Michelle Bailat-Jones

Writer, Translator, Reader

Forget the fact that I am behind on almost all of my reading projects for 2010, I’m ready to start mapping things out for 2011. I never came right out and stated my projects for 2010, probably because I worried I wouldn’t be able to fulfill them, but I was hoping to move forward on two biggish projects: my 10-year reading plan and the Central and South American Reading Project. It’s July and I’ve been moving very slowly.

However, there are still five months left in 2010, so let’s hope I get back on track.

But on to 2011, because planning for a project is half of the fun. Starting in January, I’d like to get back to doing a start to finish contemporary author read. This is one of my favorite types of projects, but I’ve been having a hard time deciding who to do next. I’m favoring Iris Murdoch (over twenty novels to her name, so not sure I could finish in a year) but Coetzee and Julian Barnes (who I have never read) are also on the list. And secretly, secretly, I want to bury myself in Balzac to the exclusion of everything else. But I know I won’t do that. I’ll read more Balzac next year but not in any order and without any expectation of a ‘start to finish’.

9 Responses to “projects projects”

  1. Stefanie

    I’ve been in the mood for a project too and have been thinking about one for next year but it all still remains vague. I think any of the three authors you mentioned would be great. Coetzee has quite a few books though, doesn’t he? Will you include nonfiction in the project or only fiction?

  2. Colleen

    Hilary Mantel and David Mitchell are super-excellent contemporary authors. 🙂

  3. Steph

    I read my first Iris Murdoch earlier this year and I really enjoyed it. I think you’d get a lot from her, although, as you say, 20 novels is a lot.

    What about Jose Saramago? He’s wonderful and his books are so diverse! Or Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

  4. Charlotte

    Barnes would be such a fun project — and maybe it’d even make sense to do a Barnes/ Flaubert grouping?
    I’m working on my own lists right now, following our discussion the other day… One of the lists is “need” (for a school project: gothic lit, early 19th), one is just for me (Caribbeans). Recommendations would be much appreciated, since I see you’ve read your fair share of Caribbean authors!

  5. verbivore

    Stefanie – I’ll probably focus just on fiction, since that’s my true love. But the idea to do a non-fiction project one of these days is tempting…

    Colleen – I have not read Mantel, where should I start? I’m a confirmed fan of Mitchell. He’s excellent. And I can’t wait to read his newest.

    Steph – I really liked the two Murdoch I tried earlier this year. And i wouldn’t have thought of Saramango, so I’ll add that to the possibilities. Thanks!

    Charlotte – Early 19th century lit sounds great. I’m having a 19th century kind of week this week and trying Maria Edgeworth, someone I’ve never read before. Liking it very much so far. Can’t wait to see what you’re reading. My favorite Caribbean author is Marie Vieux Chauvet, she’s fantastic. And not as well known as she should be. Otherwise, have you read Alléluia pour une Femme Jardin, by René Depestre. Short stories. Excellent short stories. If I think of anything else, i’ll pop over to your blog….very jealous of both your projects.

  6. Deborah

    Too much deliciousness in all these suggestions. I was thinking of an Updike retrospective for 2011, or maybe Martin Amis. I have only read one Julian Barnes, but it seemed a little too much like lad lit to get me very excited. I am ready to start Murdoch’s A Severed Head. What a fabulous and gruesome title.

  7. Mel u

    If you want a giant project-The books of Ford Madox Ford-80 or so!-I am reading his last book-March of Literature now-my biggest projects on going are Henry James fiction, Edition Wharton and recently the fiction of Virginia Woolf-I have two shorter projects-the short stories of Katherine Mansfield and short stories of Australian Bush writers such as Barbara Baynton and Henry Larson-as another permanent project I am reading Japanese novels-

  8. zhiv

    Good thought. I’d vote for Coetzee, of course, but you know that. It would just make an amazing companion to your Gordimer read. But Murdoch is a good tossup, and the comparison would be strong there too.

    Maybe I’d suggest going back and forth a couple of times with Coetzee and Balzac with what’s left of this year, and then doing Murdoch. If you read a couple more Coetzee books you’ll be in great shape, and can get a couple more later and then the rest. It’s a pretty manageable body of work, although there are probably 4 or 5 I haven’t read so I can’t really say. Murdoch is probably more worthy of a yearlong project.

    Would love to see a post or response on your Balzac status. Again, wouldn’t a couple of books go a long way?

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