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Cranking Up the Januarius

Janus: Looking Forward and Backward

Janus: Looking Forward and Backward

It all started with the new millennium. I saw that I was reading a lot of books but didn’t want to get stuck in a rut; so I started what I called my Januarius system. To explain it, let me refresh your memory from my post of January 26, 2014:

For many years now, I have had a habit during the month of January of reading only those books written by authors I have never read before. Here are some of the discoveries I have made in past years:

2001 – Kazuo Ishiguro, An Artist of the Floating World
2002 – Lieut Col F M Bailey, Mission to Tashkent
2003 – Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red
2004 – William Hazlitt, Essays
2005 – Michael Cunningham, The Hours
2006 – Victor Segalen, René Leys
2007 – Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
2008 – Simon Sebag Montefiore, In the Court of the Red Tsar
2009 – Mischa Glenny. The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers 1804-1999
2010 – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (I didn’t want to be the only person in America who hadn’t read this book)
2011 – Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
2012 – W G Sebald, Vertigo
2013 – Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

In January 2014, the highlights were Tony Judt’s Postwar and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. This month, I am reading Andrey Platonov’s Soul and Andrew Hodges’s Alan Turing: The Enigma. (I could tell already that Platonov is going to become one of my favorites.)

I have found that this practice introduces me to more world literature and more women writers. In the latter group, it led me to discover Lydia Davis, Shirley Hazzard, A. S. Byatt, Annie Ernaux, Anita Brookner, and Herta Müller to name just a few. Without being spurred to do it, I find I tend to neglect too many excellent women novelists, poets, and short story writers. I guess it’s those damned chromosomes.