Happy Tuesday everyone! As it is Tuesday, it is time for a Top Ten Tuesday update. Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s given topic is Books on My Spring 2023 To-Read List

Title: Within a Budding Grove
Author: Marcel Proust
Translator: K. Scott Moncrieff
Publishing Date: February 1970
No. of Pages: 386


First published in 1919, Within a Budding Grove was awarded the Prix Goncourt, bringing the author immediate fame. In this second volume of Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator turns from the childhood reminiscences of Swann’s Way to memories of his adolescence. Having gradually become indifferent to Swann’s daughter Gilberte, the narrator visits the seaside resort of Balbec with his grandmother and meets a new object of attention—Albertine, “a girl with brilliant, laughing eyes and plump, matt cheeks. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Guermantes Way
Author: Marcel Proust
Translator: K. Scott Moncrieff
Publishing Date: February 1970
No. of Pages: 425


Marcel becomes obsessed with the Duchesse de Guermantes, who does not reciprocate his interest. With unmatched powers of observation, the author vividly describes the struggles for political, social and sexual supremacy played out beneath a veneer of elegant manners. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Leopard
Author: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Translator: Archibald Colquhoun
Publishing Date: 1992
No. of Pages: 190


In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, still rules over thousands of Sicilian acres and hundreds of subjects in mingled splendour and squalor. But echoes of the new political movements on the Italian mainland are already being heard. Garibaldi is about to arrive; a revolution is about to begin. The Leopard is about to change…

Title: Houses
Author: Borislav Pekic
Translator: Bernard Johnson
 New York Review of Books
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 212


Building can be seen as a master metaphor for modernity, which some great irresistible force, be it Fascism or Communism or capitalism, is always busy rebuilding, and Houses is a book about a man, Arsenie Negovan, who has devoted his life and his dreams to building.

Bon vivant, Francophile, visionary, Negovan spent the first half of his life building houses he loved and even named – Juliana, Christina, Agatha – while making his hometown of Belgrade into a modern city to be proud of. The second half of his life, after World War II and the Nazi occupation, he has spent in one of those houses, looked after by his wife and a nurse, in hiding. Houses is set on the final day of his life, when Negovan at last ventures forth to see the world as it is.

Negovan is one of the great characters in modern fiction, a man of substance and deluded fantasist, a beguiling visionary and a monster of selfishness, a charmer no matter what. And perhaps he is right to fear that home is only an illusion in our world, or that only in illusion there is home.

Title: The Day of the Owl
Author: Leonardo Sciascia
Translator: Archibald Colquhoun and Arthur Olvier
Publisher: The New York Review of Books
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 120


A man is shot dead as he runs to catch the bus in the piazza of a small Sicilian town. Captain Bellodi, the detective on the case, is new to his job and determined to prove himself. Bellodi suspects the Mafia, and his suspicions grow when he finds himself against an apparently unbreachable wall of silence. A surprise turn puts him on the track of a series of nasty crimes. But all the while Bellodi’s investigation is being carefully monitored by a host of observers, near and far. They share a single concern: to keep the truth from coming out.

This short, beautifully paced novel is a mesmerizing description of the Mafia at work.

Title: Jacob’s Ladder
Author: Ludmila Ulitskaya
Translator: Polly Gannon
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publishing Date: 2019
No. of Pages: 542


One of Russia’s most renowned literary figures and a Man Booker International Prize nominee, Ludmila Ulitskaya presents what may be her final novel. Jacob’s Ladder is a family saga spanning a century of recent Russian history – and represents the summation of the author’s career devoted to sharing the absurd and tragic tales of twentieth-century life in her nation.

Alternating between the diaries and letters of Jacob Ossetsky in Kiev in the early 1900s and the experiences of his granddaughter Nora in the theatrical world of Moscow in the 1970s and beyond, Jacob’s Ladder guides the reader through some of the most turbulent times in the history of Russia and Ukraine, and draws suggestive parallels between historical events of the early twentieth century and those of more recent memory.

Spanning the seeming promise of the prerevolutionary years, to the dark Stalinist era, to the corruption and confusion of the present day, Jacob’s Ladder is a pageant of romance, betrayal, and memory. With a scale worthy of Tolstoy, it asks how much control any of us have over our lives—and how much is in fact determined by history, by chance, or indeed by the genes passed down by the generations that have preceded us into the world.

Title: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
Author: Rainer Maria Rilke
Translator: Stephen Mitchell
Publisher: Vintage
Publishing Date: April 1985
No. of Pages: 260


She this is where people come to live; I would have thought it is a city to die in.” So begins Rilke’s only novel, the brief, haunting Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. First published in 1910, it has proven to be one of the most influential and enduring works fiction of our century – an instance of lyric expression unmatched in modern prose.

