Sunday, August 20, 2006

First Monthly Review

Wow! A whole month (and a day) since my first post. Exciting times! Each month on or around the 2oth, I'm going to do a review post listing the books I've read that month, the continents I've been reading from, how much I've enjoyed my reading, and so on.

Basically I worked out that in order to attain my 100 books in a year mark, I need to be reading nine books each calendar month. (Usually I read far more than that anyway, but I do tend to read a lot of rubbish interspersed with my literary novels, which is generally less time consuming.) I'm delighted to report that I am right on schedule, having read nine books in my first month of my World Literature Tour. Here they are:

1. In Lucia's Eyes, by Arthur Japin (The Netherlands)
2. Les Liaisons Culinaires, by Andreas Staïkos (Greece)
3. Spring Flowers, Spring Frost, by Ismail Kadare (Albania)
4. No Saints Or Angels, by Ivan Klíma (Czech Republic)
5. Embers, by Sándor Márai (Hungary)
6. The Czar's Madman, by Jaan Kross (Estonia)
7. The Three Cornered Hat, by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (Spain)
8. The Fish Can Sing, by Halldór Laxness (Iceland)
9. Les Enfants Terribles, by Jean Cocteau (France)

It goes without saying that these are all European countries. So far, I'm loving my literary travels so much I feel as though I could happily devote an entire year just to reading European authors. I'm feel as though I'm learning so much about Europe - Europe is scarred not only by the Holocaust but also by Napoleon, for example, which I never realised. I'm going to have to do more reading about him and what he got up to, because he is mentioned in almost everything I've read. I was surprised that I liked Jaan Kross' The Czar's Madman because before reading it, I would have said I loathed historical novels - I think my definition of what a historical novel actually is was somewhat limited, because now I stop to think about it most of what I've read is not in a contemporary setting. For the first time in ages, I'm happy with everything I've been reading recently. Not in the sense that I have enjoyed everything, because some books I have enjoyed more than others, but more because everything I've read is an example of the best literature from each country. Or if it isn't great literature, it is at least fun or deeply rooted in that country's culture or it has won international literary prizes or something.

Blogging is definitely part of enjoying reading. It is somehow very satisfying to stop and reflect on books and put my thoughts down on my blog, and I love reading other people's blogs to find out about new authors or books I might enjoy, or just reading their musings on anything bookish. Plus I love the fact that I have a record of what I've been reading and what I thought of it. It makes it more real, because I forget books very fast, even those I loved reading. Blogging about them helps them stick in my mind and form clear impressions, whereas I always used to read, reflect for about two seconds, and move on (unless I had to write an essay on sex and death in the works of author x, or something equally terrible).

Reading purely for myself on my own random reading mission is proving to be more rewarding than I thought.


Dorothy W. said...

I agree with you that blogging changes how I read -- I, too, read more carefully, and think about the book more, and I remember more -- or at least I can look back at what I wrote!

Danielle said...

I read very differently now than before I started to blog. I also find that my TBR piles and lists have grown by leaps and bounds. I keep reading about books that sound interesting and want to go and start them, too! I wish I could read as fast as you, but I just putter along! Fast or slow, though, I am just happy to be reading!

BookGirl said...

One of the book clubs I belong to we only read foreign fiction (14 years of this now!) and you are so right about the learning. Not only are you enjoying a good story for the characters and plot but it's like you are also getting a history and geography lesson. Can't wait to hear where else your literary travels take you.

The Traveller said...

I'm able to read quite fast because I'm still looking for a job! So I don't have a lot else to do other than spend a lot of time reading at the moment...a nice luxury, but I want a job so I can earn money to buy more books (and pay the bills, obviously!).

Carl V. said...

You must be a very quick reader. That is awesome and admirable. At that rate I have no doubt you'll reach your goal.

Stefanie said...

Impressive list thus far. I find blogging about books makes me pay more attention when I am reading. Blogging about what I've read helps it all stick better in mind my too. Happy travles!

booklogged said...

Since blogging, I read fewer books that are mediocre. Reading others' reviews has helped me find and read more saitisfying books. My TBR list is huge, but it makes trips to the library faster, plus I read most of the books I check out.

Love your blog and hearing about your "Around the World" reads.