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December 26, 2016


Dear Beth,

Thank you, as always, for sharing your eclectic and interesting end-of-year list; the geographical breadth of your reading is always impressive! I don't think I will ever read Ferrante or Murakami, which is undoubtedly my loss.

It's been a very busy year at work (Hendry's Management!), and with no overarching plan for the year (cf. Woolf in 2015) my reading has felt random and undirected. However looking back there has been much pleasure and learning. The Winter's Tale was read before a magical visit to a production at the Globe; modern classics abounded; I finally finished Woolf's Diaries (her Letters are now bedtime reading); and a number of new books delighted: Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent stays with me as a particular highlight.

Best wishes for 2017 to you and Jonathan. I have much less time to spend on the internet these days but always read Cassandra Pages and appreciate your generous and considered writing.


2016 Book List

The Hog’s Back Mystery, Freeman Wills Croft
Deep Work, Cal Newport
Management: A Very Short Introduction, John Hendry
The Road to Character, David Brooks
The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare
The Way of the Runner, Adharand Finn
In Patagonia, Bruce Chatwin
The Lonely City, Olivia Laing
Weatherland, Alexandra Harris
Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill
Goat Music, Will Buckingham
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Man Who Planted Trees, Jean Giono
Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant, Alan Jacobs
The Best Man There Ever Was, Annie Freud
On Looking, Alexandra Horowitz
Supper of the Lamb, Robert F Capon
Where Angels Fear to Tread, E.M. Forster
Flush, Virginia Woolf
What W.H. Auden Can Do For You, Alexander McCall Smith
The Wander Society, Keri Smith
Flow, Mihaly Csikzentamihalyi
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
Lost Japan, Alex Kerr
The Housekeep and the Professor, Yoko Ogawa
The Living Mountain, Nan Shepherd
Normal, Warren Ellis
Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age, Sven Birkerts
The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
Hinges, Grace Dane Mazur
Utz, Bruce Chatwin
Orfeo, Richard Powers
A Visit to Vanity Fair, Alan Jacobs
The Dark Path, David Schickler
The Other Walk, Sven Birkerts
Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
Selected Diaries, Virginia Woolf
The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai
Ajax Penumbra: 1969, Robin Sloan
How to Lose Your Life, Martin Wroe
Known and Strange Things, Teju Cole
Bethany, Adam Roberts
A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler
Poetry Notebook 2006-2014, Clive James
For the Time Being, W. H. Auden

Dear Huw, on the contrary, I think YOUR list is the impressive and eclectic one! I see a bit of overlap with my own but more interestingly, quite a few books I'd like to read in the coming year. Thanks so much for sharing your list with us, and for your kind words about The Cassandra Pages, which I appreciate very much. I'd love to hear what were you own top five or ten on this long list.

Gosh people are way better organized than me.Part of the problem as well is that part of my library is on Vancouver Island and not being there now I forget what I read out there unless I actually see the book.So a partial list anyway.
Jim Harrison - After Ikkyu and other poems; Dead Man's float.
Good poems ed. Garrison Keillor
Lines of Defence Stephen Dunn
Non fiction
The laws of medicine Siddharta Mukherjee I am a fan after 'The emperor of maladies
The road to character David Brooks
Consider the lobster David Foster Wallace
Lit a memoir Mary Karr.
The art of memoir Mary Karr. Mary Karr was a discovery for me this year. I love her stuff.
A life with words Richard Wright
Boyhood JM Coetzee
The Apache Wars Paul Andrew Hutton. You have to love this type of history as I do.I was hugely impressed by the research.
Warning against myself David Stevenson
Further away Jonathon Franzen
Browse the world in bookshops Ed Henry Hitchings
The cartel Don Winslow
The power of the dog Don Winslow
There is a novel on the island about a French guy who sells books out of his boat then throws it away to find out what happened to a long ago love. I liked ghost book whose title escapes me right now
The sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen in progress
On deck. Do not say we have nothing Madeline Thien

I also read the Elena Ferrante and loved them. One of my friends could not get into My Brilliant Friend because of the long list of characters. I should try to keep track of my reading, maybe this year. My reading consists of mysteries, books on writing, New England history and natural history.
Currently reading Dialogue by Robert Mckee and just finished The Trespasser by Tana French. I read fiction at close to the speed of light and slow down for anything else.

Thanks for posting this -- I'll have to pluck some titles for 2017. I read Ferrante last year, but then reread MBF (and hosted a readalong on my blog) -- so much to F's writing that it repaid that reread and I'm debating whether to go through the rest of the series again so soon or hold off a bit. Very keen now to read that conversation with Heti (Frantumaglia, so far, is just confirming what Ferrante herself says about the value of an author interview vs. simply reading the work itself).
As for rereading, I may have already mentioned this here earlier in the year, but I'm not sure I'm ready yet -- and it's been at least 15 years! -- to read The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, but I have such a clear sense of "the island of shitty monkeys" -- such a grand and occasionallly useful analogy.
Happy New Year to you! It was lovely to meet you last summer -- I hope that might happen again sometime.

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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.