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The year’s reading fixations: World lit, particularly Russia

As I was reviewing my reading list for the year in preparation for making my nominations (due today) for the National Book Critics Circle book awards, I noted clear evidence of the fixations I’ve commented on in the last year or so.

First, there was the foreign fiction fixation. That, in turn, led to joining a Russian Reading Challenge. Between that challenge and our three days in St. Petersburg this summer, there arose a fixation on Russian history. So, did I get my fixes?

According to my count, I read 24 foreign lit books this year if you include only works originally written in a language other than English. Of those, six were by Russian authors. I also read four novels by English-speaking authors set in the Soviet Union. I also read three books on Russian/Soviet history and biographies of Stalin and Catherine the Great.

I’m speculating the foreign lit binge will continue, although the to be read stacks are getting large enough I may need to scale back. And you may see a couple of them on my “best of the year” post later this month, although what is likely the top selection isn’t in the group.


I took a course in speed reading … and was able to read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It’s about Russia.

Woody Allen

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