16

Akylina’s 2021 Reading Challenges

2021 is just around the corner (how the time flies…) and I’ve decided to start my reading for the new year by participating in two challenges: the European Reading Challenge and the Japanese Literature Challenge 14.

European Reading Challenge 2021

Hosted by Gilion Dumas at rosecityreader.com, the European Reading Challenge runs for its 9th year and is a wonderful way to travel around Europe through our books, until we’re able to physically enjoy the wonders of travel again. The challenge runs from January 1st to January 31st, and there are different levels in which you can sign up and participate. I have 3 books on my TBR for this challenge and 2 backups in case I feel too restrained (admittedly, being a mood reader is not so great during reading challenges):

  • 1973 (or The Wolf and the Watchman as it’s been translated into English by Ebba Segerberg) by Niklas Natt och Dag (Sweden) – (I have the Greek translation by Grigoris Kondylis)
  • Winter’s Tales by Isak Dinesen (Denmark)
  • The Perfume of the Lady in Black by Gaston Leroux (France) – (I have the Greek translation by Vangelis Giannisis)

And my 2 backups:

  • His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK/Scotland)
  • The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë by Daphne du Maurier (UK/England)

I’m still in a mood for wintery reads, mysteries and historical fiction, so I chose my books mostly based on that – plus, they are all books I’ve been meaning to read, so a challenge like this one seems only fitting for me to finally do so 🙂

Japanese Literature Challenge 14

Hosted by Meredith over at DolceBellezza.net, Japanese Literature Challenge runs for its 14th year and it lasts for 3 months, from January to March. For this challenge, I’ve also 3 main books lined up, but since I always have a lot of Japanese literature on the wait and also some reviews to catch up on, I will probably post about more books, and add more books to my TBR as the challenge progresses.

  • Malice by Keigo Higashino (tr. by Alexander O. Smith with Elye Alexander)
  • Okamoto Kido: Master of the Uncanny – Selected Short Stories (tr. by Nancy H. Ross)
  • Fumiko’s Feet (『富美子の足』 tr. into Greek by Panayotis Evangelides)

One of my goals for 2021 is to read more in Japanese, so I will probably read a book or two in Japanese as well, but I don’t think I will post about them here, so I’m not including them in my TBR for the challenge.

Do you have any reading plans for the new year? Are you participating in these or any other reading challenges? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

17

20 Books of Summer 2020 – Akylina

Summer is just around the corner, and although this year’s summer is going to be very different due to the pandemic, we can still find comfort and solace in our books. For this reason, I decided to participate in 20 Books of Summer, organised by the lovely Cathy at 746books.

I have chosen some books that I planned to read this year, an assortment of review copies, murder mysteries, Japanese literature, fantasy and translated literature. I love how versatile this challenge is, since it allows you to change the books you’ve initially chosen or even increase/decrease the number as you go. It’s still quite unclear how busy this summer will be for me at work, plus I have chosen some quite chunky books, so I’m always relieved at the idea that I can edit my TBR as I see fit. Also, June is my birthday month, and I do expect to acquire a few new books 😉

So, without further ado, my current TBR for the 20 Books of Summer challenge is as follows:

1. The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë by Daphne du Maurier
2. The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
3. Where the Wild Ladies Are by Matsuda Aoko, tr. by Polly Barton
4. 1793 (published as The Wolf and the Watchman in English) by Niklas Natt och Dag, tr. in Greek by Grigoris Kondylis
5. Murder in the Museum by John Rowland
6. The Other Mrs. Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis
7. The Yogini by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, tr. by Arunava Sinha
8. The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie
9. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
10. Hide My Eyes by Margery Allingham
11. Breasts and Eggs by Kawakami Mieko, tr. by Sam Bett and David Boyd
12. Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, tr. by Ginny Tapley Takemori
13. The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao
14. The Muse by Jessie Burton
15. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara, tr. by Cathy Hirano
16. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
17. Strokes of Brush and Blade: Tales of the Samurai by Various
18. The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson
19. Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
20. The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo, tr. by Yumiko Yamazaki

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Are you participating in 20 Books of Summer? What are your summer reading plans?

3

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?

