Inspired by this existential blogging crisis and wrap up by Volatile Rune.
I knew it’d been a few years since I did any kind of wrap up or roundup, outside of a year-end post. I did not think it’d been since 2013! I’m going to try to follow my old format and see what happens, and cover the last few months.
Few and far between recently, but I am signed up for a event for The Books of Jacob next week, hosted by Portland State University, which will include translator Jennifer Croft and other luminaries. I have 836 pages to go (the pages are numbered in reverse, so I can say that with confidence), and I’m loving it so far.
I am not as tuned in as I was nine years ago, but there are a few things happening:
- 20 Books of Summer 2022 announcement is up!
- Understanding Ukraine is running for the next few months and can be broadly interpreted to include any books that deepen understanding of Ukraine past and present.
- Ready Envy is well into her year-long Russian reading project. She struggled with if, or how, to continue after war broke out, but I’m glad she’s going ahead.
- The International Booker Prize Shadow Panel is in full swing.
Some highlights. Someone recently asked me what kind of books I like, and the first thing that came to mind was “weird Japanese short fiction”:
- Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, tr. Ginny Tapley Takemori. I read these with my sister, and the sharp turn from quirky to unsettling, both within each story and between the two books, was a lot to take! She’s got a short story collection coming out in July, I wonder if I can convince Cait to go for the trifecta…
- Heaven by Mieko Kawakami, tr. Sam Bett and David Boyd. I normally don’t like it when an author inserts long philosophical meanderings, masquerading as dialog… (remembers that I like Dostoyevsky)… okay maybe I do like it.
I hate to call stories set in the late 20th century “historical fiction” but these sure evoke the era:
- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (70s). Great fun while you’re reading, but on a moment’s reflection, full of cliches and plot holes.
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt (80s). I liked it, but was expecting something more? It really reads like a debut, which, fair enough! I may have been spoiled by accidentally reading an erotic fanfic first.
- Larry’s Party by Carol Shields. A trip through the 70s, 80s, and 90s with an every-man who’s very into mazes and metaphors.
I absolutely needed to read short stories in between the interminable Gargantua and Pantagruel:
- Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor. For me, a big improvement on the super-hyped Real Life, it felt more assured.
- Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro, you know how I feel about that one.
- Homesickness by Colin Barrett. Like Taylor, I think Barrett made a leap forward in his style, and he was already a genius-level writer so… yeah.
Books I want to read and a pre-announcement if you made it this far
I keep a “TBR not owned” list in my books spreadsheet (I have long quit Goodreads) and have added 14 books so far this year, most recently Bad Dreams by Tess Hadley, based on this review.
But the book I’m really thinking about right now is The Brothers Karamazov. I think it’s time, and may resurrect the Reading in Bed Summer Read-along to do it. I’ve read seven Dostoyevsky novels over the years, loved them all, and this is the only of his major works I haven’t read. And it checks all the read-along boxes (on the 1,001 Books list, near one thousand pages, seems wildly inappropriate for summer reading). Feel free to express your interest below and watch this space!