Monday, January 3, 2011

Paris: The Luminous Years (a 2011 reading challenge)

We recently saw the program "Paris, The Luminous Years: Toward the Making of the Modern" on PBS. We had been thinking of coming up with our own book challenge for 2011, since we enjoyed Our Mutual Read so much, but so far have not been inspired by any of the book challenges for next year that we'd seen.

"Paris, The Luminous Years spotlights now-famous figures in the world’s first international avant-garde, tracing who came to Paris, when and why, whom they met, what they made there..." [from the PBS fact sheet]

We recommend you watch "The Luminous Years" before starting the challenge, but even if you don't (the New York Times was rather dismissive about it), you can still explore this fertile territory in your 2011 reading. Not only is it an important literary period (Hemingway, Joyce, Dos Passos-you've got practically the whole Lost Generation to choose from-& then also Anais Nin, Henry Miller, & Langston Hughes), but you might also read about composers (Aaron Copland to Les Six); dance (Ballets Russes to Isadora Duncan); artists including Picasso, Matisse, & Miró; architecture; movements such as Dada, Surrealism, Fauvism, & Cubism; café culture; Montparnasse or Montmartre; Left Bank women; famous expatriates such as Josephine Baker; & of course jazz.

We'll be trying to read Luminous Years books ourselves this year & blogging about our reading periodically. Feel free to leave Luminous Years related comments on these posts, or check out the Luminous Years section on our Book Banter (top right of the sidebar) to leave some posts of your own!

Guidelines for the challenge:
1) Read 6-12 books in 2011 that have some connection with Paris during the years 1905-1930

2) 3 books must be non-fiction (biographies, books about the period)

3) 3 books must be fiction, plays or poetry. These must be either: set during 1905-1930 in Paris; written during 1905-1930 in Paris; or written by authors who lived in Paris during those years.

4) If you read more than 6 books, you can choose to read fiction or non-fiction for the remainder of the challenge.

5) Anyone can participate in this challenge, but we'd love to know if you're doing it, so please leave a comment!

6) Challenge begins 1/1/11 & ends 12/31/11.

Books we may read:

Le Corbusier: A Life by Nicholas Fox Weber
Genêt: A Biography of Janet Flanner by Brenda Wineapple
Chagall: A Biography by Jackie Wullschlager
Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties by Noel Riley Fitch
Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light by Tyler Stovall
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet
Down & Out in Paris & London by George Orwell
Man Ray's Montparnasse by Herbert R. Lottman
Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story between the Great Wars by William A. Shack
Quartet by Jean Rhys
The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy
by Andre Breton


heidenkind said...

This sounds great! I loved Paris: the Luminous Years and this time period, so I am definitely going to participate. Great idea!

Audra said...

Love this challenge! I've just posted!