Spring Reading Tag

I saw this book tag on Eleanor Franzen’s blog and thought it sounded fun. I have no intention whatsoever of forcing you to watch me vlogging about it, but there are some great Booktube videos out there, such as Victoria’s from Eve’s Alexandria. We all need some spring-like sunshine and plenty of books to take our mind off things, don’t we?

What books are you most excited to read over the next few months?

I want to be more systematic about reading books for my #EU27Project. I really enjoy them when I get around to them, but urgent book reviews or other priorities keep getting in the way. Three books I am particularly looking forward to are:

  • Wolfgang Herrndorf: Sand (for Germany) – a thriller set in North Africa, with an international cast, written by a German writer who died far too young
  • Andrzej Stasiuk: On the Road to Babadag (for Poland) – a road trip through Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Moldova and the Ukraine after the fall of Communism
  • Miklós Bánffy: They Were Counted (for Hungary) – pre-1914 Transylvanian counts in the declining years of the Austro-Hungarian empire
The RHS Wisley garden borders are pretty much my ideal. From their site.

What book most makes you think of Spring, for whatever reason?

It must be The Secret Garden by F. H. Burnett. Anyone who knows me will tell you what a hopeless and lazy gardener I am, but I do love flowers, particularly in spring, and the abstract idea of gardening (I even have books with pictures about the perfect English country garden). When I read that book as a child, I was sure that at some point, if I ever were to live in England, I would have that marvellous garden with minimal effort on my part.

The days are getting longer – what is the longest book you’ve read?

One volume Quarto Gallimard edition of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past in French – 2401 pages before it says FIN. Well, to be honest, I read it in separate volumes a long time ago, but I couldn’t resist buying it so I have it all in one place to reread. At some point. When I have time. Hah!

What books would you recommend to brighten someone’s day?

My gallows humour would probably not appeal to most people, but I do have some favourite books which are funny and sunny. I really enjoyed The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. The thought of the Queen discussing Jean Genet with the French President just cracks me up every single time. I also admire Oscar Wilde’s plays: every line is a gem.

Spring brings new life in nature – think up a book that doesn’t exist but you wish it did. (eg by a favourite author, on a certain theme or issue etc)

I wish there could have been more books written by Jane Austen or a novel by Dorothy Parker. As for a theme, I wouldn’t mind seeing a novel about a menopausal woman having inappropriate thoughts about younger man all day long and grappling with her fading writing muse – as a counterpoint to all those middle-aged male protagonists out there facing their midlife crisis. Now that I think about it, Dorothy Parker could have written the perfect novel on this theme.

Spring is also a time of growth – how has your reading changed over the years?

I was such a good reader during my teens: constantly trying out new genres, obscure authors, quite challenging books of science and philosophy and history, which I hardly ever attempt now.

According to my diary at the time, just before my 16th birthday I was reading and pondering about Spinoza, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Rimbaud, The Cherry Orchard, Mademoiselle Julie, Meredith’s The Egoist and K. A. Porter’s Flowering Judas.

Yes, I was a bit pretentious and know-it-all, but also voracious and not as set in my ways as I am now. I am much more of a moody reader now, have to find the book to suit me at any given point in time. However, for the past 4-5 years I’ve kept better track of my reading, with Goodreads lists and with reviews.

We’re a couple of months into the new year – how’s your reading going?

I had a rather slow start to the reading year in the first two months, but things improved in March and April. I am now at 47 books read mark, 12 ahead of my schedule (target is 120 books for the year and I was somewhat behind the target in February). There’s been the usual mix of good, mediocre and memorable books, but no truly horrendous books yet. Or perhaps I’ve just got better at avoiding them.

Any plans you’re looking forward to over the next few months?

Sadly, I won’t be going to Crimefest or Harrogate or Hay-on-Wye or Bloody Scotland this year, as my personal circumstances are still quite muddy. I do love literary festivals though, find them inspirational and motivational, so I might try to attend more local ones, such as Henley or Noirwich in Norwich, where I can go there and back in a day.

The other ‘top-secret’ plan is to get more involved in bringing East European crime fiction to the attention of English-speaking audiences. I’ll be writing a feature on this topic for Crime Fiction Lover, and hope to translate Romanian crime fiction for a collaborative project very soon. Watch this space!

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27 thoughts on “Spring Reading Tag”

  1. I would also like to read more Jane Austen books, she is one of my favorite classic authors. I hope to go someday to one of those festivals, they sound so good but they are all far from where I live.

