So I usually just wander from one book to the next in a fairly haphazard pattern. More often than not my choices are made by what catches my eye in a second-hand book shop, as Moby Dick did just a few weeks ago in a book shop in Milan.
Yesterday I made a decision though – I absolutely must read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole next. It’s been on the list for years, but it hasn’t turned up in any op-shops yet and I don’t think it’s likely to.
Conviction, a plan, a firm direction – people who know me might suspect where this is going…
You see I then found out that Patrick Leigh Fermor has sadly died. His travel books have been high on my to read list for a long while. I started reading A Time of Gifts in Italy, but left before I got very far in. Ok, new top of the list, Dunces next.
But then I looked at twitter, and saw the Guardian’s link to their top 100 greatest non-fiction books. Disaster. I’m a huge fan of non-fiction writing and a peruse of that list has left me with another ton of must-read-immediately items. I really haven’t had such a lot of books added to the list in the space of 24 hours in a long time.
Some of the gems (that I haven’t yet read) on the Guardian list include these:
Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuściński (1982)
The great Polish reporter tells the story of the last Shah of Iran
The Travels of Ibn Battuta by Ibn Battuta (1355)
The Arab world’s greatest medieval traveller sets down his memories of journeys throughout the known world and beyond
The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (1791)
Boswell draws on his journals to create an affectionate portrait of the great lexicographer
The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes (1980)
Hughes charts the story of modern art, from cubism to the avant garde
The Histories by Herodotus (c400 BC)
History begins with Herodotus’s account of the Greco-Persian war
I’ve wanted to read Herotodus since I read the wonderful Kapuściński book Travels with Herotodus, but the Ibn Battuta is new to me. The Life of Samuel Johnston has also lurked around in my intentions for a long while.
The list also included Patrick Leigh Fermor. As that also has the advantage of being on hand in my mum’s bookcase I think I’ll start with that. Dunces should come next, and I don’t think I could wait any longer to read another Kapuściński. After that I have firm intentions to read my way through the list above without delay.
So, that’s my story about the edited highlights of my reading list at the moment. I was trying to work out where to scribble these titles down, before I struck upon the idea of writing them up on here in the hopes that if I publish my intentions I might actually follow them through.
If I succeed I’ll report back, but if this is never mentioned again you can assume I’ve found something else interesting in the second-hand book shop. I’d like to invite you all to make more suggestions for me in the comments, but I really don’t need the distraction!