Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Salon: Summer's Trickling Away

I can't believe it's already the middle of August. July seemed like a very long month to me, but August is just flying by. Soon it will be time to put away the shorts and take out the sweatshirts and jeans; soon I'll be wearing socks again. But not quite yet.

My reading so far this month has been a little bit all over the place- and I'm loving it. I've gotten totally sucked into the Art of the Novella challenge hosted by Frances at Nonsuch Book; I started off with just one, and I've quickly upped my goal to six novellas. I read Stempenyu: A Jewish Romance, by Sholem Aleichem, my third, and I have three more on deck. Today I'm reading The Illusion of Return, by Samir el-Youssef, about a Palestinian refugee. If I had $300 and nothing better to do with it, I'd just order the whole set already. They're so collectable and covetable, and what I love best about the series is that it's like a survey course in world literature in miniature. You can sample so many different writers from different eras and cultures, although the series is weighted to European and American literature. Anyway I'm really enjoying this challenge as you can probably tell.

Meanwhile I've fallen behind on the Complete Booker challenge; my goal for the year was the Booker Dozen- one winner per month- but I've stalled on V.S. Naipaul and need to catch up. Maybe I should switch to another book and come back to him another time. Generally when I have a DNF it ends up being a NF (Never Finished) but rules are meant to be broken, right?

As far as the Europa Challenge, I'm still on track there, though I have been a little distracted by the Art of the Novella. I'm reading- and really enjoying- The Companion, by Lorcan Roche, about an Irish man working in New York as a caretaker for a disabled man. I think I'm stalled on this because I like it so much I don't want it to end!

Finally, I'll make time today to read a chapter of Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms, by Carmela Ciuraru. If you're in the Boston area, mark your calendars for Thursday, August 25 at 7:00 p.m.: I'll be at Porter Square Books with Carmela, doing a Q&A with her about her book. I can't wait! This book is fascinating; it's all about writers from different times and places who chose to use pseudonyms and why, a phenomenon that persists today.

That's it for me! What are you reading today? Any other plans? Have a great Sunday!
More Sunday Salon here.