Reading in August: to plan or not plan

Every month there are bookish challenges around and August is no different. My Twitter feed is full of Austen in August and Women in Translation Month, both of which tempt me for different reasons.

I’ve read three Jane Austen books and so far not been blown away, but I keep wondering if she’s a writer I’ll appreciate more as I get older. She’s certainly not flowery, which I have less and less patience for. And she’s smart, which I do like. It’s hard to talk myself into reading a book that I suspect I’m not going to enjoy. But I have heard good things about Mansfield Park, so maybe I’ll give that a go.

Women in Translation Month has obvious appeal to me, and although it’s not unlikely that I’ll read a woman in translation every month, the point of the challenge is to publicise it, to join the conversations on social media. I have a few to choose from in my TBR – Isabel Allende, Colette, Fleur Jaeggy, Herta Müller, Irène Némirovsky, Anaïs Nin – but the one I’ll probably read this month is The Empress and the Cake by Linda Stift. It sounds fascinatingly disturbing.

The problem is that I started August by picking up a sci-fi modern classic that, though I’m enjoying it, I’m also finding slow-going. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is packed with interesting etymology, history and theology, in addition to the science and technology. It takes a lot of attention. So here we are halfway through the month and I haven’t yet picked up and Austen or a woman in translation. There’s still time, maybe I’ll squeeze them both in. Or maybe I’ll just read whatever I’m in the mood for.