Reading anyone? a New Year’s resolution


Bookshelves, 1999, Hans-Peter Feldmann
Source: Le Devoir

I am not very big on New Year’s resolutions generally speaking, but recently, I started rethinking my reading patterns and scope and decided that I could benefit from reading other than English (mostly British) based fiction and short stories and somehow using a calendar time frame  helps containing and identifying a “goal” so to speak.

In the exception of some Arabic, French and Russian masterpieces, my reading has been mostly in English about English, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I am missing out on in terms of cultural, intellectual, theoretical, philosophical and literary wealth. Reading this article certainly helped hiking my interest and while my plan at the moment is not to read a book from each country, I will be using the list from A Year of Reading to get some recommendations.

My plan

The most I’ve read in one year so far is 26 books which is  2.16 books per month and they were mostly fiction in English. So without compromising my ability to fully enjoy and absorb a book for the sake of meeting a target, I want to move beyond that and read:

  • 3 books per month
  • more in Arabic and French (perhaps German and Spanish too).
  • fiction, non-fiction, philosophy and theory
  • no more than 2 books per author
  • and write about them, in the hopes of actually following this plan closely.

Of course, my most rigid rule persists, I would never read a book that was originally written in Arabic or French in English, unless I had already read it in its original language first ( I hope my German and Spanish will eventually be that good one day, but currently the rule need not apply).

What to read

I will be starting with Alice Munro’s Runaway

The list (so far):

  • The Original of Laura by Vladimir  Nabokov.
  • Les Justes by Albert Camus
  • The Denial of Death by Samuel Becker
  • Time and Being by Martin Heidegger
  • Al Ayyam (the days) by Taha Hussein
  • To Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Bouvoir 
  • Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell
  • The Indispensable Chomsky by Noam Chomsky
  • La Part de l’autre by Eric-Emanuel Scmhitt
  • La nausée by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • La Transcendance de l’ego by Jean Paul Sartre
  • Le parfum, by Patrick Süskind
  • Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai

I hope to expand this list to include more non-fiction and more geographic/cultural diversity, and I will be updating this blog as I go. Needless to say recommendations are not only welcome but also encouraged.

Happy New Year!


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