Friday, December 28, 2012

A final #FridayReads of 2012 and looking ahead to 2013

Books, books, books! So much time and so few books.

Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

I wanted to get one more #FridayReads post in before we close out 2012.1 And this one will be a whirlwind, looking at what I'm presently reading and my wish list for the upcoming year. I guess I have more time to get to some of these, what with the Mayan thing not panning out.

My Christmas Gifts

My wonderful wife got me a trio of groovy books for Christmas, and they will form the cornerstone of my reading list for 2013:

  • "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York" by Robert Caro — This 1974 biography earned a Pulitzer Prize for Caro, who has since won another Pulitzer for his multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson. "The Power Broker" is the tale of controversial urban planner Robert Moses, who spent a half-century wielding his power and influence to create the infrastructure of modern New York City.
  • "Portrait of an Obsession: The Life of Sir Thomas Phillipps, the World's Greatest Book Collector" adapted by Nicolas Barker from the five-volume work by A.N.L. Munby — In the 19th century, Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) amassed the largest collection of manuscripts and books in the world. He was, perhaps, the first book and paper hoarder. This book is an abridged version of his life and describes the obsession of a man who once said: "I wish to have one copy of every book in the world."
  • "At Day's Close: Night in Times Past" by A. Roger Ekirch — A Publishers Weekly review describes this history book thusly: "Ekirch remind[s] us of how preindustrial Westerners lived during the nocturnal hours, when most were plunged into almost total darkness. ... A professor of history at Virginia Tech, Ekirch ranges across the archives of Europe and early colonial America to paint a portrait of how the forces of law and order operated at night, and he provides fascinating insight into nocturnal labor — of masons, carpenters, bakers, glassmakers and iron smelters, among many others."

My Current Reads

I've already plunged into "Portrait of an Obsession," as I take notes and come up with my own scheme to own a copy of every book and every piece of ephemera in the world.2

In addition to that, here are the other books I'm currently working on. My official #FridayReads on this day.

  • "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon (a long, amazing road story that rewards slow rather than rushed readers and can be revisited at irregular intervals)
  • "The Under-People" by Eric Norman (a silly but fascinating book about some of the delusional beliefs people have held over the years)
  • "Tales to the Told in the Dark" edited by Basil Davenport (a dandy collection of spooky tales)
  • "A Book of Spooks and Spectres" by Ruth Manning-Sanders (reading these to Sarah at bedtime)
  • "The Book on the Bookshelf" by Henry Petroski (yes, it's a history of bookshelves; you have to have somewhere to put every book in the world, right?)
  • "Roger Ebert's Four-Star Reviews 1967-2007" (a constant companion for browsing, great writing and inspiration)

My Partial Reading List for 2013

This is both incomplete and overly ambitious. But everyone has to have goals, right? And, in addition to this, I have my big list of writing projects that I want to work on in 2013. (More on that Monday.) I'm sure it will be no sweat carving out the time for all this reading and writing.

  • "PrairyErth" by William Least Heat Moon (another tome from the great chronicler of America)
  • "Empire" by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (a biography of Howard Hughes by the Pulitzer-winning journalists)
  • "Objects of Desire" by Thatcher Freund (short read on the high-stakes world of antiques collecting)
  • "Seaside England" and "The English Circus" by Ruth Manning-Sanders (two in-depth, non-fiction works by my favorite author)
  • "The O Gauge Railroading Primer: Your Introduction to the Exciting World of O Gauge Model Railroading" (Did I mention that we have some projects? Building a model railroad with Sarah is another one that's on the 2013 list.)
  • "Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters" by H. Addington Bruce (this was originally published in 1909; read it for free at Project Gutenberg)
  • "The Forest in Folklore and Mythology" by Alexander Porteous (the title says it all)
  • "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet" by David Mitchell (still trying to get to this one!)
  • "The Saragossa Manuscript" by Jan Potocki (a fantasy with a publishing history as tangled as its plot)
  • "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Water M. Miller Jr. (another fantasy/science-fiction classic)
  • "Bar the Doors" and "More Stories My Mother Never Told Me" presented by Alfred Hitchcock (two collections of short stories for dark and stormy nights)

And Some Shorter Reads...

Finally, for #FridayReads, here are some of the most interesting articles I've come across recently.

And here's one final piece from The New York Times. Dennis Lim interviewed Paul Thomas Anderson for an article titled "A Director Continues His Quest."

The article discusses all of the research material that Anderson collected and read before writing and directing "The Master":
"To prepare for 'The Master' — a story about the intense, symbiotic bond between Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic cult leader in post-World War II America (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Freddie Quell, a tormented veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) — he tracked down as many books as he could find on the teachings of the Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. They included 'Dianetics in Limbo,' a personal account by Helen O’Brien, an early follower of the movement (and the inspiration for Laura Dern’s character in the film), and Hubbard’s own 'Mission Into Time' (1973), about a sea voyage involving treasure hunts and past lives. ('He was really starting to lose his marbles by this point,' Mr. Anderson said.) He skimmed the writings of ex-Scientologists and pioneers of offshoot movements like Dianology and Dianotes, and perused several years’ worth of The Aberree, a Scientology newsletter."
For 2013, Anderson hopes to begin filming an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel "Inherent Vice." For his research on making that film, Anderson has been checking out an underground comic strip called "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers".

Pynchon's book is described by Lim as "a stoner private-eye saga."

I guess that's one more title that I'll have to go on my 2013 reading list!

1. Here are the previous #FridayReads posts on Papergreat:
2. I think Joan just regretted purchasing this book for me.

1 comment:

  1. Okay - your book list has my brain swirling, but I'm sure that my book list would cause others to reel in feign dizziment as well. :-)

    The 2 that stuck out to me -

    The Forrest in Folklore and Mythology sounds intriguing. And I am off to bookmark The Death of the American Shopping Mall because I hate malls yet I am strangely attracted to them - perhaps because of my generation's fixation on them.

    Great list!