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This week I could no longer keep myself from joining the Graphic Novel Challenge as an Intermediate, which means I need to read 3-10 comic books before January 1st. It was a logical step because I had just finished Mutts earlier in the week (short review to be added later on) and I was also really interested in Read All Over’s mini challenge about reading the graphic version of a classic.

So I picked up Dick Matena’s illustrated version of Gerard Reve’s De avonden (The Evenings) at the library; 4 volumes in total. So far I’ve only read part 1 — and I think that might be enough…

De Avonden (The Evenings) graphic novel part 1-4

De avonden: een winterverhaal (The Evenings: a Winter Story) is a Dutch 1947 classic by Gerard Reve (1923-2006), one of The Grand Threesome of Dutch postwar authors. It’s his most famous work, that is known by all generations that lived during and since the forties. The novel describes the last 10 days of 1946 from the perspective of Frits Egters, an office clerq (not a job he’s proud of). It’s a gloomy depiction of a bourgeois existence — and it shocked many people at the time because of its bleakness. And it still does. Then again, the final paragraph of the The Evenings is considered the best prose of Dutch 20th century literature:

Hij zoog de borst vol adem en stapte in bed. ‘Het is gezien,’ mompelde hij, ‘het is niet onopgemerkt gebleven.’ Hij strekte zich uit en viel in een diepe slaap.

I’m afraid I don’t have any translational skills but I’ll give it a try:

He took a deep breath and got into bed. “It was seen,” he muttered, “it hasn’t gone unnoticed.” He stretched out and fell into a deep sleep.

Page 9 from De avonden, part 1In 2001 Dick Matena converted The Evenings into an unabridged illustrated story for a Dutch newspaper, Het Parool. The graphic novel which was published in 2003-2004. As you can see it’s done in (indian?) ink; in different tones of grey instead of black and white pictures full of contrast. Almost sepia, giving it an ancient feeling ;) But I have no idea if the style fits 1940′s comics; anyone can comment on that?

Anyway, it looks quite sombre, matching the story. The characters’ features aren’t very sharp either. As far as I’m concerned the artwork doesn’t add anything to the narrative; actually I think I’d rather read the original book. One thing I did like though was that Frits Egters is about the same age as my father was at the time; so clothes, haircut, etc. are quite familiar from photo’s ;) But I didn’t feel any connection with the story, nor the personae. Of course maybe I’m not supposed to ;) But it should be fun to read, not a chore.

Graphic Novels mini-challenge button

Which brings me to the reason I picked up this classic… My 2007 personal reading challenge consisted of reading all books on the shortlist for the election of the Best Dutch Book (ever). I skipped The Evenings because I thought I had already read it many years ago. Now I’m not too sure anymore… It might be that I just saw the movie? reading the ‘picture book’ seemed a good alternative. But now that I’ve finished part 1, I don’t feel like spending any more precious reading time on the following 3 volumes. Sorry!

Even worse: Dick Matena is a well-known ilustrator and I considered reading his version of Willem Elsschot’s 1933 classic Kaas (Cheese). But now that I’ve concluded I don’t particularly like Matena’s style I think I’ll pass. But you never know… Last year I wouldn’t have believed that I would be reading so many (ahem) graphic novels by now!

Other Bookish things

But graphic novels weren’t the only bookish thing grabbing my attention this week. I’ve also written a wrap-up post for the 2009 Classics challenge — finally. The one for last year’s What’s in a Name Challenge is still on my to-do list and in only a few days I will need to add another because the 3rd Japanese Literature Challenge ends next Saturday!

Now I need to leave it at this because I really should begin writing my review for The Housekeeper and the Professor. Discussion at the Japanese Literature Book Group starts tomorrow! But you might want to know what book I’m currently reading: The Rapture by Liz Jensen. It is GREAT!

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

Who doesn’t know this famous picture of a Migrant Mother of the American Dust Bowl? It could be the icon of John Steinbeck’s famous novel The Grapes of Wrath, which I read in the autumn of 2009; 60 years after its publication date (1939), which was also the year that my mother was born. It came to be my favourite read of 2009 — something I would never have expected!

Set during the Great Depression preceding World War II, the novel focuses on the Joad family, farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. Because of their hopeless situation they set out for ‘The Promised Land’ of California, along with thousands of other Okies in search of land, jobs and dignity.

