A collection of books I can no longer pretend to have a read, or quote in my essays with the most limited of context. This list is a mere fraction of the books my lecturers speak about assuming collective knowledge, and 2019 is the year I try not to be alienated from the subject I profess to love. Get the kettle on, I’m ready to confess my ignorance.
January – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Harper Lee
I received the sequel as a Christmas present in 2015, so I think it’s about time I read the original. I’m interested to see where Scout’s Ham costume fits in, and how far the film’s monochrome palette is replicated in this pioneering story on race in 1930s America.
February – ‘The Book Thief’ Markus Zusack
As I’m feeling rather confessional, I’ll admit I still have to use spell-check to write thief – I’m adamant the ‘e’ comes first. Also, despite my historical knowledge and interest in the era, I’ve tried and failed to finish this book many times, and I’m hoping to get past the Rudy ‘Jesse Owens incident’ and maybe even meet Max.
March – ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ J.D. Salinger
The ultimate teenage book, likely evading my YA coming of age in favour of Collins, Green and Chbosky. Therefore I’m utilising my final year of teenage rebellion and angst with Caulfield himself before accepting my fate as an adult (or perhaps postponing until 21).
April – ‘Cat’s Cradle’ Kurt Vonnegut
Simple explanation – I loved ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ (brilliant suggestion Ren from ‘Footloose’) and my copy is gathering dust. I say ‘my’ copy, I just never returned it to my school library and flounced off to university. Sorry.
May – ‘Lolita’ Vladimir Nabokov
I’ve read Angela Carter, surely it can’t get any weirder?
June – ‘The Bell Jar’ Sylvia Plath
My research on this poet often points to this ‘novel’ for authorial context straight from the horse’s mouth. This semi-autobiographical piece has enthralled but evaded me these past few months, so I’m pledging post-exam June to ensure it is finally read.
July – ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Anthony Burgess
Not really a sun-lounger read I’ll admit, but I’ve been putting off watching the film for so long (I actually left a movie night to avoid it – sad I know) so I could read it first, so its about time I do.
August – ‘Mrs Dalloway’ Virginia Woolf
My awareness of Woolf seems to be a back-door entrance, reading some of her smaller and less critically lauded work before her most popular. I fell in love with ‘Flush: a Biography’, the whimsical tale of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel, and look forward to Woolf’s commentary of class in post-war England.
September – ‘Brave New World’ Aldous Huxley
Dystopia from an Orwell contemporary and the book comes with 3D glasses? Try and stop me.
October – ‘American Psycho’ Bret Easton Ellis
Spooky season, and I think serial killing is appropriately festive. I’ve already watched the film, and even listened to a few songs from the musical, so let’s see what Patrick Bateman is like on paper (Oh my God… it even has a watermark)
November – ‘Things Fall Apart’ Chinua Achebe
Outside of Europe, my literary knowledge is woefully limited. I narrowly avoided embarrassment in a seminar by mentioning Achebe’s name, so the least I can do is read his seminal work of the European-recognised African novel.
December – ‘Beloved’ Toni Morrison
I’ve only heard good things about Morrison and her work, particularly her intersectionality of identity and genre. Perhaps I subconsciously left the most “complex identity” author until the end of the year in an attempt to pledge 2020 to more female, post-colonial and queer writers.
Reviews to follow!