Claudio Saavedra

claudio@codemonkey.cl

Go forward in time to February 2015.

Thu 2015/Jan/01

Some recap about my reading in 2014. I definitely read less this year although to some degree it was more exhausting. Let's see.

Books read to completion through the year: 23 (~7800 pages, according to Goodreads). Tolstoi's "War and Peace" and Marx's "Capital, vol. 1" were the ones that took most of the time, and for both I had to make long breaks with lighter reads in between.

In the case of "War and Peace", I read from both the English translation by Pevear & Volokhonsky (Vintage Classics) and the Spanish translation by Kúper (Editorial El Aleph). From these two, P&V became my favorite one as I was approaching the end of the book.

The volume 1 of Capital was fascinating but exhausting, as its style and long chapters on the working conditions in England up to the 19th century and the development of industry and machinery are, well, not condensed enough. Someone had to tell Marx to just write a separate book about these topics (had not Engels' "The Condition of the Working Class in England" been enough?). Anyway, I read it side by side with Harvey's "Companion to Marx's Capital" which was pretty good at avoiding one's getting lost in the interwined historical and logical arguments and the dialectic journey from commodities to class struggle. I'm looking forward to volume 2, although I'll need a bit of a rest before I get to it.

The language count: 17 in English, 5 in Spanish, 2 in German. That's frustratingly not enough books in Spanish for a Spanish speaker. But on the upside I got a bit more confident reading in German. I even tried to read a few short stories by Dürrenmatt but his German was way beyond mine ("Der Tunnel" is mindblowing, by the way). I'll try again at some point in the future with him.

Steinbeck deserves a special mention. I loved both "Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men" not only for their style but also for their historical component (specially in the Grapes). "Zur falschen Zeit" by the swiss Alain Claude Sulzer is also a pretty good book (and that I can recommend to people with an intermediate German level). Fuguet's "Las Películas de mi Vida" touched a nerve with me, as its central topics: earthquakes, Chile, cinema, family, and being an expat are all topics that relate to my life. I read it in the plane that took me to Chile during these holidays and couldn't help but shed a tear or two with it, in anticipation to what would be an intensely emotional visit to the homeland after 4 years.

The worst book I read was a compilation of Marxist writings by C. Wright Mills called "The Marxists". If Mills was a relevant author in sociology (I still have to read "The Sociological Imagination), this is a pretty lazy work. I won't repeat what I said in my Goodreads review.

The author count! 20 distinct authors, and again, very few women among them -- two to be precise. Steinbeck, Marx, and Lenin were the most read authors, with two works of each.

The sources for the books: two from local libraries and two electronic books, 13 second-hand books, one loan, and the rest probably bought new.

Books acquired in 2014: 73 (down from 110 in 2013, so that's an improvement). Most of them are second-hand books and a few are presents from my loving friends. I also have a bigger bookshelf now but it's full already -- story of my life.

Of my goals for 2014, I only fulfilled: reading "War and Peace", buying less books, reading more German. I didn't read the Quixote, Ulysses, nor 2666 yet, and I read even less books in Spanish. For 2015, I'll be happy if I read vol. 2 of Capital, if I manage to read more books in Spanish, and if I get to read more German. Off we go, 2015.

I also took my hobby of curating quotes to what I've named Hel Literaria.

Go backwards in time to December 2014.

Thu 2015/Jan/01 23:06:52 -0300