Highway 66 is the main migrant road. 66 — the long concrete path across the country, waving gently up and down on the map, from Mississippi to Bakersfield — over the red lands and the grey lands, twisting up into the mountains, crossing the Divide and down into the bright and terrible desert to the mountains again, and into the rich California valleys.

66 is the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land, from the thunder of tractors and shrinking ownership, from the desert’s slow northward invasion, from the twisting winds that howl up out of Texas, from the floods that bring no richness to the land and steal what little richness is there. From all of these the people are in flight, and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight. [p.108]

This quote vividly evokes the story of the east to west migration in the US during the Great Depression. The paragraph above is followed by an enumeration of places along the road and it strongly brought to mind the 1946 song that I came to know decades later, thanks to one of the best pop groups of my teenage years, Depeche Mode: Route 66.

The Grapes of Wrath was banned (and even burned) several times. Though I absolutely not agree with it, of course not — the very idea, I can understand see how that happened: there’s a lot of swearing, violence and carnal stuff in it, plus an apostate preacher, Jim Casy. I read the book in Banned Books Week — and what did I think of it?

Cover Grapes of WrathWell, I had a hard time getting into it. The paperback has a small font on thin pages so it reveals itself to be quite a chunker when you open it for the first time. The spoken language needs a bit of getting used to. But my biggest problem was that the chapters alternate between the (interesting) story of the Joad family and some sort of epic story telling that I couldn’t figure out — and bored me a little at first. Was it the (ex-)preacher preaching? Sort of a ancient Greek choir commenting on events? An omnipresent character? Biblical, mythological? Eventually I decided it must be the oral tradition of history — I could picture the poor travelers meeting around a camp fire at night; neighbours and friends for just a short time.

And then suddenly the machines pushed them out and they swarmed on the highways. The movement changed them; the highways, the camps along the road, the fear of hunger and hunger itself, changed them. The children without dinner changed them, the endless moving changed them. They were migrants. [p.259]

But after a while the story really got under my skin. It made a huge impression that still lasts, even after a few months. I believe it is a great truth that the less people own, the more they’re willing to share. That reminds me of a television program in Holland about hospitality ;)

The attitude of Western Americans was often repulsive.

Them goddamn Okies got no sense and no feeling. They ain’t human. A human being wouldn’t live like they do. A human being couldn’t stand it to be so dirty and so miserable… They ain’t a hell of a lot better than gorillas. [p.203]

This.is.so.un.fair.
It almost made me swear out loud.
But of course, those people were scared too…

I copied whole pages in my notebook because I wanted to remember them. Better buy a copy of my own eh? Since this one was a Random Act of Bookcrossing Kindness, sent to me by boekenxnl. I’ll pass it along as soon as I’ve finished writing this review!

Now, on a side note: I was wondering who made the cover of this 1970 Penguin Modern Classic edition. I couldn’t find it in the book details, nor anywhere on the web. What I coincidence that I went to an exhibition on Edward Hopper and his contemporaries in the Rotterdam Kunsthal, where I came face to face with a painting by Ben Shahn (1898-1969) that immediately reminded me of the cover image! Because of the style, and of its subject: Social Realism (or social-documentary). The exhibition note explained that the artist used to make a photo first, which he later developed into a graphic work.

I figured it would be very appropriate to use a work of art by Shahn as a book cover for The Grapes of Wrath, because during the Great Depression he traveled and documented the American south alongside photographers like (among others) Dorothea Lange, who made the picture of a Migrant Mother that you saw at the beginning of this post. What a great discovery to make!

You can guess how proud I was of myself — until I accidentally found out that the blurb on the back mentioned that “it is a detail of a poster by”… Ben Shahn. DÔH. Well, I would like to say in my own defense that I usually never read the back cover because I want to know as little as possible about a book in advance. And in the end I just forgot. But yes, I admit I must be the dumbest person in the whole wide universe. Still, it’s fun to have figured it out all by myself ;)

Edward Hopper's Railroad Sunset (1929) Whitney Museum of American Art

Except for Hopper’s painting Railroad Sunset the rest of the exhibition actually was a bit of a disappointment. An Edward Hopper expo is no Hopper expo when his most famous painting Nighthawks isn’t there. But of course that picture doesn’t belong to the Whitney Museum of American Art, the institution that put the show together with works out of its own collection.

