Happy new year! We welcome in 2021 with resident guest blogger Paul Grech, who’s prepared a list of new year book-related resolutions to tick off!
Although I’m not one for making resolutions at the start of the year, I do find that it is the ideal time to look ahead and identify what I would like from the coming months. Here’s a selection of my reading-related ambitions …
As I mentioned in my end-of-year review, a positive side-effect of events such as the Malta Book Festival going online was the possibility to listen to discussions that otherwise I would have had to miss due to time constraints. That said, I still terribly miss live events and hope (and believe) that they come back at some point during 2021. Nothing can beat the face-to-face interaction and rush from a good book-related conversation. Not all that happened over the past few months should be discarded, however, and I strongly hope (and believe) that going forward most events will go hybrid, offering both the live and online elements.
Loads of Books
Well, at least sixty-five. That is my target for the year and right about my natural reading level. A few years back I set out with the ambition of reading 100 books and whilst I did manage that it became too much of a chore for me to want to aim that high again. What I have been trying to do, and which I have found really satisfying, is to put in mini-challenges. This year I want to read a couple of biographies (a genre that I typically do not enjoy) along with a few books from different cultures (I have really enjoyed Japanese and South Korean fiction in the past so am looking to experiment a bit more).
Any booklover who travels will come back to Malta with stories of some wonderful independent bookshop that they came across and where they felt truly at home. There is a sense of wonder in such stories not only because there are books involved but, mainly, as we lack any similar outlets in Malta. What we have is book convenience stores and, whilst they serve the function of selling books and promoting book reading, they do not really cater for booklovers. What I would like to see is at least one shop that carefully curates its selection, that inspires book people to come together and talk about what they love, that encourages creativity. Surely, an island of 500,000 is a big enough place to sustain such a venture, no?
A New Paġna Mmarkata
I probably do not mention this enough but I publish Paġna Mmarkata, a literary magazine that is also a bookmark. It features eight pieces of original creative fiction – usually split equally between poetry and micro-fiction – in Maltese and is distributed for free at a number of venues across the islands. I’m very proud to say that during 2020, despite all that was happening, I still managed to put out an issue and got all of them distributed thanks to the support of number of local booksellers. And, even though I think that worked very well and will retain an element of it, I would like to be able to distribute the issue that I’ve just started working on (due out around March) as I did in the past: leaving them at local councils, shops and bars for people to pick up. It would be a sign that things are truly getting back to normal.
Paul Grech is an avid reader particularly of sports, sci-fi, fantasy and non-fiction books. He is also a writer as well as the publisher of Paġna Mmarkata, a magazine (that is also a bookmark) of original Maltese writing.