Thursday, 1 January 2015

What I Read in 2014

2014 has ended, and with it another great year of reading. I read almost up to the final hours of December 31, occupying myself with Walter Benjamin’s idiotic “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” an essay that has the sole redeeming value of avoiding the utter abstruseness of Guy Debord’s The Society of Spectacle, the last book I read, otherwise filling me with the same nausea of having wasted hours of my life for no reason.

I report with a sense of achievement that I read more in 2014 than in 2013: 117 books; actually in order to find a more fecund year I have to go all the way back to 2010, which holds my personal record of 126. Remarkably I also read more long books than last year, my current definition meaning anything over 500 pages:

Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote
Roberto Bolaño: 2666
Robert Coover: The Public Burning
John Barth: The Sot-Weed Factor
António Lobo Antunes: Fado Alexandrino
Alexander Theroux: Darconville's Cat
Virgil: Bucolics/Georgics/Aeneid
Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão: Obra Breve
Bernardo Gomes de Brito: Tragic History of the Sea
A. Campos Matos: Eça de Queiroz – Uma Biografia
Giambattista Vico: The New Science

I believe I performed so well because I counterbalanced them with lots of short books, especially the informative, lucid and addictive volumes of Biblioteca Breve: with a bit of effort, they don’t take more than a day or two to finish. Even so, I officially name 2014 the Big Books Year at St. Orberose!

Now let’s take a look at highlights:


This year I read lots of African novels because of my theme month. I admit with sadness that they didn’t sweep me off my feet as strongly as the Brazilian novels I read in 2013. I much preferred spending a month with Rubem Fonseca, João Ubaldo Ribeiro and Jorge Amado than with Mia Couto, José Eduardo Agualusa and Paulina Chiziane. I was more impressed by the poetry. 2014 was no doubt the year of United States literature: after astonishing me with Ada or Ardor, Vladimir Nabokov again showed me what a perfect novelist he is with Pale Fire. But I also like William H. Gass’ Middle C, for the careful, patient style that produces a 400-page alliterative novel; Alexander Theroux’s Darconville's Cat for its erudition and rigorous vocabulary; Robert Coover’s The Public Burning and John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor for their humour, fast pacing and boundless imagination; and William Gaddis’ Agape Agape for being totally incredible. Other pleasures include Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, a novel that at least helped me overcome some prejudices against the hype built around the author, and Leo Tolstoy’s Resurrection, a very humane novel that doesn’t deserve the bad rap it gets: it’s not War and Peace, but the psychologies are so finely built and described. I continue to believe no one beats Tolstoy are putting human consciousnesses on the page; he understands the mechanics of how a person’s ideas turn into another idea or transform into actions; beholding the inner life workings of his characters is like having someone real next to you. What else? I vaguely remember I signed up for something called 2014 Women Challenge. Although impeded by lack of time to write the reviews, I did go beyond the minimum requisites. One of the best books I read for the challenge was Sigrid Undset’s Gunnar’s Daughter, which in the Portuguese translation has the better title of Vigdis the Untamed. The term “strong female character” was invented for Vigdis: the novel ends with her beheading a guy with an axe; extreme for my Mediterranean, sun-drenched sensibilities, but I read that’s actually a pretty ordinary way for a Scandinavian book to end. On a more cheerful note, Julio Cortázar’s Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires was probably the best 2014 translation you didn’t even hear about; and doesn’t that make you feel bad? It should, it should because it’s an extraordinary… something, er, it’s a great example of, uh, whatever genre it belongs to. Also in Spanish, I continued to read Gonzalo Torrente Ballester’s novels: although I wasn’t crazy about La Isla de los Jacintos Cortados and Yo no soy yo, evidentemente, they continue to exert a mystique on me: there’s always something worthwhile in his novels, and I insist he deserves to be translated and better known. And I also read Portuguese novels! José Saramago’s The Cave was a surprising re-read, I noticed things in the novel I hadn’t seen years ago and I now think it’s a better novel than I used to give it credit. It was also the year I rediscovered António Lobo Antunes, after a few bad starts: Act of the Damned and Explanation of the Birds are prodigies, wonders, novels so delicate, so well-crafted you think God was sending him all the words. And there are no words for the technical perfection of Fado Alexandrino. And the challenging, hearty, ironic Aquilino Ribeiro continues to grow on me: so forgotten nowadays, so under-read in an age when people only have a vocabulary of 1000 words (when he had one of 50,000 and didn’t mind using all at once): but novels like Aventura Maravilhosa and S. Banaboião, Anacoreta e Mártir are masterpieces of erudition, wit, adventure and good disposition. He’s one of the pillars of the Portuguese language, even more than Saramago and Lobo Antunes. I was also enchanted by Hélia Correia’s Montedemo, a very oneiric and seductive novella that time has also forgotten: I guess I just buy from used bookstores than I should. Another forgotten novelist is João Palma-Ferreira, whose Vida e Obra de Dom Gibão is a modern homage/pastiche of picaresque novels, on which he was an expert: in fact I think he wrote it mainly to show off what an expert he is because the voluminous footnotes end up taking a life of their own; there’s something bizarrely post-modernist about it, and that was one of the things I liked about the book. Still my favourite novel was Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: this Gothic parody hit all the right notes, it’s just a hell of good time.


