman gore-fest, Poe pumps real dread into our underutilized imaginations. The book is better.

So what am I planning on reading this December?

  1. The Man With the Golden Gun — Nelson Algren
  2. Brazzaville Beach: A Novel — William Boyd
  3. Days of Distraction: A Novel — Alexandra Chang
  4. The Pioneers; or, The Sources of the Susquehanna — James Fenimore Cooper
  5. The Silence — Don DeLillo
  6. Barnaby Rudge — Charles Dickens
  7. The Odd Women — George Gissing
  8. Margery Kempe — Robert Glück
  9. Buddwing — Evan Hunter
  10. Andersonville — MacKinlay Kantor
  11. A Girl Is a Body of Water — Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  12. The Twenty Days of Turin: A Novel — Giorgio De Maria
  13. The Egoist — George Meredith
  14. The Octopus – Frank Norris
  15. The Hole — Hiroko Oyamada
  16. Waverley — Sir Walter Scott
  17. Shosha — Isaac Bashevis Singer
  18. Some Prefer Nettles — Junichiro Tanizaki
  19. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead — Olga Tokarczuk
  20. The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language — Mark Turner

Add to this my ongoing reading of Howard Zinn and if there’s time, a really big one (I’m thinking Robert Musil but Vasily Grossman is awfully tempting).

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