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2017’s Yearly Challenge: Round Up

I decided to put together four lists this year – one of authors I wanted to read, another of books which had caught my eye, and projects made up of French and Scottish-set books.  I have not done anywhere near as well with my yearly challenges as I had anticipated.  I overstretched myself rather; although I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year, I have neglected these lists over the last few months, and have been reading at whim instead.  I thought that I would just write a relatively concise post about how I did with my challenges in terms of numbers, and which books were particular highlights for me.  You can see my full list, with all of the titles, here.  On a brighter note, I did manage to complete my Reading the World challenge, where I scheduled a review of a piece of translated literature every Saturday.  My full list can be found here.

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George Sand

With regard to the authors, I actually did rather well.  Out of nineteen pinpointed, there were only four which I did not get to (Amelie Nothomb, Lydia Millet, Leena Krohn, and Gunter Grass).  Wonderful discoveries for me from this list were George Sand, John Wyndham, Ira Levin, and Anita Desai.  It was lovely to revisit some favourite authors too – Rebecca West and Agatha Christie, to name but two.

With regard to my book list, I fared worse.  Out of quite an extensive list of titles (thirty-four in all), I only managed to read seventeen.  There were a few books which I was disappointed with (The Shining by Stephen King, The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn), but I found some new favourites too.  Amongst those which I rated the most highly are the beautiful, quiet Welsh novel The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price (review here), the gorgeous and immersive This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell, the perfectly paced The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, the haunting and strange Fell by Jenn Ashworth, the hilariously funny Where Am I Now? 9780143128229by Mara Wilson (review here), the profound and beautifully poetic The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss (review here), and the downright creepy The Dumb House by John Burnside.

My efforts for my French reading project were paltry; I only read nine books out of a list of thirty.  Particular standouts for me were the lovely non-fiction account by Peter Mayle of his move to France, entitled A Year in Provence, Julia Stuart‘s terribly charming The Matchmaker of Perigord, the wonderfully bookish A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse, and the beautiful Strait is the Gate by Andre Gide.  Of my rereads, I very much enjoyed revisiting Irene Nemirovsky, whose books I adore, as well 9781933372822as Elizabeth McCracken‘s searingly touching An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination.

My Scottish reading project was a little better.  Out of twenty-nine books, I read eight, and gave up on four.  I was particularly charmed by Anne Donovan‘s Buddha Da, my reread of Maggie O’Farrell‘s wonderful The VanishingAct of Esme Lennox, and Jenni Fagan‘s engrossing, and awfully human, The Sunlight Pilgrims.

I have set my sights a little lower for my 2018 reading challenge, choosing only to participate in the Around the World in 80 Books group on Goodreads.  I will be reading books from, or set within, eighty different countries around the world, and could not be more excited about what I will discover.

How did you get on with your 2018 challenges?  Do you always set reading challenges, or do you prefer to read without any restrictions?

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Tentative 2017 Reading List

I foresee that I will be rather busy during 2017 due to my PhD thesis, attending supervisions, and exploring Scotland, as well as visiting family and friends, and taking well earnt holidays.  Regardless, I did not want to think about an entire year going by without my being able to have a constructive reading list of sorts with which to work.  I’m not expecting to read everything here, but am using it as a place to check back to every time I want to try something new, or to pick up a book I’ve had on my radar for an awfully long time.  I thought it would be nice to create a post detailing my proposed 2017 reads, and a corresponding page on which to mark off what I have read, and link any appropriate reviews.

Please find below a list of authors, and a separate list of books which I want to get to.  I have also put together a French Reading Project and a Scottish one too, to see me through.  For each, I have included both work by authors who originate in each country, or books which are set there.

Authors:
Olivia Laing; Amelie Nothomb; Lydia Millett; Rebecca West; George Sand; Annie Ernaux; Joan Didion; Leena Krohn; P.D. James; Agatha Christie; Haruki Murakami; Catherynne Valente; Eimear McBride; John Wyndham; Ira Levin; Dorothy L. Sayers; Anita Desai; Isabel Allende; Gunter Grass.

Books:
9780007321599This is Not Your City by Caitlin Horrocks; Corrag by Susan Fletcher; Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann; The Wives by Alexandra Popoff; The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price; Geek Love by Katherine Dunn; The Shining by Stephen King; Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist; The Helios Disaster by Linda Bostrom Knausgard; The Midas Touch by Margaret Kennedy; This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell; The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey; The Conquered by Naomi Mitchison; The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits; The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding; Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski; The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanigahara; Kassandra and the Wall by Margarita Karaponou; Fell by Jenn Ashworth; The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan; Alina: A Novel by Dorothy Strachey; Odes by Sharon Olds; Pepita by Vita Sackville-West; The Bronte Myth by Lucasta Miller; Heroines by Kate Zambreno; What the Light Hides by Mette Jakobsen; Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin; Where Am9781922079299 I Now? by Mara Wilson; Euphoria by Lily King; The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss; The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg; The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia Macgregor; You Are My Heart and Other Stories by Jay Neugeboren; A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside; The Dumb House by John Burnside.

 

French Reading Project:
Foreign Parts by Janice Galloway; A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle; A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway; The Fall by Albert Camus; Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos; Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac; Tartuffe by Moliere; Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik; Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac; Almost French by Sarah Turnbull; The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy; The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart; Camille by Alexandre Dumas; Misanthrope by Moliere; Nicholas by Pere Goscinny; Nadja by Andre Breton; Antigone by Jean Anouilh; A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse; The 9781933372822Wall and Other Stories by Jean-Paul Sartre; Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong by Jean-Benoit Nodeau; The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (reread); Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky (reread); Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne; Sweet Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (reread); The Counterfeiters by Andre Gide; Paris Under Water by Jeffrey Jackson; Paris Was Ours, edited by Penelope Rowlands; At Home in France by Ann Barry; An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken (reread); Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker.

 

Scottish Reading Project:
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley; The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith; Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson; Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh; The Crow Road by Iain Banks; How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman; Corrag by Susan Fletcher; Buddha Da by Anne Donovan; The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell (reread); 9781911215325The Complaints by Ian Rankin; The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson; Under the Skin by Michel Faber; The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks; The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey; Hame by Annalena McAfee; Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson (reread); Everything You Need by A.L. Kennedy; Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell; The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan; The Glister by John Burnside; The Devil’s Footprints by John Burnside; A Kettle of Fish by Ali Bacon; Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith (reread); The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers; The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh; A Disaffection by James Kelman; My Shit Life So Far by Frankie Boyle; Poor Things by Alasdair Gray; Stone Garden by Alan Spence; Trumpet by Jackie Kay.

 

My good friend Katie and I have also resurrected our book club, and have selected twelve books to read together next year.  You can expect reviews of each of them to be posted accordingly.  We have also deliberately chosen to read books by women.

January – Gilgi by Irmgard Keun
February – The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
March – The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
April – Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns 9780993414916
May – No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (reread)
June – The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
July – The Blue Hour by Lillian Pizzichini
August – The Birth House by Ami McKay
September – Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson
October – The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
November – How the Blessed Live by Susannah Smith
December – The Lessons by Naomi Alderman

Each Saturday, I will also be posting a review of a work in translation, as part of my extended Reading the World project.  I am not going to choose these works beforehand; rather, I am going to pick them at my leisure over the year.  Some of my included volumes will invariably be those mentioned above, if translated.

What are you hoping to read in 2017?  Have you read any of these books?  What should I start with?  If you have anything to recommend by my chosen authors, please do let me know.