Sunday Salon: Kristin Lavransdatter Readalong

Somehow or other – okay, not ‘somehow or other’; it’s because I barely spend time here, my reading of other litblogs being confined to a handful of favourites – I always miss out on these things. The good thing is that  there’s a Sigrid Undset readalong, hosted by Richard and Emily, coming up very soon. Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter is on my A to Z list, and turns out I put it down as a part of my Nobel Prize Laureate project as well, so whoop-de-doo. I’m a bit of a latecomer here, and everything has been explained extensively elsewhere, so basically this is just an announcement that I’m joining in.

Someone give me a hand here, though. The Book Depository sells the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition that I want, but under ‘format’ it says OHP transparencies, and not ‘paperback’ as expected. Does this mean the book has ultra fine pages, or that they are those plastic projector sheets that biology teachers always use? Anyway, here is the reading plan:

October, Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath
November, Kristin Lavransdatter II: The Wife
December, Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross

Sounds good! Did some reading on the translations available, but apparently there are only two English translations to date: a very heavily archaic and inaccurate translation from the 1920s, by Charles Archer; and the new one by Tiina Nunnally. Clearly, I will be reading the latter. In the past I’ve been brave enough to attempt ‘classic’ translations, (Chapman’s Odyssey, Garnett’s Anna Karenina) but as the plot of this book appears fairly complex, I’ll think I’ll stick with Nunnally.

Speaking of readalongs, January 2009 was declared National 2666 Reading Month by the New Yorker (check out their blog, by the way. It has all sorts of interesting posts on how to pronounce the title – twenty-six sixty-six, or two-six-six-six? – and the appeal of the cover, etc etc). Didn’t even hear about it until a few days ago. Steph and Claire began their own 2666 Readalong. Missed out again. But! This book keeps popping up, and I’m not going to ignore it. January 2010 is going to be 2666 Reading Month for me.

It’s a bit ludicrous of me to be considering reading lists for the year ahead, when I clearly have much to read from this year’s. So I’m going to attempt to sort out my existing reading lists. I’ve narrowed it down to four lists:

9 Books for ’09: Already halfway through this list, currently reading War and Peace, so I have three left:

  • The Age of Innocence
  • Much Ado about Nothing
  • The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
  • Vanity Fair (okay, so that makes it 10)

There’s ten, because I couldn’t choose between ‘Alive’ and ‘Dead’ and decided to do both. Also, I really like the list I compiled for the A to Z project, so that’s staying, even though there’s a gazillion books and I’ll never get through them all. My progress thus far has been downright pathetic; I’ve only read five books out of the twenty-six. And I was ridiculous enough to put down Proust’s Remembrance for ‘P’ – that’s actually seven books, not one,  if I recollect correctly? So I’ve swapped that for The Lemoine Affair, also by Proust, but a novella. I also want to fit Daniel Defoe into what’s left of 2009: I’ll be reading Moll Flanders and Robinson Crusoe. As for my list for Decades ’09, I’ll be happy if I get through one book from each decade. Here’s what I’ve narrowed it down to:

1960s: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

1950s: The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

1940s: Steinbeck’s The Pearl

1930s: Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald

1920s: Jacob’s Room, Virginia Woolf

1910s: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton

1900s: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

1890s: Picture of Dorian Grey, Wilde

1880s: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I have a tendency to overestimate myself. Most probably, I could have – and would have – gotten through these books if I hadn’t just stopped reading for a large part of the year. From April to August I only read four books; in June I  didn’t read anything at all. Not even one book. Can’t blame it on the workload, because all my research essays are due this month. Sometimes I fall in and out of love with books – 2009 must have been one of those years.

The great thing about 2009 is that there’s been a whole lot more spontaneity in my reading habits – I no longer feel the need to meticulously take notes when I read. It’s not like I’m a literature student; I can afford to lose a few thoughts here and there. While this means that the ‘quality’ of my blog suffers quite a lot, I rather like reading for the sake of reading.

p.s. I know it’s a Sunday Salon post, but this is going up early because I’m such a diligent and conscientious student, and I’m going to spend the entire weekend editing writing my essays (scratch editing, I haven’t even begun my first drafts yet), and hereby swear not to visit my blog until Monday.

Sideline rant about overpriced books

p.p.s Okay, so it’s not Monday yet, but I’ve been slaving away on my essays & am currently taking [what I feel to be] a well-deserved break. Anyway, I just wanted to show you guys this strange reply I got from the Book Depository:

This title is a set of overhead transparencies, and not the book itself.

Kind regards,

Thomas Randles
Customer Service Manager
The Book Depository Ltd

Well, thanks for clearing that up, Tom Randles, but why exactly is your website selling stacks of overhead transparencies instead of paperbacks? Could it simply be for lecturers who teach Scandinavian literature, or for sinister people who like to read books projected on walls?

Meanwhile! I’ve decided I’m going to have to dig deeper into my pockets and purchase my copy at a disgustingly swollen price from some greedy bookseller in Sydney. Maybe I’ll try my luck at Borders. Ever since I read this article about Angus & Robertson, I’ve been steering clear of those profiteering scumbags. Apparently, A&R owns Borders in this part of the world, but the prices are still different. Compare:

  • Angust & Robertson: Only $39.95
  • Borders: $37.95
  • The Book Depository: £15.50 (28.50 AUD) <– normal book price

But Dymocks tops even the cherry on the icing on the cake. They don’t even stock Kristin Lavransdatter.


