Into the new year: a challenging post

Hello! Ahem… Long time no see. Oh, by the way, happy new year! I hope you all had a good time over the Christmas season, huge piles of new books under the tree on Christmas morning, and a great start to your reading (and blogging, for those of you who blog) year.

As for me, the start was less than great as you can see. It’s the end of January already as I am drafting this first post of the year, and so far I managed to finish just one (one! :shock:) book. I do need to get my act together. In my defense, I only have this: this year I do need to put a lot more steam in my work. And I’d be sad to see my reading rate drop too far, so the blog is what goes, mostly. I’ll be taking things very very easy around here. But I’ll still be around.

And I don’t want to let go of the good things. Such as readalongs and group and buddy reads. Here’s my plan so far…

My 2013 readalongs 

OK, OK; these are all may-bes. I’d love to participate in them all (and more), but we’ll see.

Also, I’ve seen many bloggers kiss challenges goodbye, but you cannot count me in that group. Sure, I have to cut back and not sign up for every challenge that pops up, but I always loved challenges that pushed my reading toward new lands, and these I will keep doing (even though I failed them last year and will probably fail them again! I told you, I don’t want any pressure, but I love being exposed to new titles!)

geo

My 2013 geography-themed challenges

Middle East Challenge
Level: Tourist (1-5 books)

  1. Jerusalem by Simon Seabag Montefiore
  2. … really no idea, but last year I ended up reading only books written by Western writers, so I’d like to concentrate on local writers this time. Any suggestion?

Aussie Author Challenge
Level: Tourist (3 books)

  1. something by Melina Marchetta, certainly
  2. something by Geraldine Brooks, ideally Year of Wonders if I can get a copy
  3. The True History of the Kelly Gang, by Peter Carey

South East Asia Challenge

S. Krishna said she’d put this one up again this year, but it’s not official yet. I’ll try to read 3 books again, starting with Anita Nair’s The Lilac House.

Global Reading Challenge
Level: Easy (1 book per continent)

  • Africa:
  • Asia: The Lilac House by Anita Nair
  • Australasia/Oceania
  • Europe: Long John Silver: the True and Eventful History of My Life of Liberty and Adventure As a Gentleman of Fortune and Enemy to Mankind, by Bjorn Larsson
  • North America:
  • South America:
  • The Seventh Continent:

I’ll also keep doing a few other challenges that I love — really, you cannot stop my passion for chunksters, my interest for non-fiction or my newly-found love of classics!

other

My 2013 “other” challenges

Chunkster Challenge
Level: Mor-book-ly Obese (8+ books, 3 over 750 pages)

  1. Jerusalem by Simon Seabag Montefiore
  2. Shogun by James Clavell
  3. A Dance with Dragons by G.R.R. Martin
  4. The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
  5. The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki
  6. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Non-Fiction Challenge
Level: Explorer (6-10 books)

  1. Jerusalem by Simon Seabag Montefiore
  2. Alpha Beta by John Man
  3. In Search of Plenty: A History of Jewish Food, by Oded Schwartz and Jane Human
  4. Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay
  5. Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Double Classic Challenge
Level: 2 pairs

  1. … OK, I’m stuck, but last year serendipity came to my rescue, so I’m leaving it open. Feel free to suggest anything! (Maybe something connected with one of the readalong classics?)

Oh, and then there’s the Classics Club. But that list needs a post of its own (although, *scratches head*, maybe I’ve reached my list-in-a-post limit for 2013 already with this post…)

How’s 2013 going so far with you? What challenges and group reads are you loving this year?

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Challenges and book clubs and read-a-longs, oh my!

Sorry for posting so little lately, it’s been an IRL whirlwind, and still is. But I’m still here and, guess what?, I’m ready to challenge myself some more. As if I had not over-committed already. Oh well, I cannot resist.

Earlier this year, I mentioned that I wanted to try read-a-longs. Alex directed me to Unputdownables.net, and I have to say that Wallace seems to be an extraordinary and extremely well-organized host. So I decided to take the step. Starting today, Unputdownables is hosting a 13-week read-a-long of Dickens’ Bleak House (follow the link for more information and sign-up).