This wasn’t a good or productive year for reading poetry: I didn’t read a lot, and I made some disappointing choices overall. I think I was lucky in extracting 20 poems I enjoyed from W.B. Yeats’ The Collected Poems. I also could not get into Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, and I found Virgil’s Bucolics/Georgics/Aeneid stupefying. The translations may have had something to do with my failures to appreciate them. I also read a collection of Luiz de Camões’ lyrical poetry, which was also not exemplary of what I admire in his poetry: I’m crazy about his sonnets, a form he excelled at, but he also wrote in many other forms – songs, vilancetes, esparsas that don’t quite excite me. I also found Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão’s 700 page collected poetry intolerable and incomprehensible. It’s my fault for not sticking to Pessoa, Sophia and Jorge de Sena. More enjoyable was my re-read of Harry Martinson’s The Procession of Memories, a short collection of his poems in English. As for the African poets, like I said, I think they’re overall very strong: Ana Paula Tavares’ erotic poetry, Arménio Vieira’s surrealist irreverences, José Craveirinha (who shares many traits with Langston Hughes’ poetry), João Vário, and Mia Couto, who in poetic form is much more palatable than in his novels.


Like in 2013, I read lots of books on art. Bruno Ernst’s The Magic Mirror of M.C. Escher is a concise, informative, clear, well-illustrated introduction to the work of this amazing 20th century artist. José Stichini Vilela’s Francisco de Holanda - Vida, Pensamento e Obra is also worth reading, if only to better understand the Renaissance painter and writer who gave us Dialogues With Michelangelo, a 1548 book that has the virtue of probably being full of false dialogues with Michelangelo that nevertheless are nowadays quoted as if they were actual words by him, the original source unknown. Speaking of Michelangelo, Waldemar Januszckzak’s Sayonara, Michelangelo is a great example of how not to write an art book: ignorant, arrogant, badly-researched. Januszckzak, a former art critic for The Guardian, wrote this awful book in the wake of the ‘80s restoration/cleaning of The Sistine frescoes, an operation that many historians and academics have accused, with very persuasive evidence, of having damaged and erased portions of the ceiling painted by the great Florentine himself. The story goes like this: there are two types of fresco painting (three actually, but let’s not complicate): buon fresco, or pure fresco, applying the pigments over a wet plaster; and a secco, that is, painting over a dry stone with the use of glues to make them stick. In the 1980s the extent to which Michelangelo had used a secco painting was unknown and even disputed: few wanted to believe the greatest painter of all times had used anything but pure fresco, even though that was the norm at the time. You see, you can’t paint on a wet plaster for long because, and you certainly can’t paint with the level of detail he did on the short time it takes for the plaster to dry; so he had to make lots of finishing touches with a secco: hair, shadows, fingernails, eyes, wrinkles, creases on the clothing, etc. But like I said, many of the Vatican experts denied he had used a secco and so didn’t use cleaning techniques that took the fragility of a secco frescoes into consideration. The result is that lots of details have been erased from the ceiling. A scabrous example can be found at ArtWatch’s website:




Above, Figs. 11, 12 and 13.
This sequence records many alterations made in the Libyan Sybil’s right foot: before cleaning (top); after cleaning (middle); and after repainting (bottom). In fig. 11 we see a mini fanning movement in the three short dark accented folds at the ankle of the sybil’s right foot which have melted away in Fig. 12. We see also in Fig. 11 examples of what Alexander Eliot described as “Michelangelo’s loving depiction of fingernails, eyelids and tiny wrinkles”. Once again, Michelangelo’s habit of placing a dark shadow beind the lit edge of a form and a light ground behind its shaded side was evident here in his treatment of the strategically dramatic arched foot.

