Recommend me some essay collections

Posted November 10, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo and in the past I have harvested the desire to write a novel but my brain doesn’t work like that. I don’t have the ability to write anything to pad out an idea; like scenery or dialogue. As much as I want to be a writer, I don’t think I can write fiction. I think non-fiction or blogging is better suited for by writing style, but I’m a little out of practice, I am trying to get back into the habit of writing more blog posts. I want to improve and to do that I need to write more. I’m still reading Not to Read by Alejandro Zambra (translated by Megan McDowell), I read an essay and sit with it for a while, in awe of his writing style and it makes me doubt my abilities. This is a person that I wish I could write like.

I should read more essay collections and just absorb their style and learn from them. I recently picked up Lucy Ellmann’s essay collection Things Are Against Us and really enjoyed it. I loved her novel Ducks, Newburyport, the way she expresses her anger frustration with the world and her life really drove that book and she delivers that same feeling in Things Are Against Us. Ellmann has this amazing ability to blend anger and humour, she expresses her frustrations in such a way that keeps you reading and wanting to know more. These essays give off “angry feminist” vibes and for good reason. She is angry and frustrated with the patriarchy and she wants to express that.

Things Are Against Us is not the reason for this post. What I’m asking for is essay collection recommendations. I love the collections that I’ve mentioned, and I want to read more, I want to learn from their style. For example, I love In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, I think it’s one of the best books I have read in a long time, and I love the way she uses different styles with her essays. I want to learn by reading more essay collections and I want people to recommend their favourites. It doesn’t have to be bookish, there are many great writers out in the world, and I’d like to learn a little from them. If I look at the essay collections I have read, the majority of them are bookish, like Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman, Through the Window by Julian Barnes, The Complete Pollysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornsby and The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. The only collection that I haven’t mentioned is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which was such a hard-hitting book, but one I still think about.

I know I can read books like The Best Australian Essays, and I probably should read more of them. I am looking more of a collection by a single writer, to allow me to get to know their style and learn more about them. I find that these collections often follow a theme and that really helps me stay invested in the book. I know this is probably not an interesting blog post, but I hope you will recommend me something.

Non-Fiction November Week 2: Book Pairings

Posted November 8, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I am going to continue doing the prompts for Non-Fiction November, as one of my exercises in getting back into blogging. This week’s prompt is hosted by Doing Dewey and it is Book Pairings. I am not sure how well I will go with this but I will attempt to pair a few non-fiction books with some other media.

Things Are Against Us by Lucy Ellmann

I will start off easy here, but if you loved Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann you should really check out this essay collection. As it is the same author you get the same anger and frustration in both. Ellmann is not happy with the way women are treated in the patriarchy and she will let you know, however she has this dry sense of humour that really works well in her writing. I enjoy her style and need to read some her older novels.

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Remember the English TV show Black Books? Don’t watch it now if you’ve never seen it because turns out the creator is a TERF, however this memoir is a good alternative. Shaun Bythell owns a secondhand bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland called The Bookshop and he has a bit of a snarky personality. This is a collection of humorous stories about book selling, the eclectic people that visit the store and the constant battle with Amazon. Bythell has written two more similar books but I am yet to read them.

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich (translated by Keith Gessen)

I have not seen the HBO miniseries Chernobyl but it is on my list. I am confident enough to recommend the pairing because this book by Svetlana Alexievich is credited as part of the research material used to write the show. In particular, the book was used to help capture the how the Pripyat locals reacted to this disaster.

At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell

If you’ve read and enjoyed any novels by an existentialist then this is worth reading. Novels like The Stranger by Albert Camus, Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre or The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir. This book looks at the lives of these philosophers and the philosophies they created. This is a fascinating read, and a great way to see how their lives, the way and other philosophical ideas, such as Phenomenology, help shaped their ways of thinking.

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

Finishing this list off with another easy one, but if you’ve been listening to the podcast Backlisted then I’m sure you already know about this book. The podcast is hosted by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller and they talk about older, forgotten books. I have to wonder if Miller’s book was a key factor in creating this podcast, particularly when The Guardian described his book as “a heroic and amusing attempt to get back to the classics”.

I know I need to read more non-fiction, there is so much to read but I really struggled to come up with decent pairings. I really wanted to recommend In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado but could not find anything similar and that is part of the beauty of that book.

