Reading in July: Going Short, Orange July and an Arabic Literature challenge

Thus far, my reading in 2011 has been less than stellar. Way less.  I’ve found it hard to concentrate on reading, with all the ups and downs (and stress) in my life.  It’s been much easier tackling my collection of Sudoku puzzles. For those of you who are Sudoku geeks :), I highly recommend the Mensa Absolutely Nasty Sudoku series. I’m currently working my way through Level 2.

Last week, after attempting and then giving up on a couple of long novels, I decided to go short.  That is short novels, novellas, novelettes etc.  For some reason that I can’t explain, I find the term “novelette”  unappealing.  Anyway, the experiment seems to be working after successfully completing two novellas.  I went through my shelves and selected 25 works of short fiction, all under 250 pages.  The stack is a mix of classic, contemporary, African and translated fiction and,  includes the following:

  • The Waves  by Virginia Woolf
  • The Yellow Arrow by Victor Pelevin
  • As the Crow Flies by Veronique Tadjo
  • Old Rosa by Reinaldo Arenas
  • We Never Make Mistakes by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Louisiana by Erna Brodber
  • The Yellow Sofa by Eça de Queirós
  • The Chase by Alejo Carpentier
  • A Distant View of a Minaret by Alifa Rifaat
  • In the Here and There by Valeria Narbikova

I’ll probably sneak in a reread of a novella or two by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I’m also taking part in The Magic Lasso’s Orange July, who stiplutates that “the only requirement is to read at least one book that has won or been nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction.  I especially want to read Marilynne Robinson’s Home, if my concentration holds.

Finally, M. Lynx Qualey of Arabic Literature (in English) is “challenging” his readers to read at least one book from the Arab Writers Union’s Top 105 books of the 20th Century.  Quite a list, although a number of the books are yet to be translated in English.  The challenge ends on August 25, 2011.  I will read Hanan al-Shayykh’s The Story of Zahra, which is about the exploits of a young woman struggling to survive war in Beirut.

Well, that’s what I’ll be reading this July.

What are you reading?



  1. I also dislike the word “novelette”. The diminutive ending makes it sound inferior somehow, like a kitchenette in a poky studio flat. I like sudoku, though, although I haven’t played for ages so the Mensa one might be beyond me for now 🙂

    Anyway I have often gone to novellas when I find it hard to fit in enough time for reading. Right now I am reading “The Flanders Road” by Claude Simon, and a few I have lined up are “One Break, a Thousand Blows!” by Maxi Kim and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. That Arabic Literature challenge sounds interesting, though, so I might have to change my plans to accommodate that!


  2. I was going to read english fiction but after one and a bit remembered why I love transaltion so reading thomas bernhard ,may look at arablit if I ve any from list will read other wise just read what takes my fancy ,all the best stu


  3. Oh Kinna … my reading has slowed down a lot lately too – holidays, some work necessitating travel (despite being retired) and the recent retirement of my husband have played havoc with my reading. I like the idea of going short at these times too and in fact have just read a short story BUT I am also reading our latest Miles Franklin winner, Kim Scott’s That Deadman dance which is engaging me enormously.

    BTW I do like the sound of the Orange July challenge – that’s almost something I could consider!


  4. I loved Home. Hope you enjoy it.

    This is my second visit here, and I am enjoying reading your posts, particularly the reviews of African novels. (Having identified a gaping hole in my reading.) But now it appears that I have deficiencies erupting all over. I’ve read even less Arabic literature than I have African…


  5. Sudoku it’s great,I’m a big addict.
    I’m also having trouble reading big books and I also decided to read smaller ones.
    Though I’ve never read The Yellow Sofa by Eça de Queirós I really enjoy his work, especially his short stories, my favourite it’s called (at least in Portugal) “The Lyrical Poet”.
    Good Luck for the challenges.


  6. I love sudoku, though haven’t played in some time! Great list of novellas, I also have As the Crow Flies on my list 🙂 Sadly I have only one book from the 105 listed and I’ve read it (but not yet reviewed it, oops!). Lots of interesting looking titles though so I’ll have to check it out, thanks for the list!


  7. I do admire your planning your reading! I kind of look at what is on my shelves – physical and virtual – and have a rolling pile (of the books) on the table where I usually read. Enjoy!


  8. If you realise these you would have achieved a lot. The first half of this year was successful for me. I started off well in January and my reading slumped getting to the end of the first half. The second half is off to a cold start… I know why though.


  9. I *loved* A Distant View of a Minaret! And The Waves! The rest are new to me, although I’ve read a few of the authors. 🙂 I’m participating in Orange July as well: it’s beginning to take over my reading, lol. And my library has The Story of Zahra, so I’ll be looking for your review!


    • Thanks for stopping by. I’ve already read Fugitive Pieces and would really like to read Home and perhaps Half of a Yellow Sun. Thanks for organizing Orange July.


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