Posts in Reading

January Reading Roundup

Better late than never! Here’s my reading roundup for January. It was a month in which I did a lot of travelling, driving from Greece to Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and now Croatia (via Romania again and a brief stop in Serbia). So I didn’t spend as much time reading and blogging as I wanted to, but I still managed to read some excellent books to start 2019. The Great Passage by Shion Miura This was my contribution to the Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by Dolce Bellezza (which you can still… Read More

The Power of Words: The Great Passage by Shion Miura

The Great Passage by Shion Miura is a novel about a group of editors compiling a dictionary. If you’re looking for a fast-moving plot with plenty of action, this is not the book for you. But if you love language and are willing to be patient, it holds plenty of rewards. When I say this is a novel about compiling a dictionary, I don’t mean that the dictionary compiling is a loose frame for a more exciting story. I mean that it really is about the details of the dictionary,… Read More

Stories of Racism and Retail Hell: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Race and capitalism in America should be fertile ground for literary fiction. This year’s Black Friday shopping frenzy brought the usual bout of stabbings and shootings to add to the overall death count, not to mention the looming environmental collapse that such consumerism feeds. And the list of things you can’t do while black without having the police called or a gun pulled on you seems to expand by the day, from working out to moving into an apartment to buying Mentos. Yet Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah startled me by the… Read More

December Reading Roundup

December has been a good reading month for me. It’s been a good month in general, in fact, and I wanted to write a longer post about some of the things I’ve done and seen, but I don’t know if I’ll have time, so for now here are the reading highlights. (Side note: I often give extra little titbits in my monthly email newsletter, so subscribe using the quick form in the sidebar if you’re interested.) Hounded: Stories From the American Road by Alan Emmins In this collection of long-form… Read More

November Reading Roundup

After a busy few months of travel, we slowed down a bit in November and spent more time just staying in comfortable rural hotels in Bulgaria and northern Greece. That meant more time for work and writing, but also for reading, so I had a good reading month overall. Here’s how it went… Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald I started off the month with an excellent read for German Literature Month. I found a beautiful meditation on memory and loss, as we follow Jacques Austerlitz piecing together the fragments of his… Read More

German Literature Month: Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

November is German Literature Month, hosted by Lizzy and Caroline! If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an annual celebration of literature in the German language. There’s a schedule of readalongs, but I’m too disorganised for that, so I’m going for the “read what you want, as long as it was originally written in German” category. And what better book to choose than Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, a novel that I have been meaning to read for so many years that I’d almost given up hope of unearthing it from… Read More

October Reading Roundup

Did you read any good books in October? I had a decent reading month, starting with a dud but progressing to some fascinating reads, including one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Here’s a rundown. The Mimic Men by V.S. Naipaul I really don’t get why this novel is so celebrated. It’s the life story of a fictional West Indian politician, and it reads like a political memoir, a dull enough genre even when the politician in question really existed. I had no interest in the… Read More

Eye by Marianne Micros: Greek Mythology With a Contemporary Twist

As a long-time English professor at the University of Guelph, Marianne Micros taught folktales among other things, and this influence is clear in her short story collection Eye, recently published by Guernica Editions. Also evident is the influence of her Greek mother, to whom the book is dedicated. For these are short stories that weave folktales and mythology together with contemporary life. We start with a young boy seeing visions of the future after discovering the head of Orpheus on a beach, and in later stories we meet Ariadne in a… Read More

September Reading Roundup

Last month, I started a series of monthly reading roundups. This month, to my astonishment, I am continuing it for the second straight month. So here’s a quick summary of the books I read in September. Life Begins on Friday by Ioana Pârvulescu I was travelling in Romania for most of September, so I decided to read this novel by a contemporary Romanian writer that I bought at a bookshop in Iasi (which I wrote a bit about—the town, not the bookshop—back in August). Life Begins on Friday was a fresh, slightly bizarre… Read More