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Indulging in lots of different things | Weekly Snapshot

For whatever reason, it's been somewhat busy the past couple of weeks. I'm actually not sure where the past two weeks went but judging from the blank my memory is drawing, they were either boring or routine. 
LifeAlong with the majority of the country, the case count in my area is going up. It does feel as if everyone is now in fatigue and letting their guard down. It's not easy to live like this even for a few months and here we are at the end of the year and things are getting out of control. We're continuing to try to stay mostly indoors and socially distance when with company. I'm encouraged that the schools in the area have been able to keep the case trend at extremely low levels. My daughter's school has not had any cases so I'm considering sending her and my son to school/daycare during Spring. But with the rising cases, it feels difficult to take that step.
Not looking forward toWe're getting to the point where all my appointments are due soon. I …

The Sunday Salon: My international library, or lack therof

The Sunday 
Salon.com

This year, I decided to read more international. I don't like it that I have to be so mindful of my reading to make sure I read more diversely - I wish books set in far remote corners of the world were more accessible and also hyped a lot. Hype helps, sometimes. But if I were to blindfold myself and choose a book that came my way, an overwhelming percentage of them would be set in the US or written by US authors. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just that I wish to read more from international authors and if mindfully picking a book is what I should do to make that happen, that's probably what I would do.

This is the way I pictured my goal. I am allowed to read only one book from any country this year. Excluding ARCs (because it's not fair to add them to the equation), audiobooks (because I would prefer "listenability" when it comes to them than any other attribute), and nonfiction titles (because I only read nonfiction if I like the subject). So far during this slow January, I read 2 non-ARCs (technically 3) - Night of Many Dreams set in Hong Kong, and Boxers & Saints set in China.

Knowing that I can read only one book from a country is actually making my book-picking ritual quite fun. And encouraging me to read more from my shelves than the shining newer releases at the library. I don't quite know what I would do when I do come across a book that I desperately want to read now. But I was thinking of having a month in between when I could read anything I wanted to, setting notwithstanding. I'm all about flexibility and making sure I do meet my goals, not get frustrated at the effort.

Unfortunately, I'm beginning to realize that my home library is woefully lacking in diversity - something I am hoping to change over time. Still, my collection should be enough to keep me occupied for a few months, if not longer. I do have a few titles from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Right now, I am in between books. I may not pick a new one until this evening or sometime this week, but I narrowed down to three books to pick from. One of them is Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. Mistry is Canadian but Indian-born. That pretty much qualifies as Indian in my book. I've heard a lot of good things about this book, so I am looking forward to reading it.

The other option I have is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, set in Afghanistan - another remarkable book that's in everyone's favorite lists. And finally, The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka, set in Sri Lanka. I got this as an ARC a long time back, long enough for it to lose its ARC badge. I have a feeling I will be reading The Kite Runner though I may follow it up with the other books as well.

Comments

Sam_TinyLibrary said…
I love your goal, and A Fine Balance is on the list of books I really want to read in 2014 too.
I just finished The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh, which is set in Burma, and it was very good, if you're after more ideas....
Jenny @ Reading the End said…
Wonderful goal! I'm trying to read more diversely this year too, and I've been taking care to get more books by non-white authors when I go to the library. It's nice because it also makes me more mindful of which books by which authors I choose: I keep thinking, Is this worth burning a white-authored book on? Meanwhile I have A LOT of books by non-white authors on my list that I'm excited to read.
Vasilly said…
I love this idea. I've been thinking more about international and translated work lately. It sounds like you're off to a good start. :-)
Ti Reed said…
My book club met to choose our books for the year and there are some books on the list that I would never have reached for on my own. Sometimes it's good to get out of the comfort zone but I really don't like to.
Kim Ukura said…
This is a really fun way to approach the issue of reading more diversely. It sounds like it will make picking books more fun for you! I think hype is an important part of the big picture of reading more international authors and authors of color, at least for me -- I tend to read books that I hear about from other readers, but if we're all hearing about books from the same sources that are overwhelmingly white, it's hard to break out of the circle.


I have The Legend of Pradeep Matthew -- I'm excited to read that one.
bermudaonion(Kathy) said…
That's quite a challenge! I'm not sure I'd be able to stick to it. I wish you the best of luck!
Helen Murdoch said…
Great goal for reading diversely! If it gets overwhelming, you could alternate: one US; one non-US. I do enjoy reading books from overseas. I have a few on my blog from 2013 and 2012. It makes me think that I should have a "non-US" tag
iliana said…
Wow, what a project! I love to read books set in different countries but I probably wouldn't be able to stick with this. I used to belong to a book group (for 14 years) where all we read was foreign fiction. It was wonderful. I moved cities otherwise I'd still be with them. I hope you will read A Fine Balance but be prepared. It is wonderful book but I found myself emotionally drained afterwards. Good luck with your challenge and keep us posted!
bellezza said…
I've heard such wonderful things about A Fine Balance, from the most trusted readers, and I even own a copy myself. Not that I've read it yet. For me, The Kite Runner didn't work. It just pissed me off, to be honest, at the cruelty subjected to others. But, I know many people loved it, along with Thousand Splendid Suns. I just can't read anything more by Hosseini even if that means I'm sticking my head in the sand.
Athira / Aths said…
Thank you for that suggestion! I have heard of Ghosh's books and need to give that one a try.
Athira / Aths said…
I wish my library had more non-white authors on their shelves. They have some popular fiction but that's about it. Still, something is better than nothing. And before I whine about my library's choices, let me try to read more diversely.
Athira / Aths said…
Thank you! I love how much more fun it is to choose a read now that I know I have to pick a book from a different country each time.
Athira / Aths said…
I am not much for going outside my comfort zone either, but I generally enjoy reading international authors. I just don't seem to go to them by default and I would love to be able to change that.
Athira / Aths said…
I will have to be more careful about each book I read to make sure I haven't read in that county yet. I didn't realize that Bailey's Prize is the newest name. Wasn't it Women's Prize last year?
Athira / Aths said…
That's how I read mostly too. I tend to go towards a book that has been hyped quite a bit but not too much. It will be a challenge not giving in to that this year.
Athira / Aths said…
I have both those books here and have to read them sometime!
Athira / Aths said…
You have me hooked now! I am going to pick that right away.
Athira / Aths said…
I'm pretty sure I will come across a book that I have to absolutely read right now. I'm going to have to find a way to deal with that.
Athira / Aths said…
I am quite excited about this project! Maybe it's the January syndrome. When April comes, we'll see how much more I'm excited. Still, if I can do a few months of this, I'll be elated.
Athira / Aths said…
I think I know what you mean. I would be mad too, but I would love to be mad about it after knowing what the book is about, lol. I guess I'll have to give it a try but I have heard a lot of people saying that the book impacted them hugely.
bellezza said…
Once you find out, I promise you you'll never forget it. It's a vision that's (unfortunately) stuck in my head forever.
nomadreader said…
Yes--that was the sponsor-less transition year. I think it's now technically the Bailey's Prize for Women's Fiction, but that is looooong. I hope this name sticks for many years to come!
Aarti said…
I've not read A Fine Balance yet, but I am currently listening to Mistry's Family Matters on audiobook and it is beautifully written. I can only assume that A Fine Balance is in the same vein.

That is a truly impressive goal you have set for yourself - even if you don't meet it but you are able to get halfway there, that is still a wonderfully diverse year of reading!
Booksnyc said…
Rohinton Mistry is excellent - I enjoyed A Fine Balance and Family Matters very much. I also really enjoyed the Kite Runner - it stayed with me for a long time.