Weekend report and book list

I had a lovely weekend chock full of bike racing, but the downside is that I didn’t have much time to read. Oh, well. Much as I’d love to have more hours in the day (or to need less sleep), that’s not the case, and sadly I can’t do everything, so now and then something has to go. Reading is never something I set aside for long, as I start to get antsy and to feel scattered if I don’t read at least a little. I’m going to try to squeeze in an hour or two tonight, if I don’t fall asleep first.

I rode in two bike races, one on Saturday and one today. The Saturday race took place in Coxsackie, New York (where do they get these names??), a two hour drive from home. The race was divided into only three fields, which means women rode with men, which means I didn’t have much hope of placing well. Some women are fast enough to keep up with the guys, but I’m not quite there yet. Or rather, I’m faster than some of the guys, but not all 75 or so of them out there yesterday. The race was seven laps, 42 miles total. I stayed with the pack for the first lap and a half, and then dropped off the back after taking a corner badly and slowing down too much. After that, I rode with a handful of other people up until the very last lap when I left one rider behind, another left me behind, and I was by myself for the last six miles. Let me tell you, those six miles were long. But I got a fabulously good workout in, with my heart rate pretty much as high as I can possibly hold it for over two hours. That’s serious work.

Today was the local race, and after the two+ hours of yesterday, 45 minutes at top speed seemed awfully short. As I wrote last week, my weakness is positioning myself close to the front of the pack, as opposed to the very back, and I did better this week staying in the right place. I was a little too far back heading into the final sprint, but I passed some people right at the very end and ended up getting 15th place. To put that in context, there were probably 35-40 riders out there. Considering that I was entirely off the back last week, that’s not too bad.

But now on to my book list. Litlove recently listed her “Top 10 Books I Absolutely Had to Have — But Still Haven’t Read.” That sounds like the perfect meme for me, especially at a time when I’m not reading as much as I’d like. After I make the list, it’s off to pick up a book and head for the couch.

  1. What comes to mind immediately is essay collections, especially Zadie Smith’s Changing my Mind. I got this last fall and thought I would dive in immediately. Yeah, still waiting.
  2. I’m also collecting essays about essays, or books that discuss the essay from a theoretical standpoint. Collecting, not reading. They include The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay by Carl Klaus, Reading Essays: An Invitation by Douglas Atkins, and Truth in Nonfiction by David Lazar.
  3. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume 2. I read the first volume several years ago, and thought it made great before-bed reading. I could read only a page or two and still feel as though I’d gotten something out of it. But I haven’t gotten any farther.
  4. George Grossmith’s Diary of a Nobody. Remember a while back when somebody described bloggers as “Pooterish” (main character in the novel) and some bloggers claimed the title proudly? I said I wanted to read the source, so I got the book.
  5. Colette, Cheri and The Last of Cheri. I’ve needed to read Colette forever! And maybe I will this year, since she’s on the the official TBR list for 2011 (on the right).
  6. I have a whole collection of Romantic biographies I had to have but have yet to read. I have gotten to Richard Holmes’s very long biography of Coleridge, but I still need to read Stanley Plumly’s Posthumous Keats, The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth by Francis Wilson, Shelley: The Pursuit by Richard Holmes, The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge by Adam Sisman, and Being Shelley: The Poet’s Search for Himself, by Ann Wroe. Oh, and I really want Daisy Hay’s Young Romantics.
  7. Another whole collection, this time of David Foster Wallace books, including Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion: Stories, Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity, and Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will. Not to mention David Lipsky’s book on Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.
  8. Rebecca West novels, including The Birds Fall Down, Cousin Rosamund, and This Real Night. I also really want The Return of the Solder, but perhaps I should resist for now?
  9. Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams. Somehow I became convinced a while back that I would like her and had to have one of her books.
  10. Letter collections including the letters of Jane Austen, Charles Lamb, and John Keats.

Some day I will read all of these, I swear!


Filed under Books, Cycling

13 responses to “Weekend report and book list

  1. Hmmm…nothing on your book list that will be on mine when I post it this week. I’m pretty sure that means that if you do start reading what’s here, I’m going to have to revise the chapter of the TBR tome entitled “Dorr.”


