Reading Challenge: Books in Translation.

I punched the sun to where it belongs: behind the clouds.

Today’s weather took a turn for the beautiful: 56°F. Clouds did their usual (which is to say they smothered the sky in fantastic grey), and I believe the faintest splatter of rain graced my skin. I’m ecstatic and thankful: a hiatus from dry air! As to be expected, the chilly interlude will end as warmer days heat up and resume skin-melting terror. Once again, I am reminded of that time of year: summer.

It’s not that I despise the sun per se, but I can’t deny my love of grey skies and rain clouds. I love the smell of crisp, fresh air when temperatures are in the single digits, I love snow, wind storms, lightening, thunder, and crazy-mad rain. I love yuck-weather all-around, so a pregnant rain cloud is the very first sign of delight.

But the sun? No. I do not like the sun. It sends scorching heat waves that threaten to melt skin off my body. It causes the air to boil with *temperatures so hot that I lie motionless on the floor for hours—days, even—dehydrated. It reminds me that my body is not something I want to see in shorts and t-shirts because I chose to eat and hibernate like a bear. No freezer blast of cool air can save me.

(*75°F is excruciating.)

In consolation, summer holds several prospects that send just a pinch of surging excitement. For starters, my prick of a neighbor moves out July 20th. I don’t like him, and he doesn’t like me. All I have to say is good riddance — I hope he’s moving off the planet and shrivels inside the stomach of a black hole.

In other news: three class-free months and an ocean of reading time!  (How many hours does an ocean of reading time translate into? My guess: a lot.) While stacking a bunch of books to fill my future free-time, I sought reading challenges over the weekend. The idea is that I’ll start one or two challenges after classes end, and so I came, conquered Google, and made discoveries. Alas, the saying is true: so many books, so little time! I wanted to take on this challenge, that challenge, and those, and these, and oh my.

Click picture to read Allie’s post!

To deny these challenges felt more frustrating than the day I sat as a distraught kindergartener. I was nearing a hot mess of tears and my hair was in danger of being yanked out by my own hands, because: god dammit, which letters of the alphabet construct my last name? It was a distressful afternoon as I watched my peers exit one-by-one to have a merry blast on the playground. Well, at least they could spell their names.

I remained indoors to wallow in disappointment, imagining letters H and A coming together and maniacally laughing.

But enough of that — fast forward back into the present moment. I fought off the temptation to take on ALL READING CHALLENGES, but I did agree to one: the Books in Translation challenge, hosted by The Introverted Reader.

The challenge–need I even say it?–is to read translated works, of course! You can sign up any time during the year and set a goal at one of the following levels:

  • Beginner (1-3 books)
  • Conversationalist (4-6 books)
  • Bilingual (7-9 books)
  • Linguist (10-12 books)

For once I’m playing it safe and aiming for the beginner’s level. (Because reading is risky business. After all, a paper cut awaits at every turn.) Books I have planned are Battle RoyalThe Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and Siddhartha. I would normally welcome more, you know, but with fifty-four books already marked as summer reads — not to mention several of which have quite the page count — three is a good starting point, I think. If all goes well, I may step up the conversationalist level and tack on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or 1Q84.

Look at me read! I can even spell my last name.


11 thoughts on “Reading Challenge: Books in Translation.

  1. My mother says it was 100° yesterday. Good thing I didn’t stay out too long. I might have melted into the flowerpots.

    Not much poetry reading planned for the summer? I like the translation challenge. Sometimes I wonder if I should accelerate my plans of learning foreign languages by buying native books and forcing my way through them with a dictionary.

    • 100° is a death sentence. We often reach between 80° and 100° in summer, but I will never get used to it.

      Not much poetry, but you can bet I’ll pick up collections here and there. I definitely want to read more from Anna Kamienska, though. Typical: the library doesn’t have her work — shame on them. I’ll have to order from Amazon or B&N. (Oh, and Quiet by Susan Cain should be on my summer list. ♥ I hope the writing isn’t dry.)

      A book in Arabic could take you a long, long while.

      • What I really want to read is her notebooks, but I don’t see any published translations besides those in Poetry.

        True that. I think I’ll start with Latin alphabet languages.

        Audio sample of Quiet: “A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed.” I hope not.

      • Disgrace. Someone should translate the rest of her writing.

        I wish Latin had been an option in high school. Mandarin was offered, but it was treated more as an extracurricular activity in which ten people attended (or so I heard).

      • Working from English to Mandarin, could you come to basic competency in a high school course? I’ve heard it’s really difficult. (Not that I’m insulting the American school system. No, wait, I am.)

        Learning the Romance languages, I’m sure, would be easier if one knew Latin. Have you thought about taking a History of the English Language class? I’m hoping one of the schools I attend offers it. Someone on Tumblr was talking about theirs and I’d never read most of the terms they were using, so I decided I must follow in their academic footsteps.

      • One could, I imagine, if the instructor taught well. I recall struggling to formulate questions and comments in Spanish before approaching my teacher. I’d plan “I have to leave early because [reason]…”

        Once I felt confident enough I’d walk up, open my mouth, but she would say (in English), “You have to go? Okay!”

        I have not, but I’d like to. I think the most interesting English course my school offers is World Lit — very enjoyable class, but I demand more options.

  2. Welcome to the challenge! I feel honored to have made the cut!

    I am not a fan of gray, stormy days. They have their place and I like them for a change of pace, but my favorite days have clear blue skies and perfect 80 degree temperatures. Aaaahhh, I could lie in my hammock with a stack of books and plenty of munchies and stay there for days or weeks if I had days like that and no responsibilities to pull me out of my laziness. To each his or her own, I guess!

    • Thanks! I just started one of the books for this challenge today, too!

      Hope you’re enjoying summer weather, then! I love curling up on the couch in a warm blanket and reading while rain wrecks havoc outside. It seems easier to relax when it’s ‘yucky’ — heat tires me out, but I do like to sit in the grass and feel the sun.

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