Non-Fiction November Week 1: My Year in Non-Fiction

Posted November 2, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 6 Comments

I saw this over at Reading In Bed, and I thought I would join in; it’s this week’s #NonFicNov prompts which is being hosted by Rennie at What’s Nonfiction. I have been really in the mood for some non-fiction and thought it would be a good excuse to join in this event, and hopefully help motivate me to blog more. The prompt revolves around my year in non-fiction, which I admit has not been too great. My whole reading year has been a struggle, and I have read less than I normally would. Which means, I have not picked up much non-fiction, but what I have read, I’ve really enjoyed. So, I thought I would quickly highlight the non-fiction books I have read.

Sex and Lies by Leïla Slimani (translated by Sophie Lewis)

Leïla Slimani is a Franco-Moroccan author and journalist who while on a book tour decided to interview woman about their experiences with sex. When talking about sex, we often only get a western perspective (or this could be a cultural bias), so it was interesting to read some thoughts from Moroccan women. The books offered insights into the thoughts and expectations of these Arab women, while Slimani collected these stories, she also added some relevant statistics.

The Women’s Doc by Caroline De Costa

If it wasn’t for book club, I might have never read this book. Caroline De Costa is a controversial name here in Australia as a reproductive rights activist, mainly for her vocal support towards Mifepristone (RU486) which at the time was not available here. This book is a memoir of her working life, five decades as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in Ireland, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.

Ex Libris, 100+ Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani

I love books about books, but there is something about the subtitle of this one that really bugged me. In the 100+ books Kakutani mentioned, there was a large amount dedicated to American history and political. I find this to be a problem with Americans in general; not everyone lives in America! There is a world outside of America, and while some knowledge of your country can be useful, not everyone wants to read and reread these books.

Things Are Against Us by Lucy Ellmann

I loved Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks Newburyport, so I was excited to see this essay collection from her and she did not disappoint. This is a collection of 14 essays in which she unleashes her anger and frustration at the world. Ellmann has a great way of blending humour and anger together, and this collection covers topics on feminism, media, politics, labour, and the environment.

The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen (Translated by Tiina Nunnally & Michael Favala Goldman)

This is a collection of three short memoirs, Childhood, Youth and Dependency, covering a large part of Ditlevsen’s life. Stay tuned because there will be an episode of the Lost in Translations podcast on this book.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

This might be my favourite book of the year; it was such an amazing read. This is a memoir of an abusive relationship, but Machado has done an amazing job in the way she wrote this book. Each chapter is written in a different style, using a series of narrative tropes to tell the story. What I really loved about this book is the way it is told in the second person as a way of letting the reader know they aren’t the only person suffering from abuse.

I am not planning on spending the entire month reading non-fiction but I have a few books lined up that I would really like to read, starting with Who Gets to Be Smart by Bri Lee. I am terrible at planning so I cannot reveal anything more, except the fact that Who Gets to Be Smart did mention No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani (translated by Omid Tofighian) which is sitting on my shelves waiting for me, so I might pick that up as well. As for my other project The Invisible Cities, we are focusing on Sierra Leone and Paraguay in November. December is a catch up month (so no new countries) and we will be back next year, starting with Algeria and Singapore.

Hope you have a great reading month, don’t forget to read some non-fiction. November is also Novelllas in November (#NovNov) if you need an excuse to read some shorter books.


My #WITMonth did not go to well

Posted September 1, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 5 Comments

What I love about Women in Translation Month is that, for a short time, my social media is full of world literature. We have  a short period of time when people consider reading more diversely with books from all over the world. I honestly  love how many recommendations I find and seeing people enjoying books I have read. Is this the feeling lovers of popular literature have all the time? It seems like every year the amount of people involved is larger than the last, and I hope that slowly we see more and more considering world literature when diversifying their reading.

Having said that, I am disappointed in how much I participated in #WITMonth, I only managed to read two books. I feel like I am not reading enough but I did finish four books this month and I probably should be happy with that. Granted I am jealous of those people that manage to read 200 books a year. Nine years ago, I was close to achieving that, reading 170 books, but it has been over five years since I have managed anything over a hundred.

