Back in May I entered an online reading challenge to read 12 books from 12 consecutive decades in 12 months. I wasn’t worried about the volume of reading. I read tons. What I should have been worried about was my selections. The good news is that I enjoyed almost every book that I finished. The bad news is that I gave up on three of the twelve.
The Zola started out interestingly enough. I kind of had fun looking up descriptions of the diseases the characters suffered from. But it didn’t take long for that to get old. I set it aside in favor of something more interesting. As I have mentioned earlier, despite being 2/3 of the way through the Roth, I couldn’t be bothered to finish it. It just bored me. As for the James, I hope to pick that up again one day. Given my tastes in reading I feel like James is an author I should really like, but the only novel of his I have ever finished is Washington Square. Just think of all his great works that I could read if I can get over whatever obstacle is keeping me from enjoying him.
As I wrote in this November post, as I tried to pave the way for me not finishing this challenge, life is too short to read books one finds tedious.
1890s: Lourdes by Emile Zola
1900s: The Golden Bowl by Henry James
1910s: The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence – 5/23/07
1920s: Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley – 7/16/07
1930s: The Big Money by John Dos Passos (3rd in his USA trilogy) – 5/30/07
1940s: Dirty Snow by Georges Simenon – 5/20/07
1950s: Mountolive by Lawrence Durrell (3rd in his Alexandria Quartet) – 2/27/07
1960s: The Mandelbaum Gate by Muriel Spark – 7/1/07
1970s: A Word Child by Iris Murdoch – 6/4/07
1980s: In the City of Fear by Ward Just – 11/10/07
1990s: American Pastoral by Philip Roth
2000s: I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe – 4/20/07
You have incredibly good taste, Thomas. You couldn’t have known that “Lourdes” is Zola at his most tedious. I thought that book was hysterical (in the diagnostic sense!) >>I am surprised you didn’t finish the James. His 1881-1903 output is almost uniformly brilliant, if you ask me. “The Golden Bowl” is late, minor, James. At least you tried!>>I’m so happy you read Iris Murdoch. She’s so wildly underrated in America. >>Kudos to you for all that great reading!