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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A fiesta that caught me unawares

Oh how I like unusual words!

unawares adv. so as to surprise.

What I like less, is when things catch me unawares. (Please, stay! I promise I have a point with this post!)

You may have noticed how, at the beginning of September, I said that I would do this, that and the other, and then just kind of fell off the radar altogether. There is a reason for that, one that I may well tell you about — no, don’t worry, it won’t be now. Because now I have something more important to say.

While I was off the radar, September went by and Bloggiesta crept up on me and is suddenly here! I didn’t realize it was this late. Ahem. Well. Oh well.
I do have plenty to do, but little time to blog over the weekend… and I’ll have to change my Bloggiesta plans a bit. But I plan to enjoy the sudden fiesta all the same!

Here’s my to-do list:

  1. Finish reading The Rock (I know, I know, it’s not a readathon, but I do want to finish it before the end of the month and it fits the following points too, so I’ll stretch the rules and make it a readathon/bloggathon fiesta — there’s no rule saying I can’t, right?)
  2. Write the stats post for the end of September (see? I need to finish that book!)
  3. Write the October list post
  4. Think about what I want to do with this blog
  5. Reply to that guest post offer (as soon as I decide what to reply, which will only be after I complete #3)
  6. Design the button for a personal project that I am pushing back again and again (no, I won’t tell you what it’s about, not yet. A hint? Are you asking me for a hint? Oh, OK: it’s for the Italian section, and it’s about words)
  7. Write (or at least give myself a clear schedule to do so) some other non-review posts, such as: “T___ with G,R&N”, “S___ under the same ___” and “Book K___” (wondering about all those blanks? Well I couldn’t give away the titles like that, could I?)
  8. Explore blogs and mini-challenges (of course, that’s the whole point)

You may have noticed that there’s no technical side to my list. Well, what can I say: at the moment I am more concerned with the content and where I want to go with that. But if you think there are issues with my container (are those annoying CAPTCHAs still there? Do you find my language setup confusing? Does the theme make your browser crash?) please do let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Happy Bloggiesta, everybody!

Love is on the 11th – 2 years of love

On this day I celebrate the best thing that happened in my life. Two years ago husband and I got married. Two years of happiness, two years of togetherness, two years of love.

As I did last year, I want to gift my husband on this blog with a list of books. I realized that telling the story of our second year together in books was harder, so I decided to go another route: the 2nd anniversary is the year of cotton, and here’s a list of 11 cotton-related books for you, husband!

  1. Let’s start generic: Cotton: The Biography of a Revolutionary Fiber, by Stephen Yafa
  2. So far, so good (2 years gone, plenty to go): Sew Far, So Good, by Monica Ferris
  3. To make life sweeter and sweeter, and sweeter: Cotton Candy and Lemon Drops, by Jebbi Maguire
  4. To make our home more welcoming (and our memories last forever): How to Make an American Quilt, by Whitney Otto
  5. Because it’s important to make marriage more beautiful every day: Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi
  6. Because it’s important to take care of our marriage day by day: A Stitch in Time, by Penelope Lively
  7. And because it’s better to be prepared (even though I really hope we won’t ever need it): The Art of Mending, by Elizabeth Berg
  8. We’ll always be a classic: 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, by Tennessee Williams
  9. Life is better in singing: How to Knit a Love Song, by Rachael Herron
  10. A bit of hope for the future: The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir, by Patricia Harman
  11. Another bit of hope: Figli. Come cotone al vento. (Children. Like Cotton in the Wind), by Paola Castagna

With all my love.

DISCLAIMER: I am aware that the rest of the world is commemorating today a very different event and I have no intention of being disrespectful towards the people who died or suffered because of 9/11 and everything that happened because of that. I do think about and pray for them. But to me, today is the second anniversary of our wedding more than anything else.

Oh, September…

September is here and summer is over. Or not really over, there’s still plenty of sun ’round here and maybe a couple of trips to the sea ahead, but around the blogosphere it feels like summer is over. (I guess it has to do with school schedules, but that’s something that I’m not concerned with at all at this point in life.)

I finished yesterday the Semi-Charmed Summer 2012 Book Challenge organized by Megan. It was a fun experience, different from most because it worked with points and felt more like a competition than a reading challenge, but it fit the summer feeling perfectly and allowed me to get some reading done. (I did have to tweak the last couple of categories in order to finish in time, but still.) So I guess yes, in blogging terms summer is really over for me too. And I am ready for more “serious” reading (not that I stopped reading serious things, but I did get more fluff than usual this summer).

So. September. The good thing with the end of summer is that there’s plenty of interesting things starting to happen. I wonder how much I can do — let’s see.