This sequence also comprises a tacit acknowlegement of error on the part of the restorers. Evidence is here present not just of the loss of the foot’s cast shadow (as also with the Jonah below) but even of its anatomical credibility. Michelangelo had repositioned this foot, scraping away one part and adding another. The cleaning undid this revision, and thereby produced (uniquely in Michelangelo’s oeuvre) a human heel that was not rounded but that came to a point, as in Fig. 12. We questioned this transformation (and that of the Erythraean Sibyl’s right foot, shown below) to Fabrizio Mancinelli, the co-director of the restoration, when he gave a talk on the restoration at the Courtauld Institute, London. Later, on visiting the Chapel we discovered that the heel had become rounded again if not entirely whole, as seen at Fig. 13. Clearly, if the repainted addition is now correct, it should never have been removed in the first place.

Others include figures whose eyes have disappeared. But the best example is the extinction of shadows. As a sculptor and designer (the artist cared more about drawing than painting) he painted as if he were carving, and his figures showed many games of lights and shadows in order to heighten the impression of their tridimensionality. In fact in his time he was praised for his shadows, for his understanding of chiaroscuro, and for the tridimensional illusion of his paintings, not for his bright colours, which is what the cleaning “discovered.” The cleaning erased most of the shadows, making them look flatter as if they were two-dimensional, Cezánne-like figures. But the best part of this debacle came when they tried to explain why viewers, for centuries now, had been fooled into thinking Michelangelo has painted shadows: according to the Vatican experts’ explanation, and repeated by many in the academic art world, the shadows we think are shadows are in fact the result of centuries of layers of soot, air pollution and incense falling onto the surfaces and producing the effect that shadows had been painted onto them. The most amazing aspect of this delusional explanation is that they really wanted detractors to believe that a random, chaotic process like filth accumulation could produce the same shadows you’d expect an artist to paint by design: the same length, the same positions, the same shapes. Before there were smart phones there was smart dirt. Unfortunately archival evidence shows that the figures had shadows from the beginning: for one thing Michelangelo’s surviving sketches included them, it’d be bizarre if he had painted them in preparatory sketches but not in the actual ceiling – why go to the trouble then? And immediately after the frescoes were unveiled people started reproducing them, they became like a school for artists, and the oldest surviving examples already show them. Another evidence: reproductions continued to be sketched across centuries, and from century to century the shadows were always identical: you’d expect that with filth accumulating over the years, the soot-shadows of the 18th century would look different from the 17th ones, but they’re the same. This is all pretty damning evidence against the official intelligent soot line. But incredibly lots of authorities in the art world believed it and continue to peddle that lie. Waldemar Januszckzak is one of the many people who sang the praises of the restoration, turned a blind eye to the criticism, attacked the detractors and helped cover up the many snafus that have damaged Western art’s greatest achievement. Januszckzak was one of many who thought that because the Vatican restorers had oodles of technology and gizmos at their disposal, they were as infallible as the Pope. But obviously they weren’t. Of course no one wants to be accused of having ruined the frescoes, or of having helped hush its destruction. In Januszckzak’s case he literally helped destroy because he was on the scaffolding and was given a tissue to wipe out a bit of paint that he thought had been painted a secco by someone after Michelangelo. If, as it nowadays seems to be the case, he did paint a secco, then Januszckzak may have erased an actual trace painted by Michelangelo’s paintbrush. I’d be in denial too. His book, poor as it may be in matters of scholarship, is nevertheless a useful lesson on how science blinds us.

