The top 7 books
I plan to read in March 2023
As you know, I’m less and less requesting new books, andd focusing instead on my various TBRs.
So I’m thrilled to announce that this month, I’ll be starting a project I had in mind for a while:
– besides reading at least one book from my physical shelf,
– I also picked a random title from my long Goodreads TBR (1,153 titles as I’m writing this), and I picked this way:
In 2022, I started filling a jar with titles: each time I would see mention, on another blog, of a book that had been on my TBR for a while, I added that title to my jar. So I currently have a lot of papers in my jar, and I finally started digging to read at least one of these books.
– Also, I have decided to pick a random title (with random generator number) from the books I added to my TBR last month.
Each month, I want to keep reading a book in Italian or Spanish – in alternation.
The Japanese Literature Challenge is officially over, but I will keep reading Japanese titles throughout the year.
And on top of that, there are always surprise titles, that my French students want to read with me.
So here is a sample of what I am planning on reading this month:
📚 CURRENTLY READING 📚
📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Nonfiction / Book on Books
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
Reading in Italian.
Besides the brilliant first essay on Why Read the Classics?, the other 35 essays each focusses on a different classic.
So far, I have been reading the part focused on Antiquity: Homer, Xenophon, Ovid, and Plinius the Elder.
📚 Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence,
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Nonfiction / Biography / Music / Eastern Orthodoxy
Published in 2015
I am now more in the meaty part. And discovering how some of his works are so structured on the text, I had no idea! Fascinating!
“Listeners often speak of a certain mystery in the way that Arvo Pärt evokes spirituality through his music, but no one has taken a sustained, close look at how he achieves this. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence examines the powerful interplay between Pärt’s music and the composer’s own deep roots in the Orthodox Christian faith—a relationship that has born much creative fruit and won the hearts of countless listeners across the globe.”
📚 L’Arabe du futur :
Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1978–1984
(L’Arabe du futur, #1)
by Riad Sattouf
French nonfiction – Graphic novel
Memoir – History
Published in 2014
Available in English as
The Arab of the Future:
A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984
Reading with French student F.
My French student F. enjoys exploring different genre, so she chose this nonfiction graphic “novel”.
It’s a nice way of reviewing a major page in world history!
I like how the artist plays the different background colors.
There are 6 volumes in the series, covering the author’s life from 1978 to 2011.
Just in the first quarter of the book, but we start seeing interesting cultural differences.
“The Arab of the Future, the #1 French best-seller, tells the unforgettable story of Riad Sattouf’s childhood, spent in the shadows of 3 dictators—Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, and his father.
In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria–but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.
Riad, delicate and wide-eyed, follows in the trail of his mismatched parents; his mother, a bookish French student, is as modest as his father is flamboyant. Venturing first to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State and then joining the family tribe in Homs, Syria, they hold fast to the vision of the paradise that always lies just around the corner. And hold they do, though food is scarce, children kill dogs for sport, and with locks banned, the Sattoufs come home one day to discover another family occupying their apartment. The ultimate outsider, Riad, with his flowing blond hair, is called the ultimate insult… Jewish. And in no time at all, his father has come up with yet another grand plan, moving from building a new people to building his own great palace.
Brimming with life and dark humor, The Arab of the Future reveals the truth and texture of one eccentric family in an absurd Middle East, and also introduces a master cartoonist in a work destined to stand alongside Maus and Persepolis.”
I am acually also reading two other books on Orthodox spirituality.
I will talk about them when I am done.
📚 READING NEXT 📚
📚 The Fifth Rule of Ten
(Tenzing Norbu Mysteres #5)
by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
This is the result of my jar pick!
I have really enjoyed the first 4 books in this series, and realized I had never read the last volume. So glad I picked this one!
The detective is an ex-Buddhist monk, so it’s not your usual thriller pace, and there are intyeresting reflection on life.
“Be mindful, both making and keeping commitments, that they be springboards to liberation, instead of suffering.