Back to The Grapes of Wrath. A minor point of critique is that the women in the story are horribly subdue. The following quote doesn’t show that for a 100%, but it made me go BWAAAGH ;)

Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great if their men were whole. [p.7]

But I guess some ‘male dominance’ was normal in those times (& that place) and so Steinbeck is being realistic. But then he talks about Jule, who’s partly Native American:

Tom and Willie and Jule the half-breed sat on the edge of the dance floor and swung their feet. [p.327]

Each time Jule makes an appearance this ‘half-breed’ fact is mentioned. That irritated me — and I got the feeling it wasn’t because Steinbeck happened to be such a great observer, but maybe because that was how he approached Amerindians himself. Or am I terribly wrong??

Thirdly, the poor migrants were at times too good to be true. But these things aside: I am SO glad that I have read this classic!

Btw if you’re interested: I stumbled upon a (really) short article about one of the daughters of the Migrant Mother…

The Grapes of Wrath is part of my Personal 2008-2009-2010 Reading Challenge and the 2009 Classics Challenge.

You must admit that I’ve been really strong so far, not signing up for any 2010 reading challenges even though the rest of the book blogging world seemed to be doing so. Well, before you start congratulating me: today I could no longer resist… :)

Beth Fish Reads is taking over the third What’s in a Name challenge. I liked participating in #2 and I did finish reading all my entries… I just still need to review –whispers– half of them :\ Well, I’ll get to that. Someday.

Here’s the new challenge in brief: between January 1st and December 31st I need to read one book in each of the following categories.

  1. A book with a food in the title.
  2. A book with a body of water in the title.
  3. A book with a title (queen, president, sir) in the title.
  4. A book with a plant in the title.
  5. A book with a place name (country, city) in the title.
  6. A book with a music term in the title.

Ha! I am quickly going to browse my shelves for books to be admitted to this challenge! :)) Maybe I should postpone my Boekgrrls December read, The Gargoyle, to January? ;) No need: in April we’ll be reading John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River! There are two other titles on our list that would fit loosely, but I want to play fair — to begin with :)

Another challenge that I’ve had my eyes on has already started: the Women Unbound challenge, running from November 2009 until November 2010. When I was reading The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata last month I kept thinking about this challenge. So now I’ve actually made the decision to join! I just need to figure out which level: Philogynist (“read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one”) must be doable since I have already read Kawabata and will definitely pick up Sei Shonagon’s classic The Pillow Book soon, which counts for non-fiction. But it should be a challenge! Of course I could always upgrade along the way?

Since the Japanese Literature Challenge is running until February 2010, I am now officially participating in three 2010 reading challenges before the year has even started. Add the remaining three books of my personal 2008-2009 challenge to that and you’ll all think that I must be crazy. So be it. I love you too ;)

spotvogel2It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird [..] They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.

Thanks to a bookcrossing book ring I have finally read Harper Lee‘s 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird. It had been on my wishlist for quite a few years and became part of two challenges: the 2009 Classics Challenge and my personal 2008-2009 challenge. There has been written a lot about this book so I’m just going to add my personal view. Well.. and a little about the story for people who haven’t read it (yet).

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel in which a female attorney, Jean Louise — Scout — Finch, looks back on her childhood during the Great Depression in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first new it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the court-house sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft tea-cakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. [p.11]

The story focusses on the events of a certain summer, that morally and socially shaped Louise into the adult she became. Because of this, the book is considered a Bildungsroman. Although Harper Lee used a lot of autobiographical elements, the novel is fiction.

Cover To Kill a MockingbirdI am very glad I got to read the book. I don’t think it will end up in my 2009 top 5 list, but it was a quick, entertaining read: the story immediately grabbed me and I liked the atmosphere of doom, suggesting that ‘something was going to happen’. The first paragraph sets the tone:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right -angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.
When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident.

The reader now knows that the rest of the book will tell about the events leading up to Jem’s accident. But like in a court case where seperate witnesses have different truths, the sibling’s have different points of view on where it all began.

In my online Boekgrrls book group there was some discussion whether or not the quote above contains vivid imagery. I think so ;) Some people didn’t find it evocative — worse, they thought it gawky because they had to physically try the position of the arm. I rather like it that everywhere around the world and through time, people are swinging their arms while reading ;)

Some women also didn’t find it believable that children were accepted into the courtroom. Well, it was a long time ago… And honestly, isn’t it really harder to believe that black people were treated as lesser humans? And they were! Even though you know that it’s true, it is still shocking to read about this kind of racism. To Kill a Mockingbird was published 5 years after Rosa Parks had refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger (also in Alabama); Harper Lee had been writing on the book for a few years.