September 1st to October 31st: here comes the seventh edition of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, hosted by Carl V. @ Stainless Steel Droppings. I’ve never participated before because Gothic/Horror is not really my thing, but the experiences organized by Carl are always great fun, so I thought I would try. I’ll start easy, with “Peril the Third or, the One Book Only option”, and I think I have one book that fits the bill. Or more than one, possibly.

September-October is also the timeframe of the current Read-a-Long @ Unputdownables. I so loved the first experience that I was looking forward to Wallace’s next read-a-long that would catch my interest. The current read is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, which I remember loving more than I expected to when I read it for the first time. So it will be a re-read, and at the same time not a re-read, because I read it in Italian and will try the original this time. I am looking forward to an interesting discussion on this one!

September is also Chunky Book Club month. This is probably the only month I can participate in the discussion this year and I am looking forward to it, but I still have to start reading. September’s pick is Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants, and discussion starts on the 15th.

In non-readalong news, September is the month of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week, which will be hosted on September 10th to 14th. This is a first for me and I am sad that I won’t be able to participate in full, but I’m still curious to see how it goes and looking forward to participating as much as I can!

I recently and totally by chance became aware of the Antonio Tabucchi Week which will be hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat on September 17th to 23rd. I don’t know that I can read more by him right now, but I hope it will be a chance to discuss two works I read recently, Sostiene Pereira and Requiem.

Towards the end of the month, it’s time for a new Bloggiesta on September 28th to 30th. Fun and a chance to blog better? Count me in. There’s so much more I’d like to put into my blogging!

To close the circle, let me finish with something for October: as part of the R.I.P VII, Carl is hosting a read-a-long for Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Guess who’s not going to miss that?

_____

Post summary: a list of books I want to read in September (did I mention I want to finish a couple of challenges too?)

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
  • Kraken by China Mieville or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
  • The Rock by John Masters
  • The Most Beautiful Thing by Fiona Robyn
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory

I must be joking… (a filler post)

Alternate title: book lists and more challenges (just because)

Yesterday I received a Bookring book – the first in the Hunger Games trilogy. I’ve never been enticed by its premise, but after all the hype, and the movie, when I saw a chance to get all three books from Bookcrossing I decided to give them a go. We’ll see. But between that (3 Brings make for some time constraint) and my perusal of my own 2012 challenges page (which I need to work on, really!) I felt the urge to write down a list of books I want to get to before my next reading stats update (i.e. before the end of June). I usually don’t: I prefer to choose my books one by one, so this is new for me, and I wonder how it will go. And here, in no particular order, is the list:

  • The Hunger Games (plus the other two books in the series, provided they arrive here in time)
  • The Lord of the Flies
  • Gates of Fire
  • A Feast for Crows
  • Jellicoe Road
  • The Sacred Night
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers
  • The Rock
  • Prose Edda
  • Gilgamesh

(I think I’ll never make it. And I’ll never stick to the list anyway. So. Ahem.)

And now for the “must be joking” part: you guessed it, I’m signing up for more challenges!

The Classic Double Challenge is hosted by Melissa at One Librarian Book Reviews. I just love the idea: read one classic, and one book related to it. Like, read Jane Eyre, and The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Or, read Little Women, and March by Geraldine Brooks. You get the idea.

I haven’t picked out titles yet, but I’m keeping this easy at the lower level: just 2 books (one can always add more later, right?)

The Summer Challenge, hosted at a Semi-Charmed Kind of Life, I am doing just for fun — because a light summer challenge is always good, and because the categories fit well my own plans!

  • a book chosen for the U.S. 2012 World Book Night If I can get a copy… there’s more than one that I’d love to read
  • a book you were supposed to read in school, but either bailed on or Cliff-Noted The Prose Edda. I wasn’t supposed to read the whole of it, but it was part of the curriculum
  • a memoir or narrative nonfiction book
  • read a book in one calendar day. (Must be at least 150 pages long.) Blessed are the Cheesemakers. I know I can make it. I just need to be traveling.
  • a book that you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t gotten around to yet
  • a pair of books that have antonyms in the titles
  • a book that is set in a place you’ve never been but want to visit The Sacred Night (that’s Morocco) or Jellicoe Road (for Australia)
  • a book written the year you were born that was later made into a movie. Read the book and watch the movie; compare.
  • Go into a bookstore or library. Pick any bookshelf. Read the third book from the left on the fourth shelf from the top. (If it’s not at least 200 pages, pick the next book to the right.)
  • a book about which you’ve heard bad things A Feast for Crows. I’ve heard plenty of bad things. From myself, mostly.
  • a trilogy (or any three consecutive books in a series) The Hunger Games trilogy. That was easy 🙂