My TBR lists are sometimes the places where good books go to die. I add books to my lists full of hope and excitement, and inevitably find that three years later, they’re still sitting in the same place, gathering metaphorical dust, having magically lost their appeal. Maybe this week’s Top Ten Tuesday will shame me into finally attacking that looming TBR pile. But somehow I doubt it.
Regular readers may have noticed I’ve been rather silent these past few weeks. It’s been about a month since I last posted, a fact which I was amazed to discover when I logged on this morning for the first time in a long while. There is a (fairly) good explanation for this, and for my neglect of my favourite blogs and websites.
Here in the southern hemisphere it’s that most joyous time of the year: winter. Unfortunately, before we can all enjoy wrapping ourselves in blankets and sipping warm tea of a chilly afternoon, university exams loom over the immediate future. As a long-standing Arts student I don’t actually have exams, but I did have to write roughly eight thousand words’ worth of essays before the semester was over. So, naturally, the past few weeks have been spent in a kind of robotic sleep-eat-work-sleep routine, punctuated by the occasional anxiety attack (complete with paper-bag breathing exercises) and sleepless night.
Despite this routine (or perhaps because of it), I have finally made it through to the other side of the semester.
In the realm of experimental fiction, there are two kinds of books: Clever Books and Books That Are Too Clever For Their Own Good. And Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller comes very close to being a Book That Is Too Clever For Its Own Good.
I first decided I wanted to read this book when I read a quote from the novel in Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists. It’s a fabulous description of a character entering a bookshop. In Calvino’s hands this simple action is transformed into a kind of military assault:
Every week over at The Broke and the Bookish readers are given a theme for a Top Ten list. This week the theme is ‘Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read’. This can be anything that stood out from the herd. Style, characters, plot and/or structure – it all counts. Many of the books I’ve listed below aren’t necessarily completely unique, but at the time I read them I’d never seen or experienced anything similar. So here’s my Top Ten.
The Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read
- In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje. This was probably the first postmodern novel I’d ever read. Once I got over the choppy structure and confusing changes in point of view, it made for a very rewarding read.
- The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, by Randolph Stow. For an Australian, I don’t actually read all that much Australian literature. Randolph Stow wasn’t just Australian; he also lived in the city where I live, and part of this book is set there.