It’s highly likely that every day of the year is the world day of something. This kind of makes the whole project a little less exhilirating, but I still thought I could mark World Book Day, which apparently falls on the 6th ofMarch, somehow- so here it goes, a bit randomish list of twelve books that are important to me -because having lists in tens is overrated.
–Instant Light.Tarkovsky Polaroids. I have many books on photography, albums, theoretical and technical ones, but I am probably most fond of this one because it reminds me of one of the essential and rather obvious roles of photography: to capture that which is fleeting and save it from oblivion. When I started my daily photo project, my first thought was that I hope people will see my shots and like them, now, more than one year later, it’s much more important to me that by seeing them myself I remember- it’s enough to look at one picture and I suddenly recall clear details from each day, which I may have forgotten otherwise. A visual madeleine.
–G. Willow Wilson Alif The Unseen. I don’t necessarily have an agenda of reading books by women, I just happen to do so ever more often, as I pretty much chewed myself through all the canonic pieces (mostly written by men, of course) by now. And it’s a wonderful new world to discover.
–Orhan Pamuk Istanbul.A lot of people moan about how the Nobel is often a political decision, and most probably they are at least partially right, but for me that had nothing to do with why Pamuk got it- he is simply a fundamental writer of our times and our part of the world ( whatever that means) and no city has a travel guide (of sorts) that comes close to the nostalgic beauty of Pamuk’s Istanbul.
–Georges Simenon Le chat. I bought this one on a whim in an underground den of second hand books in Bruxelles. It’s by a Belgian, I like cats, it costs 1 euro, will be a fine souvenir. I was then congratulated for my choice by the fairly African looking shop assistant,who told me how happy he is when foreigners are interested in his culture too-by that he meant French Belgian. The cat, is, of course, not really the point.
-David Foster Wallace Infinite Jest. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, a classic is a book everyone wishes they had read, but no one does. I was giddy with excitement when I found it last year in the now defunct Red Bus bookstore and I set out to immediately read it. Well, I haven’t gotten past page 50 yet. I have this feeling though that there is a point somewhere in the book that will make me snap into devouring mode. I just’t haven’t found it yet.
-Umberto Eco Il pendolo di Foucault. Not my favourite Eco (I actually have trouble with some of his books, Baudolino had the fate of the above mentioned Infinite Jest), but it is the first Italian novel I read in the original, which made me quite proud at the time.
–A.A.Milne Micimackó. The English title is Winnie the Pooh, of course, but I do believe that the Hungarian translation IS actually an improvement on the original. I can still quote whole passages and I symbolically carry my childhood copy of it to any new flat I move to- once my worn out blue Micimackó is there, the place is officially home.
–Mateiu Caragiale Craii de Curtea Veche. In very unoriginal terms, my very favourite Romanian novel. I keep rereading it from time to time, to rediscover it’s atmosphere and my mother tongue sounding so familiar and so exotic at the same time.
-Haruki Murakami Kafka on the Shore. It’s hard to choose a Murakami, I do enjoy most of his novels quite a lot. I started reading him as a teenager, but at that time his surreal elements alienated me somewhat. So I started revisiting him a few years ago, and it was love at second read, I guess.
-Ivo Andrić Sarajevske Priče. I do need to put a good deal of effort into reading a book in Serbian, especially since you can’t really find a dialect that actually matches what you were taught in school. But it’s an awesome adventure, that’s for sure.
-Julio Cortázar Rayuela. Another voyage of discovery into a language, the general reaction being: maybe you should try starting with some easier novel in Spanish. Maybe, but that wouldn’t be half the fun.
-Henning Mankell-The Dogs of Riga. Because I am an obsessive Scandi noir fiend and I cried a little when I had to part from Wallander and in my humble opinion, The Dogs of Riga is his finest hour. I also find the English title quite mesmerizing- must be the slight alliteration o it.