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Cary Brunswick

December 27, 2008

A reading list for the coming year

Over the years, I’ve often bowed to the closing of a calendar year by offering my alternative Top 10 books of the year.

The past year hasn’t been a great one for my reading list, however, so rather than look back, this time I thought we’d come up a knockout agenda for the coming year.

Symptomatic of 2008, perhaps, is the book I recently completed. I usually enjoy Dickens, but ``Hard Times’’ left an odd, uncomfortable feeling. It’s not that I was expecting a picture of an economic depression of 150 years ago. The environment and educational issues were most disturbing. Their impacts were indicted but not rehabilitated.

Let’s just say that the struggle through the dialogues of the circus ringmaster who pronounced an ``s’’ like a ``th’’ and the cockney of the mill worker who died after a fall down an old coke shaft, I’d had enough.

Time to move on. I’m planning the coming year’s contemporary selections to be ``The Lazarus Project,’’ by Aleksandar Hemon, and ``A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy,’’ by the English writer Charlotte Greig.

The former is about a writer’s obsession with an anarchist’s murder of the Chicago police chief in 1908. Who knows where that will lead. The latter, which will be published in May, is billed as a cross between Bridget Jones and the ideas of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Kierkegaard. Enough said.

The last time I mentioned Nietzsche, I got in a lot of trouble for my discussion of religion and atheism. This year, however, I plan to read ``Nietzsche,’’ by Lou Salome, the woman who spent time in the summer of 1882 in the mountains with Friedrich and his friend Paul Ree. A photo survives, showing the young woman with whip in a cart with Nietzsche and Rees attached to the reins.

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Cary Brunswick

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