Its total opposite is James Beck and Michael Daley’s Art Restortaion: The Culture, The Business, The Scandal. Beck, an American scholar, was one of the few people who publicly decried the Sistine cleaning. Although he was unable to stop the operation, he produced a book full of information (up to 1993; the ArtWatch website keeps updating new findings) that makes a strong case that the Vatican erased parts of the ceiling painted by Michelangelo. But more than an exposé of this particular incident, it’s an attack on the entire modern restoration industry that has turned monstrosities like this common. A few days ago I joked that no one who likes painting should read this book, and it’s true: you’ll never look at an Old Master’s painting without asking yourself, “This is pretty, but did he really paint that? Or was that a modern addition by a post-graduate art restoration student who erased a bit of the painting and then added a bridge or a tree to cover it up? And did the painter really want the colours to be that garish and bright? Or did the restorers clean them up to make them look fresher, more commercial, more appealing to ticket-buying modern audiences who like shiny things looking brand new, even objects that are old as centuries and should have a right to look old?” James Beck and Michael Daley, after writing this extraordinary book, created ArtWatch, an organization devoted to monitoring and bringing attention to badly-conceived restorations. I recommend visiting their website, if you like being horrified: you won’t believe in what incompetent, greedy, indifferent hands the world’s art is, at the complete mercy of people who are laws unto themselves, hidden from the world in the restoration departments of museums and galleries, where they don’t have to be accountable to what they’re doing to our common cultural heritage. If, however, you prefer to live in denial like Januszckzak, you better not have a look.

On a similar note, Eric Hebborn, a real-life art forger, shows juts how rotten the art market is in The Art Forger's Handbook. More than a book on forging fake paintings, it’s remarkable for showing the nasty habits of people who buy and sell artwork. A personal favourite example: one day Hebborn went to an auction; a guy was selling a Tiepolo, or so he said; but Hebborn saw the painting had the original S.R. painted on it, and he told the seller that most likely the Tiepolo had actually been painted by a painter called Sebastiano Ricci, who in his time was famous for imitating Tiepolo’s style. The seller told him he was wrong; years later Hebborn found the painting again, but this time the S.R initials had been scraped away and the painting was being sold as a genuine Tiepolo. Needless to say, Tiepolo fetches higher prices than Ricci. I must admit I had very little sympathy for the buffoons Hebborn tricked. Other art-related books include  Miguel Angel Corzo’s Mortality or Immortality, a collection of essays by people who are very, very worried about the rapid decay of contemporary art: no one quite knows how to restore or conserve or slow down their decay; some people even doubt they should. I also had a great time reading Roger Kimball’s The Rape of the Masters, in which he shows how idiotic art studies have become in the wake of Marxist/Gender/Culture Studies. He basically writes about seven painters, from classic to Rothko, and gives examples of all the absurd things that scholars, their good judgement constrained by whatever theory they’re playing with this week, write about them. So Rothko’s blobs of color, we find out, “parallel the pictorial structure of a pieta,” Rubens’ Drunken Silenus suggests that the black figure behind Silenus is sodomizing him, Winslow Homer’s The Gulf Stream becomes anti-racist propaganda where the “black man is both hero and victim, collapsing the old categories of triangular formalism into a powerfully condensed metaphor of implicit power blocked,” and John Singer Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, a cozy picture showing four bourgeois American girls living in Paris – one as young as 4 –  becomes a psychosexual fantasy about patriarchal power, where the children's father, although not seen, “is thus figured in absentia as the master or boss of these young females whom the title designates as his children but who, seeming to await his slightest word or wish, might also be thought of as his servants, his domestics, and even, at the level of submerged sexual fantasy, as his harem, his congregation of wives, his jolies fillettes du bordel/maison/boîte.” I know I write a lot of nonsense in my blog, many ignorant stuff about books, but I take comfort in knowing that there at least people who suck even more at writing about art. Finally, I adored Serge Guilbaut’s How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art. This book tries - and I think succeeds – to explain why abstract expressionism became the avant-garde movement after World War II. His thesis goes like this: many of the artists who would become abstract expressionists in the late ‘40s, were communists who went through a crisis of values in the ‘30s because of Stalin’s trials, the schism with Trotsky, the invasion of Finland, the Left’s internecine conflicts during the Spanish Civil War, and the pact with the Nazis, leaving them disoriented and unable to engage with the world politically; at the same time they didn’t want to uphold America’s centrist, liberal, free  market, imperialistic values of the post-war, not to mention Truman’s red scare pretty much killed all political debate in America, making it unfashionable to profess left-wing values or any alternative to the establishment. The solution was for artists to retreat deeper and deeper into art that bore no connections with the world – Pollock’s drips, Rothko’s formless colours – and mask the intellectual emptiness of their canvases with lots of talk bout myth and the unconscious. Ironically by becoming apolitical their work was easily co-opted by the American government, which used it in order to promote its values in the new world order: speed, aggressiveness, a rupture with the past, rugged individuality, effectively making it propaganda art that the government could export as an alternative to left-wing art; thus with the help of the US government, which financed foreign shows, galleries, exhibitions, magazines, abstract expressionism conquered the world, spreading the new values of post-war America. The poor artists, who in the ‘30s were so vehement in their refusal to produce left-wing propaganda, became the instruments of an establishment they despised. It’s a fascinating thesis, and Guilbaut explains it a lot better than I can. It’s a necessary complement to Frances Stonor Saunders’ Who Paid the Piper?, which describes the means the CIA used to promote abstract expressionism abroad in the war against the Soviets. History is such a fun playground. Think about that next time someone tries to hustle you with that crap about Rothko’s paintings being concerned withexpressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” Nope, they’re just badly-painted shit made popular by Uncle Sam and a PR guy called Samuel Kootz.

