Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2013: a reading list, resolutions, and a call for suggestions

One week before the end of 2012 I started making a list of all the unread books I had lying around at home. This is the result: 

Corsino Fortes, A Cabeça Calva de Deus
Ruy Belo, Todos os Poemas
Manuel Alegre, Poesia
Sá de Miranda, Poesia e Teatro
D. H. Lawrence, The Complete Poems
Teixeira de Pascoaes, As Sombras/À Ventura/Jesus e Pã
Manuel António Pina, Todas as Palavras
Natália Correia, Poesia Completa
José Saramago, Os Poemas Possíveis
Vasko Popa, Complete Poems
Ruy Duarte de Carvalho, Lavra
Pablo Neruda, The Captain’s Verses
Pablo Neruda: The Book of Questions
Pablo Neruda, Las uvas y el viento
Pablo Neruda, Canto General
William Blake, The Complete Poetry
Fernando Pessoa, A Poesia de Álvaro de Campos II

José de Almada Negreiros, Nome de Guerra
Vladimir Nabokov, Ada or Ardor
László Krasznahorkai, Satantango
Henry Fielding, Tom Jones
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy
António Lobo Antunes, The Inquisitors’ Manual
Philip Roth, The Humbling
Philip Roth, The Professor of Desire
Philip Roth, The Dying Animal
Mário Vargas Llosa, Captain Pantoja and the Special Service
Mario Vargas Llosa, Conversations in the Cathedral
Fernando Pessoa, A Hora do Diabo
Gonçalo M. Tavares, Um Homem: Klaus Klump/A Máquina de Joseph Walser
Vassilis Vassilikos, Z
Pepetela, Lueji, o nascimento de um império
Pepetela, Yaka
Pepetela, A Gloriosa Família
João Ubaldo Ribeiro, O Feitiço da Ilha do Pavão
José Cardoso Pires, Alexandra Alpha
Jorge Amado, Showdown
Miguel Torga, Vindima
João Paulo Borges Coelho, As Visitas do Dr. Valdez
Goncharov, Ivan, Oblomov

José Saramago, In Nomine Dei
José Saramago, A Segunda Vida de Francisco de Assis

Biography, Memoirs, Letters, etc.
Ruben A, Páginas I
António Lobo Antunes, D’este viver aqui neste papel descripto
Franz Kafka, Diaries
Agustina Bessa-Luís, Longos Dias têm Cem Dias
Rui Afonso, Aristides de Sousa Mendes: Um Homem Bom
José Eduardo Agualusa, Um Estranho em Goa
Mircea Eliade, Diário Português
Paul Bowles, Their Heads are Green and their Hands are Blue
Gabriel García Marquez, Live to Tell the Tale

History, Science, Social Studies
Brenda Turner, Out of your Mind: the links between brain and body
Voline, The Unknown Revolution
Rui Tavares, Pobre e Mal Agradecido
Rui Tavares, O Fiasco do Milénio
Daniel N. Robinson, Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense from Antiquity to the Present
Giambattista Vico, New Science
Georges Minois, Histoire de l'enfer
Jim Steinmeyer, Hiding the Elephant
Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself
Mircea Eliade, Salazar e a Revolução em Portugal

Philosophy, Art and Literary Studies
Adam Zagajewski, A Defense of Ardor
Fernando Pessoa/Aleister Crowley: Encontro Magick
Benôit Peeters, Hergé, fils de Tintin
Carlos Alberto Zito, El Buenos Aires de Borges
Vergílio Ferreira, Espaço do Invisível I
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance and other essays
Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful
Roger Fry, Vision and Design
Manuel Clemente, Portugal e os Portugueses
Umberto Eco, Inventing the Enemy
Whitney Chadwick, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
José de Almada Negreiros, Manifestos e Conferências
Isaiah Berlin, Russian Thinkers
Francis Bacon, The Major Works

Álvaro Santos Pereira, Portugal na Hora da Verdade
João Pedro Martins, Suite 605

Books in Italian
Franca Rame/Dario Fo, Una Vita All’Improvvisa
Dino Buzzati, Poema a fumetti
Carlo Lucarelli, Il Commissario De Luca
Curzio Malaparte, La Pelle

Although I’m not much of a fan of New Year Resolutions, this time I’ve decided to make some:

1) Not to buy new books until I have read at least half the books on this list (I’m going to fail before February starts, I know it); my bibliomania is obviously out of control and I need to control myself since I’m buying more books than I have time to read them. Sometimes I feel I’m like one of those survivalists waiting for the nuclear winter, except I stockpile books instead of tin cans;

2) Last year I read books from 21 different countries; I plan to make it to 30 this year;

3) To read more poetry and plays than last year;

4) To finish reading the complete oeuvre of Philip Roth (10 books remaining) and José Saramago (8), and the complete novels of Mario Vargas Llosa (8 novels remaining);

5 To read three new books from either A Personal Library or The Library of Babel;

6) To read more Leonardo Sciascia, Raul Brandão and Gonzalo Torrente Ballester.

