January 6, 2011

Dream the Impossible Dream + Musical Interlude XVI

The start of a new year is always a good time to take on ridiculously ambitious tasks, since from this vantage point the year seems so long, so much of ahead of us, so much time to accomplish all the stuff we haven't accomplished this year. Well, if there's one thing my NaNoWriMo experience taught me it's that it's good to set these goals, because even in attempting to achieve them and failing, I usually get more done than I would have without said ridiculous goal.

So this year I'll set not one but two ridiculous goals, the first is to complete a full draft of the novel I started working on this past November. This might not seem that ridiculous, but considering how long it usually takes me to write (my first novel, which I admittedly did not work on constantly or exclusively, took over 3 years), and all the other stuff I'll be busy with (work, bloggings, hopefully a longish visit to NYC, maybe another trip somewhere else, my never-ending quest for love, plus my other ridiculous goal), it calls for a lot of commitment.

My second ridiculous goal is to read 100 books this year. This is about twice as much as what I usually read in a year (roughly a book a week), and on top of all the stuff I've mentioned earlier. Of course the purpose of blogging these intentions rather than keeping them to myself is the perceived public shaming I'll face if I fail to meet these goals (possibly imagined, but still a motivating force). I haven't chosen the 100 books yet, but I've decided to divide them into 10 (somewhat overlapping) categories to make them easier to handle:
  1. 10 books I haven't finished - I'm sure there are more than 10, including a lot of essay and story collections, but also some novels I have (shamefully) failed to complete and still haven't given up on.
  2. 10 novels by writers I've never read before (Philipp Meyer, Jane Bowles, Steve Erickson, Dino Buzzati...).
  3. 10 short story collections - some of these could fall under the first category as well, such as the collected stories of Malamud and Nabokov, but I'm sure there'll be enough books to fill both categories.
  4. 10 plays - admittedly these are usually not strictly book-length, but might balance out with the lengthy collected editions included in the previous category. 
  5. 10 graphic novels - this will require some research.
  6. 10 books in Hebrew - continuing my mission of reading more Israeli literature.
  7. 10 books from the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.
  8. 10 books by/on Kafka - again, a lot of partials here - diaries, letters, notebooks - plus the three novels in their new translations. If there's any room left I'll add Deleuze and Guattari's Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature.
  9. 10 books written before 1900 - Mostly 19th century, I guess, some Dostoevsky, Some French, some British, maybe some ancient Greek/Roman.
  10. 10 more novels - deliberately open category for whatever comes my way (I do plan to read Bolaño's  Nazi Literature in the Americas soon, not sure what category it would fall into).
And to make the guilt complete I'll add a little chart in the sidebar:
    And since we already have the title...
    This power pop rendition of "The Impossible Dream" by Carter USM is, in my humble opinion, the best version of the song - defiant rather than maudlin (like most stage  and talent show versions) or downright silly (like Elvis's version). The video is also clever, and shows that at least someone there actually read the book.

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