This is just a tiny bit of all the non-fiction I read in 2014 but I think this post is growing longer than necessary. Moving on, I’m happy to say that I read from 25 different countries in 2014, in increase from the 19 in 2013:

Ancient Rome
Cape Verde
São Tomé and Príncipe
South Africa

And finally here’s a comprehensive list:

A Campos Matos: Eça de Queiroz – Uma Biografia
A. Campos Matos: Eça de Queiroz/Ramalho Ortigão
Adolfo Casais Monteiro: Estrutura e autenticidade na teoria e na crítica literárias
Adolfo Casais Monteiro: O País do Absurdo
Agustina Bessa-Luís: Longos dias têm cem anos
Alexander Theroux: Darconville's Cat
Alexandre Cabral: Notas oitocentistas II
Alicia Giménez: Torrente Ballester
Amílcar Cabral: Documentário
António Lobo Antunes: As Naus
António Lobo Antunes: Auto dos Danados
António Lobo Antunes: Explicação dos Pássaros
António Lobo Antunes: Fado Alexandrino
Aquilino Ribeiro: Aventura Maravilhosa
Aquilino Ribeiro: S. Banaboião, Anacoreta e Mártir
Arménio Vieira: No Inferno
Arquimedes da Silva Santos: Testemunhos de Neo-Realismo
Athol Fugard: Statements
Baltasar Lopes: Chiquinho
Bernardo Gomes de Brito: História Trágico-Marítima
Brenda Turner: Out of your mind: The links between brain and body
Bruno Ernst: O Espelho Mágico de M.C. Escher
Carlos Vaz Marques: Os Escritores (Também) Têm Coisas a Dizer
Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian
Corsino Fortes: A Cabeça calva de Deus
Dante Alighieri: A Divina Comédia
Dominique Sire: Madame Bovary de Gustave Flaubert/O Primo Basílio de Eça de Queiroz
Eça de Queiroz: Contos
Eduardo Lourenço: O Labirinto da Saudade
Eric Hebborn: The Art Forger's Handbook
Eugénio Lisboa: O Segundo Modernismo Português
Fernando Pessoa: Prosa de Ricardo Reis
Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão: Obra Breve
Giambattista Vico: A Nova Ciência
Gonzalo Torrente Ballester: La Isla de los Jacintos Cortados
Gonzalo Torrente Ballester: Las Islas Extraordinarias
Gonzalo Torrente Ballester: Yo no soy yo, evidentemente
Graça Almeida Rodrigues: Breve História da Censura Literária em Portugal
Gustav Meyrink: Cardeal Napellus
Guy Debord: A Sociedade do Espectáculo
Harry Martinson: The Procession of Memories
Hélia Correia: Montedemo
Henri Michaux: Um Certo Plume
Henrik Pontoppidan: O Visitante Real
Ivo Andric: O Pátio Maldito
Jacinto do Prado Coelho: A Originalidade da Literatura Portuguesa
Jaime Cortesão: Influência dos Descobrimentos Portugueses na História da Civilização
Jaime Cortesão: Portugal - A Terra e o Homem
James Beck: Art Restortaion: The Culture, The Business, The Scandal
Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
João Bigotte Chorão: Além da Literatura
João Palma-Ferreira: Do Pícaro na Literatura Portuguesa
João Palma-Ferreira: Vida e Obra de Dom Gibão
João Paulo Borges Coelho: As Visitas do Doutor Valdez
Joaquim Barradas de Carvalho: Da História-Crónica à História-Ciência
Joaquim Barradas de Carvalho: Rumo de Portugal. A Europa ou o Atlântico?
Joaquim Veríssimo Serrão: Cronistas do Século XV Posteriores a Fernão Lopes
Joel Serrão: A Emigração Portuguesa
Joel Serrão: Da situação da mulher portuguesa no século XIX
Joel Serrão: Do Sebastianismo ao Socialismo
John Barth: The Sot-Weed Factor
Jorge de Sena/Mécia de Sena: Correspondência
Jorge Martins: A República e os Judeus
José Carlos de Vasconcelos: Conversas com Saramago
José Luandino Vieira: Nós, os de Makulusu
