The Year So Far…

It’s not long until I have my latest bloggerversary (five long years…), but that joyous occasion is usually ignored, coming as it does at the turn of the year.  I thought then that it might be nice to slow down and reflect now, at a time when I’m feeling less rushed than I have been of late.  And, of course, having recently passed a milestone also makes this a good time for a round-up…

Last week I brought up the century, 100 books down for the year, just half-way through October.  That’s not too shabby and is comparable to the pace set over the last couple of years.  The big change though has been in the percentage of translated fiction read and reviewed on the blog.  You see, of those 100 books, only eight were originally written in English…

It’s not a statistic that should really come as a surprise (to me or my readers).  The last two years have seen an increased, wider focus on literature in translation on Tony’s Reading List, starting with my participation in the IFFP Shadow Panel last year.  Where previously I had only really read a lot of German- and Japanese-language novels, 2012 and 2013 have seen a much more varied diet of literature in translation.

Recently, however, I’ve decided that it’s just a bit too much (8%?  I could start a new backlash blog…).  In fact, at times, it seems that I’ve actively been avoiding Anglophone writers and picking up anything with an exotic feel.  Next year, I’m pretty sure I’ll be picking up a few more English-language books – it’s definitely time to catch up with some neglected writers

Another change this year was in the number of review copies falling into my letter box.  In previous years, I’ve had the odd whinge about not getting freebies, but while I’m still ignored a bit (especially by bigger publishers), I’ve received many more review copies this year.  In particular, some of the newer, smaller publishers of translated literature have approached me to review books – obviously my fame has spread 😉  Still, at around 50% of my total this year, review copies have taken up far too much of my reading time.  It’s time to cut down on ARCs and try more of what I really want to read, regardless of when it was published.

So, what do I want?  Well, don’t expect major changes…  As mentioned, I’m hoping to try more English-language writers (Tóibín, Banville, Hollinghurst), and I suspect that the library will be getting more of a workout next year.  Here in Melbourne, we have an excellent library service, and I really should use it more (it came in very useful both during the IFFP reading and my period of Spanish-language literature education earlier this year).

An area that has really suffered over the past few years is rereading, and I’m constantly telling myself to rectify this – why have a big personal library of books if you’re not going to reread them?  I’ve recently reread several books, and I’m really enjoying rediscovering the works on my shelves.  Also, if they’ve already appeared on the blog, it means I don’t have to write another review 😉

As for the blog itself, I doubt there’ll be too many changes.  Next year, once again, I’ll be trying to restrict myself to two posts a week to protect my health and my sanity, and I’m sure I’ll be taking part in the usual challenges (Shadow IFFP, Japanese Literature Challenge, German Literature Month).  Will I be holding my own challenge, January in Japan, again?  Quite possibly – we’ll have to see…

This New Year’s Eve then, the blog will be five years old, and that seems like a very long time.  I  have to admit that I’ve often thought of giving it all up this year, especially with five being such a nice round number.  In all probability though I’ll carry on – it’s become a big part of my life, and it’s nice to be part of a like-minded online community who have a passion for something I enjoy.  There’s a fair chance that I’ll be reviewing translated literature for many years to come 🙂

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18 thoughts on “The Year So Far…

  1. congratulations on your close to 5 years. Enjoying a lot your reviews on translated fiction.
    In my own reading year so far, out of the 79 books I have read, 14 were works in another language or translated. That's only 17.7%, but a good balance for me. Living in the US, I wish I could buy ebooks from France, but it's not possible. Too bad

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  2. Happy bloggervers- wait. This is confusing. Best wishes and champagne, regardless.

    Your focus is admirable. I know that it does not feel that focused – just look at the wonderful diversity of the books.

    I am at 57% in translation that year, half of that of course German, mostly Austrian. Last year, 56%; the year before 54%. Oddly consistent.

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  3. I love the fact that you're doing your 5 year reflection a few months early… so I'll say a “Happy 5th Blogversary!” for opening on New Year's Eve. You have really sparked my interest in translated fiction over the years I've been following your posts Tony… I read many of them, just don't comment as often as I should. This year my translated fiction ratio will be the highest ever, but nowhere near your levels…

    I look forward to reading your reviews well into the future, irrespective of what language the title was originally published in. 😉

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  4. I'm the opposite, I read more and more in English but that's my “exotic”. 🙂
    I can't already wish you a Happy . . . It's too early. I'm looki ng forward to se what English authors you'll discover next year.

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  5. Tom – Just another vain attempt at attention seeking…

    I knew I was focused, I just never realised how focused. Of course, it is a very wide focus for a focus. I'll stop saying focus now.

    Those are very impressive figures too. Mine went from about 40% down to about 35%, before increasing to over 50%, then around 80% last year. Which probably shows that I'm a little more fickle than you 😉

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  6. Jo – I'm like those kids who were born on Christmas Day and secretly resent it 😉

    I'm glad you like my forays into translation – long may they continue! (just not quite as frequently as this year).

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  7. Interesting post Tony … I hit 5 years next year too — but in May. Time goes fast doesn't it.

    I enjoyed your reflections on your goals. You've done a great job with translated literature but I must say I'm rather pleased to see you thinking about a bit of a re-jig. Any Aussie authors you are thinking off trying?

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  8. Did you really, really thought about quitting? My blog will be 5 years old this end of November. I think most of us started about the same time.
    Your blog sparks my interest on Japanese literature and translated fictions. Even if you choose to read more “English” novels, I think you will still churn out insightful reviews.

    I, on the other hand, has to wind down soon. Due to changes in circumstances, I can read when I can, and review when I can. Semi-retiring from blogging may be the word but you keep on blogging now. The community needs you!

    Happy, Happy blogoversary and here's to many more years.

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  9. Jo – Thanks for the kind words 🙂 I think all bloggers have the idea of chucking it all in somewhere at the back of their mind, but I have seriously thought about it over the past six months or so – there are other things I'd like to do which would be easier if I didn't have the blog to care for…

    For now though, I'm sticking with it 😉

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  10. I love also books on paper, but I can't afford to have books shipped to me from France!! very few stores with books in French in Chicago either, believe it or not. did 5 bookstores this week-end. found a few older titles at Powell's.

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  11. Emma – I've bought several French-language paperbacks from The Book Depository (or Abe Books) really cheaply. I'm not sure what you're after, but you can usual find it online these days. I've bought *a lot* of German-language books online for around $10 each…

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