First book I read in August was Hell of a Book by Jason Mott, which was the pick for my book club. I was not sure what to expect from this one, but I did enjoy the experience. The novel had a style unlike anything else I have read. The way it blended a story of an unnamed author and his experiences, while comparing it to the experience of a young wide-eyed boy known only as The Kid or Soot. The novel had this weird magical realism vibe, it reminded me of a Charlie Kaufman film (or novel). It was a unique way to explore the issue of racism in America.

My first book for WITMonth was The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez (translated by Megan McDowell), which was one of my most anticipated releases for 2021. Her first collection of short stories to be translated into English, Things We Lost in the Fire, remains one of my favourite collections. This was originally written earlier but because of the success of Things We Lost in the Fire, Megan McDowell translated this collection. I enjoy the writing style of Enriquez and while this was not as good, I like seeing the progression of her writing style. Her first novel (which she published in Spanish last year) should be released next year, which I believe is called Our Share of the Night, so that is something to look forward to.

I did have to take a detour from WITMonth to read At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop (translated by Anna Moschovakis) because it was due back at the library. This won the 2021 International Booker Prize and what a great piece of literature. I did not get a chance to read the entire International Booker longlist this year but from what I have read, this would be my favourite. It tells the story of two Senegalese men who have been sent off to The Great War to fight for France. This is the first time they are left their village and experiencing the outside world. Their experiences of the world are not what they expected, not only having to deal with war, but also the psychological damage, the inhumanity of humans, racism & even problems with colonialism. It is a tragic novel but one that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Finally, my last book for the month was also translated by Megan McDowell, it was Nervous System by Lina Meruane. This Chilean book had so much to offer, and I think reading it during a pandemic was the right time. It tells the story of illness, displacement, and struggling to hold ourselves together. The novel was packed with clinical information on the body and illnesses and while it was interesting to learn the plot felt too absent. I wanted to enjoy this book, I just struggled, and it was missing something to tie everything together. Without the success of Lina Meruane’s other book Seeing Red, I cannot imagine this would have been translated into English, but that is just my opinion.

For the Invisible Cities Project, I should have read something from South Korea or Nigeria, which I failed to do, I have read plenty of books from South Korea, and I am sure I own something from Nigeria too. September is focusing on Chile and Palestine, two countries I have covered already, but I could read some more, or maybe even start something from Guinea or Sweden for October. I do have to announce that in November the two counties we want to focus on are Sierra Leone and Paraguay. I feel like I am falling behind on trying to read a book from every country but thankful the Storygraph challenge helps me track my progress. This has been a great project and I really enjoy the discussions.

Reading Diversely, #WITMonth and Other Ramblings

Posted August 1, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

“Diversifying your reading” has always been a much talked about topic in the bookish community. From blogging to BookTube to BookTok, this has constantly been a popular topic, and for good reason. It is very easy to fall into a trap when it comes to our reading. I have talked about this before but when I first started getting into reading, I relied heavily on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list to help explore “good” literature. The problem with that was it is very heavily male dominated, and I also quickly discovered I was reading far too much American literature. So, when I see people talking about diversifying their reading and they keep referring to American literature (an African American author, an Asian American author, etc) I can see where this is coming from, but I also feel like this is a problem that I am still trying to break out of. I am not American, but I can see just how much American literature dominates the literary world. While I see people are trying to diversify their reading it can get a little frustrating to know that they are not paying too much attention to reading from other countries as another avenue to be more diverse. However, I’m not here to be judgmental of other people’s reading journeys, I’m here to talk about my own reading and the journey that I took.

For a long time, I thought people should be reading whatever they want to read, and I still believe this, but we need to be more aware if we are trying to be diverse. It was not till I started tracking my reading via a spreadsheet I discovered my own bias. I think it is important to be aware of our biases and work towards more reading equality. This is a journey that everyone needs to discover for themselves, and I constantly feel the need to revisit my own journey. I think I am doing well on reading the world, it is just nice to self-reflect from time to time and this has been on my mind for a while. I am probably rehashing some old thoughts that I have blogged about in the past, but I want to talk about what’s on my mind, and I think it’s useful to understand just how much this does affect my reading journey.