1

November Book Haul

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted that I haven’t published any book haul posts since August.  This is because I have been very restrained with adding to my TBR, focusing instead on reading books which I already own, as well as many tomes which are still unread on my Kindle.  I have caved a little in November however, and thus have a few different titles recently added to my shelves, both literal and virtual, to talk about.

9781474604796I shall detail those which I have bought for my Kindle first.  I tend not to buy books from Amazon, whose morals are not up to scratch in a lot of ways, but wanted a few things to read both over Christmas, and on future holidays.  Everything which I purchased was rather cheap (under £2 per book), and they are largely tomes which I have found it difficult to get hold of in physical editions.  I thus chose four titles by the wonderful Celia Fremlin, whose work I have recently discovered: Don’t Go to Sleep in the Dark: Short Stories, The Trouble-Makers, Uncle Paul, and The Jealous One, all of which have been recently reissued by Faber Firsts.  I took advantage of two Kindle daily deals to buy a rather lovely-looking novel, The Boy Made of Snow by Chloe Mayer, along with a shortlisted title from this year’s Man Booker Prize, The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund.

I have been a big fan of Nancy Pearl, librarian extraordinaire, for rather a few years 9781477819456now, and am starting to actively choose and seek out those titles which she has recommended, and which appeal to me (which, to be fair, is most of them).  I saw a copy of Susan Richards Shreve‘s Plum and Jaggers on the Kindle store for just £1, and couldn’t resist purchasing it.  To appease a bout of nostalgia, I also chose to download a copy of Christmas Tales by Enid Blyton, one of my favourite childhood authors.  I’m very much looking forward to snuggling up with it next month!

I saw a wonderful review of Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman, and decided to sneak a secondhand copy into my AbeBooks basket, which I purchased soon afterwards.  It’s a memoir of her experience with breast cancer, and whilst not the most cheerful tome, I’m hoping to read it over the Christmas holidays.  I have also been 9781509813131keen to undertake a year-long reading project for a few years now, and have finally found what I hope is the perfect book with which to do so – Allie Esiri‘s beautiful A Poem for Every Night of the Year.  I am gifting myself a lovely hardback copy for Christmas, and shall be savouring one poem every day (or, rather, night) in 2018.

As some of you may have seen, I am taking part in the Around the World in 80 Books challenge next year, and have been busy preparing lists, and finding tomes on my to-read pile which fit.  There are several countries I wish to read about which were proving difficult to find books from, at least with regard to my existing titles and those which I can find in the library, and I thus bought five from AbeBooks to prepare myself well.  I chose Two Under the 9781870206808Indian Sun by Jon and Rumer Godden, Spanish author Mathias Malzieu‘s The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Sigrid Rausing‘s memoir of working on an Estonian farm, entitled Everything is Wonderful, Welsh author Eiluned LewisDew on the Grass, and Marguerite Yourcenar‘s Coup de Grace, which is set in Latvia.

Going forward, for ease of admin more than anything else, although with a little sprinkling of hope that I will gain enough willpower not to buy any new books, I will be grouping two or three months into each of these book haul posts.  They will thus be far more infrequent, but rather larger than detailing one or two new books each month.

Which books have you bought this month?  Are there any on my list which pique your interest, or which you would like to see full reviews for?

Purchase from The Book Depository

10

German Literature Month & Non-Fiction November

November is one of my favourite months and I’m extremely glad that so many bookish events are being organised in the bookish side of the internet. I have decided to participate in two this time around but I don’t want to be too ambitious with my TBR lists because I’m the worst in time management.

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Starting off with German Literature Month, I have two books lined up:

  • Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman by Stefan Zweig

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As for Non-Fiction November, my list comprises of the following:

  • No Time to Spare by Ursula Le Guin
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
  • Why Read the Classics? by Italo Calvino

I’m very excited about both events and, of course, I’ve already started my reading 😉 Are you participating in any of those events?

2

2017 Reading Goals: An Update

It seems like high time for an update as to how I’m getting on with my 2017 reading goals.  When I made my list last November, I was aware that I was being very ambitious, particularly with a PhD thesis to write, and trying to cut down on the number of books I’m purchasing.  Still, the organised bookworm inside me could not be stilled, and I came up with rather a large list, comprised of a series of authors and a list of standalone books I wanted to read, as well as a French and Scottish reading project.