Aside from the main storyline (which I am not writing down because it is broadly known and when you’re in the dark about it you might want to keep it that way), you can feel how Scout grows into her later profession even though that was not yet common for women of that time.

“There are lots of reasons. For one thing, Miss Maudie can’t serve on a jury because she’s a woman –”
“You mean women in Alabama can’t –?” I was indignant.
“I do. I guess it’s to protect our frail ladies from sordid cases like Tom’s. Besides,” Atticus grinned, “I doubt if we’d ever get a complete case tried — the ladies’d be interrupting to ask questions.”
Jem and I laughed. Miss Maudie on a jury would be impressive. I thought of old Mrs. Dubose in her wheelchair — “Stop that rapping, [judge] John Taylor, I want to ask this man something.” Perhaps our fore-fathers were wise.
[p.225]

After Jem and his sister have sneaked out to watch the court case, some Southern ladies tease Scout afterwards:

“Watcha going to be when you grow up, Jean Louise? A lawyer?”
“Nome, I hadn’t thought about it..” I answered, grateful that Miss Stephanie was kind enough to change the subject. Hurriedly I began choosing my vocation. Nurse? Aviator?
“Well…”
“Why shoot, I thought you wanted to be a lawyer, you’ve already commenced going to court.”

Recently To Kill a Mockingbird became #1 on the list of the best 60 books of the past 60 years. Maybe not because Harper Lee is the most skilled writer of recent history, but because her book is about the equality of Man.

“Well how do we know we ain’t Negroes?”
“Uncle Jack Finch says we really don’t know. He says as far as he can trace back the Finches we ain’t, but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Etiopia durin’ the Old Testament.”
“Well if we came out durin’ the Old Testament it’s too long ago to matter.”
“That’s what I thought,’ said Jem, ‘but around here once you have a drop of Negro blood, that makes you all black [..]“
[p. 165]

John Sutherland remarks in his article about the list of 60 books:

“[..] as Henry James said, the house of fiction has many rooms. One important room is reserved for fiction that expresses the basic ideals of its time: such as Oliver Twist, or The Grapes of Wrath. To Kill a Mockingbird will always have a high place in that company.”

Cover Grapes of WrathHa! I have just finished John Steinbeck‘s The Grapes of Wrath, which is also on my challenge list (review pending). That book is more about equal rights for ‘poor’ white people from the East of the US migrating to the West in the same period as To Kill a Mockingbird. Both books won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the year after they were published (respectively 1940 and 1961). And both books play in the American South.

Have you ever heard of Southern Gothics, a sub genre of the gothic novel and unique to American literature? I hadn’t. But To Kill a Mockingbird is (by some) considered to belong to this genre.

“Like its parent genre, it relies on supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot. Unlike its predecessor, it uses these tools not for the sake of suspense, but to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the American South.

[..] the writer takes classic Gothic archetypes, such as the damsel in distress or the heroic knight, and portrays them in a more modern and realistic manner — transforming them into, for example, a spiteful and reclusive spinster, or a white-suited, fan-brandishing lawyer with ulterior motives.”

Lawyer. Heroic knight. That’s why Atticus, Scout’s father, seems a bit too good to be true sometimes! But I think it is also because most of the story is told through the eyes of a child — don’t young girls often look up to their fathers, seeing them as hero’s?

Gregory PeckI had to think about my father a lot whilst reading this book. He was a great fan of Gregory Peck, who played Atticus in the 1962 movie adaptation. But he was also born in the same year as Harper Lee and had a huge sense of morality, of justice. He would have liked to become a lawyer. Hee hee, maybe he even looked a little bit like Gregory Peck ;)

I couldn’t help but think of another film as well: Mississippi Burning. Some marvelous actors playing in it: Gene Hackman, William Dafoe, Frances McDormand (I’ll leave it to you to look them up if you don’t know them ;) I would definitely like to see that movie again soon! I don’t feel the need to see To Kill a Mockingbird. But I liked reading this classic enough to want to have a copy of my own. I’ll be on the lookout for a nice edition! :)

Mockingbird sound recording courtesy of The Quomma.

