Status Check: Books and Learning progress so far, 2010

March 18, 2010

At the beginning of the year, I set some outlines for some reading I’d like to accomplish in 2010. These goals represent not only book titles, but, in some cases, areas and concepts I’d like to explore. Let’s see how it’s going.

Reading Nabokov’s entire catalog

Status: Work proceeds apace.

After reading his inaugural work, Mary in December, I read his sophomore effort, King, Queen, Knave. My review of KQK sparked some interesting discussion with a fellow lucky enough to read the book in its original Russian.

Two days ago, I ordered a copy of The Defense (a.k.a. The Luzhin Defense) from Amazon. That’s next up! Of Nabokov’s 15 published novels (16 if you include the posthumous fragments of The Original of Laura, 17 if you include the unpublished novella called The Enchanter. I don’t, really. I don’t think I plan on reading either, though Laura caused quite a flap with its release a few months ago), I have read six.

Classical philosophy. Then Camus.

Status: Wow, what a can of worms!

I started with the translation of five dialogues recommended by John Eikenberry. That’s Euthyphro, The Apology, Crito, Meno and Phaedo, if you’re counting. I have a sticky combination of too much to say and too little to say about these to write a meaningful review or coverage, which is why, of all the books I’ve read in 2010, it remains unanalyzed on my site. My contemporary cultural and personal judgments (My Gods, but ancient Greece was sexist and brutal and, by Zeus!, Socrates can be supercilious) kept combining with my staggering ignorance (what is this Form of which they keep speaking?) and lack of rhetorical training. I need to think about this for a while.

To aid me, I bought an epic lecture series. 84 lectures long, The Teaching Company’s “Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition” is bound to fling me through an awful lot of material I never learned about in college. I’m three lectures in. It’s both fascinating and dense. Entelechy, nomos, the Milesians, monism, sophism. Beep! I’ve got much to learn.

Other stated goals

Aristophanes or any other lingering Greek dramatists
Status: Not yet

The Inferno, War and Peace, The Sound and the Fury. Wuthering Heights
Status: Not yet

Other things that are not goals necessarily, but keep me focused

Of my published 2010 reading list, I have read 8 of 29 titles. This seems totally fine considering that it’s March and I keep adding things to the list.

A few other things take fractions of my reading time.

One is my monthly Early Reviewer title from LibraryThing. These are pre-release reading copies mailed to me directly from the publisher. The past few months have been primarily Random House titles, but this month I’m going to be reading The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, a W.W. Norton title.

Another is my monthly book club. We’ve read Let the Great World Spin and Sense and Sensibility this year so far. Next up is an Ursula K. LeGuin book.

Finally, I’m working my way through all four science titles I was interested in. Yep, I know I asked you to vote, but I’m going to read all four. Because I’m like that.

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