An Overview of my 1001 Journey: 2012
January first. The perfect time to look back on the past year and all its successes, failures, and challenges. The good and the bad. And as this blog tracks my 1001 journey, I’ll take some time now to write about my year of books in review.
If you were around for my third ever post An Overview of my 1001 Journey Part 2, you’ll remember that I spoke briefly about what I read last summer, which was definitely a large portion of what I read last year. I read a total of 21 books from the list last year, and 10 of those were read during the summer. But for the purposes of this post, I’ll start back at the beginning.
The first book I read in 2012 was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This one was a nice short book in terms of the time it took me to read it, which also made it a good book to start the year with. At that time, I was pretty busy with college work, which explains why I only got in one more book, The Glass Bead Game, before the semester ended. Oroonoko and Hard Times were both read for a British Literature class.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time had an interesting perspective and Hard Times was my very first Charles Dickens book, but it was the other two books that stuck out in my mind, one in a good way and one in a bad.
I was not impressed with Oroonoko, as you may have gathered from the post where I compare it to Olaudah Equiano’s book, which I read later in the year. I didn’t think it was very realistic, I didn’t like the characters, and I didn’t like the way the narrator told the story. But it did stick. Perhaps because I found it disturbing in a peculiar way. Of course the ending is disturbing, but I got that feeling throughout the entire thing. Or maybe it stuck because I was trying to understand it, particularly the unusual way that it addressed questions of race and slavery. This one just goes to show that even books you don’t care for can have an impact.
The Glass Bead Game was an usual book also, but I found that I enjoyed it in spite of the fact that there wasn’t a lot of action or excitement to it. The whole book read like a biography, and it was clear from the beginning that this was the author’s intent. I suppose I liked the particular way in which it encourages the reader to think even while going down the page. It’s difficult to explain, but then, I find that I feel that way about many of the books on this list, so much so that I’m beginning to believe that it’s a common factor, a particular flavor belonging to it. I find that the more I read the better sense I get of what the list really is, and that’s an interesting experience in itself, one that goes beyond the experience of each book individually. In the coming year, I hope to experience more like that.
As mentioned previously, once I finished school for the semester, I read a total of ten books before it started up again in the fall. Having so much free time, I started flying through them. The Invisible Man, The Thirteen Clocks, I, Robot, Crossfire, 1Q84… Ok, so I didn’t exactly “fly” through 1Q84, but you get my point. And I read more books that weren’t on the list.
You might notice that I had a bit of a sci-fi kick. Two books about robots, two classics by H. G. Wells. I wasn’t impressed with The Invisible Man, apart from a few minor things that I mentioned in my review, but I did like all the other ones. I guess I have a certain interest in robots. And who hasn’t wondered about time travel?
The Thirteen Clocks is perhaps different from any other book on the list because it’s an illustrated fairy tale, really more of a children’s book than a standard novel. I’m not sure why this one is on the list in the first place. Perhaps I’ll have to reference my new book later to find out.
Great Expectations also takes a prominent position for me this year, not only because it’s the one of the first ones I read after starting this blog but also because it surprised me. If you’ll remember my earlier post Reading Dickens Can be Fun?, I discovered firsthand that a book is not always what popular opinion might make it out to be. Now, I should have known that already, but, as I mentioned, classics like this one are different in a way. I could repeat the same points here, but I feel that I covered it pretty well already in the previous post. So if you’re curious, feel free to follow the link. But then come back here to finish reading this one, please!
Back at college again, I picked up my copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a perfect book to read in little bits at a time. For class, I read the first portion of Olaudah Equiano’s book and subsequently finished it in my free time. Actually, I got quite a lot of slavery-related reading in this year between this book and Oroonoko plus portions of slave narratives and Uncle Tom’s Cabin for the same American Lit class. It got me feeling a bit depressed, actually, but, as I discussed in my post Sometimes You Have to Read Something Depressing, well, sometimes you have to read something depressing! Couldn’t have said it better myself. There can be great benefit even in reading books that make you feel terribly sad, and no book has made me realize that more than Olaudah Equiano’s.
Other books read last fall include Villete and Wittgenstein’s Mistress, which was another book that was a bit different. Actually, this one was a lot differents. Despite its unusual style and setup, it kept me reading. It was an interesting taste of the experimental.
Incidentally, another reason I love this list is because it offers so much variety. Sure, you could get caught up reading all the Jane Austens or all the Charles Dickens or whatever (The list contains 6 by Austen and 10 by Dickens), but if you really choose to spread your options, it can have a lot to offer you.
Well, as it’s January 1st now, winter has really only just begun, but I have read one book since coming home for winter break. A Christmas Carol, a very nice book for the season. I’m also currently about halfway through Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, but I’m afraid that any overview of that one will have to wait for next year. A review, on the other hand, will be forthcoming within a much shorter time span.
2012 was a pretty good year. I read the 1000+ page Clarissa, started this blog, and had a lot of great experiences. My goal for this year was to read 20 books. Since I met it, I think that next year I’ll go for 25. Thanks for following me, and I hope that 2013 will be an awesome year for all of you!