I believe these resolutions are reasonable and within my reach. Now it’s time to start reading again. The year has already started with some fine poetry by Álvaro de Campos.

I’m also receptive to recommendations and suggestions. Based on this list, which is a good reflection of my tastes, I’d love to know what else you think I’d like to read in 2013. So feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.


  1. Great list, Miguel, and a belated obrigado for all the fine blogging work you did last year--it was very cool to discover your blog! I'll have to think about more possible non-list suggestions, but it seems to me that the Borges fan in you might get a huge kick out of Roberto Bolaño's Nazi Literature in the Americas and that the Italian crime and/or metaphysics fan in you might appreciate Carlo Emilio Gadda's cerebral That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana. Of the list authors, I'd recommend Sciascia's The Day of the Owl (fiction) and/or The Moro Affair (nonfiction) and can vouch for Vargas Llosa's Conversation in the Cathedral being a solid read. In any event, look forward to seeing what you end up covering in 2013. Cheers!

    1. Calling Vargas Llosa's Conversation in the Cathedral a solid read is the understatement of the century ;) an awesome novel, my favorite of his works

    2. Although the first novels I read left me quite excited, the last two or three MVL books I read were very disappointing. I'm hoping this novel will restore my faith in him.

  2. Miguel,

    I might come up with a similar list of books in hand and not read. Great set of books to start the year with. I would recommend you to pick "conversation in Cathedral' , 'Inquistor's Manual' and 'Satantango' in your initial read.I haven't read the last one myself.

  3. Interest book list. My unread books wouldn't last me the first half of the year. I hope to make some purchases. I didn't want to make a recommendation but I guess there was no African literature in the list. And since you want to widen the countries you want to read from I will suggest you try Kojo Laing's Search Sweet Country. It's been republished and therefore somewhat accessible. It might interest you like it did me.

  4. Showdown! Showdown! When asked why was Amado taking so long to finnish this story, he answered that formely he had been writing about villas and places but, this time, he was building a city from scratch...

  5. - Richard, thank you for the kind words! It's been a pleasure to write this blog and to have such excellent readers.

    Gadda's novel is on another list I have, one solely for Italian literature. But first I have these four books in Italian to read first.

    - Jayan, Vargas Llosa and Lobo Antunes will probably have to wait a few months, but I expect they'll be great reads!

    - Nana, your hurt my feelings! My list has a few African writers: Corsino Fortes, Ruy Duarte de Carvalho, Pepetela, João Paulo Borges Coelho, and José Eduardo Agualusa.

    - Toujour, the novel is indeed fat; I hope it's worth reading. I've read his first three novels and I didn't see any genius worth recommending in them. Perhaps this novel from the end of his career will show his fabled talent. I do wish to like Jorge Amado.

  6. Amado's career spawns for more than 60 years, the earliest book I've read from him was Captains of the sand and also found it inferior to his later works namely, Gabriela, Tieta and Dona Flor. I believe his earlier works possess more reflections of his militancy with the communist party and realismo and neo-realismo influences, but the later are where he develops and refines his own style. Not that militancy with the communist party is a bad thing, at least as where authors are concerned... Some authors indeed change much of their writing style through their careers, like Lídia Jorge in my opinion, her later works flow differently, for the better. One author that seems unchanged through the years is Philip Roth. Showdown is my favorite book from Jorge Amado.

    1. One author that seems unchanged through the years is Philip Roth.

      I believe this is false, and I'm just waiting to finish reading all Roths to write my big post on him and prove everyone wrong!

  7. A great list, If you want some more poetry "Of Gentle Wolves" is a great anthology of Romanian Poetry,There's also W.G Sebalds poetry collection "Across the land & Sea" 0r "The Art of Haiku: Its history through poems & paintings by Japanese masters" by Stephen Addiss. for more ideas check out my Pomesallsizes page & if your on Twitter my @pomesallsizes poetry feed, try to post a fresh poem everyday. Best Wishes for this New Year.

  8. Nice. I look forward to the posts and reviews that this list will generate.

  9. Happy new year, good heavens what a list, and good luck! I've much to catch up on, having been away for two months, but will be greatly looking forward to what you choose to write about from the above, and from whatever gets shipped to you when your book-buying ban inevitably fails. I'm eagerly awaiting the NYRB affordable English translation of Malaparte's Skin, due out this spring. I just read his Kaputt and it rocketed up among my favorites of 2012.

  10. - toujour, Pablo Neruda speaks very well of Amado in his autobiography; but he also thinks his career took a turn for the better with the publication of 'Gabriela'.

    - Parrish Lantern, thanks; W.G Sebald's 'After Nature' is on my poetry list.

    - Rise, thanks for the encouragement.

    - seraillon, I'm glad you liked Kaputt! I loved that novel, I can't believe I read it in 2010, it feels a lot more recent, it's a novel I can't forget, it's so powerful and cynical! I have high hopes for The Skin.