With WITMonth coming up, I thought it was a good time to remind myself of my own biases in my past reading and check my current journey. Because WITMonth has been a big part of my own journey in diversify my reading. I started to read translations when I discovered, through my reading spreadsheet, that 95% of the books I was reading were from American authors, but it was WITMonth that helped me continue that journey as I started exploring women in translation. For those who don’t know, WITMonth is dedicated to exploring more women in translation during the month of August. For me, I try to dedicate the whole month to only reading women in translation, but that is not always the case, so it’s not mandatory, just a major focus. I am excited to see what everyone is reading but I am not going to talk about all the books I hope to read, I know that I am a mood reader, and I cannot schedule my reading. I do wish I was less of a mood reader; it would be so much easier if I could stick to a reading plan. Past experiences have taught me not to push myself in ways where I know it would not work. I have many books on my shelves that I do hope to read and there is always the library, so I will just see where my reading takes me.

I may have to rant about this in a future post but being a mood reader really does not help me when it comes to all the projects I want to be involved with, book club or the Invisible Cities Project. I do try to make Invisible Cities my focus, even if I am not keeping up to date with the project, I am loving the community on Discord. It is just such a joy to see what people are reading and I love following people on their reading journey. Thankfully the Invisible Cities have made some changes, which means our focus will now be on two countries a month instead of three. So, in August we are doing South Korea and Nigeria, September is Chile and Palestine, followed by Guinea and Sweden for October.

I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone is going to be reading in the Invisible Cities Project as well as for Women in Translation Month. There are just so many amazing books to read, I try prioritising my own books, so I think I will be making a few trips to the library. I am excited to watch more people explore the literature I love to read. These both are great projects and a good way to push yourself towards exploring different writers from different countries. I hope it will encourage more people to read translated literature and continue their journey in diversification.

If you are looking for some recommendations for Women in Translation Month, here are some suggestions

Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss

Posted July 21, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Dead Man Switch by Tara MossTitle: Dead Man Switch (Goodreads)
Author: Tara Moss
Series: Billie Walker Mystery #1
Published: HarperCollins, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

After 19 books, mainly from her Mak Vanderwall crime series and a YA paranormal series, Tara Moss is trying her hand at hard-boiled fiction. Dead Man Switch is the first book in the new Billie Walker series set in Sydney in the late 1940s. I knew I had to try this book out for two main reasons, one I love hard-boiled literature and was interested in checking out a novel set in Australia and secondly, I wanted to see how Moss would handle the female detective approach.

Without going into details about the plot, it’s a missing persons case that leads to Billie Walker uncovering a much bigger secret; I think reviewing this novel needs to focus away from the storyline. Moss really shines in the research and exploring the sexism Billie faces in her work. Dead Man Switch never refers to Billie Walker as a detective, it does make references to her as a private investigator and this stood out to me because Australian laws does not permit the use of the term detective outside the police department. Little facts like this really reminded me of the importance of research and they helped keep the novel hard-boiled without Americanising the plot.

Obviously, gender would play a big role in this book, and Tara Moss seemed to play with this in a fun way; Billie’s assistant Sam was happy to help a woman with any task necessary for the case but then others criticised her for taking a man’s job. Billie took over the business when her father had died, which is the reasoning behind her profession but now that the war was over, people thought she should leave this kind of work to men that needed work. This was a great way to explore the sexism and gender divide of the era and helped enhance Billie as a strong, take no nonsense character.

I had fun reading this book, and I am interested to see where Tara Moss takes the Billie Walker series. I am very particular in my crime novel picks and I wish this was a little darker and grittier, but I have to respect that Moss has plans for this character. There are not enough strong women detectives in crime novels, particularly in hard-boiled novels, so in a genre normally dominated by boring white men, this is a great change. I have no idea when book two will be released but I will be sure to read it. It is hard to review a crime novel, because the plot and characters play such a significant part of the reading experience, but I hope I have convinced someone to give Dead Man Switch a chance. For all the American readers of this review, this book is called The War Widow on your continent, which gives you a little insight on Billie Walker’s social situation.

2021 Mid Year Check-In

Posted July 1, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

We have reached the middle of the year, well technically July 2nd is the middle, but we will avoid being too technical. I will try not to complain about the lack of reading I have done so far in 2021, or the fact that I have not written in this blog in so long. While these facts are weighing heavily on my mind, I am trying to be a little more positive. All in all, 2021 has been a good year for me, while I would like to have an income again, I have been blessed with a relatively stress-free year, full of love and support. I do want to go through my reading highlights of the year as a form of a half-yearly check in.

