Every time I read Vonnegut, I end up feeling a little content and a little unsettled. While it seems a bit of a conundrum, it’s not all that bad of a place to be. Nearing the end of 2021, I was trying to wrap up all the prompts from the Unread Shelf Project to get a “bingo blackout” for the year. One prompt that has always been difficult for me is to choose a book from your favorite genre—I am not entirely sure what to call my favorite genre. So with that in mind, I figured that Vonnegut would fit the bill.
One of the things that I love about reading Vonnegut is that while he tends to stick to very similar themes of humanity, he manages to take you by surprise with the unique ways he presents this in each of his books. In this case, we are taken on a journey of over a million years into the past—all the way back to 1986, the year when a series of coincidences combined with Darwin’s theory of evolution to save the fate of humanity. The retrospective is told from the only one left who would be able to tell it: a ghost who has been hanging around since the fall of man to see it all play out.
The ghost narrator lends an interesting aspect to the story that is different than any of the other books I’ve read from Vonnegut. While the story begins as if it were a history, the narrator gives hints throughout about things that have changed in the million years he has been watching humans—we never get a completely clear picture, but enough to piece things together. The contrasts here reminded me of something that was included in one of the later Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books: humans believe that we are the superior beings on earth because of our technological advances, while other intelligent animals like dolphins just muck about and play in the water all day; dolphins know they are the superior beings for exactly the same reason.
Boris’s Thoughts: “It sounds like he was on to the reasoning of how cats know we are really the ones in charge. Suspicious. 3 paws.”
For November, I was prompted to choose a book that was published before 2000. To make this easier on myself, I decided to go way back rather than try to guess at which books I have might fit that criteria. I picked up this book for a history class back in college, but for some reason the class never got around to reading it. From my recollection, the class had a large number of required readings, and this was one that became optional. Obviously I could not abandon it completely, although it did take me some time to circle back around to it.
This book originated as a lecture on the subject of “Women in Fiction,” which turns out to be a fierce criticism of the patriarchal society. While I did enjoy reading this and feel that it continues to be relevant, if I’m being completely honest, I was probably not in the appropriate headspace to fully appreciate this book. I have found myself struggling through many of my chosen reads lately—not quite a reading slump, but something akin to it. With its short length and feminist slant, I thought this might be a jumpstart for me. Despite the inspiration that can be found here, it did not turn out to be quite what I needed, which I suppose is clear in the fact that it took me two weeks to get through a book just over 100 pages. I think this is one that I will have to revisit at another point in time.
Minka’s Thoughts: “Do you think you’re perpetuating a stereotype by pairing this book with tea and a cat?”
It has been a bit, so I wanted to kick off the year with a little wrap up for 2021—a year in review of sorts. Since I am a big nerd about data, here are some Books On My Cat 2021 stats:
Full Book Reviews: 31
Children’s Book Reviews: 11
Special Posts: 4
Total Books Read: 55
Unread Shelf Books: 25
Audio Books: 22
Other Books: 8
Starting Books to Read: 271
Ending Books to Read: 289
While I feel like I did a pretty good job of focusing on reading the books I already owned, this did not end up reflecting itself in my total books to read. It seems that I still have some of the issue surrounding the quick acquisition and accumulation of books. Looking back over the past several years, this is a trend: I often make progress in reducing my book total throughout the year, and yet somehow it always creeps back up come the turning of the year. Unfortunately, this is one of the highest jumps in recent years, and I think may put my to read list at an all time high.
I am working on some ideas to get a handle on this, but I feel like it is a problem that may never be solved. I suppose there are worse things that always having a book you want to read!
As usual, I have some new ideas for implementing in the blog this year, which will start again with regular posting next week. The most noticeable difference for readers will be a slight change in content: last year I wrote a few bonus bookish posts, and I hope to expand on that a little this year. Hopefully less noticeable will be a loosening of the guidelines I have set for myself: I am through sticking to self-imposed rules that drain the joy from reading and blogging. I plan to relax my expectations for myself in writing reviews, and I may not review every book that I read this year.
For those who have been following along my little blogging journey, thanks for sticking around. I wish you all another wonderful year filled with books and cats!