Into 2014: reading the world in twos and threes

Over the years, I’ve found myself becoming interested in more and more different types of fiction – which I’m pleased about, because I can appreciate more; but it does make it more difficult to balance everything. This hasn’t bothered me too much up to now; but I’ve promised that I will read more works in translation, and I want to make that a decisive change in my reading. But there are other aspects of my reading habits that I want to maintain; to make sure it all happens, I’m going to impose a structure on my reading for the first time.

The first part of my plan is that at least two out of every three novels, novellas and story collections that I read in 2014 will either be in translation, or be Anglophone writing from outside an ‘Anglo-American’ default (that phrasing is deliberately woolly, so that I can have some flexibility of interpretation if I want).

The second part of my plan for 2014 is to alternate between male and female authors. My reason for doing this is that most UK-published books in translation are written by men (I’m sure I read somewhere that the gender split is 80/20), and I don’t want my reading to fall into the same pattern.

(Incidentally, I am not going to include non-fiction or anthologies in this structure; where I read those, it’ll be as a separate ‘track’ in my reading. Doing this may unbalance the whole, but shouldn’t do so by too much.)

So that’s how I’m going to read in 2014 (I’ll have a Reading Log page on here to keep track of it all). I think it should enable me to keep the balance I want while shifting my reading in a new direction. I’m looking forward to it, and to sharing what I discover on here.


  1. It’s funny how english readers tend to stay away from translations whereas the rest of the world read them unflinchingly. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I claim that something will be lost in the translation, but more often then not I am pleasantly surprised when i read a translation.

  2. David Hebblethwaite

    5th January 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Tanya. One of the biggest mysteries to me (if you’ll pardon the pun) is why crime readers seem to embrace translations in a way that other readers don’t. I guess nobody really knows the answer to that!

    Personally, I’ve always been open to reading translations; but, as can be the way, I’ve also never really paid attention to how often I actually did read them. So this year is partly an attempt to find out what it’s like to put translations at the centre of my reading, rather than treating them as an optional extra.

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