  2. Congrats on your bike race, Dorothy! You’re one competitive racer. I’m beginning to feel such stamina is needed when it comes to reading all that’s on your list above. I look forward to your future posts after you finish them… in particular David Foster Wallace’s.


  3. I’ve done my list too. There were many more I could have added – you’ve reminded me of two – Being Shelley: The Poet’s Search for Himself, by Ann Wroe and Jane Austen’s Letters.

    Do let us know which book you picked up.


  4. Virginia Woolf’s diaries and letters make perfect bed time reading. I kept them on the bedside table for a year or more as I read a month in the letters followed by the same month in the journals. It was great fun as the letters tended to be tactful, while the journals told it as it really was.

    I have just been reading an article which says that women survive longer if they only get between five and a half and six hours sleep. This might be of help in your current situation if you want to believe it. Personally, I would be so dozy all day there wouldn’t be much point in surviving.


  5. I love your list of books to read – I’m doing my best to restrain myself from ordering yet more books I have to have but won’t read for another couple of years! And you astound me with your stamina and courage – two hours of hard bike racing and I’d be dead.


  6. What a nice list. And I had to chuckle because your list includes quite a few more than ten books. It’s proof how one book leads to another.


  7. I loved reading your list, because it makes me feel less guilty, or at least, that I am in good company. I really do want to read the essay books you’ve recommended!!!


  8. Emily — excellent! I want you to be continually revising that chapter 🙂 I’m very curious about your list and will probably revise my own TBR list as well.

    Arti — thank you! I look forward to getting to the Wallace as well, but of course I’ve been saying that for ages … 🙂

    Margaret — I’m reading Shirley Hazzard’s Transit of Venus right now. Who knows when I will pick up one of the books on this list! I will make sure to check out yours.

    Annie — I’d rather sleep and die early, truth be told. Going without my usual 8 hours is awful, and I hate it. If you’d be dozy, I’d be miserable, so let’s just sleep, shall we? I love your method of reading Woolf’s letters and journals! What a great idea.

    Litlove — I enjoyed reading your list too. I’m afraid mine will only get longer, but I take seriously your ideas about the value of acquiring books while we still can! You’re partly responsible for this list, you know 🙂

    Stefanie — oh, yes, who can really limit themselves to ten books? I’ve been thinking about them in bunches rather than as single books lately. One books leads to a hundred other books, I think!

    Debby — book bloggers are excellent company when it comes to not feeling guilty about TBR piles!


  9. Michelle

    I love your list – those essay collections alone are enough to make me drool. I’m with you on the VW Diaries, am reading them very slowly, but would love to move more quickly through them. I see Annie’s suggestion of reading the letters beside the diaries and am inspired! Great idea


  10. I’m always acquiring and passing along books I haven’t got around to, but one that I really mean to read someday is Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman.


  11. Rebecca West is currently hanging out on my mental “books I must have right now and can’t wait for” list, although so far I’ve resisted actually running out and purchasing anything other than The Essential Rebecca West…we’ll see how long that lasts. The Woolf diaries (and letters) are like delicious candy for me. 🙂


  12. The bad thing about theses lists is that every time I see someone else’s I recognize a book or two in it that I have too (as yet unread…). I also have a stack of books by Rebecca West that I want to read. I am rereading The Return of the Soldier, however! And diaries…yeah. I think I vaguely recall planning on reading all of Anais Nin’s diaries. Still have the first of hers sitting by my bed waiting. I think I’ve read maybe ten pages?!


  13. Michelle — I very much like the idea of collecting critical works on the essay, as well as collecting as many anthologies as I can find. It’s been nice to see some good critical works appearing lately; I think the genre is really taking off. I loved Annie’s suggestion for how to read Woolf as well!

    Lilian — well, I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one then, since it’s one that you are so eager to read!

    Emily — HOW have you resisted? I’m not sure I could! 🙂 I’m waiting for the day when I see you’ve caved in and bought a bunch of her novels!

    Danielle — same here. The lists have a lot of things unfamiliar to me, but some that I realize I have and have been meaning to read for a while. Oh, well! How great that you are rereading Return of the Soldier! That sounds like fun.


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