Friday, December 14, 2012

Setting a Target

When I started Belle, Book, and Candle on January 1, I really had no idea where it would take me. 

Oh, the places you'll go...

First, there was the Grand Southern Literary Tour in late April - a week spent visiting literary sites and bookstores and even one cemetery. I participated in a blog challenge - Paris in July - and enjoyed reading, eating, and watching all things French. In September, I created my own challenge - Oh, To Be In England - and had fun reading and reminiscing about Merry Olde. 

All of those generated many books that I might have never picked up and read before starting this blog. Certainly none were on any goals list at the beginning of the year.

Although I don't want to box myself in, I think I might profit by setting one or two reading targets for 2013. 

I am woefully lacking in the reading of short stories. I have never been a fan, but maybe I have given the short story a short shrift. It seems that Elizabeth Bowen and Alice Munro are mentioned often as the Grand Dames of the genre, so I will begin with them. 

For a more diverse selection, I could just pick up a copy of The Best American Short Stories and The Best British Short Stories from any year and dive in.

Then there are plays. I don't think I have ever read one, but I have been following Claire at The Captive Reader as she reads A.A. Milne and today Dodie Smith. Witty Noel Coward comes immediately to mind and then maybe move on to Oscar Wilde. 

I actually have a book that was my grandmother's - The Best Plays of 1941-1942. A quick look tells me there are offerings by John Steinbeck (The Moon is Down), Noel Coward (Blithe Spirit) and Maxwell Anderson (Candle in the Wind).

And finally, for some strange reason, I feel the need to read one of The Russians. I asked a friend who has read and reread them all, "If I had to pick one book by a Russian author which one would you suggest?" Without hesitation he replied, "War and Peace. It is so well written that it has spoiled me for reading anything else. Second place would be Anna Karenina." Ah, the short list. 

Other than that, I will go pretty much Where My Whimsy Takes Me. I have books that I own that I will be pulling off the shelves to read and I am sure there will be a book challenge or two that I will want to participate in. 

If anyone has suggestions for short stories or plays (The Russian category is closed), please drop me a comment. 


  1. These are some wonderful plans for 2013! I am only just starting to appreciate short stories, after having had more than my fill of them in school. I am finding the short stories published by Persephone exactly to my tastes, especially Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes, a volume of stories written during WWII. It was only this year that I really got into reading plays (I used to read maybe two or three a year) but I have adored them. It is such an interesting way to tell a story and the skill required is completely different from novel writing.

    1. Claire, you are the one who inspired me to think about exploring the world of plays. I wonder how reading them out loud would different voices to each character like in a audio book. Have you done that?

      Oh dear. I am already complicating things! Best I just start slowly and silently.

      Also, thanks so much for the Persephone suggestion. I am sure to find something that will strike my fancy on its list.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment. These 'word of mouth' recommendations are the best.

  2. I would strongly recommend starting with Chekhov’s plays and short stories, especially his play “Uncle Vanya”, its Becket like but on a more understandable level, its fun to read plays and be the stage director, art director, etc., Another short story genius I love is the Irishman William Trevor, you can’t go wrong with any of his collections. Another favourite (maybe an acquired taste) is Canadian Mavis Gallant.

    1. Yikes! How could I forget Chekhov? And with him I get short stories AND plays. I have heard wonderful things about William Trevor and will put him on my list. I don't know a thing about Ms. Gallant but will give her a try as well.

      Thanks Tullik for taking time to make recommendations. I appreciate it.

      And, FYI, the library is holding Maeve Brennan's book for me and I will pick it up tomorrow.

  3. The only suggestion I have for short stories is the little volume I've been dipping into just now, "Journey into Christmas and Other Stories" by Bess Street Aldrich that I discovered at Nan's blog called Letters from a Hill Farm. It has given me moments of quiet relaxation here and there, usually over a cup of afternoon tea.

    Enjoy your reading, Belle. I'm so glad you are blogging. Penny

  4. Thanks Penny. 'Journey' sounds like the perfect cup of Christmas Cheer. I appreciate the suggestion and your taking the time to comment.