5 Translated Works I Recently Read (#3)

Since I’m hoping to read more translated fiction in 2018, I thought I would gather up reviews in a single post throughout the year. Hopefully you can find some titles that interest you! 

The Robber Bridegroom by The Brothers Grimm (Translated by David Luke)

On a determined effort to read more of my Penguin Little Black Classics, I pulled a stack of potential reads for the month out of my box and the collection of Brothers Grimm stories caught my eye. This isn’t my first exposure to the Brothers Grimm – when I was in university I took a children’s literature course and we were to buy this gorgeous book of real fairytales, which tells the original stories as written by the Brothers Grimm and also goes into depth of adaptations throughout the years. I loved the morbidity of the Grimm fairytales, their extremely-different-from-Disney quality. I hadn’t read any Grimm in a long, long time, so I was worried the collection would be like my reading of Hans Christian Andersen stories, which I found to be terrible, but these ones were a lot of fun. One was a well-known story, the story of Snowwhite, and the others were new to me. It’s interesting reading stories by the Grimm Brothers – I felt like I was on tenterhooks, wondering when The Weird Thing would happen, and in most of the stories, I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t enjoy all of the stories (the last one about Lazy Henry just didn’t interest me at all), but the entire edition is a quick read and a great introduction to these old German fairytales.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (translated by Alice Menzies)

I added this book to my wishlist after seeing Ange (from Beyond the Pages on BookTube) recommend it and was lucky enough to find a used copy at the thrift store so I picked it up! I dug into it right away because I really love books about readers and bookstores and just had to get that fix. This story is really sweet and fun – it’s not totally about reading, but more about a small town who has a visitor come from Sweden who helps out the town more than they thought she would. I loved Sara’s character and the shenanigans the town got into. The secondary characters were all fleshed out so well and I loved how we got to know everyone in the town. Some of the characters were definitely caricatures and there was some cheesiness, but it was still a lot of fun. Warning, though: this book talks about books a lot and there are spoilers! I had a few books that I wanted to read named in the book and had to skim over what the characters said about that book so I wouldn’t be spoiled. Otherwise, this is a fun summer read!

The Old Man of the Moon by Shen Fu (translated by Leonard Pratt and Chiang Su-hui)

Another foray into my Little Black Classics collection, I thought I would grab something randomly since I tend to gravitate towards authors I have heard something about. This story is the author’s account of his wife and the love they shared. The brief synopsis on the back of my copy reads: “A moving nineteenth-century account – lost for many decades – of a Chinese official’s all-consuming love for his wife.” The story was essentially just that and was like a glimpse into a private journal, but I wouldn’t say it was my favourite translated read. The story is very simply told and focus is on certain events in the life of Shen and his wife Jun, but other things are glossed over (at one point, the children they had were mentioned and they were already in their teens). I enjoyed the story to an extent and certain parts were beautiful, but I do think that the overall message at the end was a little strange – perhaps it was more culturally relevant in China than it is here?

Kasyan From The Beautiful Lands by Ivan Turnegev (translated by –)

When I go for classics, I tend to go for the ones I’ve heard of, or the authors I’ve heard of, but this was one I just grabbed randomly from my pile one morning while my daughter was up early and I wanted to just get into something short. I read the back of the book, the short Penguin synopsis, and it was said that this was a “haunting” collection of stories, but I think I expected something more scary? This wasn’t scary at all, and I wouldn’t even say it was haunting. It did raise a few moral questions, especially in the title story where Kasyan walks with a hunter and preaches the sin of hunting when there is no need for it, i.e. just for the fun of it. Like I said, it’s quite preachy, though I did like the writing of the story. Turnegev gives wonderful descriptions of the land and its easy to picture rural Russia in your head while reading. I did enjoy the shorter first story of this collection more than the second story, but even with the lack of the stories being “haunting” I still really enjoyed Turnegev’s writing style. It was very simple and easy to read and I enjoyed his way of writing dialogue.

