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The Spine - 2012 > 2012 in Review - What did you think?

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
As 2012 comes to an end, let us know what you thought of the books and the group experience. Add a blurb or two about the books if you'd like.

Here are my own short blurbs and thoughts about some of our 2012 books.

The Waves – This was a re-read and a great pleasure for me. Reconfirmed my opinion that Woolf is one of the great writers of the 20th century.

Ulysses – This was certainly a peak experience for me and the biggest reading challenge of my adult life. Joyce wrote something that goes beyond the simple definition of a “novel”. He created a guided tour of the Western mind in all its variety and complexity. After Ulysses, no book feels too difficult for me.

The Recognitions – Gaddis’s master work was certainly a great read. I understand why some look at it as a bridge between modernism and post-modernism. I hope to re-read it sometime and to dig a bit deeper into what he was trying to communicate.

Gravity's Rainbow – I had pretty mixed feelings about this book. The prose is masterful at times, but when it was finished, it somehow didn’t feel important to me as a book. I’m not expressing this well, but maybe what I mean is if I had never read Gravity's Rainbow, it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference in my life.

Hopscotch – So-so about this book. Take away the formal experiment and what do you have? A book that could have used a bit of editing. LaMaga in Paris was enigmatic and interesting, and the pseudo love triangle in Buenos Aires was intriguing, but somehow the book didn’t have much force to it. Maybe he tried to do too much and/or maybe this particular story wasn’t the right one for this formal experiment.

Infinite Jest – Wallace’s book was the seed crystal that launched the whole Brain Pain idea back in 2011. It was an amazing reading experience and I have a lot of respect for this book and Wallace’s accomplishment. I don’t know where to begin to write a review, but I would definitely recommend this book to any serious reader. Ten stars plus!


message 2: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I so agree about IJ-I'm very grateful to Brain Pain since I've been unable to read the book on my own. IJ & The Recognitions both showed me the value of a group read. I never quite understood it before but without Brain Pain I doubt I would ever have read those 2-and I'd have been the poorer for missing out on them.

And how could I forget Gravity's Rainbow? Another exceptional work I know I could have read on my own (I've tried).

So this year has been an amazing one for me, book-wise.
I feel like I've taken more than I've given, though, to the group. But hopefully as I continue with you all & your somewhat intimidating brilliance I'll gain some confidence. If not, I thank you for your patience.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Ellie wrote: "I so agree about IJ-I'm very grateful to Brain Pain since I've been unable to read the book on my own. IJ & The Recognitions both showed me the value of a group read. I never quite understood it be..."

Glad you got through the books with us! They aren't easy and as you say, there's a lot of value in joining forces with others on the tough books.

Best wishes for you in 2013!!


message 4: by Sandra (new)

Sandra I'm relatively new to goodreads in general and didn't find this particular group until about a month (or so) ago so I was not able to join in on reading any of the great books you've read throughout the past year. And too bad for me because there are a few that are on my tbr list and it would have been nice to read them with you guys. Infinite Jest, for example, is a book I started last spring and quickly abandoned because I had no clue WTF it was trying to say. And though I didn't read it with this group (I had to start it about a month later than you guys here, so I'm reading with another goodreads group) I have been following your discussions and it's really helped and enhanced my understanding of what DFW was trying to do with this book. I have to say I've never laughed out loud as often as I have with this book... Or felt so broken hearted...

I will be reading To the Lighthouse and some of the Faust related books with this group. My goal for 2013 is to read less overall but definitely more quality and more difficult books. I ain't getting any younger!


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Sandra wrote: "I'm relatively new to goodreads in general and didn't find this particular group until about a month (or so) ago so I was not able to join in on reading any of the great books you've read throughou..."

Thanks Sandra! I'm going to send a message in a few days re: re-reads for new members or those who couldn't fit in one of our books during the first go-around. More details to come.

Have a great new year and enjoy the rest of your IJ reading!


message 6: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) | 119 comments It was a great year for a great group, no question.

Waves - I found this a tough nut to crack at times, but I've always loved Woolf, I'm looking forward to being re-beaten up by her in my re-reading of Lighthouse this month.

Since I closed a business, changed careers, and moved during April-September I fell way behind on the other reads this year, partly because I fell in such deep love with some that I refused to rush them...

Ulysses: ok, from a Joyce hater to this: It's the best novel written to my knoledge. Amazing. Despite not finishing yet, I'm re-re-re-reading with now something like 6 sources and Frank Delaney's Podcast, and enjoying it MORE each month.

Gaddis: a discovery for me, and really enjoying it, but I had to put it down half way due to other constraints, looking forward to picking it back up.

Pynchon: Long interested in reading, I read Lot 49 first, then got perhaps 25% into Gravity before having to move and such.

Hopscotch: Read about 25%, got busy, but also not yet convinced I'm all that fascinated with it, though I intend to pick it back up in 2013. I agree with everything Jim said about it though.

Infinite Jest: really into this, but I decided to hold off at the last second, though I already know I like it. I want it to have my complete attention, and I read a part of The Pale King, which is superb, enough so that IJ seems immature in comparison thus far.

However, free of forced reading of two novels a month for "another" group (novels which were becoming increasingly poor) and having divested myself of the reviewing hobby I was starting to lose all my reading time to (fun, ego-stroking, but a time-sink) I've got my reading planned for 2013 for this group and proust, and should have plenty of time to re-examine the unfinished of 2012, along with many other classic books, lots of Shakespeare, Ovid, and Poetry. Glad the Mayans didn't jump through a portal and enslave us.


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Will wrote: "It was a great year for a great group, no question.

Waves - I found this a tough nut to crack at times, but I've always loved Woolf, I'm looking forward to being re-beaten up by her in my re-read..."


Serious changes in 2012! Let's hope 2013 gives you more reading time.


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