I love Goodreads – I keep an up to date record of everything I’m reading and I’ve done my very best to remember as far back and add all the books I consumed as a kid. Obviously it can never be a complete list but I have trained my memory to work as well as it can – for now, and fingers crossed.
When I was 13-17 I kept a daily diary. Proper training for blogging and newsletter writing and social media updates, eh? I would list all the books I’d read each year and the albums I bought and movies watched. Basically I was getting my nerd on early, in preparation for an adult life of extra homework assignments.
So, Goodreads has been a revelation. I have an author page with my two books and five e-books and each year I set out a decent reading challenge. So if you’re a Goodreads person – or about to become one – by all means follow/friend me.
This year I set a big reading challenge of around 180 books and then I increased it to 200 and 250 and finally 270. I just made my stretch-goal! There’s poetry, Kindle singles, audiobooks and all sorts in there – so it’s not like I read 270 novels. But it was a lot of reading. You have to feed the machine. To write every day you need to read every day and I have embraced the manic shift of having as many bookmarks in action as web browsers open. It’s just how I roll now.
I’ve made the 2022 goal just 120 books – as I plan to read a few longer ones and try and do some more longer-form writing. And hope for future work endeavours too, of course. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ve ticked a couple of books off the list already.
When I went away for a quick trip ahead of Christmas this is what I packed and aimed to read:
There are so many books about Bob Dylan – and a whole bunch of new ones arrived this year, timed with Bob’s 80th Birthday. I didn’t think I needed to read any of the new ones, but I was out Christmas shopping for someone else and who doesn’t love a wee bargain as a reward for themselves while Christmas shopping? This was $20 instead of the usual $38. It had a sign saying ‘damaged’ – I looked, there was the tiniest nick off the front cover. You can hardly notice. Score! Also, Paul Morley writes a great music book! I’ve read a few of his – and he’s fun. So I’m now really looking forward to this.
The Secret Man: An American Warrior’s Uncensored Journey by Frank Dux
Regular newsletter readers will know I’m obsessed with Bloodsport – the movie and its music. Well, I have to read the book now. Particularly since it sounds like a giant hoax. A delusion so deep that the Dux has continued to double-down on it. So, this sounds like a bit of a mess. But the sort I can’t ignore. I love reading these sorts of stories. Will obviously report back to you! But I’ve already read a Kindle Single interview with him where he appears, well, nuttier than squirrel shit. Can’t wait!
Have wanted this book all year. No Kindle version for a while – then very expensive. No local version. No bookstore seemed to carry it. Eventually went to good old Book Depository and got it. Had to have it. Porcaro was a brilliant drummer and in just under two decades of performing he appeared to play with nearly everyone – from classic albums like Michael Jackson’s Thriller to less obvious things now but still mega-sellers like Sonny & Cher records, Leo Sayer’s big bangers and, um, Randy Crawford. If you don’t know him, you’ve still certainly heard him. That’s him on Dire Straits’ Calling Elvis. That’s him on Madonna’s Cherish. That’s him on Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’ (which means that’s him on Warren G’s Regulate!) And that’s him on many Steely Dan classics, on the Christopher Cross Theme to Arthur (it wasn’t even the best that he could do…) And all of this while being the drummer in Toto for all of their best work. The upside to all of this is I’m listening to a lot of great Porcaro playlists and finding so much great music to listen to in a new way. The downside is I am going through Toto’s catalogue album by album. But I love this sort of deep nerd project.
Since reading Mel Brooks’ memoir (which I mentioned here last week) I’ve been on a bit of a Brooks bender, watching the films again – and some for the first time. Which means, I’ve been on a bit of a Gene Wilder bender. Which is cool. Because I love Gene Wilder. I even wrote a poem about him. I’ll get to Wilder’s memoir eventually (and maybe this holiday too) but for now I’m interested in this slim volume of short stories he wrote after he gave up acting. What an actor though. What a mind. And what a writer – so much of his writing was there in his performances, in the details he added to the characters, and in some cases in scripts he co-authored. So I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes. Also, on my mind this summer is the idea of writing a few more short stories myself. And in the feed-the-machine sense, you need to read short stories in order to write them.
Love her work as writer, director and performer for TV. So very keen to see how this slim volume of memoir/manifesto goes. Should be brilliant. Almost no question.
More drums. Sorry. This coincides with me getting lessons for the first time in over 30 years, starting a new band and totally focusing in on drums as a hobby and passion. I’ve had this book for years, Goodreads tells me I first shelved it in 2019 – it’s time to read it. I’ve dipped in and out of it over the years – because it has some great names in there. But of particular interest is the great Jim Keltner. He’s so personable in his rare interviews. So I’m looking forward to reading this finally. Classic holiday, by the pool read too. Easy to have on the go in and around conversations and family socialising.
I’ve got to have some poetry on the go – and though I’ve slowed up in the second half of 2021 I have read a lot of new poetry this year. By which I mean, new to me. Some very old volumes as well as some brand new poets and collections. Poetry is always something to have on the side for me, to dip in and out of – I sometimes will read a volume in one go, but then I’ll return to it to re-read in bits and pieces. But sometimes I like to sit with a volume for a long time. This one took my fancy on news that every season finale for Succession takes its title from one line in a particular Berryman poem in this collection. I’ve read that poem a dozen times or more now – it’s fun to ponder what season four’s final episode will be. But the poems in here are startling, bonkers and brilliant. So this is a thrill.
Finally, on my Kindle I have this. Well, I have the paperback too – but I started this on my Kindle so I’ll continue it there. I keep getting interrupted by re-watching the film and wanting the recent memories of that to fade. I have never read The Shining, though Kindle says I’m a quarter of the way through it so I need to actually sit down and make this my summer-holiday novel. I’m loving it. For its differences. But I still love the movie very much too. That’s allowed.
So far, I’ve finished the Coel (Misfist) – a decent wee essay/lecture, but I probably wanted more. As in more from her, not more from this book (that’s impossible). I’ve read most of the poetry book 77 Songs – and it’s astounding. I ripped through Max Weinberg’s book of drummer interviews, The Big Beat – it only sat on my bookshelf for just over a decade, and on my Goodreads page for a year or two. So pleased to finally be able to tick that one off. And I’ve started The Secret Man – and already it’s hilariously bad, in the best way possible.
But the others I haven’t started. I not only haven’t read any more of The Shining, I have in fact bought another book about The Shining (film) to read. So I have started that and one or two other books too.
Not a bad reading summer start. All up. But I’ve been loving movies and TV too much to read in the evenings.