I Hate and I Love by Catullus (translated by Peter Whigham)

Ah, poetry. I actually picked this up because I was looking for something that I could read in the car and this one fit the bill. Despite my reservations about poetry, this collection was actually fun to read. I liked the style of writing, which was so different from the other poetry I had read. The Victorian poetry was full of lots of rhyming, exclamation points, and just didn’t have a lot of emotion for me (save for some of Bronte’s poetry), but this collection had some wonderful lines to it and wasn’t overdoing it on the punctuation. I read some of the poems aloud to my husband because I just thought the wording was hilarious – Catullus inserts himself in his poems in third person which was weird at times, and he had some crazy turns of phrase (I mean, were they come on lines in 84 B.C.?). The only issue I had – and I don’t even know if it’s really an issue – is that I was curious about the translation. I read a few reviews saying that the entire collection of Catullus’s poetry is also translated by Guy Lee and I’d definitely be interested in checking them out.

Have you read any translated fiction lately? What are some of your favourite translated works? Have you read any of these authors? 

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[Bookish Discussion] Tips for Blogging When You’re a Mom!

I got the idea for this post after chatting with Chrystal over on Twitter about finding time to work in blogging when you’re a busy mom. Obviously lots of people are busy and it can be hard to find time for lots of things, but I find that once you have busy little children in your life (2- and 4-year-olds are especially busy) the idea of time for yourself can become just that – an idea.

Sometimes getting time to do things for yourself, things you enjoy to do in your down time, comes easy. For me, my kids go to bed by 7:30 and during hockey season, that means I can get a few hours of reading in before bedtime. And usually I get some reading time during the kids’ quiet time – but other times they decide quiet time is just a suggestion and we don’t have any quiet at all.

Having limited time for myself means that I have to pick and choose what’s more important and for me that comes down to two things: blogging or reading. And typically, reading is more important. It’s the thing that relaxes me and the easiest thing to do when given a few quiet minutes.

Blogging is a bit trickier. Here’s how I manage to work in blogging time:

1. Have the WordPress app on my iPad. 

I love when people comment on my posts, but it can be a pain to find time to reply to comments. If I have the app on my iPad I can quickly read and reply to comments when I have a few minutes while the kids are having breakfast or lunch, or if we’re watching a show after supper. I’m really big on multitasking, so if the husband and I are watching a show, I’ll probably do easy blog things that don’t require a lot of concentration. Having the app on my iPad makes it easy because it’s so quick to just open the app and like comments and reply. Easy is good!

2. Schedule a time to read blog posts. 

Typically for me, this time is on a Sunday evening. The kids are tired after a long weekend, they might’ve played outside or gone swimming or for a long walk, and they’re just exhausted. So we usually let them watching Paw Patrol or Justin Time or something, and I’ll use a half hour of that time, or so, to go through my reader in WordPress (I’ll admit, it’s easier for me to just follow WordPress blogs through WordPress – I can’t comment on Blogspot blogs on my computer for some reason anyway, so this makes it a lot easier.). I can easily like posts, open the ones I want to comment on and comment as much as I can until the kids go to bed, then I might come down and finish commenting while I wait for the husband to finish up stories with the oldest. Sometimes I can work in more than one day a week to do this, but I find Sundays are just easier.

3. Draft posts, but don’t draft posts. 

As I’m doing blog update stuff, I might come up with an idea for a post. Usually I post 2-3 times a week, so I’ll know what days I want posts for and I’ll start drafting posts early and put in a scheduled day for those posts. BUT I don’t actually write a post. For example, if I know that I want to do a monthly wrap-up on the first blog post day of the month (like this month it was the 2nd on the Wednesday I posted it), I’ll start a new post, copy the last month’s wrap-up, delete most of the info in it, and schedule a date for it. I’ll then save it as a draft and update it as I have time. Or, if I have an idea for a post, like I want to do my favourite books from the previous month, I’ll open a new post, write the title, put in the date I want to write it for, then save it as a draft. That way the idea is there, I just have to find the time to write it when I can. But at least this way I know what posts I want to have in a month.

