Sunday, 6 August 2017

06. Favourite Novel

For someone that is an avid reader and studied English Language and Literature, asking me to pinpoint a favourite novel is like asking to pick the favourite out of my two children. In other words - impossible. I read so voraciously that keeping a list of what I've read is a no mean feat, let alone choosing books I like more than others. Certainly, there are some that stand out, and these have changed in different stages of my life.
As a kid, an impressionable, nerdy, nose in a book at all times kind of girl, I reached literary heights by way of William Saroyan's 'Mommy, I Love You', or any book by Jules Verne for that matter. In teenage years, angst and existentialism struck, so it was to Hesse and Mann and Tolstoy that I turned to, engrossed in and impressed by both 'Demian' and 'Anna Karenina' in equal measure.
My university years saw tonnes of Shakespeare with sprinkles of all else that English-speaking authors produced of note in the XVII, XVIII, XIX and XX centuries. Reading was a serious task back then, all my literature exams were huge in terms of books to read and accompanying interpretations and critical reviews, so some of it is indeed a blur due to the sheer volume I was to conquer in order to pass an exam - the point of all high-level education, right?
After university, though, I was back to reading for pleasure. I fiddled with literary translation for a while and enjoyed it immensely, but that is no way to make a living in Serbia, so I've forgone the trade. That also meant forgoing reading any translated literature for quite a while because I would get so hung up on mistakes that the poor translator in question made that I could not continue with the book.
I most predominantly read authors writing in English. These include Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Paul Auster, Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Zadie Smith, Alan Hollinghurst, Hanif Kureishi. In addition, I enjoy Haruki Murakami greatly. I also have a soft spot for the Latin American writers such as the literary heavy-weights Marquez and Llosa, as well as the Portuguese Saramago.
There are a number of Serbian and regional writers that I love whose books have marked my childhood and youth mainly and who are so tightly woven into our identities here in the Balkans that there is no way you can skip them - Andric, Pekic, Selimovic, Copic, ...
Bottom line is - I'll read anything, any time, any where - just give me a book. I can plough through anything and I'll do it with dogged persistence and conviction. Books are to be felt, inhaled, chewed up, re-read, abandoned and then picked up again, savored, devoured, talked to, mad at, cried over, laughed about, shared with friends, kept selfishly for your eyes only - anything, as long as they are read and their spirit keeps going now having become integral part of their reader.
That is why I cannot pick out my favourite novel. No way!
I leave you with my current reading pile (on a stool by my bed posing as a nightstand, holding the inevitable moisturizers for assorted body parts - lips, feet, hands, you name it ;):
1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cane
2. Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami
3. Lying on The Couch, Irvin Yalom
4. The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

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