Sunday, January 08, 2006

Happy Book Year!

I made New Year's resolutions, but only one of them pertains to books or reading: I resolve to read more authors from other countries besides the United States, Canada, and England. Going back over my lists of what I've read since 1999, I was shocked that in some years, I read nothing but American authors. Not that that's a bad thing; I plan to read many, many American books this year. I was just under the mistaken impression that I was a well-rounded bookworm.

So far in 2006, I've read 1 book by an American and one by an English author. The books are The Human Stain by Philip (I'm-like-Henry-James-but-horny) Roth, and The Two of Us: My Life With John Thaw by Sheila Hancock.

I'm not sure about the third book --A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. He was English, but moved to Australia about 10-15 years before he died, allegedly disillusioned with his home country. Do I count him as English or Australian? I'm tempted to go with the latter, just because it would make me look good regarding my New Year's resolution, but I have no wish to cheat.

Thanks to Pablo and some of my other co-workers, last year's reading was a little more varied. I read a nonfiction book by a Russian author, a novel from Viet Nam, and a memoir by a Cambodian woman. There was also a French novel by Colette. Speaking of the French, I'd like to try some Balzac this year. I read somewhere that he can be counted as part of the school of naturalism. Did I also read that about Zola, or did I dream it?

I found out today that a person from is sending me a couple of boxes of books! Yee-Haw!!! Promptly getting nosy, I looked at her 'reserved' list to see what she's sending me. (Don't try this at home; it's a lot like spoiling your Christmas by rummaging around looking for presents.) Anyway, this kind and generous bookcrosser is helping me stick to my international reading resolve by including a memoir written by a journalist who is from Uruguay, Eduardo Galeano.

Also, I recently purchased a book called Korea Unmasked by a Korean author/artist named Won-Bok Rhie. Rhie's book is a graphic not-novel (what I mean is that it's graphic and nonfiction; I don't know the proper term) detailing the history and culture of Korea. I've read quite a bit of it, but haven't finished it yet. Korea Unmasked is *extremely* entertaining, and has helped fill in many of my information gaps and lessened my head-scratching when encountering certain aspects of Korean culture (....ooooh, that's why....).

I know that at least 1 other person besides myself reads this blog, so if you have any ideas about books/authors/countries for me to try, please leave me a comment.


Dolen Perkins-Valdez said...

I've got lots of international authors I like. Of course, you should definitely put the new Zadie Smith on your list. I also just read Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Helen Oyeyemi's The Icarus Girl is definitely on my list. Check out some of my entries on books and other stuff on my blog:

Nice blog, by the way. And love the title.

Caitlin said...

I can recommend lots of Australian authors. Try Kate Grenville's new book The Secret River. Or My Place by Sally Morgan. Or anything by Peter Carey or Thomas Keneally.

I think A Town Like Alice counts as Australian literature. Most Australians are from somewhere else originally.

Haruki Marukami is a really interesting Japanese author whose works have been extensively translated into English.

Re Dolen's comment, of course you should read Zadie Smith and Kazuo Ishiguro but since they are British, it won't help with your resolution!

I am working my way through a list of the top one hundred English language books of the twentieth century - see