What I Did on My Holidays

I was on holiday last week. It started off as an enforced holiday – I’d handed in the first draft of my dissertation and was waiting for feedback from my supervisor – but then I got a bit of time off from the bookshop as well, and decided I may as well try and have a proper break. It has been very nice! I went to the seaside, started a new crochet project, and spent lots of time curled up with a book in a nice tea shop, or on my sofa at home.

I’ve been working on Project Expand My Reading Horizons, which now has two set aims:

1. Read more books set in the real world.
2. Read more fiction translated from languages other than Japanese.

I never feel as if I’ve read enough Japanese fiction (either in Japanese or in English), and there’s so much out there that I feel I should be reading – it ends up taking up all my reading time, and I make almost no effort to explore literature in other languages. Which is a bit silly, because one of the reasons I’m interested in translation is the sense I have of missing out on a lot of wonderful books written in languages I can’t read. So, I’m currently reading Antal Szerb’s Journey by Moonlight, recommended to me by Ginny Tapley Takemori. It’s a 1930s Hungarian novel translated by Len Rix and published by Pushkin Press. I’m enjoying it very much – it’s insightful, and absurd, and although I would prefer it not to be quite so much about one man and his midlife crisis, it does also allow his wife her own crisis which I’m finding much more interesting.

I have also discovered that there seems to be very little Korean literature published in the UK – all of the Korean books I’ve been recommended are published in the US only, which is irritating if you want to Support UK Bookshops but also want to read Korean literature (oh, oh, I’ve just realised – I can get some from the SOAS Library! Hurrah!). I’d like to read some more Nordic fiction too – I really enjoyed the presentations by the Norwegian and Finland Swedish workshops at BCLT, and they’ve inspired me to explore further. And I’ve got quite a few Russian recommendations on my list (thanks Ani!). It’s enough to make me wish I didn’t have to go back to work.

On the bright side, next week at the bookshop I’m taking over the SFF section and assuming temporary control of the Travel section – hurrah! My excellent colleague is leaving (boo), and he bequeathed his sections to me. His main advice so far? ‘Order lots of everything, keep a close eye on Dr Who and don’t let Italy get out of control’.

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