Sunday, March 23, 2008

Five States In Six Days, and My Unrepentant Commitment to Books

It's been quite awhile since I've written anything and I appreciate everyone's offline inquiries about the ole' blog. I've been aggressively pursuing my last season of UMass Softball and have felt like a touring musician as of late. We've played softball in five different states in the last six days (Florida, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) and I feel like a stained and battered rag. Nothing has been particularly easy as of late but I can't help but think that years from now I'll look back on recent events and consider myself lucky to have learned the lessons I did when I did. It's been awhile since life felt normal and I'm relieved to think everything may soon resume to its natural rhythms. If those rhythms quicken or change, let it be, because in the end it must be for the better. All I ask is that the storm makes me better in the end.

Enough of that kind of talk, right? I promise I'm not normally that dreary. How about we discuss something interesting? I have formally turned one of my casual hobbies into a joyfully relentless pursuit. Typical me, eh? Here's how I did it.

A friend and I have just committed ourselves to reading the entire Booker Prize winners and shortlist. The prize was initially founded in 1969 and each year six authors are awarded the Booker Prize (although I noticed that in 1975 there is only one winner and one shortlisted author and the reasoning there escapes me). In addition to reading the 190 or so fiction works from the Booker list with my friend I have finally committed myself to reading two 100 Best Novel lists. The first is the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels and the second list is Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels. Many of the titles on those last two lists overlap and I've read a good portion of the Top 100 lists. But to me there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to thoughtfully converse about and analyze any of those highly regarded titles.

My lists are meticulously organized and I'm ready to move forward. I figure I already read a couple novels a week in addition to the New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, Blender, Out, WIRED, Inc., and other periodicals. With some focus and persistence adding another 260 or so novels shouldn't be too difficult. I'll keep you roughly aware of my progress and expect to complete my lists in approximately three years. If you're crazy enough to share the same goal, please let me know. I expect we'd be kindred souls of a rare goal-oriented-even-during-leisure-activities variety.

Today's music recommendation is slow, melancholy, but also somehow hopeful. My mom actually turned me onto this artist. His name is Kevin Ayers and his song "Walk On Water" from the album Unfairground is beautiful, transforming a typical "reap what you sew" cliche into sagacious sing-song wisdom.