Living in the Pleasure of Anticipation: Reading Plans for Autumn/Winter

One of my favourite bookish Twitter people Alok Ranjan said: ‘Sometimes just the anticipation of books to come is even more pleasing than the actual reading of them’. And in times of uncertainty, with no doubt a tough autumn and winter ahead, you take your small pleasures where you can. So I’ve been spending a few joyful hours luxuriating in planning my reading and joining in with some like-minded online friends.


There are two reading challenges in October that I cannot resist. First, Paper Pills is planning a group read of Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Gate of Angels starting on the 1st of October, which got me looking through my shelves for other Fitzgerald books, so I’ll also be attempting her short story collection The Means of Escape and rereading The Bookshop and The Blue Flower.

Secondly, the week of 5-11 October is also the #1956Club organised by Simon Thomas and Karen aka Kaggsy. I have bought books in anticipation of that year and will be reading: Romain Gary’s Les racines du ciel, plus two books I remember fondly from my childhood Little Old Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Pryosen and The Silver Sword by Ian Seraillier. If I have time after all of the above, I may also attempt Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz, but might not make it in time for the 1956 week, lucky if I squeeze it in before the end of October.


It’s been quite a few years now that November has been equivalent with German Literature Month for me, so this year will be no different. I’m in the mood for rereading Kafka’s Das Schloss (especially since my son recently read The Trial and I didn’t have my German language edition to read it in parallel with him). I was so enamoured of Marlen Haushofer that I will read another of her novels, a very short one this time Die Tapetentür (which I’ve seen translated as The Jib Door, an English expression I am unfamiliar with). I can’t stay away from Berlin, so I’ll be reading Gabriele Tergit’s Käsebier erobert den Kurfürstendamm (Käsebier takes Berlin). I’m also planning to read a book of essays about Vienna and its very dualistic nature: Joachim Riedl’s Das Geniale. Das Gemeine (Genius and Filth/Rottenness) and another non-fiction book, a sort of memoir of studying in England by Nele Pollatscheck entitled Dear Oxbridge (it’s in German, despite the title).

Since taking the picture above, I’ve also decided to reread the book I borrowed from my university library just before lockdown in March, namely Remarque’s Nothing New on the Western Front.


Alok is once again to blame for his persuasive skills, as he’s managed to convince a group of us, including Chekhov obsessive Yelena Furman to read Sakhalin Island in December. Of course, winter seems to lend itself to lengthy Russians, so I’ll also be attempting The Brothers Karamazov (my fifth attempt, despite the fact that I am a huge Dostoevsky fan, so fingers crossed!). If I have any brain or time left over at all after these two massive adventures, I’d also like to read the memoir of living with Dostoevsky written by his wife and the memoir about Marina Tsvetaeva written by her daughter.

I also have a rather nice bilingual edition of Eugene Onegin by Pushkin from Alma Press, so I might put that into the mix as well, let’s see how it goes.


Meredith, another Twitter friend, has been organising January in Japan reading events for years now, and I always try to get at least 1-2 books in. This coming January I might focus exclusively on Japanese authors or books about Japan, as I have a lot of newly bought ones that are crying out loud for a read.I have a new translation of Dazai Osamu’s Ningen Shikkaku (A Shameful Life instead of No Longer Human) by Mark Gibeau, I’d also like to read more by Tsushima Yuko (who, coincidentally was Dazai Osamu’s daughter), the short story collection The Shooting Gallery. Inspired by Kawakami Mieko (who mentioned her name as one of the writers who most influenced her), I will be reading In the Shade of the Spring Leaves, a biography of Highuchi Ichiyo which also contains nine of her best short stories. Last but not least, I’m planning to read about Yosano Akiko (one of my favourite Japanese poets) and her lifelong obsession with The Tale of Genji, an academic study written by G. G. Rowley and published by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan. (Once upon a time, I dreamt of studying there for my Ph.D.)

Saving the best for last, I have a beautiful volume of The Passenger: Japan edition, which is something like a hybrid between a magazine and a book, focusing on writing and photography from a different country with each issue. While I’d have liked more essays by Japanese writers themselves (there are only 3 Japanese writers among the 11 long-form pieces represented  here), there is nevertheless much to admire here.

Ambitious plans for the next few months, but they feel right after a month or so of aimless meandering in my reading. Let’s just hope the weather, i.e. news, outside isn’t too frightful!

18 thoughts on “Living in the Pleasure of Anticipation: Reading Plans for Autumn/Winter”

  1. All those languages! The mono-linguist in me is impressed.

    That’s very organised anticipation. For me it’s generally just a sense of it’s on the shelf and its time will come. I suspect if I had clearer plans it might make me rush through present reading to get there.

  2. These are some really interesting titles, Marina Sofia! And I’m glad you’re taking the time to enjoy the anticipation. I think that really is part of the process of reading. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you think of what you read. And you’ve reminded me of how long it’s been since I read The Trial. A re-read, I think…

  3. Those are some amazing book piles, Marina – and I’m glad you’re planning to join in with 1956! 😀 Apart from that, I’m not planning too much for October, but do want to try to do non-fiction and novellas and clear some of the Verso books in November – I do have some German works that would fit the bill there. And I might try to fit the Tsvetaeva biography I have in for December. But you’re right, half the fun is choosing and making the TBR piles – playing with books is so satisfying! 😀

  4. I know exactly what you mean about the deliciousness of planning one’s reading. Unfortunately, I find that if/when I do so, it pretty much guarantees that I won’t read what I have mapped out 🤣 So I try to ignore my planning instincts these days. But you have a great load of reading ahead – enjoy!

    1. I may have that same tendency myself, but there is a wonderful Romanian expression that I use all the time: ‘The sums you make at home and the sums in the marketplace never match up!’ So I feel absolved if things go awry.

  5. Since this plan includes The Roots of Heaven, it can only be a perfect plan. 🙂
    Palace Walk is wonderful. (the trilogy is great.)
    Have fun, I’ll be happy to follow your reading adventures.

    PS: I think that November is also Australian lit month via Brona.

    1. Aaaargh, now you tell me? I have quite a few Australian books I want to get round to soon. But clearly not right now. A friend of mine asked quite pointedly if the blog should be called ‘Findingtimetoread’ instead of ‘write’, since I seem to be doing sod-all about writing… Ouch! (But so true).

      1. I still have some Australian books I want to get to too.
        I don’t know if I’ll read something for German lit month. I must have a Zweig or a Bernhard somewhere.

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