4. Have a journal. 

My husband might disagree, but I don’t always have an electronic device on me. This means that when I think about a post to write, I might wonder when I can post it – but I can’t physically open up WordPress to see what I have scheduled. I find that having a journal where I can quickly outline the days I want to post makes it easy to find days to have other posts. So I might have some posts scheduled for Mondays and Fridays, or the odd Wednesday, and I want to write a review for a book – I can easily pop open my journal and see what days are available and jot it down. That way I can draft a post the next time I’m on the computer. A journal is also great for when you’re not by your computer (or wherever you blog) and you have an idea for a post. It’s easy to jot down the idea, some additional information, then revisit when you have the time to sit down.

5. Write things down immediately and keep drafts updated. 

Sometimes I have an idea that I want to read a set of books, but I’m not reading them all in succession and need to keep my thoughts on those books straight. I could write down my thoughts in a journal, but for me, drafting a quick post and updating it shortly after having new ideas, or finishing a book, helps. For example, in March I read all of the books for Canada Reads. I knew I wanted to do a full post on reading these books, my thoughts on those books, and my final predictions for Canada Reads. Instead of reading all the books at once then struggling to remember my thoughts for the post, I started drafting the beginning of the post, then added book thoughts as I finished each book. As I write this now, I’m currently reading the Giller Prize shortlist from last year – I’ve read two books so far and have those thoughts drafted in a post already and will add more thoughts as I read the rest of the books. Same goes for monthly wrap-ups. Having a monthly wrap-up post drafted makes it easy to go in once a week and quickly update it, rather than waiting until month’s end.

Like anyone can tell you, there are no hard and fast rules for blogging, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Motherhood can be very busy and very unpredictable, so don’t stress yourself out! If you find you want to read more than you want to blog, then do that! Blogging time will come and it’s important to do the things that make you happy, rather than stress over things that aren’t so important. And if you still want to blog but don’t have a lot of time, maybe try and do just one post a week and see how that goes – try to work it in to your schedule the best way it works for you.

Do you have any tips you can share about finding blogging time, or working on a blog while a busy mom? Were these tips helpful to you?

[Challenge] What I Read for the #7in7Readathon!

I’m just a little bit late with this update since the read-a-thon ended on Sunday, BUT the 7 In 7 Read-A-Thon is over!

Here’s what the challenges were:

  1. (As always) read 7 things in 7 days – I ended up reading 10 things!
  2. Read something with yellow on it – I actually read 4 books, I think, with yellow on the cover.
  3. Read something outside your comfort zone – I didn’t do this one since I do read a bit of everything and don’t really consider anything to be outside of my comfort zone.
  4. Read something that takes place outside or you can read something while outside – I finished reading Find You In The Dark sitting outside the local library in the sunshine!
  5. Read something that starts with your first initial – I didn’t plan this, but read Kasyan From the Beautiful Lands!
  6. Read something and then make a meal/drink/something edible that matches the book OR read a book based off your favourite meal/drink – This felt too complicated to me. lol
  7. Read something that takes place somewhere that resembles your home – So, one of the murderers in one of my books was from Edmonton, which is where I live – that counts, right?

So getting to 5 of 7 of the challenges isn’t too bad! I’m definitely grasping for some of them, but so long as I had fun, right?

Here’s what I read!

The favourites of the bunch were definitely Dear Mrs. Bird (which I read in ONE day), The Kiss Quotient (which I also read in one day!), and The Beautifull Cassandra (Jane Austen is HILARIOUS). Find You In The Dark was good, but a little slow for me as far as thrillers go. I Have Lost My Way definitely made me tear up but it was almost too perfect, as a lot of YA books are. Mozart might write good music, but his letters to his father are just slightly entertaining, but also kind of boring. I read Basho’s book – I don’t get haikus. And I think that Catullus would be pleased to be #69 in the Penguin Little Black Classics (also, there are some weird come on lines in his book).

Did you take place in this read-a-thon? How did you do?