People! Anyone out there ever clear their to-read pile? Anyone with the Jedi-level focus and self-control it would take to actually READ all the to-be-reads? And doing that before buying more also-to-be-reads?
Not me. Since last year’s reckoning I’ve managed to read 16 of the 31 To-Reads. In that time I’ve *only* added an extra three dozen or so titles to the pile. Pretty restrained. Though not counting 40 or so e-books picked up in Humble Bundles.
And the ‘Now Reading’ stack stands just two books high, fewer than usual. Both of them are new acquisitions, but you know what? That’s FINE.
First, Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, which kinda demands to be read in the current global political climate, before either (a) everything somehow rights itself phew close shave! or (b) it’s too fucking late. I’m still in the early third of the first third, dealing with the development of anti-semitism, but by god it’s hard to go a page without underlining a huge chunk as being tremendously relevant to 2017:
Totalitarian politics – far from being simply anti-semitic or racist or imperialist or communist – use and abuse their own ideological and political elements until the basis of factual reality, from which the ideologies originally derived their strength and their propaganda value – the reality of class struggle, for instance, or the interest conflicts between Jews and their neighbours – have all but disappeared.
– Preface to Part One, page xviii
On a lighter note, but no less timely, Naomi Aldeman’s The Power is a spectacular and surging speculative fiction. What if women were suddenly the ones who had the upper hand, physically? If girls could threaten the lives of boys and men as easily as boys and men threaten the lives of women now, every day, all around the world.
Only 75 pages in, it’s already gripping, imaginative, funny and wise. And what a conceit! Suddenly the world discovers that girls and young women have started to access the ‘skein’, a hitherto undiscovered organ that enables them to discharge electrical shocks. The phenomen is sketched convincingly enough when it needs to be scientific, but it draws real force from its symbolism and allusion.
As a male reader, this brings the same queasy recognition that #metoo does: I knew it was this bad, and yet – shamefully – I didn’t realise how all pervasive it was, just how bad ‘this bad’ really was. Even at the start of the novel, the shifting balances of power are shocking, in their relevance to the world as it is – yet this is made entertaining in Alderman’s observational brilliance and the sheer deliciousness of the irony.
I’ve no idea where this story is going, but I’ve been sold on it since the first chapter. Absolutely fantastic stuff.
The older To-Reads will understand. Their time will come.