January marked the beginning of the Japanese Literature Challenge 8. It is rather unbelievable to me that I have been blogging for eight years, as well as hosting this challenge. It was the beginning of my passion for books in translation.
February‘s best read was The Dinner by Herman Koch, showing me that children behaving badly can only be expected when their parents behave worse.
March was the beginning of my reading as a member of the IFFP Shadow Jury, which comprised some of my favorite titles of the year. During this month I read The Infatuations by Javier Marias, The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, The Dark Road by Ma Jian, Back to Back by Julia Franck, and Ten by Andrej Longo. My favorite books in translation this month were the first two of the list.
April held my favorite of all the books read for the IFFP: The Sorrow of Angels by Jon Kalman Stefansson. It also held one of the most disappointing books I read in 2014, which was The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair. I found it so unbelievably contrived and naive that I didn’t even bother to review it.
May was the month where I read another book I loathed, this one more than any all year. It was The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, and to my great surprise, it won the IFFP for 2014.
June held Edward St. Aubyn’s hilarious novel, Lost for Words, which couldn’t have been better received after the disappointment in May. No one writes satire like Edward St. Aubyn, and I found his mocking of literary prizes most apt. June also was Angela Carter Month, the first time I ever read her writing. I loved Bluebeard, which I would not have read had it not been for the event which Caroline and Delia hosted.
July marked Paris in July, for which I was so pleased to be one of the four co-hosts along with Tamara, Karen, and Adriana. It provided me with a chance to go down memory lane, from the time I was in Paris as a child and wondered at the French affection for the Arc de Triomphe, to 2001 when I bought my wedding dress at one of the grand magasins. I also read a fabulous collection of memoirs set in Paris called Paris Was Ours by Penelope Knowland.
July also held Richard and Stu‘s Spanish Literature Month for which I read many titles. Never able to appreciate Roberto Bolano as others do, I was determined to find a Spanish writer to adore. Alas, the closest I came was Javier Marias.
August brought the long anticipated novel by Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. While I enjoyed it very much, because I feel Murakami always puts words to loneliness and alienation which I can never quite articulate, it did not match my favorite books of his which would be Kafka on The Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
September is when school starts for me, and it is therefore a difficult month for me to get much reading done as I prepare for the arrival of my students. I attempted to read the shortlist for the Man Booker prize, but all I could manage was To Rise Again At a Decent Hour. It was one of the few contenders from an American writer; needless to say, Joshua Ferris did not win. Although, his writing is almost as acerbic as Edward St. Aubyn’s.
October was a revisit to a High School classic: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Although it is one of my son’s favorite novels ever, I found it much more meaningful as an adult than when I was 17. Which also holds true for other High School reads such as The Grapes of Wrath and anything Hemingway wrote.
November held German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline and Lizzy, during which I focused on Thomas Mann. I began with his novella, The Black Swan, and went on to probably his most popular book, Buddenbrooks. The later, at 700+ pages, didn’t leave a lot of time for other German authors, but I so want to read more of Deitrich Bonhoeffer in 2015.
And, if you want numbers, here are a few breakdowns:
Total books read so far: 82
Percent of books in translation: 41% (34 books)
Reading challenges I participated in: 5 (The Japanese Literature Challenge 8, Angela Carter Week, Paris in July, Spanish Literature Month, and German Literature Month)
It was a glorious year, and while there are books I wanted to read as yet unread, I revel in the ones which I did.
(I’m looking forward to hearing about your year’s timeline, and you can find more timelines at Girlxoxo.)