The OF Blog: The 5x3 reading/reviewing challenge

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The 5x3 reading/reviewing challenge

I discussed this a few weeks earlier on a forum, but for some reason I neglected to post this here.  For 2011, I have set myself an arduous reading challenge.  No, I'm not going to try to read more than 562 books this year (my all-time high, reached back in 2009).  Nor am I going to try to read X amount of 2011 releases.  Instead, my reading goal may sound a bit more modest, until one stops to think just what this actually entails.

I am going to embark on what I call a 5x3 reading/reviewing contest.  For this year, I am going to read and review (if at all possible, read for the first time) at least one work in the three original genres of Prose, Poetry, and Drama, in five different languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin; German may be a supplemental, as my reading comprehension in that language is lower than the other five).  For the most part, I have the materials at hand and likely will do more than one in some of these languages.  For example, I have already completed the English poetry component of this challenge by giving my thoughts on the Easton Press edition of The Poems of John Keats, whose work I had never read in full until this year.  I may read an earlier or contemporary play (one that I have yet to read), but I've finished the prose work part (at least the reading segment) when I read several works, including Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, which I'll review in the near future.

The biggest challenge I'm facing this month is reading Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary in French for the first time (I've read it in translation, but I haven't re-read it since I was 22 or 23).  I hope to finish it in the next week or two (reading only 1-3 chapters a day, without aid of the translation, although I'll likely read the translation after I finish it in the original to make sure I grasped everything), with a review before the end of the month.  As for French poetry, it might be Baudelaire while for the play it'd be something by either Racine or Moliére.

The Italian component will consist of reading Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato for the poem, Pirandello's Liolà for the play and something by Calvino for the prose work.  Too many choices in Spanish for the prose, Rubén Darío for the poem, and perhaps one of Calderón de la Barca's plays for that final part.  In Latin, either Catullus or Vergil for the Poem, Suetonius for the prose, and Plautus for the play.  And at some point, I'm going to read more of Schiller's plays, in both German and English translation.

Ambitious?  Of course.  Pretentious?  Only if it's having pretensions of challenging myself, as otherwise the person making such an accusation could in turn be considered a dullard.  Educational?  Probably.  Fun?  Almost certainly.  Definitely beats waxing eloquent over a polished turd being marketed as a "hot" 2011 release, no?


Tea and Tomes said...

It's like my brain stopped functioning at the thought of you reading over 500 books in a year. How did you find the time?!

BatGirl said...

So it's not like I have any right to tell you what to read but I'd really like to recommend Jean Anouilh for the French drama. I've only ever read his work translated (I am stubbornly monolingual) but I really enjoyed it.

Just wanted to throw that out there.

Also 526 books in one year, dude. That is serious reading.

Larry said...

I read at around 200-300 pages/hour and the majority of the books I read are under 400 pages, so reading 2-3 hours a day on average netted me that many books in 2009.

Don't know when I'll get around to ordering more new books (most of my purchases are oriented toward acquiring Easton Press editions these days), but I'll keep Anouilh in mind for later. Thanks for the tip.

Tom said...

You might want to mention that the Madame Bovary challenge arose from my own 2011 reading challenge!

I was thinking about classical works but I decided that I might make an all classical challenge for next year. However, this year is all about living languages.

By the way, it looks like you misspelled Molière as Moliére.

Larry said...

Yeah, I noticed that typo, but was too lazy at the time to change it :P As for the the Flaubert, I will be reading it due to you reading it, yes, but I will fulfill the French novel part by reading/reviewing C.F. Ramuz's Jean-Luc persécuté first, as I have only 100 pages left in it. Beautiful read so far.

But for those others reading it, I will admit that Tom's own reading challenge is what led me to modify it a bit to make it a true language/genre challenge.

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