I have so many things I want to write about here, now that I am back home and on my laptop again, but am trying to limit myself to only one post a day… I keep thinking, do I mash everything into one post? Wait until tomorrow?
One thing I did after getting home, while the suitcase and clothes were still sprawled about, was start pulling all my international books off of shelves and making a bunch of stacks next to my bed! I’m really excited about the Read the World challenge and about broadening my concept of the world. I’ve placed all those books on the top shelf of my most visible bookshelf (it’s the one I see whenever I sit on the living room couch, so I often change the books in that shelf to reflect whatever I’m interested in reading then! Before this it was Victorian lit and comfort reads and awhile before that, 19th century French literature and history). So far they’re arranged randomly, but I’m a LibraryGirl, I’m sure they’ll be organized into categories before long.
I had started reading The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz as my first international read (he’s Polish) and I’m almost done, but when I got home, I ended up pulling The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle off my husband’s shelf, as so many people talk about Haruki Murakami and I wanted to read more contemporary new-to-me authors for this challenge. It’s not my typical read, but somehow the pages keep turning. The language is much simpler than the ornate 19th century prose I tend to love and there’s a surplus of bizarre characters and situations, while the hero and his life are fairly nondescript. Nevertheless, I’m glad I’m trying something new.
And now, a Teaser Tuesday sentence from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle:
It was a color snapshot of two women. One was Malta Kano, and in the photo, too, she was wearing a hat — a yellow knit hat. Again it was omniously mismatched with her outfit.
Back to the idea of new and more challenging reading, which I started thinking about yesterday after looking at my list of books read over the last four years that I’ve put up here. I realized I’ve been too narrow in what I allow myself to try. Oh sure, I’ve covered most genres, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and chick lit, but if a more literary book seems ‘not me’ (ie, not a female author I can relate to usually, with a strong but quiet heroine ~ see Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, The Secret Garden, etc for books that are ‘me’), I often won’t try it. I like my comforting old fashioned mostly British writers. Yet I want to read the classics!
I’m looking to start changing that by reading more broadly, internationally, with an eye not just to the past but also the present. However, I also want to read more deeply as well.
I realized this morning that I have a list of classic authors whom I admire and want to read more of, but somehow hold back on. I’ve usually read one of their most famous books and want to read more, but find it hard to know where to start and am also put off because their other novels just might not be as good as the first! So I am challenging myself to read one more of their books this year. This is my own personal challenge, but anyone is welcome to join me.
Here’s my list of authors:
1. Charlotte Bronte: read Jane Eyre (plus everything her sisters wrote), own the rest of her novels but have difficulties committing to them. I’d like to read Shirley or maybe Villette.
2. George Eliot: read Middlemarch, would like to read The Mill on the Floss or Daniel Deronda
3. Elizabeth Gaskell: read North & South, want to read Wives & Daughters or Cranford
4. E.M. Forster: read A Room With a View and Howards End (thank you Merchant Ivory!), would like to read… well, more. I bought Where Angels Fear to Trend recently, maybe that.
5. Vladimir Nabokov: read Lolita, don’t know what to read next, it all looks intimidating, but his writing is so good! I kept lingering over Despair in various bookshops while we were on holidays and then didn’t buy it, book tease that I am.
6. Gustave Flaubert: read Madame Bovary, would like to read Sentimental Education or Salammbo or November
7. For a long time Virginia Woolf was on this list, I’d read To The Lighthouse and nothing else, but have now just finished Mrs. Dalloway. I don’t know if I’ll try to read another of hers this year, or if I’ll count her as covered for the year and come back for more later.
There are more I can add, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bowen, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I’m scared to add Henry James or Tolstoy, I don’t want to read more of them just now!), but maybe I will start with this.
I’d also like to read my first Anthony Trollope novel this year, since so many people seem to like him.