Cultural Plans for 2019

I’m not quite sure what to call this post, because it is about far more than just reading (although reading plays a huge part). It’s also about writing, translating, attending literary events and far more. So let me just put the extremely broad label of ‘culture’ on it.


If you’ve read some of my posts about the #EU27Project, you will know what will keep me busy until end of March 2019. I have most of the books already sitting and waiting on my bookshelves (a couple maybe from the library, although our library does not do very well on anything foreign that is not a Scandi-thriller). Nevertheless, any tips for Cyprus and Luxembourg would still be gratefully received.

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with the Paris Commune (perhaps because of its close association with Montmartre (where it started) and Belleville (where it ended), my favourite parts of Paris. So when Emma from Book Around the Corner reviewed a book about this topic (in no flattering terms) and suggested that Zola’s La Débâcle (The Debacle) would provide a better background to it. So Emma and I have decided to read Zola ‘together’ in May 2019 – and you are very welcome to join in if you like. I also have other historical and fictional accounts of the Commune that I want to read that month, so May will my revolutionary month.

There are two rendezvous that I never miss ever since I discovered them: Women in Translation Month in August and #GermanLitMonth in November, so I hope to take part in those this year as well. I also want to read and review critically at least one book of poetry a month – because that helps me rethink my own poetry.

Last but not least, I have to make a serious indent in the books I already own. The stacks my shelves, assorted pieces of furniture, floor are toppling over, while my Kindle hides hundreds of impulse buys. I may not read them all, but I need to triage, discard or read and not buy any new books. Of course, I’ll still visit the library on occasion.

Other than that, I will rely more on reading by whim and happenstance. I’m cutting right down on my reviewing commitments. Although I’ll be very sorry to say goodbye to my long-term association (more than 6 years!) with the wonderful Crime Fiction Lover site, I want to follow in the footsteps of its previous reviewers who became writers, such as Luca Veste and Eva Dolan. And the only way to do that is to hoard my precious time more tightly to my chest!

I’ll still be following the Asymptote Blog, with its frequent interviews with translators and writers, and literary news from around the world.

Although my association with Asymptote Journal of literature in translation and its Book Club has been shorter (a year and a half), I am equally sad to cut my ties with a literary venture whose emphasis on quality (of both literature and translation) is second to none. I will hopefully still serve as a point of contact to help organise events for the Book Club, but am no longer able to keep up the daily second shift until late at night.


I’ll be blogging and tweeting far less. I won’t feel as pressured to review every single book that I read (which was perfectly fine for the first 2-3 years of my blog, but then I started to feel guilty about it). I will work hard on finalising the poems (and perhaps swapping out some old ones with some new ones) for the chapbook I hope to send out soon. I may share some of my progress (or lack thereof) on my novel. I don’t have a daily word target, or even a daily routine, but I will make sure to keep in touch with my own work far more regularly throughout the week, rather than treating it as a welcome but very distant relative who visits once or twice a year.

Other Plans

Manon publicity shot by Jason Bell, English National Ballet.

I still have a few theatrical escapades planned, but am again practising some restraint. Tickets are very expensive (and reviewing takes time, although I might still do it occasionally, as you get to experience shows you might otherwise not have come across). I will see the ballet Manon with the peerless Alina Cojocaru in January (one of my favourite ballets, so dramatic, so sad). In February it will The War of the Worlds with my older son.

Can I just do a proud Mum shout-out here? It is so rewarding to take him to a film or play, as he really dissects it and examines it critically (without being annoyingly nitpicky). We saw Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap yesterday in London for his birthday and we had such fun actually talking all the way back (no messing about with phones) about the play, favourite films of 2018 (Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody scored highly with both of us) and reminiscing about his toddler days. I really enjoyed his company, which is not always the case with children and teenagers, even though you might love them to bits. And I don’t think it has much to do with the way I brought him up, since younger son is not all like this.

No holidays abroad with the children this year and indeed very few holidays at all, but I will treat myself to a trip to the south of France around Easter time (if the planes will still be flying without a hitch after Brexit) to stay once more with the friends in Luberon where I’ve previously been amazingly productive.

