There really isn’t anything like a list to make you feel as if you’re writing: Some writers make a habit of listing. (For some reason I’m thinking of Anne Beattie, but I could be wrong.) Tonight, while blog trolling, I found a link to Fall Into Reading 2008, and, so I’ve decided to participate (there’s the possibility of prizes).
My list is short — these days I tend to read slowly, and there some thick books on the list as well — and it’s apt to change, especially with the Texas Book Festival coming up in November (Nov. 1-2, to be exact). I never know what treasures I’ll wind up with there. Last year it was Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, which was the spur that dug in the urge to write nonfiction again.
OK, so here’s the list, already:
I’m sort of cheating here because I’m in the process of reading this book now, but won’t be finished for at least a few more weeks. There are writing exercises involved so the reading is slow, but pleasant.
2. Swimming in the Volcano by Bob Shacochis
I bought this book about 3-4 years ago when, at the same time, I was encountering and reading a lot of Shacochis’s journalism, mostly in Harper’s. I also liked the title, which I thought was an allusion to the novel Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, a book I started reading but never finished. I learned about Lowry in Donald W. Goodwin’s Alcohol and the Writer, an insightful exploration of the use and abuse of alcohol by writers. Though booze wasted a lot of writer’s lives (think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner) Goodwin isn’t necessarily condemning alcohol’s use: he’s exploring why alcoholism seems particularly prevalent in writers.
Anyhow, my interest in Shacochis was renewed after reading an essay of his in the premiere issue of Mayborn magazine. It was a powerful piece, and now I want to tackle some of his fiction. Given that this novel is 518 pages in paperback, it’ll probably take me through October to read it.
3. In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, edited by Lee Gutkind
I’m sort of cheating on this, too, because I’ve been reading the essays in this collection since at least August. Again, though, it’ll be some time toward the end of October or later that I’ll finish this book.
4. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
I should probably pick this novel up some time in November. Supposedly, I read this in graduate school.
5. Writing Past Dark by Bonnie Friedman
This will be the last on my list, because I figure I’ll pick this one up by December, and even though it’s short, it may make take some time to finish. Again, this all depends on the Texas Book Festival.