Firstly, there is the Invisible Cities project, which has been so much fun. I have really enjoyed seeing people read books from the different countries, and while I have not been keeping up with my goals for this project, it is a joy to be involved. There is still time to join (check out the Discord), in July we are focusing on Israel, Ethiopia and Panama. August will be South Korea and Nigeria, we decided to reduce the number of countries because people wanted to read from every country, and we did not want anyone to feel like this is a struggle when they try to keep up. I might as well announce that in September the countries we are forcing on are Chile and Palestine. If you are interested in reading books from around the world, you are more that welcome to join us, there is no requirements to read from these counties. They are a structured way to explore the world.

I have only read 27 books so far this year, for me that is a low figure and I feel like I was in a reading slump for most of the year. I tried to combat the slump but reading some crime novels, as they serve as palate cleansers for me. Crime novels often get me out of a slump but have not been that effective this time around. Thankfully I do feel like I am out of this slump, and I can get back to my normally reading schedule. Let’s look at some of the highs and lows of the past six months.

I started off the year reading Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss which was a fun little Australian crime novel set in 1940s Sydney, but then I read Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette). This book was amazing and devastating, it still haunts me, but worth it. I finally read Themystery.doc by Matthew McIntosh, a book I’ve been wanting to read but the 1669 page count was intimating, however it was very readable and because it’s a blend of emails, chat logs, photographs and more, I flew through the book. A low point in my reading was because of a book club book, called Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. This book was not my style, there was a point in the novel, where the narrator described everything, they picked up at a supermarket, and that type of writing feels tedious to me. I also did not enjoy Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, it was described as a feminist mythology retelling, but it was pretty much the same story, just from a woman’s perspective. I did not see any difference in the story at all, and I prefer a retelling to offer something different, instead of the same story told by a different major character.

The true reading highlight so far this year is discovering Carmen Maria Machado. At the recommendation of Stephanie from That’s What She Read and Books in the Freezer, I picked up In The Dream House and fell in love with that book, so much so, that I had to read Her Body and Other Parties soon after. While I loved the short story collection, her memoir just hit differently and quickly became a new favourite. I loved the way she wrote about her of experiences but the fact that she wrote it in second person really felt like she was including others who have suffered from domestic abuse into the story.

Having a look at my reading stats, I am surprised just how different my reading has been so far this year. The fact that 50% of the reading has been digitally (ebooks and audiobooks) was surprising, and almost 70% of the books came from the library, even though I have so much to read on my shelves. I am still focusing on world literature, but only 60% were books translated, which feels low to me, but I think due to the fact that I’ve read so little and trying to read my book club books, it does make sense. Hope everyone has a better reading experience and would love to hear what books have been the highlights so far in 2021.

The 2021 International Booker Longlist

Posted March 30, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Prizes / 0 Comments

  • Wretchedness by Andrzej Tichý (translated by Nichola Smalley)
  • An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky (translated by Jackie Smith)
  • At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop (translated by Anna Moschovakis)
  • I Live in the Slums by Can Xue (translated by Karen Gernant Chen Zeping)
  • In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova (translated by Sasha Dugdale)
  • Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette)
  • Summer Brother by Jaap Robben (translated by David Doherty)
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez (translated by Megan McDowell)
  • The Employees by Olga Ravn (translated by Martin Aitken)
  • The Pear Field byNana Ekvtimishvili (translated by Elizabeth Heighway_
  • The Perfect Nine by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (translated by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o)
  • The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard (translated by Mark Polizzotti)
  • When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut (translated by Adrian Nathan West)

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Posted January 13, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 2 Comments

Earthlings by Sayaka MurataTitle: Earthlings (Goodreads)
Author: Sayaka Murata
Translator: Ginny Tapley Takemori
Published: Granta, 2020
Pages: 247
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindleWordery (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

What I really loved about Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is the way she writes about social norms. She looks at social situations and asks the question, “What do we consider normal, and why it is so important?” Keiko was happy with her situation as a convenience store attendant, but the world and even her family wanted to push her to want more from her career and life. Murata seems to take this idea one step further in Earthlings.

The novel follows Natsuki, who even from a very young age felt like she did not belong here on earth. Both Natsuki and her cousin Yuu considered themselves to be aliens from another planet left on earth. Even when she got older, Natsuki had this viewpoint, and considered earth to be just a baby making factory. To keep her family off her back she married and hoped to just have a quiet life with her husband. However, her family kept demanding she have children and the pressure continuously grew to unhealthy levels.

