Books Historical fiction Research

New Year’s resolutions

Malinda Lo and Maggie Stiefvater both posted entertaining and useful accounts of their own takes on New Year’s resolutions. I’m not much of a resolution-maker either, but lists of goals? Oh dear. I’ve been using Basecamp to manage my to-do lists since last summer,  and it now contains 11 separate lists, some of terrifying length. I also have a Moleskine planner that I consider my second brain. This is what happens when you’re working on a dissertation and a novel simultaneously.

I won’t bore you with my to-do lists, but I am going to steal Malinda Lo’s concept and write up a list of reading resolutions — books I really want to read in 2010. Some of these are on my TBR list at GoodReads, and some aren’t. And while I’m sure I’ll be reading lots of academic nonfiction in the next year, this list is about fiction, since fiction tends to languish on the shelf when I’m busy with academic work. I’m aiming for ten books, and like Malinda, I’ll blog about each one here after I’ve read it.

  1. The Sealed Letter, Emma Donoghue
  2. The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (T. just reread this and convinced me to add it; I’m woefully lacking in exposure to Russian novels)
  3. The Known World, Edward P. Jones
  4. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  5. Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson (planning to read this with the Endicott Mythic Fiction group on GoodReads)
  6. The Ambassadors, Henry James
  7. The Golden Bowl, Henry James
  8. The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters
  9. The Children’s Book, A. S. Byatt
  10. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

Lots of historical fiction and literary thrillers, in preparation for writing Killingly, but also books I just plan to enjoy (the James, in particular, and the A. S. Byatt). One of my quasi-resolutions for the last year was to read more for pleasure, even when I felt like I didn’t have time — I tend to forget, when I’m really stressed, how much brighter life seems when I’m in the middle of a good book.

Any suggestions for books to add to this list?


  1. Russian novels – think to add Turgenev – “Father and Sons” plus many others – I guess you’ve read Solzhenitsyn – “The First Circle” I like best, also “Cancer Ward”.
    On World War 2 – Vasily Grossman “Life and Fate”. Not a novel but an amazing read – Prince Kropotkin “Memoirs”. I hope you enjoy “The Children’s Book” – your Henry James selections played an important part in “Possession”.

  2. For the Russian novels list, I highly recommend “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov. It’s very different from the Tolstoy/Dostoyevsky-type classics, written late 1930s during the height of the Soviet crack down on what writers were producing. It was banned, unsurprisingly. Also, I recently read Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” and thought his prose was just gorgeous.

  3. Thanks for the recommendations, everyone! Peter and Nephele, thanks especially for the Russian recs.

    Nephele, I liked ‘Atonement’ too, though I was kind of pissed off by the twist (which didn’t bother me as much in the movie, though that may’ve just been because I knew about it).

    DarkLayers, I liked ‘Case Histories’ a lot. Is it your favorite of her books?

  4. I actually saw the film of “Atonement” first, and the twist did piss me off at that point. It bothered me less in the book, probably also because I knew about it by then. I wondered if it would have worked better for me if I’d read it first, but I suppose your reaction gives me my answer. 😉

  5. I knew reading the comments on this post (not to mention the post itself) would wreak havoc with my TBR list! Of the ones you mentioned, I’ve read The Known World, Little Stranger and Wolf Hall and highly recommend all three.

    Lawrence Hill’s Someone Knows My Name (aka The Book of Negroes in Canada) is an excellent take on early African-American (-Canadian) history if you haven’t already read it. One of my favorites from ’07.

  6. Pingback: Sprung - anecdotes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *