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September TBR | 2020 Reading Challenge

Now that my summer reading list is behind me, I’m starting my monthly TBR lists back up again. I’m already compiling a seasonal Fall TBR like I did last year, because if anything is consistent about my reading it’s that I put too much on my plate.

Library Book Stack | July/August 2020

Back in July, I was able to visit my library for the first time this year, and I still have five out of the seven books checked out (after renewing them past their original due date in the middle of August). They are fairy tale collections from different parts of the world, and fortunately I have read a little bit out of each. I am hoping to finish all of them before their new due date this month and before I start on my Fall TBR.

I’ve listed the collections below, and plan on writing a blog post for each of them in order to file them among my other fairy tale discussions. You can learn more about why I chose these titles from the library in this post if you are interested.

  • Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales selected and translated with foreword and notes
    by May and Hallberg Hallmundsson; illustrations by Kjarten Gudjónsson

SYNOPSIS: Spanning the rich folk tradition from ghosts and elves to sorcerers, saints and outlaws, the stories reflect everyday life in Iceland through the centuries, throwing a unique light on the Icelandic character in humorous as well as serious circumstances. The Hallmundssons have selected and translated all the tales in this volume from the classic collection of 19th-century folklorist Jón Árnason, who devoted years of his life to recording stories preserved by oral tradition since the early days of Iceland’s history.

NOTES: “Nowhere does a nation bare its soul to the same extent as in its popular lore, its folktales. In the aggregate, such stories will tell all. They contain the people’s loftiest yearnings and deepest fears, their most ardent passions and hopes, their truest beliefs. They reveal their sense of honor, valor, and humor, their flights of imagination, their creative force — in short, the whole of their humanity as fashioned by the land in which they live.” (from the Foreward)

  • Midnight Tales: A Woman’s Journey Through the Middle East by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi; translated by Monique Arav

SYNOPSIS: “In actual fact, the only thing that matters in life is love, yet the inquisitive mind must be fed a few facts… Look at Baghdad!” commands Rosina-Fawzia al-Rawi’s lively and imperious aunt Fatima, one of the characters in this delightful collection of personal essays.

Aunt Fatima would have approved of this book, for as her niece turns her eye first on Baghdad and then all the lands of the Middle East, ending with her research into women’s customs in the Emirates, she devotes herself as a lover does to all the intimate details around her. Whether she recounts a trip to buy a rug, a childhood incident on a Lebanese playground, or explicates Arab poetry, al-Rawi’s collection is full of all that Aunt Fatima recommends- her beloved poetry, the ever-present history of these ancient lands, tender and intricate accounts of daily life, and quirky, nuanced tracings of the workings of the human heart.

  • Latin American Folktales: Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions edited and with an introduction by John Bierhorst

SYNOPSIS: The wisdom and artistry of Latin America’s storytellers preserve one of the world’s richest folktale traditions—combining the lore of medieval Europe, the ancient Near East, and pre-Columbian America. Gathered from twenty countries, including the United States, the stories are here brought together in a core collection of one hundred tales arranged in the form of a velorio, or wake, the most frequent occasion for public storytelling. The tales are preceded by a selection of early Colonial legends foreshadowing the themes of Latino folklore and are followed by a carefully chosen group of modern Indian myths that replay the basic stories in a contrasting key. Riddles, chain riddles, and folk prayers, part and parcel of the velorio, along with folktales, are introduced at appropriate junctures.

NOTES: “The greatest debt, however, is to the company of the dedicated folklorists and anthropologists that emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century and set about the task of recording Latino folklore nation by nation. Manuel J. Andrade, for the Dominican Republic; Delina Anibarro de Halushka, for Bolivia; Paulo Carvalho-Neto, for Ecuador; Susana Chertudi, for Argentina; and Ramón Laval, for Chile, are among the names that should be mentioned. Their publications will be found listed in the bibliography; their endeavors were a kind of systematics, akin to natural history, carefully preserving, labeling, and categorizing specimens of oral literature. Without their painstaking labor a compilation of this kind, which attempts to be panoramic, would not have been possible.” (from the Preface)

  • Swedish Folktales and Legends selected, translated, and edited
    by Lone Thygesen Blecher and George Blecher

SYNOPSIS: Swedish Folktales and Legends is a diverse and enchanting collection of more than one hundred and fifty tales, providing a representative sampling of Sweden’s folklore tradition, which was first recorded in the mid-nineteenth century (around the time of the Brothers Grimm). Drawn primarily from the Swedish National Folklore Archives and private collections, as well as from various other sources, they are all newly translated from the Swedish, many for the first time.

  • Yiddish Folktales edited by Beatrice Silverman Weinreich;
    translated by Leonard Wolf

SYNOPSIS: Drawn from the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and superbly translated, these tales document as never before the scope and color of Yiddish culture. Yiddish Folktales is the definitive volume of its genre and an important addition to the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, which has established itself as the premier presentation of the world’s folkloric traditions.

NOTES: “The jacket and many of the illustrations in this book were taken from examples of papirn-shnit (paper-cutting), a traditional Jewish folk art that was popular in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Poland and Russia. Various Jewish customs and holidays were associated with these paper-cuts. The mizrakh, the most impressive and intricate form, was hung on the eastern wall of homes and synagogues to indicate the direction of Jerusalem.” (from the Note on the Illustrations)

These books do not fit the criteria I set for my 2020 Reading Challenge (the reason why I have been setting TBRs this year), but since they are library books I am making an exception to the reading plans I laid out in January.

What are your reading plans for September? Do you have specific books in mind, or are you going with the flow? However you’re reading, I hope it goes well.

2020 Reading Challenge Header Photo


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