Earthlings is a weird book; it explores the social pressures of reproducing but it does take a disturbing turn. I like the way Sayaka Murata looks at social issues and pushes the boundaries to show just how damaging they can be but I am also not a fan of the way this book ended. I do not think it is worth discussing the ending and if you have read the book, you know what I mean. I feel that the focus should be on how alienating social norms can be, and the way it made Natsuki feel. I have been married for eleven years and I know how frustrating it is when people ask me and my wife why we do not have children. This question is none of their business and tend to lead to awkward moments if you do decide to share the reasons. This novel plays with the social expectations of reproduction by constantly referring to the world as a baby making factory, like life has no value except creating children.

Sayaka Murata loves to push the boundaries with her characters and I am not going to try and diagnose these people in her books. I have seen far too many people claim Keiko was autistic in Convenience Store Woman, but does that really matter? You could probably label both Natsuki and her husband as asexuals in Earthlings, but it feels weird to label a fictional character. I am not a psychologist, so I do not want to diagnose Keiko with autistic and while I understand it is useful to show representation or to use psychoanalysis to analyse a book, I often find myself questioning the motives. If the author has not mentioned it, are we just projecting ideas onto a character? Granted this can be useful for understanding but it can also mean we are pushing these characters into a label and not letting them show us the problems with the world around us.

The writing of Sayaka Murata might not be for everyone, but I am looking forward to seeing what Ginny Tapley Takemori translates next. I want to read more books like this, where the author challenges social ideas and does it in interesting ways. This is a dark but very entertaining novel, and I am glad that Murata has done so well for herself in the English speaking world.

2021 Reading and Creative Goals

Posted January 11, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 6 Comments

I am passionate about world literature, and I find myself wanting to share my passion in every way possible. I have this blog, I have a podcast, and sometimes I make YouTube videos and TIkToks. The problem seems to be that I want to share my passion everywhere, including social media, but I wonder if I am giving everything enough attention. I know my blogging has suffered and I think that should be my primary focus, I want to improve as a writer or an essayist. Although, the Lost in Translations podcast is covering a niche that I don’t think is getting enough attention. Having said this, I think my biggest hindrance is my own self-doubt. I am not going to improve in anyway until I give up that feeling of inadequacy and just make content, so 2021 is the year for that.

Like most book nerds, most of my goals for the year are book related, like reading bigger books more often, or re-reading some of my favourite works of literature. However, I do have the Invisible Cities project to focus more on world literature, not that I needed the help in reading translated literature. My main goals for 2021, is to make money doing something I love, and create more content. If I can work out a way to combine those two goals, that would be perfect, and I am about to release perks on the podcast patreon page to help with that, including essays, personal book recommendations, and much more. I do think I need to work at perfecting my craft and I believe if I can take away some of my own negativity, I will be able to write more, and make other content.

I attempt so many mediums because I do not see enough people sharing the joys of world literature, and it often feels like the cries for more diversity in literature often focuses on American literary scene. I love that people are putting more focus on reading diversely, and I want to help promote books that don’t get talked about. I have found my reading passion and it is world literature, but rarely see it being talked about until after I start making content. There are so many great book bloggers that review literature from all around the world, but it feels like it wasn’t till I started that I found them. It’s like the internet waits to show you all the people that are doing a better job at making content than you. The BookTube community is growing and there are many great content creators, but I feel like world literature is still a small niche in that community, so I should make the effort to promote it, even if I have never gotten comfortable in that medium. As for TikTok, I’m very new to this short video format, and the book community feels very focused on young adult literature, so my brain is telling me to make content to help it grow, but also, I just hope to find more lovers of world literature.

Basically, I am saying that I want to make more content and promote my love of world literature but also, I want should make the essay writing side of it my primary focus. I still need to write book reviews because I find that having written thoughts on a book has been very useful for my own memory. One day, I hope to develop a similar style as Alejandro Zambra, and be able to write essays that function as a book review as well, but that will take a lot of practice. I find my essays to be a great way to dump all my thoughts onto a page and process my own feelings, but I hope they are enjoyable to read as well. I will probably focus on personal essays revolving around literature to begin with, but I would love to branch out and try different topics as well, maybe film would be a safe starting place.