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Personal Reading Goals > Where will El's reading take her in 2010?

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message 1: by El (new)

El For 2009 I set a goal of reading x amount of books, and accomplished that. Instead of upping that amount for 2010 I'm going to try something a little different.

My reading interests are eclectic - one minute I'm reading fiction, then Greek histories, then literary feminist criticism, etc. What I do know about myself is that I do go off on tangents based on what I read - for example, while reading fiction, there may have been a reference to a Greek historian, so then I hunt it down and read it, and the cycle continues.

For 2010 (starting a little late) I want to monitor these shifts and keep track of what leads me to read what next. So I'll be doing that here, with an explanation to see what inspired me to read the following book. I want to see how many different topics I cover, and to see how odd some of the changes are. In the end it'll be interesting to see what I finished the year with based on what I started with, much like that Telephone game where one person whispers something into the next person's ear, and then that person whispers it into the next person's ear, and on down the line until the last person announces what they were told - it's usually so far off base from the original sentence that it's often downright funny.

I'm currently reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Tatyana Tolstaya's The Slynx. I'm about halfway through both so I'm eager to see which one inspires me to pick up something specific next.

message 2: by JSou (new)

JSou Oooh, what a great idea! It'll be interesting to see your list.

message 3: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 954 comments That's so cool! It'll be so interesting for all of us to see where your reading takes you :-)

message 4: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) What a fabulous idea, El! I am very excited to see what you get into this year....incredible reads that are sure to add to my lengthy TBR list, I'm sure.

message 5: by Erin (new)

Erin This is really neat! Can't wait to see where this book journey takes you! Having already set my 2010 reading goals, I think I'll do something like it for 2011...:)

message 6: by El (new)

El Thanks guys! I'm excited to see where this natural progression takes me, and hope it might hone my interests a little more. There's usually a method to my madness, but this way I can actually see how it works. :)

message 7: by Liz (new)

Liz This is a great idea! I'll be curious to see how your reading evolves :)

message 8: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) El, this is a great idea! I can't wait to see what you read and why!

message 9: by El (new)

El The Portable Chekhov (Viking Portable Library) by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
The Portable Chekhov
Anton Chekhov (640 pages), c1947.

When I first came up with this idea mid-February I was reading both Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Tatyana Tolstoya's The Slynx, and I wasn't really sure which one I would take off from in my new challenge. I decided to go with the one I finished first, which happened to be The Slynx.

So, a contemporary Russian author who paid homage to a classic Russian author required quality reading of said classic Russian author. Tolstoya referenced Chekhov directly in her book and immediately it sprang to my I've had this Portable Chekhov sitting on my shelf for a hundred years. Now was my chance to read it.

Anyone who has spent a lot of time reading Russian authors knows that they can be dreary. They're not known for their sunshiny disposition. They're known for being of tough stock, hardy drinkers, shoulder-to-the-boulder kinds of workers, and (traditionally) lengthy wordsmiths who had to write to support themselves or their families. Chekhov was just that sort of writer.

His short stories are often succinct, but full of fire and brimstone (not the Biblical kind - I mean more the vim-and-vinegar kind). He poked fun at issues of his time, of which there were plenty. The economy, the politics, religion, you name it, you got it. I would say if you want only to read one thing by Chekhov, you should allow it to be the play The Cherry Orchard. Possibly the most touching play I've encountered, and again it's Russian so the heart-wrenchiness of it transcends any other.

message 10: by El (new)

El There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Fairy Tales
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (206 pp), c2009.

It seemed like a normal progression to go from a classic Russian writer such as Chekhov to a modern Russian writer such as Petrushevskaya.

Actually, I just wanted to read this collection. And it wasn't until after reading it (all in one sitting, I might add) that I realized just how similar Petrushevskaya's writing is compared to Chekhov.

Petrushevskaya's writing is more apparent in its allegories... not to mention there's an entire section entitled "Allegories". She uses a plague to play as the insanity of the Soviet regime. Cool, right? And not at all unlike Chekhov, though his allegories are generally a little more subdued.

These "fairy tales" are actually rather grim. Dark, like the original fairy tales of yesteryear were, before Disney got their puffy white mouse-gloves on them. They are more fantastic than anything else, and that's always a treat to me. I like a little mysticism in my Russian literature. (Okay, not really, but when else will I be able to make that statement?) I'll be keeping my eye out for more of this lady.

message 11: by Alex (new)

Alex Duuuuude, I want to read this!!! It's been on my radar since I saw it on this list. So cool that you read awesome weird stuff like this.

I do like the idea of this thread, too. I'm the same way with reading. I'm doing The Communist Manifesto right now, which has made me curious about the Russian Revolution, so I might do some nonfiction in that area next. Or I might get distracted by something shiny.

message 12: by El (new)

El How's that Russian Revolution Reading coming, Alex? Or did Something Shiny win? (That's a lot of alliteration. Too much for a Saturday night if you ask me...)

message 13: by El (new)

El The Fatal Eggs and Other Soviet Satire 1918-1963 by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Fatal Eggs and Other Soviet Satire 1918-1963
Edited and Translated by Mirra Ginsburg (305 pp), c1987.

I might just be on Russian overload.

I stuck with Russian short stories, but wanted to go back a little in time. I did Chekhov of the 19th century, and then I did Petruvsheskaya of the 21st. But my OCD couldn't handle skipping the 20th century entirely, so I wound up with collection.

The title story, The Fatal Eggs, is a relatively popular science fiction short story by Mikhail Bulgakov, who also wrote (more famously) The Master and Margarita. I read that novel a few years back while recovering from surgery, so I was completely doped up on pain meds and could only lie in one position. It was like reading a bad acid trip on paper. That's not saying it was all bad, but certainly not what I needed while I was on pain meds and could only lie in one position.

Moving on.

Also included in this collection is a short story by Yevgeny Zamyatin who wrote We. We is the book that influenced both Orwell when he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley with Brave New World. A fine piece of literature, We. I do recommend it.

As far as this collection goes, it's not that I wouldn't recommend it, but you have to a) dig Russians, like, a lot and b) be into satire. I've got the first part going for me, but satirical authors and I just haven't really gotten along over the years. I wasn't that keen on Candide, and Gulliver's Travels and I got in a big fight in high school and I haven't spoken to Swift since because of it, though I've always promised my dad I would re-read Gulliver one day on my own, out of an academic setting. Meh.

message 14: by Alex (new)

Alex That's so cool, El. I'm big intrigued by We.

And I dig satire but I don't dig Russians, like, a lot. I dig Russians a little? I'm...more or less indifferent to Russians? Hey, if you combined us into one hideous mutant like if we both accidentally got into a teleporter thing at the same time, we would be perfect for this book.

I got semi-distracted by something shiny. I'm currently reading Civilization: A New History of the Western World, and then I promised this cool chick I met that I'd read Decameron with her, and then I somehow agreed to read Anna Karenina with my wife. Which is, I don't know if you knew this, but it's totally by a Russian dude, so, like, full circle.

I just read Gulliver's Travels in January. It's pretty short, so no big deal. It's okay. Gets pretty talky toward the end. I don't think your life will be unfulfilled if you never get to it.

message 15: by Alex (new)

Alex Wow, the description of We is insane. "Subjugated to the beneficent yoke of reason." What? You better not be messing with me.

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