Posts Tagged ‘999’

reflecting on the 9*9*9 challenge

Okay, so I read just over half of my 9*9*9 challenge books. Dismal! I blame my dissertation. But I’m still glad I did it, as a lot of those were things I would not otherwise have read. And I am going to do this again with a 10*10*10 challenge for this year! I am, however, going to make them easier reads. I just had SO MANY really long, taxing books in the 9*9*9 list that I couldn’t keep up when I stepped up my dissertation writing and really needed some intellectual downtime in my non-school reading. More on the 10*10*10 to come soon!


more on the 9*9*9

Update on the reading project:

Despite having a time crunch to finish with my library books (for my dissertation), I have made a little progress on my reading list.

You may recall that I despised Anthony Burgess’s first memoir, “Little Wilson and Big God.” Luckily, the second volume, “You’ve Had Your Time,”is a lot better. (Conor pointed out that they were written years apart–so maybe that’s the reason.) I’m almost enjoying “You’ve Had Your Time.”


I read, in one volume, “The Castle of Otranto,” “Vathek,” and “The Vampyre.” All completely ridiculous. It is interesting reading, though, because they are the precursors of different kinds of stories. “The Castle of Otranto” is typical Gothic romance in the vein of Udolpho. “Vathek” is an early version of the “mystical foreigner” story–some of the descendants of which are the Mr. Moto stories and H. Rider Haggard’s books. (Incredibly politically incorrect.) And “The Vampyre” (which, it turns out, is a short story more than a novella), is–obviously–an early vampire tale.

I also read “Jamaica Inn,” by Daphne du Maurier, which I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. It was okay. It is not nearly as good as my favorite du Mauriers, though, which are “Rebecca,” “My Cousin Rachel,” and “The Scapegoat.” Those are some of my absolute favorite books ever, by anyone. “Jamaica Inn”…well, it’s okay. I also just read “The House on the Strand,” by du Maurier, which is an interesting concept but doesn’t quite hold together.

I read William Cash’s book about the Graham Greene/Catherine Walston affair, “The Third Woman.” There is some good material in there, and I found it engaging enough to read, but what kind of a biography doesn’t have any citations?! Seriously, there’s not even a bibliography or anything. Useless in that regard.

I also read “Saying No,” the author of which I again cannot remember. (I’ll add it later.) I thought this was going to be more practical psychology, but it turned out to be hard-core psychoanalysis (Freudian). I enjoyed it but I can’t think of anyone I could recommend it to, unless it’s my professor from MSU who taught me feminist Freudian theory. It certainly was not as relevant to our toddler-centric life as I thought it might be.

I am currently reading Stanley Milgram’s “Obedience to Authority,” which is excellent. It’s fascinating. I will report back when I’m done (I’m about 2/3 of the way through). I’m also reading “The Politics of Heroin.” The main problem with that is that it is too complex for me to read before bed, so it’s slow going. It’s interesting so far but the author clearly has an axe to grind, so now I feel like I’ll have to read other books on the topic.

So that’s the scoop on the 9*9*9. I’ll keep you posted.

9*9*9 update

So I am making slow progress here….because of @#$#$ Anthony Burgess.

He is So Boring.


I just finished volume 1 of his memoirs (“Little Wilson and Big God”) and there’s another entire volume on my list! He is very dull and I am annoyed with him. I thought these were going to be fun reads.

I also read “The Castle of Otranto” by Horace Walpole, which is dreadful but at least interesting. It’s an early Gothic novel (late 1700s). Contains a lot about “Matilda’s beauteous form” and characters saying things like “Forbear! It cannot be, for you are in mortal peril!”

One down, 80 to go!

I read the first installment of my 9*9*9 list–Daniel Boorstin’s “The Image.” Conor’s been bugging me to read it for ages, so I finished it the night before the inauguration. It’s really good. Smart, lucid, and absolutely accurate. It was a particularly interesting read before the inauguration hoopla.