16 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Kristin Lavransdatter Readalong

  1. I read the first three chapters of the Nunnally translation on my ipod touch (to see if I would like it, as the “look inside” on Amazon feature only lets you look at the archaic translation), and I thought that with the exception of the ridiculously tortuous first page, it was interesting and accessible. But will I join the read-long? I still don’t know! I can get this translation through my school library, which means I wouldn’t even have to buy the book, which would be nice, but at the same time, I’ve been enjoying just seeing where my reading will take me without feeling tied to a list or external pressures. I worry I will lose steam with such a long book (as I have with 2666; I’m stalled in the middle of part 4), and I’d hate to feel I was letting others down!

    1. Steph! I think it’s safe to say you’ve earned yourself a break from readalongs. You did organise the last one, after all :)
      I’m sort of the opposite to you. Since about April of this year, I haven’t really seriously read anything. As in, I’ve been reading, but I also feel like I’ve been wandering aimlessly, not really committing myself to anything. I’m sort of getting back into it now, but I really want a CHALLENGE! Heheh :)

      But yet, I was also curious about the book I had just committed myself to reading over the next three months, and had a look at the Amazon feature (didn’t know it was the old translation at first) – and almost backed out. That first page is ridiculous! Don’t know what it looks like in the new translation, but that Charles Archer…

      Kudos to him for even attempting a translation, and kudos to him for trying to retain some of the original language by using Nordic-derived words (apparently that’s why he kept using ‘I trow’), but I don’t think I’d ever voluntarily read him!

      1. My problem is that when I join challenges of any kind, all of a sudden my reading begins to feel like a chore and I get all anxious and feel pressured to keep reading books I’m not enjoying, which means I don’t enjoy myself much… and that’s kind of not what I want my reading to be like! I find that when I do my own thing, the pressure is off and I’m more inclined to read at the speed that is right for me AND read the things I want to read (thereby increasing the likelihood I will enjoy them). I do love the communal nature of read-alongs though, so I will be happy to read everyone’s posts!

        And that first page is still pretty awful in the Nunnally, BUT then the rest of what I read on my ipod kindle app was much more accessible and pretty easy to read. I may very well pick up a copy and read along as I was getting interested, but I guess I have commitment phobia at the moment! ;)

        1. Same, same – I hate it when reading feels like a chore. It’s why I stepped away from my blog, and even stopped reading for a while… but like you say, I think the ‘communal nature’ thing is really great & could potentially encourage me to read more. I don’t know… I’ve joined challenges without feeling pressured by time limits, but I guess readalongs are sort of different, b/c everyone’s reading the same book and finishing at certain times, etc etc. Hahah, now I’m starting to feel worried that I won’t be able to commit.

          Hmmmm as for that AWFUL first page, all I can say is, at least it’s confined to the first page!

  2. The only way to pronounce it is dos mil seis cientos sesenta y seis. ;)

    Just kidding! I’ll stop being pretentious now! I’ve been saying two six six six, but it is cumbersome. I’m glad to see you’re joining the Kristin Lavransdatter read along! I’m very excited! I got the edition you have pictured, but I’m not positive about the pages. I’ll have to take a look at it and let you know.

    1. Hahahah, couldn’t it also be veintiséis sesenta y seis (26-26)?! I don’t know, my Spanish is tragically poor, so I’ll just have to take your word for it! :)
      I’ve been saying 2666 too, because 26-26 is equally cumbersome IMO!

      Saame; also very excited. But I wasn’t about to spend 15 GBP on a stack of OHP transparencies if they really were OHP transparencies, so I emailed the Book Depository and it turns out that’s precisely what they are. How strange!

      Grrr, I’m going to have to pay about 20 AUD extra to get it from some stupid overpriced profiteering Sydney bookshop. The things I do for books.. ;)

  3. So glad you’re joining us for the KL readalong, Tuesday, especially now that I see all the other great reading you have lined up ahead of you as well! I don’t know what “OHP transparencies” means either, but the Penguin deluxe edition that most of us seem to have has regular paperback paper that’s just cut kind of fancy. P.S. Bolaño sounds like a perfect way to start 2010 to me!

    1. Hi, Richard!

      Hmm, I’m not sure how much of that ‘other great reading’ I’ll actually get done! Like I said, I have a tendency to overestimate myself. But I’m really looking forward to this readalong; I haven’t done any planned reading in a while. I try to be spontaneous, but I don’t really think it’s my thing. I need lists and projects and readalongs like this to push me along!

      And yes, it is a perfect way to start 2010, isn’t it? :)

  4. Tuesday.. I’m so glad you’re reading along for Kristin L. I hope you find the Penguin Deluxe that isn’t OHP! I wonder what others who order from them do with their copies. And how very strange they would publish it in that paper anyway. Who would use that book for a projector? Or maybe it’s just the type of thin paper the same as Tale of Genji? I love my 3-set though, less heavy and the covers are so pretty and colourful!

    1. I bought my copy from Borders today! Yeah, at first I thought they meant super thin paper, but then the BD guy said it was actually OHP sheets. Considered buying the 3-set from TBD instead (would have saved me the hassle of going to the bookstore – lazy, I know) but then the Deluxe one from Borders ended up being cheaper than three separate volumes from TBD, so Deluxe it was. I’m so stingy, haha!

        1. Yeah, probably most of the chain bookstores these days only sell ‘token classics’. For e.g. they’ll have ‘Catcher in the Rye’ but not ‘Franny & Zooey’ or they’ll have ‘Jane Eyre’ but not ‘Villette’ or ‘Shirley’.
          It’s a shame, but I guess that’s what the Book Depository’s for, hahah!

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