Malte Laurids Brigge is a young Danish nobleman and poet living in Paris. Obsessed with death and with the reality that lurks behind appearances, Brigge muses on his family and their history and on the teeming, alien life he sees in the city around him. Many of the themes and images that occur in Rilke’s poetry can also be found in the resonant pages of the novel, which pre-figures the modernist movement in its self-awareness and imagistic immediacy. As Rilke wrote after the book was published, “Poor Malte begins so deep in misery and, in a strict sense, reaches to eternal bliss; he is a heart that strikes a whole octave: after him almost all songs are possible.

William H. Gass has contributed an introduction to accompany Stephen Mitchell’s powerfully fluent contemporary version of this great book.

Title: Life A User’s Manual
Author: Georges Perec
Translator: David Bellos
Publisher: David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc.
Publishing Date: 1988
No. of Pages: 500


Life: A User’s Manual is an unclassified masterpiece, a sprawling compendium as encyclopedic as Dante’s Commedia and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and, in its break with tradition, as inspiring as Joyce’s Ulysses. Perec’s spellbinding puzzle begins in an apartment block in the XVIIth arrondissement of Paris where, chapter by chapter, room by room, like an onion being peeled, an extraordinary rich cast of characters is revealed in a series of tales that are bizarre, unlikely, moving, funny, or (sometimes) quite ordinary. From the confessions of a racing cyclist to the plans of an avenging murderer, from a young ethnographer obsessed with a Sumatran tribe to the death of a trapeze artist, from the fears of an ex-croupier to the dreams of a sex-change pop star to an eccentric English millionaire who has devised the ultimate pastime, Life is a manual of human irony, portraying the mixed marriages of fortunes, passions and despairs, betrayals and bereavements, of hundreds of lives in Paris and around the world.

But the novel is more than an extraordinary range of fictions; it is a closely observed account of life and experience. The apartment block’s one hundred rooms are arranged in a magic square, and the book as a whole is peppered with a staggering range of literary puzzles and allusions, acrostics, problems of chess and logic, crosswords, and mathematical formulae. All are there for the reader to solve in the best tradition of the detective novel. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: Poor People
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Translator: Hugh Aplin
Publisher: Hesperus Press Limited
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 130


Written as a series of letters, Poor People tells the tragic tale of a petty clerk and his impossible love for a young girl. Longing to help her and change her plight, he sells everything he can, but his kindness leads him only into more desperate poverty, and ultimately into debauchery. As the object of his desire looks sadly and helplessly on, he – the typical ‘man of the underground’ – becomes more and more convinced of the belief that happiness can only be achieved with riches. Theirs is a troubled, frustrated love that can only lead to sorrow.

Poor People is Dostoevsky’s first original work. As both a masterpiece of Russian populist writing, and a parody of the entire genre, it is a profound and uneasy piece, with many glimpses of future genius.

Title: Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming
Author: László Krasznahorkai
Translator (from Hungarian): Ottilie Mulzet
Publisher: Tuskar Rock Press
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 558


Nearing the end of his life, Baron Bela Wenckheim flees his gambling debts in Buenos Aires and decides to return to the small Hungarian town where he wishes to be reunited with his high-school sweetheart. News of his arrival travel fast, and the town’s conmen and politicians sense a rare opportunity.

Title: Summer Light, and then Comes the Night
Author: Jón Kalman Stefánsson
Translator (from Icelandic): Philip Roughton
Publisher: HarperVia
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 246


A profound and playful masterwork of literature from one of Iceland’s most beloved authors.

In a secluded Icelandic village of only four hundred inhabitants, where the summer brings infinite light and the winter brings eternal night, life appears unremarkable. Yet, sometimes in small places, life becomes bigger. A new road to the capital city of Reykjavik has change on everyone’s minds…

There is the beautiful, elusive Elisabet, who cuts a surprisingly svelte path at the Knitting Company. Neighbours Kristin and Kjartan, who seem ordinary but for their explosive passion that bewilders even themselves (and ignites the spectacular revenge of Kjartan’s wife). Timid Jonas takes on the role of town policeman when his imposing father passes away. And then the most successful businessman in town abandons his Range Rover and gorgeous wife in exchange for Latin books and stargazing.

Winner of the Icelandic Literature Prize and longlisted for France’s Prix Médicis étranger, Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night ponders the beauty and mystery of life and our deepest existential questions. Unexpected, warm, earthy, and humorous, Stefánsson explores the dreams and desires of these everyday people and reveals the magic of life in all its progress, its limitations, its ugliness, and, ultimately, its beauty.