BAFAB book: La petite fille de Monsieur Linh

Books I’ve read this year… (2008)
Een plaats voor wilde bessen (Jagodnye mesta / Wild Berries), Jevgeni Jevtoesjenko (ring)
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing (challenge book) reading along with online experiment!
De jacht op het verloren schaap (Hitsuji o meguru bōken / A Wild Sheep Chase), Haruki Murakami
Obasan, Joy Kogawa
Isaac Israels in het ziekenhuis, Merel van den Nieuwenhof
Meneer Pip (Mister Pip), Lloyd Jones (ring)
Let Them Call It Jazz, Jean Rhys
Het kleine meisje van meneer Linh (La petite fille de monsieur Linh), Philippe Claudel
The Teahouse Fire, Ellis Avery
De liefde tussen mens en kat, W.F. Hermans
Na de aardbeving (Kami no kodomotachi wa mina odoru / After the Quake), Haruki Murakami (re-reading)
Ik heet Karmozijn (Benim adim kirmizi / My name is red), Orhan Pamuk
Met de kat naar bed (Travels with my cat), Mike Resnick
Jennie, Paul Gallico
Anna Boom, Judith Koelemeijer
Possession, A.S. Byatt (challenge book)
The gathering, Anne Enright
The amazing adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (challenge book)
Het vergeten seizoen, Peter Delpeut
Kermis van koophandel: de Amsterdamse wereldtentoonstelling van 1883, Ileen Montijn (non-fiction)
I haven’t dreamed of flying for a while, Taichi Yamada
The truth about food, Jill Fullerton-Smith (non-fiction)
Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov (challenge book)
New York Trilogy, Paul Auster (challenge book)
Migraine voor Dummies (non-fiction)
The bone vault, Linda Fairstein
In Patagonië, Bruce Chatwin (challenge book)
De thuiskomst, Anna Enquist
Dagboek van een poes, Remco Campert
On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan

I sent one of this year’s favourites to my dear friend Loes for BAFAB week = Buy A Friend A Book. It’s Phillippe Claudel’s Het kleine meisje van meneer Linh (La petite fille de monsieur Linh), shown in the picture above. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to — now!

Personal challenges for 2008
ETA: prolonged into 2009, 2010
Read 12 books of 13 of the longlist of the Dutch election for Best Foreign Book that were already on my wishlist:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
✔ The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
✔ New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
The Sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
✔ Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Chosen by Chaim Potok

With 6 books read in 2008 I’m right on track :)

I also had my own Bookcrossing museum challenge: I visiting 6 exhibits in 2008/2009 and releasing appropriate books. Those exhibitions were not random but followed a lecture course I took. I posted about them in Gnoe’s Museumlog (sorry, it’s in Dutch).

Special rings and challenges I participated in this year…
Special rings & rays
De Aziatische boekendoos

Challenges
The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge, 3rd edition. Ibis3 made us a nice challenge page on which you can see that I completed my mission in time!
The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge, 6th edition. The challenge page will tell you that I succeeded again!

Bookcrossing Four Seasons Release Challenge with a total of 14 books:

  • 3 books in spring
  • 3 books in summer
  • 2 books in autumn
  • 6 books in winter

Last but not least…

Find my releases on Gnoe’s Bookcrossing Releases map!

I really have to get away from this computer and do some serious reading! I had planned to join the The Golden Notebook Readalong Project that started yesterday, but I haven’t finished my current book yet (Hitsuji o meguru bōken, or: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami). I don’t seem to get as much reading done as I used to these days :(

The Golden Notebook (by Doris Lessing, of course) was an important feminist book in its day, and I guess that’s how it came on my wishlist ‘to be read someday’. But I haven’t really felt like it up until now (and I still don’t to be honest). I’m afraid it will be difficult or boring… So I made it part of my personal 2008-2009 reading challenge. In the ‘readalong project’ seven female writers will read The Golden Notebook for the first time and blog about it. People like me can have their say on the forum. (Oops, that will get me behind the computer again ;) Well, I should at least try to read this golden oldie from a writer that won last year’s Nobel Prize in Literature!

I am very grateful to Deepswamp from Sweden who made my challenge possible by sending me a bookcrossing copy of The Golden Notebook.

I promised to write about my 2008 reading challenge. I’ll do it in English because I want this post to be available to international readers.