That’s the Fifth Rule of Ten
Private investigator and ex-Buddhist monk Tenzing Norbu is wrestling with commitments on all fronts. He and his fiancée, Julie, can’t seem to commit to an actual wedding date. Ten’s dropped the ball on a pledge to find his assistant Kim’s missing brother, Bobby. Even his dreams hint at broken vows. And now his best friends, Lama Yeshe and Lama Lobsang, are about to land in Los Angeles with a Tibetan entourage for an unexpected 10-day fund-raising tour, sponsored by the local Buddhist Temple Ten abandoned 12 years earlier. Obligations are piling on, and for the first time in his life Tenzing Norbu is finding it hard to breathe.
Then an anonymous cell phone voice taunts Ten as he waits for his best friends at LAX, a mysterious missive lands in Tenzing’s mailbox, and the bloody evidence of foul play on a Griffith Park trail points directly to him. Tenzing knows that something dark is afoot, and the ensuing series of ominous events and disconcerting clues pull Ten into a dark mirror-world of Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He joins forces with Yeshe, Lobsang, his ex-partner, Bill, and his hack-tivist buddy, Mike, to track down the Patient Zero of this epidemic of criminal chaos. In The Fifth Rule of Ten, our hero is forced into a life-and-death battle with a powerful shadow presence whose roots reach way back in time. Tenzing must commit to fully embracing his own past, or lose everything he now holds dear.”
📚 Éclipses japonaises,
by Éric Faye
This is the random book from the titles I added to my TBR last month.
And I added it to my TBR because the title attracted my attention (just say the word “Japanese” and I wake up!).
Plus I read Nagasaki by the same author a few years ago, and gave it “5 Eiffel Towers”!
Éclipses japonaises hasn’t been pubished yet in French, so here is a translation of the official synopsis:
In 1966, an American G. I. mysteriously disappeared during a patrol in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. He is considered “missing”.
At the end of the 1970s, on the coasts of the Sea of Japan, men and women, of all ages and from all walks of life, vanished. Among them, a schoolgirl who came home alone from school, an archaeologist who was about to post her thesis, and a future nurse who wanted to buy an ice cream.
“Hidden by the gods”, as they say in Japanese.These victims left no trace, not a clue, thus puzzling the investigators. One by one, the cases got closed, the families left to incomprehension, and the disappeared poeple forgotten.
In 1987, Korean Air Flight 858 exploded in midair. One of the terrorists, who got off the plane during a stopover, was arrested. She spoke in perfect Japanese. However, the police eventually identified a spy who came straight from North Korea.
Twenty-five years later, the Japanese “hidden by the gods” reappeared like ghosts, in the lands of Kim Jong-un.
Then, it is the turn of the G. I. to reappear in a North Korean propaganda TV movie, where the CIA saw him playing the role of a hated American.
Are all these cases related?
🎧 CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS 🎧
🎧 I Am a Cat,
by Natsume Soseki
Japanese literary fiction
was first published in 1905
Translated by Graeme Wilson and Aiko Ito
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club
I have a couple more hours of this one.
🎧 The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,
by Laurence Sterne
Literary fiction / Humor
It counts for The Classics Club
Some years ago, I listened to My Great Books, an excellent lecture given by Salman Rushdie at Emory University, where he shares about the great books in his life.
If you love classics, I highly encourage you to watch this video.
The first classic he mentioned was The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, published in 1767, yes, you read this right, by the Anglo-Irish author Laurence Sterne (1713-1768).
What Rushdie said about it was so inspiring that I added it to my TBR.
I bumped into it several times recently (it is mentioned in Rouvrir le roman, and in I Am A Cat – my current audiobook), so the time has fially come for me to dive in!
My library has a good audiobook version of it available through Hoopla, so I’m planning on partially listening to it. But I will also probably read some passages, or at least check a print book, to read important relevant notes.
“Endlessly digressive, boundlessly imaginative and unmatched in its absurd and timeless wit.
Laurence Sterne’s great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it, with a rich metafictional narrative that might classify it as the first ‘postmodern’ novel. Part novel, part digression, its gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate ‘hero’ Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters, including Dr Slop, Corporal Trim and the parson Yorick. A joyful celebration of the endless possibilities of the art of fiction, Tristram Shandy is also a wry demonstration of its limitations.”
Have you read it? Your thoughts? Any recommended edition for the notes?
HAVE YOU READ OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
DO YOU HAVE A SECIAL WAY OF TACKLING YOUR TBRs?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR MARCH?