Time to Read for Fun

I log all of my reading and TBR now on Goodreads, as it helps to keep a semblance of order. ¬†(Although I know full well that chaos lurks underneath!) ¬†Imagine my surprise when I discovered that 7 of the last 10 books I read (and certainly all of the books that I’ve read so far in March) have been books sent to me by publishers for book reviews.

Not that I am complaining! It’s not that I don’t enjoy these books, and I am grateful to the publishers for exposing me to authors or translations which I may not have ¬†come across otherwise. ¬†But reading books for the purpose of reviewing is different: it’s WORK. ¬†I have to read them with pen in hand, making notes of characters’ names, or a phrase that grabs my attention, or a thought which I need to explore further. ¬†Also, because I review for a crime fiction website¬†, the books I get to review all fall into this category. ¬†Plus, I have signed up for the Global (crime fiction) Reading Challenge, so even my ‘spare time’ reading has turned completely mysterious.

Now, you may know I absolutely love crime fiction, but I do also need a break from it every now and then.  I need a gentler read (or a demanding, experimental, pretentious literary read) by way of contrast.  To keep me fresh and eager to return to my old love.  So, although I still have a pile of books to review, I also want to make sure I plan in some time to read more widely.

SosekiThe last non-crime book I read (back in February) was ‘Kokoro’ by Natsume Soseki, a writer so well-known in Japan that he is pictured on the 1000 Yen note. ¬†I had read this as a student – supposedly in Japanese, but I seem to remember cheating and reading the translation alongside the original. ¬†This was a new translation, much more colloquial and lively than the previous one, perhaps even a bit too chatty for the rather serious, contemplative nature of the story. ¬†It is so interesting comparing different translations, though, that I wish I had the time to do this more frequently. ¬†I also want to spend some time reading books in the original and then comparing them with their translations into English.

CarsonMcCullersSo, what am I going to attempt this month? First of all, a true classic: Carson McCullers’ ‘The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter’. ¬†I have a weak spot for misfits and outcasts, and this is full of such characters. ¬†Plus, I find it amazing that such a young writer could write so accurately and eloquently about life on the margins of society.

Just in case I get too depressed, I also have a lighter read up my sleeve, which should have me laughing out loud in recognition: Peter Mayle’s ‘Toujours Provence’.

Do you prefer to read all in one genre, or do you feel the need to balance your reading with something completely different at times? ¬†And what are your ‘go to’ reads in such a situation?

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