Reading Plans for the Rest of 2021

I am really enjoying my aimless September wanderings of reading without a purpose and often with no intention to review. It provides a much-needed break and gives me the time and leisure to immerse myself in the rapidly-changing world of 1930s and 40s Britain, the world of the Cazalets. Although I will be wary of overburdening myself with obligations in the future, I do like to have a bit of a plan for my autumn and winter reading. So here are my current plans (as always, they are subject to change, depending on internal whims and external events).

October: Romanian Fun Reads

Family sagas have not been my cup of tea, generally, but now that I’ve succumbed to the charm of the Cazalets, I was thinking of rereading one of my favourite series of books when I was growing up – the three volume (sometimes published as four volumes) saga At Medeleni (that being the name of a country home in the Moldova region of Romania). I might not have time to sink completely into it, but I could try the first volume, when the main protagonists are children, and compare it with the Cazalets or with the Palace Walk trilogy by Mahfouz, which I also need to finish at some point.

Then I thought I might as well make it a fun month of reading Romanian literature – as in, reading without a professional editorial eye, wondering whether it would be worth translating or not, whether for Corylus or someone else. Here are the books I’ll be contemplating:

  • Ionel Teodoreanu: La Medeleni, Vol. 1 – The Unsteady Border.
  • Doina Ruști: Mâța Vinerii (The Book of Perilous Dishes) – YA novel set in 1798 Bucharest, a fantastical tale about a magic recipe book. The blurb says: ‘Merchants, sorcerers, spiritists, cooks of the Princely Court, lovers, haughty young ladies, ambassadors from diverse lands, mercenaries, officials of the Sublime Porte, princes in exile and princes newly enthroned, schemers of all sorts, revolutionaries, Bonapartists, tricksters, and envoys of Sator populate the carnivalesque space of this novel of fantasy, whose deeper levels lead far into the distance, towards worlds we could scarcely imagine.’ The book has received a translation grant and will be published by Book Island in the near future.
  • Ioana Pârvulescu: Life Begins on Friday – this historical time-travelling crime but literary novel won the European Union Literature Prize in 2013 and has been translated into English.
  • Bogdan Suceavă: Grandpa Returns to French (my own translation of the title – untranslated collection of short stories). I know the author slightly, worked with him briefly on the same literary journal, plus he was born in the town where my parents live now in Romania. He is a Mathematics Professor at a university in California, but is a highly skilled prose writer.
  • Radu Pavel Gheo: Good Night, Children! The story of four childhood friends, growing up in Communist Romania, who all dreamt of emigrating to the ‘promised land’ and return to their home country and their friendship in their thirties; older but are they any the wiser? The story of my generation, I suppose.

November: German Literature Month and Novella in November

I’ve always taken part in the German Lit Month and want to take part in the Novellas in November one too this year, since both of these initiatives are hosted by some of my favourite bookish bloggers. (Novellas in November is hosted by Cathy of 746 Books and Rebecca of BookishBeck and I believe their definition of novella is any work under 200 pages). So I’ve found a way to combine these two themes by choosing to read German-language novellas. Or, very short novels in some but not all cases. If you’ve read the original announcements for German Lit Month on Lizzy’s and Caroline’s blogs, you’ll have seen that the plan is to read:

  • Books from Austria 1-7 Nov: I have a collection of short stories by Marlen Haushofer, which includes the novella-length We Kill Stella.
  • Books from Germany 9-14 Nov: Irmgard Keun: Child of All Nations, transl. Michael Hoffmann (almost a novella, only 180 pages long)
  • Books from Switzerland 15-21 Nov: Friedrich Glauser: The Spoke (again, novella-length – only 130 pages)
  • Books from Elsewhere 22-28 Nov: Mrs Mohr Goes Missing, a crime novel set in Krakow in 1893, when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, written by a dynamic Polish writing duo publishing under the pen-name Maryla Szymiczkowa, transl. Antonia Lloyd-Jones
  • Here, There and Everywhere 29-30: Dana Grigorcea: The Undying. This sounds like an utter wild card, a vampire crime novel that isn’t really about vampires by a Romanian author writing in German and living in Switzerland.

