I often find that despite the fact that I’m someone who reads often, I nonetheless easily fall in to the trap of reading “narrowly.” What I mean by this is that I gravitate to the genres and authors that I find comfortable and that I know will bring gratification. I am also admittedly partial to fiction over non-fiction, and when I do pick up a history book, it usually covers a period of time and place that I have already visited through reading fiction.
For 2013, my goal is to read more “widely” and creatively. To help me do so, I have signed up for the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge being hosted by blogger Beth Fish Reads. The challenge is simple enough, asking the participant to read a book that falls into six different categories and subsequently share their thoughts through reviews and reflections. These reviews and reflections will subsequently be collected and shared on the Beth Fish Reads blog (follow the first link in this paragraph for more details).
Below are the six categories in the challenge and my selections. Participants have the entirety of 2013 to complete the challenge, so I will be providing updates throughout the year as I progress. As I said, this is a great way for readers to make more creative choices and also to share their thoughts with one another as they read and I would encourage everyone to get onboard.
1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Simple, Bruce: The Innocence, the Darkness, the Rising. In 2012, I actually got the chance to see the Boss live in concert when he came through Toronto. Bruce leads his audience like a mad preacher leading a revival meeting, a revival meeting that lasts for four hours without a single break. His music has always meant a great deal to me, and I think it’s time I got to know the man behind that music.
2. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title: It just so happens that in 2012, I managed to get through the first three volumes in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, which serves as the basis for the Game of Thrones series on HBO. The fourth book in the series happens to be conveniently titled A Feast for Crows. I want to make clear that it is a feast, not crows, that can be found in my kitchen, which fits the book neatly into this category.
3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: Life is itself a celebration, isn’t it? God is apparently a DJ, after all, or so I’ve heard. Nonetheless, since creativity is encouraged in making the selection for this challenge, for this category I have selected Keith Richards’ memoir Life. If there’s anyone who you just want to hear stories from, it has to be Keith Richards. The man has simply reached that level where one could make up a story of one of his exploits, and no matter how ridiculous that story might be, you would probably believe it. It says something about Mr. Richards that going into reading his story, I actually expect the truth to be much more bizarre, interesting, and beautiful than all the legends that surround him.
4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh. I may be stretching it a bit with this selection, but I think the word bang in the title makes Simon Singh’s history of the Big Bang Theory itself a suitable pick for this category. I also assume that there was fire and heat at the inception of our lovely universe. Furthermore, I think taking on a massive tome that covers one of the most crucial questions and ideas in science will whisk me out of my comfort zone.
5. A book with an emotion in the title: Infinite Jest by the late and awe-inspiringly great David Foster Wallace. I have only read DFW’s nonfiction previously, and while at first some pieces left me scratching my head and completely lost in the details and countless tangents that permeate the man’s work, I am simply amazed by the originality of his observations and his unwillingness to give the reader a passive and blandly comfortable experience. In 2013, I will finally muster up the courage to tackle his great work.
6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Loss of El Dorado by VS Naipaul. My relationship with Naipaul is the reverse of the one I have with Wallace. While I’ve delved in to Naipaul’s fiction and have found so much truth in his description of the lives of Trinidadian families, I have not yet so much as glanced at his nonfiction. It only makes sense that someone of Trinidadian heritage should want to know their own history, all the better if it’s learned at the feet of Trinidad’s greatest storyteller.