I’ve not done fantastically thus far, truth be told.  I was relying on the library to provide most of the outlined tomes when the year began, but many copies have been lost, or the previous borrower hasn’t yet returned them.  A few have been incredibly difficult to find through other avenues.

If we look at the authors and distinct books list, I haven’t done too badly.  Out of nineteen authors which I wrote on my list, I have read books by thirteen of them; the only ones which I have outstanding are Amelie Nothomb, Lydia Millet, Joan Didion, Leena Krohn, Ira Levin, and Gunter Grass.  I am going to aim to read one book by each of these authors before the year is out, but Nothomb and Krohn are eluding me rather at present.  With regard to the books which I outlined, I have read fourteen of them (unlucky for some!), and have nineteen outstanding (not so good!).  Two of these are on my to-read pile, but the others I’m not having a great deal of luck with finding.  I’m hoping to be able to get to them all by the end of the year (although I may leave the M.R. Carey by the wayside, as Fellside was largely disappointing).

I am doing relatively poorly with my geographical reading projects this year.  Of the thirty books on my Reading France project, I have read just seven of them, and have two on my to-read list.  A lot of the books which I was very much looking forward to have proved almost impossible to get hold of, which is a real shame; I may have to add them back onto my TBR list, and tackle them at another time.  With regard to my Reading Scotland list, I have read twelve of twenty-nine, and only have one of them on my to-read list (it’s actually my boyfriend’s book).

Looking over my lists, and the progress which I have made (or not!), I have decided that it’s probably not a good idea to be so ambitious going forward.  I have one project in mind for next year, but it’s free choice, so I will definitely have no trouble getting my hands on elusive tomes.

 

 

 

How are you getting on with your reading challenges this year?

13

Finding Reading Challenges… Well… Challenging!

I have been an awful reader of late.  Rather than getting through tomes at my usual pace, I have been rather busy, and have let my reading slide in consequence.  I was away for half of August, first in France and Belgium with my parents, and then in Oslo with my boyfriend – and reading was, understandably, not my main priority.

Perhaps predictably, then, I have failed with my 20 Books of Summer challenge.  I am also struggling to keep up with my Virago and Persephone lists; I had not set myself numeric goals to get through a prescribed number each month, but I have not been purchasing books, and have fallen behind somewhat.  The same can be said for mine and Yamini’s Fifty Women Challenge.  I have had to reschedule some old posts to keep up with the aforementioned, and there is no way that I will meet the target by the end of the year.  I am fully resigned to the fact that I probably will not meet my Classics Club target either, as University reading obviously has to take priority.

From now on, then, I am not going to be subscribing to any reading challenges.  Whilst I love creating the initial lists, and beginning to read from them, I never find that I am entirely satisfied with my reading pace.  I am going to be completing my Classics Club list, but may need more time in which to do so.  I will also be finishing my Virago and Persephone lists, but these are evidently longterm goals, rather than those which I will be able to complete soon.

Here ends this rather depressing post; I can only cross my fingers that my reading picks up a little in future.

8

Some More Reading Challenges

 

I recently stumbled upon some fantastic reading challenges, and even though I already have a couple of them still running, I couldn’t resist joining in those as well.

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Austen in August

Sometimes I feel ashamed that I haven’t yet read the entirety of Jane Austen’s books, so I think I found the best opportunity to mend this situation with the Austen in August challenge. Hosted by the lovely Roof Beam Reader, this is a challenge I’m really excited about. I don’t know if I’ll manage to read all of the books I have planned for it (since some non-fiction is included as well), but I’m hoping to get through most of them at least. So, my list is as follows:

  • Emma
  • Sense and Sensibility (which I don’t own a copy of yet)
  • Jane Austen by Carol Shields
  • Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England by Roy & Lesley Adkins

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(I had originally planned on including Persuasion as well, but I couldn’t resist the urge to read it now, so I have already started this one. I’m not including it in my list, but I’ll post my review on it during August.)