I’m doing a reading challenge–nine books in each of nine categories in 2009. I think I’ve selected things that will stretch me enough to read things I might not otherwise read, without being too esoteric so that I get bored. Here’s my list!

literary biography
* Zdzislaw Najder, “Joseph Conrad: A Life”
* Anthony Burgess, “Little Wilson and Big God”
* Anthony Burgess, “You’ve Had Your Time”
* Richard Ellman, “James Joyce”
* Philip Hoare, “Oscar Wilde’s Last Stand”
* Rebecca West, “The Young Rebecca”
* Evelyn Waugh, “Msgr. Ronald Knox”
* Graham Greene, “Lord Rochester’s Monkey”
* Hermione Lee, “Virginia Woolf”

* Ann Radcliffe, “Mysteries of Udolpho”
* Daphne DuMaurier, “Jamaica Inn”
* Horace Walpole, “The Castle of Otranto”
* John Polidori, “The Vampyre”
* Charlotte Bronte, “Jane Eyre”
* Emily Bronte, “Wuthering Heights”
* William Thomas Beckford, “Vathek”
* Charles Dickens, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”
* Eric Nuzum, “The Dead Travel Fast”

* Neil Sheehan, “A Bright Shining Lie”
* Stanley Kurnow, “Vietnam: A History”
* Daniel J. Boorstin, “The Image”–DONE!
* Alfred McCoy, “Politics of Heroin”
* John Burrow, “History of Histories”
* Howard Zinn, “People’s History of the United States”
* Evan S. Connell, “Son of the Morning Star”
* Lester J. Cappon, ed., “The Adams-Jefferson Letters”
* Frances Fitzgerald, “Fire in the Lake”

Conrad/James Stories
* James’s short stories (5 vols)
* Conrad’s tales (4 vols)

books Conor wants me to read
* Robert K. Merton, “On the Shoulders of Giants”
* Homer (trans. Robert Fagles), “The Iliad”
* Janet Malcolm, “Journalist and the Murderer”
* Herodotus, “The Histories”
* Michael Cook, “A Brief History of the Human Race”
* Rudolph Fisher, “The Conjure-Man Dies”
* Andrew George, trans., “Epic of Gilgamesh”
* Frances Yates, “Art of Memory”
* Susan Sontag, “Illness as Metaphor/AIDS and Its Metaphors”
(Conor suggested both “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” but I rule that he has suggested enough huge sagas.)

British History/Culture
* R.S. Neale, “Bath”
* Kingsley Amis, “James Bond Dossier”
* Stephen Dorril, “MI6”
* S. Schoenbaum, “Lives of Shakespeare”
* W. H. Auden, “Lectures on Shakespeare”
* A. W. Brian Simpson, “Cannibalism and the Common Law”
* Richard Gilman, “Decadence: The Curious Life of an Epithet”
* Lytton Strachey, “Eminent Victorians”
* Edward Said, “Orientalism”

Graham Greene biographies
* Graham Greene, “A Life in Letters”
* Michael Shelden, “The Enemy Within”
* Leopold Duran, “Graham Greene: An Intimate Portrait by His Closest Friend and Confidant”
* Yvonne Cloetta, “In Search of a Beginning: My Life with Graham Greene”
* A. F. Cassis, “Graham Greene: Man of Paradox”
* William Cash, “The Third Woman”
* Henry J. Donaghy, “Conversations with Graham Greene”
* Marie-Francoise Allain, “The Other Man”
* Neil Sinyard, “Graham Greene: A Literary Life”

* Stanley Milgram, “Obedience to Authority”
* William James, “Varieties of Religious Experience”
* William James, “Pragmatism”
* William James, “Principles of Psychology” (2 vols)
* Kay Redfield Jameson, “Exuberance”
* “Saying No”
* Humez & Humez, “ABC, Etc.”
* Humez & Humez, “Alpha to Omega”

* Edward Allen and David Swoboda, “How Buildings Work”
* Henry Petroski, “The Pencil”
* Henry Petroski, “The Toothpick”
* Harold McGee, “On Food and Cooking”
* Harold McGee, “The Curious Cook”
* Henry Petroski, “Success Through Failure”
* Richard Rhodes, “Dark Sun”
* Richard Rhodes, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb”
* Feynman, “Six Easy Pieces”