My challenge is to read 12 of 13 titles from the longlist of the Dutch election for Best Foreign Book that were already on my wishlist. So I will choose twelve books out of the next listing:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon read in 2008
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

Possession by A.S. Byatt read in 2008
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro read in 2009
New York Trilogy by Paul Auster read in 2008
The Sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin read in 2008
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing read in 2008
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee read in 2009
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov read in 2008
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck read in 2009

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Up until now I’ve read three of them and handling the fourth so I’m not reaching my target of one book a month ;) But I’ll be updating this post along the way.

For four successive years now I have given myself a reading challenge. It usually just presents itself to me somewhere in the first few months :)

2005 really had three challenges: first to read a book from each decade from 1900 until ‘now’. In that one I succeeded :)

1900-1909: Van oude mensen, de dingen, die voorbijgaan… by Louis Couperus (1906)
1910-1919: Dichtertje by Nescio (1917)
1920-1929: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1927)
1930-1939: Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)
1940-1949: Eens was ik een mens (Se questo è un uomo) by Primo Levi (1947)
1950-1959: Het stenen bruidsbed by Harry Mulisch (1959)
1960-1969: De verzamelaar (The collector) by John Fowles (1963)
1970-1979: Vanonder de koperen ploert by Hans Vervoort (1975)
1980-1989: Strangers by Taichi Yamada (1987)
1990-1999: The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama (1995)
2000-2009: Saturday by Ian McEwan (2005)

Secondly I wanted to read a total of 15,000 pages in 2005… I failed that! :-o At 14,767 I was just a few pages short. Thankfully I did accomplish my third mission to finish all Bookcrossing books on Mount TBR (To Be Read).

In 2006 I read 10 books with the numbers 0-9 in their titles:
0 – Less than zero by Bret Easton Ellis
1 – One flew over the cuckoo’s nest by Ken Kesey
2 – The man who cast two shadows by Carol O’Connell
3 – Driedaagse reis (Three day road) by Joseph Boyden / The third man by Graham Greene
4 – The fourth hand by John Irving
5 – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
6 – Studio Zes (Studio Sex) by Liza Marklund
7 – Seven up by Janet Evanovich
8 – Eight cousins by Louisa May Alcott
9 – The ninth life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

And in 2007 I managed to read all books on the Best Dutch Book shortlist that I hadn’t already read before starting the challenge. Look at this earlier post about which books I’m talking. All Dutch titles of course…

This post will be edited later on to add cover pics…

book coverBookcrossing is instant karma! I just received a package from Taipei, containing Possession by A.S. Byatt as RABCK (Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness). Thank you so much Dauw! Your kindness followed just shortly after I had sent off Greenwich Killing Time to Canada, so like I said, it seems like instant karma :)

Possession is one of the books in my personal 2008 reading challenge. I thought I had already written a post about that but it seems not. Will do – soon – but for now I redirect all who want to know about this challenge to my Bookcrossing bookshelf.

At the moment I’m halfway another challenge book: The amazing adventures of Kavalier & Clay (by Michael Chabon). It’s great! But 639 pages thick, so it will keep me busy for a little while longer. After that I plan to read Anne Enright’s The gathering because it is this month’s book for my virtual book club, the Boekgrrls. But after that… Possession it is!

