Last month I was complaining about the heat. In the humidity of Bangkok, brought on aplenty by the rainy season, life was monotone and stifling. Now, as I’m writing this from an apartment back home in Europe while tree branches are literally knocking on my window and autumn has brought on the cold and rain, it’s difficult to believe that only a few weeks ago I was in such a different world. But such is life, and many times I got what I wanted but not exactly the way I wanted it.
Now, as I am trying to construct a semblance of a routine, between hospital visits, cooking, reading, and occasional meetings with friends and family, I am reminded that life does go on and so will this blog and it’s time to introduce this month’s guest – Meredith, who blogs about books over at Dolce Bellezza. I have liked her blog for quite some time for many reasons, one being that she reads so many wonderful books I’ve never heard of, and another, equally important (perhaps even more important) is the quality of her posts which often leave me wanting to read more. Thank you, Meredith, for being my guest blogger this month.
1. Who Are You?
Many of you know me as Bellezza, some of you know me as Meredith. When I began blogging about books in 2006, I wanted to be anonymous as I didn’t quite know where this would go. Now, 9 years later, it doesn’t seem to matter so much any more. I send my address to publishers on a regular basis, and I’m sure the postman thinks someone named Bellezza lives in our house.
I live in a suburb of Chicago even though my heart resides in Italy. (The first time I left Italy, when only 8 years old, I cried so deeply I can still remember it acutely. I hold on to a hope that someday I can live there full time.) I have taught elementary school since I graduated from college, a whole career of time, so my job and my parents keep me here. It’s important to me, though, to be with my family and fulfill my professional obligations until I retire in 2018.
2. What is your blog about?
The identifying tag for Dolce Bellezza reads “~for translated and literary fiction”. Perhaps it is because I have such a passion for the world abroad that I love translated fiction the best. My passion grew when I hosted the first Japanese Literature Challenge and became fully aware of famous Japanese authors as Haruki Murakami, Yoko Ogawa and Yukio Mishima. Then, when I read as part of the Shadow Jury for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for the last three years, the world of translated fiction became a broader spectrum. Events like Stu and Richard’s Spanish Literature Month, or Tamara‘s Paris in July are wonderful opportunities to read translated literature. Eagerly I anticipate Caroline and Lizzy’s German Literature Month coming this November. We all enrich one another in this book blogging world.
3. Kindle or paper?
Although I love my Kindle, and Nook(s), and iPad, nothing will replace the scent of a book, the feel of pages turned. They may be cumbersome, they may be heavy, but I will always love a real book best.
4. Favorite quotes:
If I would tell of the book from which I record the most quotes, I would say the Bible. However, lest I turn this into a post on Christianity rather than literature, let me share with you some quotes from a book I enjoyed so much this summer: Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky:
“Wisdom above all, acquires wisdom. Make it great, and it will make you great. It will confer an adornment of grace to your head, a crown of beauty will it yield you.”
“If a wise man is one who knows that he doesn’t know, then at this moment I’m a wise man.”
“If you wish to possess everything, you must not possess something that is nothing. Leave what you have behind.”
5. Best book for a doorstop.
Anything by Nora Roberts.
6. Favorite books.
I had a hard time with this question because I can never narrow down my very favorite books! I guess if I had to answer I would say:
1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (for the atmosphere)
2. Possession by A. S. Byatt (for the ending)
3. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (for the ways each character faced Zenia, a disastrous woman)
7. Best book to take with you on a desert island.
That would have to be the Bible.
8. Three tips for bloggers.
Don’t think about stats.
Write about your passion.
Visit others and comment as often as you can.
9. What are you most passionate about?
quiet time to reflect
10. Last book that made you cry.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I think that it will win the Man Booker this year for the power of emotion it is able to elicit from its readers. The wonderful women with whom I participated on a Shadow Panel formed by Frances were divided on this book. Some felt that technical errors in writing, including its enormous length, keep this from being a contender. But, it is included in the Booker short list, and I eagerly await October 13 when the winner will be announced.
Finally, a few pictures from my study. My husband and I put it together this summer, converting it from my son’s room into a place where I can read and write. I wish you could sit with me in it now, and we could discuss all the wonderful books we know.