Monday, January 4, 2016

The Winter 2016 Reading List

I don't suspect it's a secret, the way I feel about Mark Dragotta. Sure, I've always admired him, as I think one might admire a friend. He and I were always able to get things done and have ample time for gin and honky-tonkin'. After all, we started up Umbrella Factory Magazine all those years ago and left a fairly substantial portion of our livers back in 2010.

Mark and I were together much of the time during the early days of UFM. We worked on our magazine for a part of the day, and we worked as waiters at Marlowe's nearly every night too. It was only after our shifts at Marlowe's that we partied, but even in those times too, we were talking about writers and books and the direction of literature in America.

In more ways than one, I miss my days with Mark. I miss him because he always had insightful things to say and he was always reading, oftentimes interesting books. I mostly miss him because we were still in our youth in those days, carefree and blissfully drinking our nights away.

When I think about the seasonal reading lists, they are always associated and sometimes dedicated to Mark. After all, years ago, I thought about reading lists and it was his suggestion after reading The Virgin Suicides that some reading lists like “alcoholism and depression” were best for winter while “beach reads” were suited for summer.

For my reading list this winter, I'm also thinking about something Mark once said. Mark is a voracious reader. He's a selective reader too. He once wanted to get into Chekhov but he waited for a very particular translation. Years ago, while he was still writing for Denver's weekly, The Westword, Mark decided to quit his job as a waiter and spend a year writing and developing a web design business. He didn't have much money in that time, but he didn't need much either. He didn't have money to go out often and he didn't have money for books. The way he presented it to me was like a camel had water, Mark had bought books. He had many books on his shelf which he bought when flush and lacked the time to read. He now had ample time to read and no money for new books.

I'm in a bit of a similar situation now. Of course, I've never had much money. I do have many books I'm yet to read. And as the last few years, the years since my son arrived, I don't have a great deal of time to read. I'm often tired and reading has proved tough. I read a quarter of the books I once did. And I've been meaning to read the books on this list, mostly classics, for years.

Here's the list:

1 Christina Rossetti “The Goblin Market” and other poems
2 English ghost stories
3 Edith Wharton The Age of Innocence
4 Gustav Flaubert Madam Bovary
5 Mark Coker Boob Tube
6 Emerson's Essays
7 Lensworks

It should be interesting to see how well I do come March. It's my belief that everything starts with reading. Those who are readers become thinkers and writers only writers if they are readers first.

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