What's a Common Reader -- and what is Uncommon Reading?

Virginia Woolf defined a common reader as someone who is not a scholar; not a critic. A common reader "reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others. Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole." By that definition, I'm definitely a common reader -- reading an uncommonly large and diverse collection of books.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's Life Without a Challenge?

One of the publishers I noted a day or two ago as being one of those that has an uncanny ability for generating a disproportionate quantity of "I gotta read it!" and even "I gotta buy it -- NOW" books is Europa Editions. So much so, that when they announced they were launching the "Europa Challenge", I decided that I'd have to join in.

The challenge is to read (no hardship at all) a number of Europa titles (again, no hardship) between July 1 and the end of 2011. If I read 4, I win the title of Europa Ami; if I hit 7, I rise to become a Europa Haver (Hebrew for 'friend') and if I hit 14, I'll become an Europa Amante. Since I'm feeling pro-Italian this week, I'll opt for the Amante title, which will mean I'll have to devour about two or three Europa titles every month. Eh, nessun problema; possa fare questo! And just for the fun of it, I'll try to win the "Passport Holder" designation (by reading books from different countries, published in different languages) and will ponder becoming a "perpetual" reader -- in other words, to read all the Europa titles.

So far, I've read A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse; Muriel Barbery's two novels; In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut and the books that I've reviewed here by Kazimierz Brandys, Anna Gavalda and Luis Sepulveda. I've got about four that I have purchased but that linger unread, and a few more I've obtained from the library, so all I have to do now is decide whether to kick off with Chalcot Crescent by Fay Weldon, Heliopolis by James Scudamore or Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli. Decisions, decisions...

I'll be cross-posting my reading on the Europa Editions challenge blog here -- and if you feel like it, why not read along or join the challenge for yourself?

Happy reading!


  1. Love Europa! What a great idea for a challenge. I'm a bit too backlogged right now to read along with you, but I'll definitely keep an eye on your progress.

  2. Great post. I'm going to have to look into Europa. I'm always searching for new material to drown in.
    Found you on The Tiny Library Book Blog directory! Now following :)

  3. I'm also in on this Challenge and reading A Kind of Intimacy for it now....it is awesome. I'm a new follower to your blog.