Monday, 14 July 2014

reading and holidaying


Pictures of a perfect June weekend in Vienna, packed with sun, football, Edmund de Waal's perfect installation in the Theseus temple, and so many loved ones.

Since my return to London I have been reading like I used to read as a teenager, reading to distract myself: The Paris Review (interviews with Alan Hollinghurst and Jeffrey Eugenides; short stories by Clarice Lispector; poetry); Eleanor Catton (The Rehearsal and The Luminaries); Asko Sahlberg's The Brothers ; Lukas Bärfuss' Koala; The Iliad; The Rime of the Modern Mariner by Nick Hayes.
I have started to read differently. Of the books listed above, Catton was the first New Zealand author (other than Katherine Mansfield, whom I always think of as British) I'd read; Sahlberg possibly the first Finnish author; Bärfuss the first Swiss author in years and years (and what a fantastic book it is - here's hoping it'll be translated into English); and The Rime of the Modern Mariner is only my second graphic novel, and, like the first, was given to me as a gift.
All new to me because in my heart of hearts I'm always secretly looking for the next Middlemarch. There are few things that I like more than a truly absorbing 600-page Victorian novel - no surprise then that I loved, loved, loved The Luminaries! I've been stuck in my ways for a long, long time. I've absorbed much of the English-language canon; I've read more in English than I have in German. Ironically, my job has made me much more aware of how difficult it is for German-language authors to get translated into English; how closed off and conservative the book market can be; how much we're missing out on. I am now determined to change my own reading patterns, to improve my foreign language skills, to seek out literature in translation.
And to seek out literature in languages that I can actually read (sort of), but never really practice. On this note: I'm off to Paris and Copenhagen for my first non-Austrian, non-UK holiday in over a year. Send any tips and recommendations my way (book-related or café-related or something else entirely). I'm mostly looking forward to tall apartment buildings, cafés that specialise in porridge, and long walks.


  1. Have a nice trip! The craziest book shop in Paris is probably "Un regard moderne". It has books everywhere, you can hardly step inside.
    There is also a great art bookshop called Artazart.
    You can have very fine (and expensive) tea and cake at Mariage Frères, or try take-away cakes by or Pierre Hermé (really too bad you can't sit there though). And go to for fresh and tasty chinese food.
    I hadn't read much German literature until now, but this year I am definitely exploring this vein (Goethe, Rilke, Hesse, Mann, Zweig etc) - so many great books.

    1. Thank you Anne! Those are great tips, I look forward to trying all of them.
      I read a lot of German literature as a teenager, and still love the golden oldies (basically everything you've listed), but anything contemporary is beyond me. Shame!