What I am reading: The 100 book challenge


Decameron 15th C. Author unknown.

Right now, I am technically reading three books, although some more actively than others. Two of the books I am reading are part of my own 100 book challenge: The Decameron (Boccaccio) and the Devil to Pay in the Backlands (Rosa).

About two years ago, I started a challenge for myself to read (most) of the guardian’s 100 books of all time. I picked this list over others, because I liked the fact that it was collected by recommendations from 100 authors in 54 different countries. Because of that, there is a wide diversity of materials, and it is not just limited to English books. The upside of the list is that I have already read a lot of them; the downside is that some of them are pretty dense. I have opted not to read the short story and essay collections (although I did opt for a few, like the Decameron).

Unexpectedly, one of the difficulties I have run into is finding the books in English, preferably in digital format. Sometimes this has lead to wonderful discoveries, like Naguib Mahfouz. I couldn’t find his book in digital format, so I read another book by him instead. I loved it so much (Morning & Evening Talk) that I ended up reading several other pieces of his like his fabulously interesting Cairo Trilogy. Other times it has been very frustrating. I had a really hard time finding the Devil to Pay in the Backlands since apparently the books are very rare in English. The last translation was published in the 60’s and a used hard copy starts at $250 on Amazon. Luckily, through some sleuthing, I was able to find a pdf on scribd.

So this is where I am at, obviously in the “D” section with Decameron and The Devil to Pay. I don’t expect to be finishing either anytime soon, since I have been working on both for a while (and I am reading other books too….), but I have been enjoying both of them so far.


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