    1. Yes, sadly those festivals can work out quite expensive, by the time you factor in travel, accommodation, food, participation fees and books, of course!
      I wonder how Jane Austen’s style might have evolved and changed had she grown older. Persuasion is already a lot more melancholy than Pride and Prejudice.

  2. Proust’s “In Search Of Lost Time” all six volumes is one of my “wish I had more time” dreams. A nice post giving us all more insight into your reading – thank you.

  3. Ooh, your translation project sounds intriguing!! I’d love to know more about it. This is a really interesting tag, too, and one I’d not have thought of before. It works really well. Oh, and I loved The Secret Garden when I was younger. I can see how it’d make you think of spring.

    1. My big book-related regret is that I never got my boys into The Secret Garden when they were younger (and by now they want something faster-paced and more adventurous). We had parts of it read out to us during our arts and crafts sessions in school (and I always paid more attention to the reading than to the crafty bit), and then I just had to go out and read it myself.

  4. Secret Garden was one of my major influences as a child. A cross, opinionated child with a deep connection to the healing power of the natural world. Perfect Role model!

    1. Ha! I’m afraid I only got to the cross and opinionated bit of that description! (Not really, I was apparently a very funny and sunny child, which makes people wonder what happened to me now that I prefer dark fiction).

  5. The Secret Garden does remind me of spring. I think right now Enchanted April reminds me of spring. I read in Jacqui’s post on Enchanted April where there is an advertisement that reads ‘of wisteria and sunshine’. So I think that would remind me of Spring now. I need to read Enchanted April btw.

    1. Yes, I would have picked The Enchanted April, but I want to reread it, as it’s been far too long since I last read it. Besides, Elle had picked it already, so I wanted to be different!

  6. Ha! I like the idea for the menopausal woman book – why should middle-aged male writers have all the fun! And I do hope your translation scheme works out – I’d like the opportunity to read more fiction by writers from that part of the world. I’ve become very aware in my Around the World reading travels that so often what I’m actually reading are books written about foreign places by Brits or Americans…

    1. Yes, that tends to happen quite a bit, so I’m trying not to do that for the #EU27Project, but stick instead to ‘local’ authors. Not easy, when some countries have barely any in translation.

  7. Simply love your comments about gardening- in a fit of hopefulness I bought some seeds a couple of weeks ago, true to form the expected germination hasn’t happened!! The Secret Garden was a brilliant read though.

    1. Ha, yes, we live in hope… although in my case it’s not the planting that is the problem. It’s just that you can’t see the flowers for the weeds (or I get the young sprouts mixed up with the weeds…)

  8. Lovely post! The Secret Garden is my favourite book from childhood, it means a lot to me. I’m very excited to read your reviews for your EU27 project and to hear about your translation project!

    1. Yes, I was very sad that my boys didn’t ‘take’ to it, but they didn’t really take to Swallows and Amazons either, so it’s not just a gender thing.

  9. Ah yes the pretentiousness of youth is something I’m familiar with from my own teenage years. I would read anything from the library as long as it had a foreign sounding name. How much I understood of what I read is another matter all together

    1. I loved that anecdote by David Bowie, that he would go around with paperbacks of Sartre etc. popping out of his pockets to impress the people around him… all been there, done that! However, I do sometimes fear that I was far more intelligent back then and read more challenging stuff (or perhaps my brain was more ‘rested’?).

      1. I’d not heard that anecdote but its wonderful. I bet that he did read them though rather than use them as decoration as some people seem to do with books in their houses 🙂

  10. Always lively and imaginative posts and comments. I would love it if Dorothy Parker had written a novel. And let’s expand the idea to post-menopausal women looking at younger men (it happens constantly here!); it’s amazing. It’s like the dormant hormones suddenly kick in. I was watching an old Clark Gable movie (was never a fan), but all of a sudden I was glued to the screen.
    Also, your description of The Uncommon Reader has me laughing. I must read about that discussion about Jean Genet among royalty and presidents. Yes, you’ve won me over. I like humor, too, and find it in strange places.

    1. Thank you – I do have the loveliest readers and commentators, don’t I? Enjoy them so much!
      It’s only a brief scene in The Uncommon Reader, but it’s full of such gems, so I hope you enjoy it.
      As for the menopausal woman and young men, this may have inspired a poem that may post later on today or perhaps next week… Not as funny as Dorothy Parker though!

  11. I like your idea for a novel, I would totally read it! I wish Jane Austen had more books too, but there being only six does allow me to reread them all several times over so that’s something at least 🙂

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