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Japanese Literature Challenge 9

Hosted by the wonderful Dolce Belezza, this challenge runs from June 2015 to January 2016. The aim is to read at least one Japanese book during those months. I have quite a few unread Japanese books on my shelves, and I certainly plan on purchasing a few more I really want to read in the following months, so when I stumbled upon this challenge I immediately knew I had to jump in. Now, about my list. I have included so far only the books I currently own, but since I certainly plan on getting some more Japanese books, the list will most likely change. In any case, my (temporary) list is this:

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  • Tokyo Express by Seicho Matsumoto
  • Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse
  • Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology edited by Ivan Morris
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi by Junichiro Tanizaki
  • Koritsuita Kaori by Yoko Ogawa (it’s not translated in English and since I have the Greek translation, I’m listing it with its Japanese title)
  • Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
  • Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara
  • The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue
  • Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  • The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (I feel this is going to be included in every month’s reading list until I finally finish it..)

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The last challenge I plan on participating for now, is hosted by the wonderful Cathy746books. I will not compose a list of books I plan to read for this challenge, since I feel I’m not going to stick to it if I do. With my birthday book haul coming closer and the books for all the challenges I’ve already participated in, I think I will have plenty of material to fill up the 20 books for this challenge. Since I’m a mood reader mostly, I would hate to have a set list and then divert from it because I feel more like reading another book which isn’t on my list.

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Challenge: 20 Books of Summer 2015

The lovely Cathy at 746 Books hosts a wonderful summer challenge which runs between the start of June and the start of September, in which she chooses twenty books to read and blog about (more about the challenge here).  I have chosen to make my own list of twenty books; I am ideally hoping to read more than this, but with a large University reading list looming, I’m not actually sure how much reading for pleasure I will be able to do in the coming months.

I have chosen only books from my physical to-read pile, with one exception.  Whilst there are many books on my Kindle which I am very much looking forward to, they are not taking up vital shelf space, and can thus wait for a later date.  I have tried to make my list as varied as possible, but have mainly included hefty non-fiction tomes which I know will sit on my shelves gathering dust if I don’t do anything about them soon.

Without further ado, here is my 2015 list:

1. Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke (Kindle)20-books-of-summer-master-image
2. Of Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant
3. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
4. Stalin and His Hangmen by Donald Rayfield
5. The Kit-Cat Club by Ophelia Field
6. My American by Stella Gibbons
7. The End: Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw
8. War and Peace (Volume I) by Leo Tolstoy
9. The World That Was Ours by Hilda Bernstein
10. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
11. Love, Sex, Death and Words by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender
12. Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge
13. The Sunflower by Rebecca West
14. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
15. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
16. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
17. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
18. Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser
19. J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys by Andrew Birkin
20. Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege by James Holland

8

Reading England 2015

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Two of my 2015 reading resolutions was to read more classic books and to read more books set in England, and the Reading England Challenge hosted by the lovely Behold the Stars helps me accomplish both. The aim is to read at least one book set in a different county of England during the year and thus travel around the country through those books. There are also four different levels according to the number of counties you aspire to tackle. I decided to be venturous this time and choose level four, which corresponds to 12+ counties. My list is as follows (you can also see this page where I will be keeping track of my progress throughout the challenge):

Berkshire
• The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
• The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde

Cambridgeshire
• Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf

Cornwall
• Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
• Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Cumbria
• The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Derbyshire
• Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (re-read)

Devon
• Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
• The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Essex
• Nightingale Woods by Stella Gibbons
• The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (re-read)

Hampshire
• The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Kent
• Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot
• Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Lancashire
• North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

London
• Emma by Jane Austen
• Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
• Night and Day by Virginia Woolf

Northamptonshire
• Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Nottinghamshire
• Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

Somerset
• Persuasion by Jane Austen

Surrey
• The Watsons by Jane Austen

Sussex
• Sanditon by Jane Austen

Warwickshire
• As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Wiltshire
• The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Yorkshire
• Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
• The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Behold the Stars has also included some suggested books for each county, so if you are interested you can check out the list 🙂 I plan on posting a review here on each of these books as soon as I finish them.

I wish the best of luck to everyone who joins in the challenge!