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December 29, 2014


Oh, how funny. According to Facebook, I posted mine exactly a minute after you posted yours. Well, let me dive in here . . .

Our only overlaps this year are Montag's In This Place and Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, both of which I adored. You've now turned me onto Marquez's biography. I've also got to try OverDrive, a cheaper alternative to Audible.com, though I like WhisperSync and the ability to add notes in the "margins" of my audiobooks. OverDrive would be just the thing for books I don't want to mark in.

I've read a few essays in Berger's Selected Essays, and I hope to read many more. His artistic eye, keen intelligence, and critical stance against some of art criticism's baggage reminds me of some of Teju Cole's nonfiction. Did you like Ways of Seeing? I've never read it. I just got through Baldwin's The Devil Finds Work, which is like sitting with Baldwin through about fifteen or twenty movies. He tells where and why he saw each movie, he summarizes the movie, and he suggests what each movie says about how we see ourselves. A very good read.

That's pretty funny, Peter! I'll go read yours after writing here...Teju loves Berger's writing, so I guess the similarities are no surprise. I have really loved Berger's novels. I had more trouble with Ways of Seeing. Recently Language Hat wrote that he loved Berger's writing but had trouble with some of his ideas - and I think that's where I'm at too. Some of the essays in "Ways of Seeing" were so critical of modern life, and America in particular (while being written many decades ago) that even though I agreed with some points, he lost me with the negativity. On the other hand, much of it is very good and I wholeheartedly embrace his refusal to use art-critic-speak. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

I've just finished Gallant's Paris Stories, have been dipping into Home Truths, Montreal Stories is on backburner. I loved Hare with the Golden Eyes when I read it a few years ago. I've read several others on your list in the past (that Berger is such an important book!) but the only one we both read this year is Americanah, one of my favourites of the year. I'm hoping to get my own list posted in a day or two.

Just in the nick of time and I thank you very much Beth.
I haven't been able to read for over a year now but in the last week just finished two of Ann Patchett's books. Not that she's such a special writer but more that the copies were readily available in the library here. The point is I am looking forward to reading again on a regular basis and here I have a nice list all ready made for me.
I still have a problem with reading anything of length online but really I think I just am too in love with hard back paper books.

Interesting list, of course--being made by Beth! I didn't read as much as usual last year and hope to do more this year. What are you reading now? I'm reading a book about myth... It's at a point of discussing history, truth, and myth. Though of you.

Here is my 2014 book list, and although I read the fewest books for five years, the overall quality and pleasure gained was high. Dominated by Woolf, with whom I’ve started a re(reading) of her novels in chronological order, and by particularly British books: Higgins, Laing & Maitland. Will Buckingham’s The Descent of the Lyre was the most unanticipated delight. Recommended.

Peter, thank you for your article on Slow Reads about your 2014. Interesting to see that you also focused on a few writers and themes. And also thanks for your thoughts on reading reflectively on a Kindle; I didn’t know you could add notes and have been carrying around a piece of paper and pen previously!

The Waves, Virginia Woolf
Bicycle Diaries, David Byrne
Mr Fox, Helen Oyeymi
Unapologetic, Francis Spufford
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Actual Air, David Berman
A Book of Silence, Sara Maitland
Zona, Geoff Dyer
Leaping: Revelations & Epiphanies, Brian Doyle
To the River, Olivia Laing
The Broken Road, Patrick Leigh Fermor
On the Road Bike, Ned Boulting
The Voyage Out, Virginia Woolf
Under Another Sky, Charlotte Higgins
The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen
Night and Day, Virginia Woolf
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? , Maria Semple
On Being a Photographer, Bill Jay and David Hurn
The Descent of the Lyre, Will Buckingham
Hand Wash Cold, Karen Maezen Miller
Jacob's Room, Virginia Woolf
Otherwise, My Life is Ordinary, Bobby Byrd
On Walking in Ice, Werner Herzog


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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.