Every month, as usual, I’ll be reviewing a couple of international reads; a foreign (to me) film; the work of an international artist; an album, a musician or an example of a national musical style; and, new for 2021, a TV series from around the world.
Other books I read that don’t qualify for their own individual post will still get a summary write-up at the end of the month.
Links to my previous reads and other reviews can be found under Reviews index by country, and my aim is to continue until I’ve reviewed a not-particularly-representative sample of six areas of popular culture for every country in the world for which it is possible to do so.
This is my little act of rebellion against incipient nationalism and the pig-headed closed-mindedness that seems to characterise a hefty chunk of the UK today.
It’s been great getting to know other bloggers over the last 18 months or so since I started this blog, so I’ll join in with a few more book challenges in 2021 when I see them!
I’ve pledged on Goodreads to increase my reading goal from 100 books in 2020 (which I managed to achieve, yay!) to 121 in 2021 (one every three days). This may change when I am weeping amid a pile of proofs for work in April, especially given I have to open up my sub-standard and frankly very dodgy home school in January. Thank goodness my gin subscription (prescription?) arrived today.
At some point during January-March I’m planning to take part in the Japan challenge, hosted by Dolce Bellezza, so I’ve been looking out for a ‘Japan’ book. Since it was shortlisted for the International Booker prize last year, I’m thinking of reading The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa.
The main books in translation that I have lined up for inclusion on the blog this month are Azerbaijani romance Ali and Nino by Kurban Said (a bit of a Romeo and Juliet tale, transposed to the South Caucasus) and The Wandering by Intan Paramaditha (Indonesia), described as “the most ingenious and unusual novel you will read all year, where you choose your own story”. I’m also planning to read Fame (“Imagine being famous. Wouldn’t that be great?”) by my new favourite Austrian/German author Daniel Kehlmann.
I enjoy non-fiction too, and I’m currently reading The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold, which is a fascinating and sometimes harrowing piece of Victorian social history. I’ve also got Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein on this month’s pile, which is a biography of Warhol’s muse Edie Sedgwick.
Before the local library shut as we went into Tier 4 restrictions here in London, I bagged a few recent releases, and since there are over 20 people waiting for it, top of my pile for this month is Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, which I’ve heard so much about, and which I’ve seen both praised and panned, so I’m interested to find out how I get on with it.
I’ve been saying that I will read T C Boyle’s The Women for months now, and I’m finally 100 pages in, so I hope to finish this work of historical fiction (based around the complicated love life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright) in January.
What I can’t photograph are the audio books and Kindle books that I have lined up. I have an immense invisible TBR pile on my Kindle which I’m determined to tackle in 2021, so I intend to read Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth this month and make the tiniest of inroads into my virtual teetering stack.
I buy an audio book a month with my Audible subscription, but inevitably I always have a bit of a backlog…. I finished the very silly Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith today (read very engagingly by Hugh Laurie) and I’m also listening to (and not really loving) Anxious People by Frederik Backman for my “real life” book club.
The real-lifeness of my lovely book club has become very hypothetical over the past 10 months. We met in full in (I think) January 2020, and then had a fun, but less well-attended, evening in my good friend Jo’s garden back in July. It must be time for us to choose some more books, so I need to get through that audio book asap!
That’s an 11-book pile, with one down today, makes 10. However, a late addition to the pile is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, as I’ve just seen that the film adaptation is about to come out – bringing the pile back up to 11! Let’s see how I go.
Let me know if you have any of the same reads on your pile for January, I’m always really interested to see what other people think of books that I have also read. I find it infinitely fascinating that two people can come away with entirely different opinions! Similarly, I’m always looking for inspiration for what to read next, although tbh I could probably read from my own shelves for a decade…