Last year I resolved to read more older books. This year I resolved to do the same, but more. Fifteen days into the resolve, I wonder if it was too much to do a same-song-second-verse-a-little-bit-louder-and-a-little-bit-worse kind of resolution. It feels like it is taking a lot of concentration and thought to find the older books to read. But I thought the same thing last year.
I made the resolution again because I have more unread old books that I want to read. Last year having a goal that I wrote about here in public meant I read more far more of these than I would have otherwise. It also meant that I re-read all of my Dorothy Sayers books, which felt like a bit of a cop-out. In the fall almost all my older books were Sayers. Of course, now Sayers is out of the road, and I can’t use her as a fall-back this year. Plus there are a lot of other old books which are just as enjoyable as Sayers. I’ve just got to find them.
Currently on my Old-Book-To-Be Read Pile I’ve got A Passage to India (E.M. Forster, 1924), Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie, 1934), and Assignment in Eternity (Robert A. Heinlein, 1953). I’m currently listening to The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (1920, introduces Hercule Poirot) and have just finished Landfall by Nevil Shute. You might see a new pattern developing, but don’t worry — while it might be fun to revisit a select few Agatha Christie, I have no intention of reading the complete Hercule Poirot as I’m not a fan of Christie’s as I am of Sayers. The only other Christie books I’ll consider re-visiting are Death on the Nile and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I’m more likely to re-read most of Nevil Shute’s oeuvre. Shute worked with aeroplanes in the early 20th century and his fiction reflects his knowledge. The aerospace engineer in me finds his books fascinating.
Last year I didn’t get to Dickens or Conan Doyle or H.G. Wells. They are on my list of authors to get to (through?) this year. Do you have any suggestions for other older books I should consider?