Every now and then I start to feel guilty about what I read - or rather, about what I don't read. (I make no apology for wanting to find out what happens to Dalziel in the final Bastion Club novel. Many graduate students say they read nothing for pleasure at all and claim to long for the day they graduate and can pick up fiction again. Yet I know how much television many of these students watch. I'm not arguing against TV; my point is simply that we all manage to make time for our own brain candy, and mine happens to be fiction that does not have the imprimatur of literature instead of TV. I feel no more guilt over this than do my friends who watch Lost or Double Shot at Love. But I digress.) To assuage this guilt I periodically resolve to read more of a certain type of book or another - more African-American authors or more classics, perhaps.
My latest guilt-wave was set off by seeing this article that laments how little translated fiction Americans read. The author of this article managed to stay on my good side by devoting more space to citing statistics than to implying that America was a race of barbarians, and I resolved to do my part to fortify American reading.
Thus, this month I am going to try to read the top 10 translated novels of 2008. Step one was finding them. I started my quest at the Nashville Public Library, which had two of the books (the Bolaños), although one had a long request queue. Two more were on order. I then looked for the remaining eight at Vandy - which had one, but it was at the bindery. No wonder Americans don't read this stuff - we can't FIND it!
We'll see if I succeed in this endeavor. It works out to a book every three days, and I don't know if that's sustainable, not when I have other things to read as well. (You know, that pesky dissertation, that kind of thing.)