No Wonder I’m in a Daze Most of the Time


Everyone knows I read a lot. And I read professionally.

You probably also know that since the summer of 1983, I’ve been writing down the title of every book I begin in my diary, prompted by a colleague’s saying: “Even for someone working in publishing, you read a lot. You should keep track.”

Curious (I find myself fascinating), I recently opened two old diaries at random. One covers 2001 (a traumatic and also exciting year) and the other covers the twelve months from February 1991 through February 1992. Even I was amazed by what I discovered. Not just the sheer volume of words digested, but, sadly, how many of those books I do not remember one little bit (though mostly I do remember, a lot, especially as I still HAVE most of those books).

It’s easy to see how one thing leads to another, when I’m reading. It is astonishing (to me) to see that I’ve read Patrick Gale and Karen Joy Fowler, in the long-ago past. And I’m also entertained by who, out of these lists, I’ve since met, notably Fay Weldon, but also India Knight, Manda Scott (on Twitter, at least), and Lorrie Moore.

I’ve also included a few margin notes from the older diary, as they amuse me.

Birds of America Lorrie Moore
The Langhorne Sisters James Fox
My Life on a Plate India Knight
In the Night Cafe Joyce Johnson
Time After Time Molly Keene
And Again Sean O’Faolain
Flying Under Bridges Sandi Toksvig
Cleopatra’s Sister Penelope Lively
Little Altars Everywhere Rebecca Wells
Mr Mee Andrew Crumey
Operating Instructions Annie Lamott
The Photographer’s Wife Robert Sole
Traveling Incognito Ludwig Bemelmans
No Good Deed Manda Scott
Summer of a Dormouse John Mortimer
Freaks of Mayfair E F Benson
Rough Music Patrick Gale
Love, Etc Julian Barnes
That Lady Kate O’Brien
Tamara Lempicka Laura Claridge
All Families are Psychotic D Coupland
Galloway Street John Boyle
Experience Martin Amis
The Willow Cabin Pamela Frankenau
Tibetan Medicine Christopher Hansard
Baby I Don’t Care Lee Server
Mae West biography (can’t remember which one, have read two)
If the Spirit Moves You Justine Picardie
The Mitford Girls Mary Lovell
Twice Seven Aldous Huxley
Hello Darlin’ Larry Hagman
The Secret Hunters Ranulph Fiennes
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets JK Rowling
Assassins’ Cloak A and I Taylor
The Islandman Tomás O’Crohan
Collected Stories of Richard Yates
Island Madness Tim Binding (says I’m trying to read, suspect I didn’t finish)
18 Folgate Street Dennis Servers

February 1991 – February 1992
First entry of that diary begins:

“Last night I dreamed there was a man terrorising subway riders by stabbing their pigs. He did it on my car but when the fuss died down there was an ostrich, which we persuaded a woman to lead to the ASPCA on 90th Street.”

(I’m in love with my subconscious all over again!)

Ship of Fools Katherine Ann Porter
The Illustrated Gospels (book of Mark)
Huxley in Hollywood David King Dunaway
Motoring with Mohamed Eric Hansen
Letty Fox: Her Luck Christina Stead
The Man Who Wasn’t There Pat Barker
The Weaker Vessel Antonia Fraser
Damage Josephine Hart
Piece from The Wolcott Reader by JM Barrie, about his mother
The Dolly Dialogues Anthony Hope
The Mezzanine Nicholson Baker
At the Chelsea Florence Hospital
The Wicked Pavilion Dawn Powell
Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel (Marx Brothers Scripts)
The Rules of Life Fay Weldon (in the margin: “Great!”)
Bad Behaviour Mary Gaitskill
The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography Angela Carter
The Theory of Everything Lisa Grunwald
Possession A S Byatt
Mildred Pierce J M Cain
Double Indemnity J M Cain
The Postman Always Rings Twice J M Cain (I’d bought an omnibus)
Women Against Men Storm Jameson
The Best of Damon Runyon (margin note: “I adore him SO!”)
The Worst Years of our Lives Barbara Ehrenreich (“A great book from a great mind!”)
The Triumph of Vulgarity Robert Pattison
Commentaries on Living (dipping in/out) Krishnamurti
The Years with Ross James Thurber
Bram Stoker Harry Ludlam
book about Natacha Rambova
The Power of Myth Joseph Campbell / Bill Moyers
book about meditation by Sri Chinmoy
Mrs Miniver Jan Struthers
Deceived with Kindness Angelica Garnett
Weymouth Sands John Cowper Powys
The Tender Shoot Collette
Wild Mind Bodhipaksa
In the Dutch Mountains Cees Nooteboom
Cloud Nine J M Cain
The Magician’s Wife J M Cain
Noel Coward Diaries
The History of Mr Polly H G Wells
Hot Countries Alec Waugh
Outrageous Acts Gloria Steinem
Obscene Gestures for Women Janet Kauffman
Women and Children First Francine Prose
The Kitchen Man Ira Wood (“Very good, ultimately, after an overwritten start. Very compulsive.” That may be so but do I remember a word? Nah.)
Letters to Henry Miller from John Cowper Powys
Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All Allan Gurganus
Oh Mary Robison
Murther and Walking Spirits Robertson Davies
For Her Own Good Barbara Ehrenreich
Drama of the Gifted Child Alice Miller
Homecoming John Bradshaw
The Real Cool Killers Chester Himes
The Questionnaire Jiri Grugsa (for second time)
The Music Room Dennis McFarland (“Can’t figure out what all the fuss was.” Can’t remember it, either.)
Velocity Kirstin McCloy
Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things Gilbert Sorrentino
Katherine & E B White Isabel Russell
The Points of my Compass E B White
Gossip Patricia Meyer Spacks
A God and His Gifts Ivy Compton Burnett
The Hearts and Lives of Men Fay Weldon
Death in Venice Thomas Mann
Sarah Canary Karen Joy Fowler
The Pure and the Impure Collette
The History of Luminous Motion Scott Bradfield
Madame de Pompadour Nancy Mitford
How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie
Adam’s Breed Radclyffe Hall
Journey to the End of the Night Celine

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1 Response to No Wonder I’m in a Daze Most of the Time

  1. Sandra says:

    Good reads is a great way to keep track of what you’re reading. But paper copy probably nicer.

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