December: Russians in the Snow

Under Karen’s (aka Kaggsy59) nefarious influence, I have been steadily adding to my pile of Russian books, and it always feels most suitable to read them when curled up inside with the wind blowing a blizzard outdoors. Even if they are set during the hot summer months spent in the countryside. Last year I managed to read The Karamazovs and was planning to reread The Idiot this year, but the book (in the translation I really like from the Raduga Publishing House in Moscow) is at my parents’ house in Romania, and I am not sure I will get a chance to pick it up before then. Therefore, I am wisely selecting quite short works this time, allowing myself room for sudden lurches in mood.

  • Bulgakov: Diaboliad, transl. Hugh Aplin – satire about Soviet bureaucracy
  • Victor Pelevin: Omon Ra, transl. Andrew Bromfield – a satire about Soviet space race
  • Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, transl. Anna Summers – There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In – well, it will be the month when my older son comes back from his first term at university!
  • Marina Tsvetaeva: Poems (maybe comparing different translations, although of course I can’t read the original Russian)

26 thoughts on “Reading Plans for the Rest of 2021”

  1. Beautiful reading plans, Marina! At Medelini looks very fascinating! Love the covers you’ve shared. I want to read that! Bogdan Suceavă looks like a fascinating person! A mathematician who writes novels – wow! Loved your German and Russian reading plans! I haven’t made my plans for German Literature Month yet. Hoping to do that soon. Glad to know that you are planning to read your favourite Marina Tsvetaeva! Love her poems! Your observation about Kaggsy’s nefarious influence made me smile 😊 Kaggsy’s reviews are always inspiring, and have added a few books to my list because of her recommendation, most recently, Richard Holmes’ ‘Footsteps’. Thanks for sharing your reading plans 😊

    1. I have to say I am tempted to buy these editions of At Medeleni, because my covers from the 1960s (although interesting) are nothing like as pretty!
      Marina Tsvetaeva is one of my favourite poets in any language, and may have had an influence on the choice of my own name…

  2. There is something liberating about reading without any projects or reading challenges in mind yet I can’t seem to go a few months without itching to get involved in some reading event or other. Your plan to combine Novellas in Nov with German Lit Month is a smart move.

  3. Lovely plans Marina! I have had a whimsical September though the rest of the year might be slightly more structured. October has the 1976Club, of course, and German Lit Month which I always love. In November I hope to do some Novellas. As for Russians in the Snow, I am always happy to have been a bad influence anad may well try to join in – what a marvellous title! 😀

  4. I really like that balance you’re trying to strike, Marina Sofia, between having reading plans, and also allowing yourself the flexibility to read what you want. I think that’s one of the keys to keeping the reading mojo going. You’ve got some great ideas, and I’m glad you’ve included some fun things, too.

    1. I have to learn that fine balance still, Margot! It’s all very well to let my eyes stray at the library and pick up something random of the shelf, but I shouldn’t feel guilty if I return it unread… or if I leave something else at home unread so that I can read that one!

    1. I’m getting more and more fond of novellas in my old age, Cathy – my patience is sorely tried by those who go on and on and on about things… in all walks of life!

  5. aah yes, kaggsy and the Russians – my tbr has got a lot longer from her inspiring reviews! I hope you’re enjoying the Cazelets, I read the series a few years ago and loved them all.

  6. Great reading plans there Marina. I have never read those Cazalet novels, though I know lots of people love them.I am hoping to join in with German lit month, I have a couple of things that I think would suit.

    1. The Cazalet novels have the feel of a BL Women Authors or Persephone book, and are set within that time period, but with a modern sensibility and able to address some issues directly, so a very interesting combination.

  7. That’s what I call a win-win: you get the fun of planning now what you’ll read later, and the fun of “letting your eyes stray at the library and pick up something random off the shelf”. I’m interested in all the books you mention, but with a special nod at the Radu Pavel Gheo as I like the description. So please make sure to write a review of that one!

    1. I have no doubt I will be expounding at length about Romanian authors that only you, myself and a couple of other people are ever interested in (and since they are not often translated, it is likely to remain thus, alas!)

  8. I’m a confirmed non-planning reader but I like the balance you are trying to strike here. (Though personally I think the Russians should be read all year long!) Some very interesting-sounding titles in your Romanian list, but ‘The Book of Perilous Dishes’ looks especially appealing at the moment.

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