7

Next Year’s Challenge: Around the World in 80 Books

I set myself rather a lot of reading challenges to meet during 2017 – Reading the World, where I showcase a novel in translation each Saturday; a Reading France project; a Reading Scotland project; several named authors to slot in; and reads for two book clubs, as well as books for studying.  This was, I admit, rather ambitious of me, as I am currently studying full-time.  Regardless, I think I did rather well with the challenges, although I did not quite finish them all.  This was, in part, due to time constraints, as well as not being able to find specific books easily.  Putting myself on a couple of book buying bans throughout the year also didn’t help with my acquisitions, despite my rather large library network’s catalogue.

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Image by Owen Gatley

For 2018 then, I thought I would do something a little different.  I have been a member of the Around the World in 80 Books group on Goodreads for years, with both my original and second accounts on the website.  Oddly, I have never joined in with the challenges on there before.  Whilst I’ll probably still be a silent member of the group, I want to take part in their original 80 Books challenge.  The rules are as follows:

The object of this challenge is to read books that take place in 80 different countries of the world, of your choosing, starting with your home country. During your journey you would have to visit countries within the following 8 regions: North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania/Australia. You are welcome to visit Antarctica during your travels, but this is not required since there are few books from here.
Books must actually take place within the country.
Some books contain more than one location. It is not required that the entire book take place exclusively in that one country. However, a significant portion of the book must be set in the country to get credit. Also, in the case where a book takes place in more than one location, the reader may only take credit for one country.
There are close to 200 recognized countries in the world. However, for the sake of the challenge, you will not be held to using only independent nations. It is perfectly acceptable to using territories, constituent countries, islands, and independent states (not US states).
Re-reads are perfectly acceptable, as are audio books. Books may be in any language.

There are two different ‘modes’ of travel for the reader within this challenge.  The first is the ‘Trekker’, where one has to use transport and routes available to Jules Verne; the second is the Frequent Flier, in which you are allowed to travel around the world via any routes you like.  Whilst the Trekker sounds like a fascinating way of going about it, I’m after a bit of an easier challenge, so I have plumped for the second.  It will allow me to sneak books into my challenge as I come across them.

I am going to try and read as widely as is possible whilst taking on this challenge, and will plump for non-fiction and fiction works, as well as books in translation as often as I can.  I am thinking of extending my ‘Reading the World’ posts of this year, but not focusing solely upon translated literature; rather, I will focus upon those books which I am reading, set in different countries and territories.  I will also be selecting books set within countries which I am travelling to during 2018 as much as is possible.

What do you think?  Have you ever taken part in this challenge, or one like it?  Are there any books which you would like to recommend?  Which countries are you a keen armchair traveller to?

5

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.