The 42 books I’ve read in 2007

  • Rosalie Niemand, Elisabeth Marain (stopped reading)
  • The Geographer’s Library *ring*, Jon Fasman
  • Poppy Shakespeare, Clare Allen
  • Max Havelaar, Multatuli
  • Publieke werken, Thomas Rosenboom
  • Dance with death, Barbara Nadel
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • Arthur & George, Julian Barnes
  • Narziss en Goldmund (en andere verhalen) *slow ray*, Hermann Hesse (stopped reading)
  • Het huis van de moskee, Kader Abdolah
  • Het Bureau (deel 1): Meneer Beerta, J.J. Voskuil
  • The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  • De brug, Geert Mak
  • De ontdekking van de hemel, Harry Mulisch
  • En dan zou jij zeggen, Elisabeth Keesing
  • Never let me go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The shape of snakes, Minette Walters
  • Greenwich Killing Time, Kinky Friedman
  • Het zijn net mensen, Joris Luyendijk
  • De lijfarts, Maria Stahlie
  • A cool million, Nathanael West
  • Het geheim van de krokodil, Alexander McCall Smith
  • De grote bocht, Peter Delpeut
  • Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  • De uitvreter, Nescio
  • The inheritance of loss, Kiran Desai
  • Nooit meer slapen, W.F. Hermans
  • Helpless, Barbara Gowdy
  • Heden mosselen, morgen gij (kort verhaal), Hans Vervoort
  • Gods ingewanden (Métaphysique des tubes), Amélie Nothomb
  • Een heel huis vol, Boudewijn Büch
  • Everyman, Philip Roth
  • Bougainville, F. Springer (thank you for this RABCK to Linniepinnie!)
  • Black dogs, Ian McEwan
  • Een stoomfluit midden in de nacht (Yonaka no kiteki ni tsuite), Haruki Murakami (with special thanks to maupi!!!)
  • De Donkere Kamer van Damokles, W.F. Hermans
  • Met angst en beven (Stupeur et tremblements, ring), Amélie Nothomb
  • A place of hiding, Elizabeth George
  • Death in holy order, P.D. James
  • Asta’s book, Barbara Vine
  • In the country of men, Hisham Matar
  • In search of the distant voice, Taichi Yamada

Personal challenge for 2007
YES! On the 3rd of December I’ve accomplished my personal challenge to read all books of the Best Dutch Book shortlist that I hadn’t already read!

(Look at this earlier post to view bookcovers :)

Het huis van de moskee, Kader Abdolah PC
De Donkere Kamer van Damocles, W.F. Hermans PC of Maaike
Nooit Meer Slapen, W.F. Hermans PC of BX-er wolfram-nl
De ontdekking van de hemel, Harry Mulisch BX-copy
Max Havelaar, Multatuli PC
De uitvreter, Nescio PC of BX-er nokawa
Publieke werken, Thomas Rosenboom PC of Maaike
Het Bureau, J.J. Voskuil PC of BX-er wolfram-nl

Books on the shortlist that I had already read before this challenge started:
Hersenschimmen, J. Bernlef
Titaantjes/Dichtertje, Nescio
De avonden, Gerard Reve

With this challenge I was participating in The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge. Ibis3 has made us a nice challenge page. I am not sure if I would have been able to accomplish my goals for 2007 without participating in the challenge!

Special rings and challenges I have participated in…
Special Bookcrossing rings & rays
De Bookcrossing theedoos
Het Nederlandse BookCrossers Kattenjournaal

Bookcrossing challenges
Breng wat kleur in de wereld in januari!
De Nederlandse Release Challenge
Movie Books Release Challenge
Four Seasons Release Challenge
2007 History Challenge
‘Words to Release By’ Challenge
The SIY (Set It Yourself) Challenge, 1st and 2nd edition. You can also find them at Ibis3′s readalong blog.
Hiroshima Anniversary Peace Challenge.

This year’s personal reading challenge is to read all books on the Best Dutch Book (ever) shortlist that I haven’t read yet. The election took place in March this year but the original website has unfortunately been deleted (already!) so there’s no link to provide you with. Here’s the list:

cover Hersenschimmencover Huis van de moskeecover Donkere kamer van Damoclescover Nooit meer slapencover Ontdekking van de hemelcover Max Havelaarcover De uitvretercover Titaantjescover Dichtertjecover Publieke werkenmeneer Beertacover De avonden

Titles in italic I had already read before I started this challenge, bold titles are still to be read before the year ends…

Hersenschimmen, J. Bernlef
Het huis van de moskee, Kader Abdolah
De Donkere Kamer van Damocles, W.F. Hermans
Nooit Meer Slapen, W.F. Hermans
De ontdekking van de hemel, Harry Mulisch
Max Havelaar, Multatuli
De uitvreter / Titaantjes / Dichtertje, Nescio
Publieke werken, Thomas Rosenboom
Het Bureau, J.J. Voskuil
De avonden, Gerard Reve

The final contest was between Kader Abdolah and Harry Mulisch, and Mulisch finally won. It’s interesting that an immigrant came so close to winning the prize for Best Dutch Book ever!

I am now reading Publieke werken so I should be able to finish my challenge before the end of 2007. But because I had left some of the thicker books until last and I didn’t feel much like picking them up, I am participating in an international Bookcrossing challenge: the SIY (Set It Yourself) challenge. It helps motivate to complete my challenge – I don’t think I would have managed otherwise!

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