Reading the Library of America

One book at a time

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

By Mark Twain, from the volume Mark Twain: Historical Romances (v. 71). So this is what got me started in this whole “read every book in the LOA thing. It also got me to watch Excalibur this weekend for this first time since 10th grade English class, when my teacher Ms. Ebert would stick a manilla folder in front of the screen during the sex parts. Not a good movie. But so far, a really great book.

I’m aout 2/3ds of the way through- The Boss has just started printing the first newspaper in Arthurian England. In describing it, he notes that it is  “not very good,” but up to the standards of your typical Arkansas frontier newspaper (for those of you who study the American press, you know this is kind of a funny joke.)

More thoughts to come.


What This is About

I’ve decided it would be fun to set a goal of trying to read every volume in the Library of America (there are currently 233 volumes), and blog about them as I go. It’s unlikely I will ever finish, but one never hurt oneself by setting ambitious goals.

I’ve decided to do this for a few reasons. The main one is probably the fact that I love American culture. That’s not necessarily a popular position amongst your cohort of run-of-the-mill Europhile academics, but I find that usually amongst my favorites in any particular genre– art, music, literature, film, whatever- are works that feel particularly American. The Coen brothers and Robert Altman in film, minimalism and jazz in music, the Sopranos on television, etc.

The second reason is that I thought it would be fun to exercise my non-job related writing and reading chops. So much of the blogging I do is work related, and it always involves a degree of internal self management. Is what I’m writing building my academic and digital brand? Is it related to a big intellectual project I’m working on? Am I contradicting some incredibly nuanced point I made earlier? All these mental calculations go into decisions to write a blog post. At least, they go into mine.

But what’s the internet for if not to be able to write about whatever you want whenever you want? So don’t expect deep insight here; I’m not an English major, and I barely read fiction at all. But I think it will be fun, at least.

A few more things: I rarely ever get the chance to read one book at once, because of the nature of my job. So don’t expect this to be some incredibly quick spin through the LOA. I mean, there could be months or even longer between posts. Which means, like I said, I’ll probably never finish. But consider this slow-blogging. We are hear for the long haul.

Anyway- this will be fun.