I downloaded this as an e-book (it is also my first experience with my brand new Kindle) and hoping for no tech problems I am all ready to go. It’s been a while since my last Dickens book and I am looking forward to it, but even more so I am looking forward to the read-a-long experience. To say it all, it looks daunting… but I’m ready for the challenge 🙂

Speaking of which… I have a new postful of reading challenges to sign up for!

Remember how I was looking for a non-fiction challenge? This one, over at The Introverted Reader, may be the best one around. It lasts the whole year 2012, you can sign up any time, it features 4 levels and basically all you have to do is

Read any non-fiction book(s), adult or young adult. That’s it. You can choose anything. Poetry? Yes. Memoirs? Yes. History? Yes. Travel? Yes. You get the idea? Absolutely anything that is classified as non-fiction counts for this challenge.

Last year I read 4 non-fiction books, and I want to do better, so I’m signing up for the Explorer level, 6 to 10 books.

Kinna is hosting the Africa Reading Challenge. I discovered this through Alex and was tempted to follow her idea and read all Lusophone authors. Then I thought again, because I want to read some Francophone lit too. Aaaand, I still hope to visit South Africa sometime soon, so that comes into the equation for the Travel With Books Project. Anyway, the idea is to read 5 books by African authors in 2012. That’s it! I’m in.

I’ve seen this challenge around in the past, and never participated… but I think this is the right challenge for me. According to host Vasilly, a chunkster is 450 pages or more of adult literature, whether non-fiction or fiction. And because, as they say, I do like my books fat and chunky, here I am. I should probably sign up for level 4, but I couldn’t resist the name of level 3: “Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big?“, so I’m in for SIX Chunksters from the following categories: 2 books which are between 450 – 550 pages in length; 2 books which are 551 – 750 pages in length; 2 books which are GREATER than 750 pages in length.

And the Chunkster Challenge also has its own book club! The Chunky Book Club has a schedule of four reads this year. I am already late to participate in the first discussion, and I am not sure I will be able to read the other books in time, but I sure hope so!

That’s all (for now…). If you want to join any of these events, just click through!

Top 10 Books I’d Love to Discuss

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for the list lovers among book bloggers, created and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today the theme is “Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks”.

Now, one of the saddest things about my love of reading is that I never ever had a chance to participate in a book club, it looks like they are not at all common where I live (nor where I used to live in the past). I looked for on line book clubs, but wasn’t very lucky there either: the one I did find, we read and commented one book, and then it was over. 😦

Anyway, here are the top books I would have loved to discuss with a book club after reading:

  1. Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda: it looks like I’m the only one who didn’t like this novel, so maybe someone could explain to me what’s so good about it.
  2. Eric Orsenna, The Indies Enterprise: I said so when I first read this one. It may be a bit weak in terms of narrative, but it is chock full of themes to discuss about.
  3. Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated: I could say of this book the same thing that I said of Orsenna’s: it’s chock-full of themes to talk and think about. Except that this is also a passionating read in and of itself, and a good book all around.
  4. José Saramago, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ: while I did quite like this book, there are so many layers to it that I would have loved a confrontation with other readers and other thoughts.
  5. Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore: my only Murakami so far. I think I’d need someone to read this with me, because while highly readable, I’d love to hear the thoughts of people who know more about Japan and Japanese fiction. There are too many things in there that made no sense at all to me.
  6. Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita: I read this last year and it went right over my head. Would love to read it with someone’s help.
  7. Aristophanes, Lysistrata: I read this earlier this year, and the same applies.
  8. John Irving, The Cider House Rules: I loved this book so much, I just want to shout it from the rooftops! I’d love to share my love by discussing it!
  9. Rose Tremain, Music and Silence: a little-known jewel of a book, I would suggest it as a book club read just to have more people read it.
  10. Erik Fosnes Hansen, Psalm at Journey’s End: another little-known jewel, and one that I would suggest for the same reason as above.

So… anyone know of a good on line book club? Anyone want to read one of these titles with me? Just let me know, OK?