18 January 2006

an ever-growing list

Work keeps me busy lately, so I'm not able to read as much as I'd want to. As such, my list of books to read isn't getting any shorter. And with the number of excellent new books that are being published every year, the list just gets longer and longer.

During the lean months when work isn't that demanding, I can read one book a week. That sucks, in my standards. I should finish AT LEAST two books a week.

But so far, I've only read one book a month (for the months of December and January) because of work. Shucks. I ought to hit myself.

So if, for example, I live until the age of 70 and I average two books a month (a very, very conservative estimate), that means I would only have read an additional 1,080 books since the age of 25 (my present age). That's terrible!

I've been an ardent reader ever since my dad bought the Grosset & Dunlap's Companion Library (a hardcover collection of around 20 children's classics) in the early 1980s for my elder siblings, who weren't interested at all in the books. The whole lot fell to me and I practically devoured the stuff. Since then, I would say (as a conservative estimate) I've read around 2,000 books in my life so far--mostly covering genres such as classic literature, contemporary lit, mythology, and science fiction and fantasy. But 2,000 books aren't really much, I think. I read somewhere that an ardent reader would read around 10,000 books in his lifetime. What the fuck. Unless I take up the post of a librarian, I don't think I'd ever reach 10,000 books in my lifetime.

I think I had more time for reading when I was kid; all I had to do was finish my homework and then I'd sit in a corner of the house to read all day. Indeed, the most prolific reading years of my life were from age 6 to 16. Of course, I had more stuff to do when I was in high school and college, and the average number of books I read per month lessened somewhat.

Hence, this panic. The reason why I got a pension plan in the first place (and it's such an impractical reason) was so I'd be able to have a monthly stipend for books when I'm retired and unable to earn income anymore. At least I'd be able to afford buying books even at the ripe age of 60--assuming that I won't be filthy rich by then. (I didn't even think of basic needs like food and clothing when I got the pension plan. I guess I'm assuming my children will pay for those needs????)

Anyway, the gist is, I ought to improve on my reading frequency. Of course, the quality of the books matters, and I don't read shitty romance novels and other sub-quality fiction of the sort. The Da Vinci Code has left me a little traumatized already. Haha.

In the past few weeks, I've acquired several books which I still haven't gotten around to reading. My short-term goal is to finish reading these novels by end of March 2006.

Books I Own and Have Yet to Read:
1. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres
2. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
3. The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
4. In Search of Lost Time, Volume 2: Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust (I've had this book for ages. Started reading a couple of pages, had to put it down to read other more interesting books, and eventually failed to take it up again. I really ought to start reading it once more.)
5. Patrimony by Philip Roth
6. Misfortune by Wesley Stace

Books to Buy (and read within this year):
1. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology by Joseph Campbell
2. The Masks of God: Creative Mythology by Joseph Campbell
3. Siddharta by Hermann Hesse
4. The Sacred and Profane Love Machine by Iris Murdoch
5. The Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt
6. Baudolino by Umberto Eco
7. Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
8. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (Shame on you, Gina; you should have read this ages and ages ago)
9. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
10. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
11. The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki
12. The Trial by Franz Kafka

Of course, there are still a lot of books that I'm planning to buy but I can't remember all of them at the moment. I'll have to update this list from time to time.


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