A few weeks ago I was asked to name my books of the year for the Australian. It made me realise most of the reading I’d done this year was either literary theory (for the dissertation part of my PhD) or economics/accounting, prompted by the publication of Double Entry in the UK and north America.
So my reading ranged from books like Greg Garrard’s Ecocriticism: The new critical idiom, Tim Morton’s Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics and Kate Rigby’s Topographies of the Sacred: The poetics of place in European Romanticism, journal articles and unpublished PhDs (especially Peter Minter’s ‘Such sweet things out of such corruptions’: On pollution and ecopoetics), to The Stiglitz Report: Reforming the International Monetary and Financial Systems in the Wake of the Global Crisis, Molly Scott Cato’s Green Economics: An introduction to theory, policy and practice and journal articles on the history of cost accounting.
But thankfully (for the purposes of naming my books of the year) I also read some books of more general interest and among these three stand out: The Quants: The maths geniuses who brought down Wall Street (the UK title) by Scott Patterson, Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville and Benang: From the heart by Kim Scott (without a doubt my book of the year).
Bookishly speaking, this is my favourite time of year: the moment I can choose books to read for no reason (almost) other than I want to read them. Beach reading. Here they are:
Soil and Soul: People versus corporate power by Alistair McIntosh (recommended to me by a guy I met at a Christmas party who seemed to know about every book ever written)
Belomor by Nicolas Rothwell (thanks to Text Publishing, who last week sent me a copy of this latest Rothwell without knowing that I’ve been meaning to read one of his books for almost as long as I’ve been meaning to read Atomised)
And for today’s last words on books and reading, here’s Proust (from Swann’s Way):
‘And once the novelist has brought us to that state, in which, as in all purely mental states, every emotion is multiplied tenfold, into which his book comes to disturb us as might a dream, but a dream more lucid, and of more lasting impression than those which come to us in sleep; why, then, for the space of an hour he sets free within us all the joys and sorrows in the world, a few of which, only, we should have to spend years of our actual life getting to know, and the keenest, the most intense of which would never have been revealed to us because the slow course of their development stops our perception of them.’
And on his grandmother’s choice of books for him, Swann muses: ‘for while she considered light reading as unwholesome as sweets and cakes, she did not reflect that the strong breath of genius must have upon the very soul of a child an influence at once more dangerous and less quickening than those of fresh air and country breezes upon his body’.