José Saramago: A Caverna
José Stichini Vilela: Francisco de Holanda - Vida, Pensamento e Obra
José-Augusto França: A História da Arte Ocidental 1790-1980
José-Augusto França: As Conferências do Casino no Parlamento
José-Augusto França: O Ano X
Julio Cortázar: Fantomas contra os Vampiros Multinacionais
Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
Lindley Cintra: Formas de Tratamento na Língua Portuguesa
Luís de Camões: Lírica Completa I
Marcel Schwob: Vidas Imaginárias
Maria Alzira Seixo: Os Lugares da Ficção em José Saramago
Maria Antónia Oliveira: Alexandre O´Neill - Uma Biografia Literária
Maria Leonor Carvalhão Buescu: Gramáticos Portugueses do Século XVI
María Luisa Branco: Conversas com António Lobo Antunes
Mia Couto: Venenos de Deus, Remédios do Diabo
Miguel Angel Corzo: Mortality or Immortality
Miguel de Cervantes: Dom Quixote
Muamati Barnabé João: Eu, o Povo
Nicoló Machiavelli: The Prince
Oliveira Marques: A Primeira República Portuguesa
Oliveira Martins: Camões
Oliveira Martins: História da Civilização Ibérica
Oliveira Martins: Portugal nos Mares
Óscar Lopes: Jaime Cortesão
Óscar Ribas: Ecos da Minha Terra
Paulina Chiziane: O Sétimo Juramento
Pedro Antonio de Alarcón: O Amigo da Morte
Pepetela: Muana Puo
Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza: O Aroma de Goiaba
Robert Coover: The Public Burning
Roberto Bolaño: 2666
Roger Kimball: The Rape of the Masters
Rubem Fonseca: O Caso Morel
Ruy Duarte de Carvalho: Lavra
Saint Augustine: Confessions
Serge Guilbaut: How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art
Sigrid Undset: Vigdis, a Indomável
T.S. Eliot: The Sacred Wood
Thomas Pynchon: Inherent Vice
Uanhenga Xitu: Bola com Feitiço
Umberto Eco: Construir o Inimigo
Valter Hugo Mãe: O Remorso de Baltazar Serapião
Vasco Pulido Valente: O Poder e o Povo
Vasco Pulido Valente: Os Devoristas
Virgílio: Bucólicas, Geórgicas, Eneida
Virginia Woolf: The Complete Shorter Fiction
Vladimir Nabokov: Pale Fire
W.B. Yeats: The Collected Poems
Waldemar Januszckzak: Sayonara, Michelangelo
William Gaddis: Agape Agape
William H. Gass: Middle C
Zetho Cunha Gonçalves: Terra: Sortilégios


  1. Of your whole, long, gorgeous post I got stuck when I read Don Quixote at the top. For I just started it, and I'm completely shaken by the buffoon that he is, by the sorrow I find in his story rather than the humour. I never know if I'm on the right track when I read works of Spanish translation, they seem particularly difficult for me. But I will forge ahead. And, may I congratulate you on a spectacularly fine year of reading.

    1. Thanks, Bellezza. Don Quixote is a fun novel, enjoy it!

  2. I only average about a book a week, Miguel, and while I'm mostly OK with that sort of pace, I'm always amazed to find people like you reading well over twice that amount AND writing intelligently about the books afterward. Congratulations! Also, thanks for the amount of time you obviously put into the great St. Orberose. Your blog has been one of my faves for what seems like a long time now. Obrigado!

    1. Thanks, Richard, I'll try to maintain the high level of quality you think it has.

  3. Not only is your total of 117 books impressive, but this post summarizing your accomplishments is superb.

    I will likely come back to this entry for future reading ideas.

    Happy New Years Miguel and here's to a great reading year for 2015!