As of 13 June 2019 I have read 50 books for the year.
Let’s take a look at some statistics
- 12/50 or 24% were written by women
- 35/50 or 70% were translations
- 7/50 or 14% were by Nobel Prize winning writers
- 6/50 or 12% were fantasy novels
And the breakdown of books 41 – 50 are as follows:
- 5/10 were written by women
- 6/10 were translations
- 3/10 were by Nobel Prize winning authors
- 1/10 were fantasy
- 3/10 were by small presses
I am pleased with the progress I made with the last 10 books, particularly as it relates to books written by women. I did consciously try to read more books written by women, and in this I was helped by completing Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy, which I still think is very strong, though perhaps would have been stronger with just the first book. It really was a revelation, whereas the other two were variations on the theme.
I made significant progress with Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher, but didn’t manage to finish it in time! It should appear somewhere in the 51 – 60 range. So far I think it is a strong book, and I like it, but I haven’t quite yet come to the understanding as to why she won the Nobel. I can’t wait to find out, though! And I know she both translated Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and considers it a key work in her own life, and that alone is enough to make me very curious and very interested in where she might take The Piano Teacher.
I recently – foolishly? – purchased all of the remaining books from Open Letter‘s back catalogue. I now own everything they have ever published, and thank Anthony Blake for his assistance there. It was really quite something receiving two enormous boxes of books! Anyway, my intention is to spend some time focused on Open Letter’s books with a view to hopefully discovering a new writer I love forever and hold dear.
An interesting aside about Open Letter. I have enjoyed a number of the books they have published. And I have found at least one author (Sergio Chejfec) who I really admire. But I haven’t yet found an author I love. Dalkey Archive and New Directions have authors I love, but Open Letter? Not yet. Another challenge!
A month or so ago I was very much interested in reconnecting with fantasy, but that’s dropped off a bit recently. I’ve been reading a lot, and having a good time with, and haven’t needed the kickstart that fantasy often provides. And that is a common pendulum swing for me. I’ll use fantasy books to get me going and then I’ll shift to more literary writers. That said, I remain open to literary fantasy, and even epic fantasy, too, I just haven’t been reading it as much.
I’m making my way through Murakami’s 1Q84. I read another 100 or so pages over the last few weeks. Why? Well. I don’t know. I suppose to see it through to the end? I want to understand what it was that made Murakami think that this idea was worth spending 1,200 pages on. So far, at about page 600, I can’t see it. But there’s a lot more to go. I look back at what I’ve read so far and – well, nothing has really happened. Sure, I have daydreamed a lot about returning to Japan, but that is simply because I am reading Japanese names, and not due to any powers of description or emotion that Murakami might posses. He is a singularly colourless writer, and when his ideas don’t quite connect (such as the woefully uninteresting Little People), then there’s just not much to his writing.
We’ll see, I suppose.