This summer’s reading is focused on quality, yet I find myself listening almost daily to book podcasts as an efficient, timely, and entertaining way to keep up with all things bookish while doing things that take my time away from reading. A few of my favorite podcasts include Just the Right Book hosted by Roxanne Coady of R.J. Julia Booksellers, What Should I Read Next hosted by Ann Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy, and The New York Times Book Review hosted by Pamela Paul and the Times editors. The hosts of each of these podcasts are engaging, funny, and devoted book lovers, and they are refreshingly blunt in their critiques.
I also follow reading challenges. The most ambitious by far is A Year of Reading the World by a young woman who, after experiencing the London 2012 Summer Olympics in her hometown, decided to read a book from every country in the world. The logistics of finding English translations of books from each of the 196 countries proved to be a major part of her challenge. Check out her website, www.ayearofreadingtheworld.com, to read about this amazing pursuit. I am humbled by her efforts, her fortitude, and her success.
I would also recommend Goodreads’ Around the World in 52 Books, involving 52 topics from which the reader can select a book of particular interest every week.
My favorite, the Back to the Classics Challenge 2017, is meant to encourage readers to opt for a classic book that they may have overlooked or never considered. This brings me full circle to my personal summer reading challenge—Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I was aware of the Broadway play and the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack from the motion picture, but I had never read this historical novel first published in 1862. This work of humility can certainly be called “quality” and can even be considered “quantity” with its 1200+ pages. My progress was slow at first, but I am now deeply immersed in French history and am truly captivated by the protagonist, Jean Valjean. Considered as one of the greatest historical novels ever written, Les Miserables paints a vivid picture of life in the 19th century. I have a feeling that, once I finish the remaining 700 pages, I will wish for more.
In closing, I wish to thank you for your emails. It is a treat to hear from fellow bookish folks. Let me know the reading challenges you have set for yourself. Until then, I wish you success in discovering yet another book you can’t put down until you have