Really? With the Books? Again?

How many books do you think Ahab read in a year? (

Having a blog is a lot like taking care of one of those gold fish you’d win as a child at a street festival or county fair. There was that initial exuberance and excitement. The next morning though, almost inevitably, you’d find the gold fish, for whom you’d already gone to the trouble of naming and after feeding that first evening, scaring the shit out of by shoving your face up to the bowl, dead. Our parents, quick to avoid any pesca-tragedy would dispose of the little fella via a quick flush to sea. While that was always the case with my not so lucky goldfish, there are some people whose ability to keep their goldfish alive opened their eyes to the possibility of fish tanks filled with colorful aquatic life and the responsibility that comes with taking care of a fledgling eco-system residing in your dorm room or home.

Flipping through some old photos at what was my mom’s home a few months ago led me to one shot of me as a toddler in my father’s arm at street fair. Standing next to us was my Uncle Johnny doing his best BALCO impersonation and in my tiny hands was the top of a bag holding this bright orange fish. That fish and this blog have some things in common. But lets start with what they don’t so that inconsistency can be addressed. Most obvious is that that fish is alive and in the strictest of senses, this blog is not. It is a combination of coding and letters that become words that turn into sentences and paragraphs before hopefully transforming into something thoughtful and interesting.

If you don’t care for the fish, it’s not going to last. Just as if you don’t take the time to care for a blog or anything you are trying to create, it isn’t going to survive. Since we already established it isn’t alive, the blog is not going to die but it will drift away slowly. You might check in once and awhile, but it isn’t enough. And that, dear reader, is what happened here with The Composite. Life has a way of getting in the way. Over the course of the last two years this site has embarked on the possibly Quixotic effort to read all 100 Books on the New York Times’ Notable Books list in each respective year.

Born out of a desire to read a wider array of books, I now almost feel like a Bibliophile Ahab. Stymied two years ago with the onset of a job that demanded the entirety of my time, energy and focus, I strongly believed that 2012 was going to be the year. By March, I had already hit the 30 book mark – easily on pace to if not reach 100, get real close. And then life, again, inserted itself in ways unimaginable. Reading memoirs of loss stung too much, non-fiction about wars and tragedy were of no comfort and the saddest of it all, was fiction, which as a child was a world for our young mind’s to escape reality for just a little while, but now was littered with books about dysfunctional families, destructive relationships, death and situations where the possibility of hope was no longer in the cards. Staring loss head on meant turning away from the books, on the list and most any other. Until this week, I can’t remember a single book I was able to finish since I finished The Art of Fielding in April.

But unlike the legions of goldfish lost and the libraries filled with fictional characters doomed to repeat their fates with every new reader, the living, the truly living, have the ability to continue. And part of that continuation, for me at least, is to once again to try and read all of the books on 2012 iteration of the New York Times’ Notable Books list. The list was released the Sunday before Thanksgiving last year. And this Sunday, if all goes as planned, the race to 100 will begin anew. Lets see 2013 has in store for us.


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