I’ve also decided to be extravagant and treat myself to one crime festival this year. After carefully examining dates and pennies, I opted for CrimeFest in Bristol 9-12 May, so do let me know if you are planning to attend, as it’s always fun to meet up with people you know so well online.

One example of a Landmark Trust property which has caught my eye.

The final ‘treat’ will be a working holiday in July, i.e. going to a few university open days with my older son and taking in some of the sights in England along the way. It’s still a bit early to worry about university, but it gives us an excuse to meander and stay in some amazing locations, thanks to the Landmark Trust.

So those are my plans for 2019. Whatever your plans are, whether you make resolutions or not, I hope the year goes well for you, and that the pollution of world news and events does not impinge too much upon your daily lives.

30 thoughts on “Cultural Plans for 2019”

  1. My 40th birthday gift was to see Mousetrap, and what a treat it was! The size of the theatre meant it felt like an intimate performance – we were in the room with the characters. I also love your word ‘pollution’ regarding the world news, which I now only watch periodically. I’ll be watching this year from behind the sofa.

  2. I really like your idea of doing what works for you, rather than feeling obligated to review/attend/etc.., Marina Sofia. I hope you’ll have a wonderful time at CrimeFest, and your trip to France sounds lovely. I hope you have a very good year. Happy New Year!

        1. My uncle was the last generation to be in the cavalry in the army, although it was just after WW2 and he said it was a tough job, as you developed such a bond with your horse.

  3. They sound like great plans, Marina, and I can understand you wanting to focus more on your own writing. As for Zola and the Commune – I’m definitely interested as this kind of ties in with my French revolution loose project (I kind of am developing a theory that the French are in a permanent state of revolt….) If my mood is right in May I will try to join in! 😀

    1. It would be lovely to have you join in, and you may be right in your assumptions about the French. There are similarities between the Gilets Jaunes and the Commune, by the way. And I was chatting with a French friend and we were moaning about the apathy of English commuters with the horrible state of the trains, at which he said: ‘In France, we’d have set fire to the trains a long time ago!’ Which probably would not have helped solve the problem, of course!

  4. Great plans ahead! I might join you in May… but I want to read from my own stacks too, and that’s all too tempting! If you stop by Paris on your way to Luberon let me know!

    1. That would be fab, please do! Emma and I will be reading it in French, so I might be a while… Will be flying to Marseille and then driving to Luberon, so wish me luck with the post-Brexit airplanes.

  5. Best wishes with all your best laid plans – especially the writing. A huge focus for me too. We can cheer each other on (or commiserate) as need be! 🙂

  6. Great to hear you’ll be flexing your poetry and novel writing muscle, I wish you all the best with that, persevere, it can be done.
    And do let me know when you are in the Luberon, I was in Goult working yesterday, the Luberon is my daily commute, I live it, especially in the warmer months.

    1. It would be lovely to meet up. My friends live near Roussillon and I’ll be going there around Easter, probably the week before and including Easter Sunday.

  7. I’m sure the Zola will be good, I’m looking forward to reading it along with you. If I can, I’ll try to visit the museum about this was in Gravelotte. (near Metz) and post something about it.

    I’m sorry to see you won’t come to Quais du Polar.

  8. Your upcoming year sounds excellent to me. Have a good one doing what you want to do and enjoying time with your sons, too. I’m surprised Zola called the Paris Commune a debacle. Then again I like that protesting spirit of the French. Wish it would catch on over here in a way. Too much over here needs to be protested.

    1. To be fair, the Debacle is about everything leading up to the Commune, including the Franco-Prussian war and government incompetence, so I think the name is quite justified.
      And you have taken the words out of my mouth. I sometimes get irate with how placid and passive the British are and wish they had more revolutionary fervour.

  9. Yes! With Brexit looming, the British or should I say English need more zip, although there were great protests when Trump went there. I’m reading a lot of books by Val McDermid and other Scottish, as well as Irish writer. Have to be careful to call their countries by their names, and not Britain. McDermid does dish it out to the English government, not the people.
    With a government shutdown here, terror against mothers and children at the Southern border, cuts in food programs, etc., people here need to get moving.
    I don’t know if I can read Zola now, although I did read Nana as a teenager. And my mother loved his books. But it’s harder unless the type is larger. Anyway, good luck with that. Hope you write on it.

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