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Crazy Comma Momma’s mini challenge for this twentieth hour is writing a haiku about the read-a-thon or the book you’re reading. Poetry is not one of my strong suits but here’s an attempt at a ‘zen moment’ in 5-7-5 syllables. Please don’t laugh! ;)

In bed with the cats
reading The Book of Negroes
– Sunday morning bliss

Button 24 Hour Read-a-ThonYay, after two-and-a-half years I’m finally participating again in the 24 hour read-a-thon! And I’ve been extremely looking forward to it. :) It was rather difficult to keep the date free since so many activities seem to be planned this weekend, but I was firm and only have a birthday to go to later on.

That’s also why I allowed myself to start an hour earlier than the set time for my zone here in Utrecht: at 13.00 instead of 14.00. And I already know I won’t be reading around the clock but that’s okay: today is meant to get some reading done and I NEED that because I’ve been in some kind of slump and I got this Bookcrossing bookray that I want to get on with – The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (Het negerboek in Dutch).

Cover Het negerboek / The Nigger Book (Lawrence Hill)

The bookmark you see I cut from a thank-you note card that was sent to me by a swap-bot member.

Delight in the little things

Balou the Bear from Jungle BookCute, isn’t it? That’s a quote by Rudyard Kipling, the author of Jungle Book (who used to be accused of racism but got revalued later on).

I also won’t be blogging, tweeting, FB-ing much today, nor participate in (many) challenges or lose myself otherwise in social media. I may post an occasional update but for me today is meant for reading even though I know the readathon is much about the community as well. A grrl has to set priorities!

Why don’t you follow my example and pick up a book?

Summarizing for the Introductory Questionnaire

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
    Utrecht – the Netherlands – Europe
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
    Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?
    None in particular, though I’ll be having a nice mezze dinner at a birthday party with dishes like houmous, pide bread and caponata mmmmm. :)
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself!
    I’m looking forward to having some quality time with da ladies: Juno, Nina and Kuki! Reading and cats go great together! ;)
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
    I haven’t participated in the last read-a-thon (as I said at the beginning) but I know from previous ones that social media are majorly distracting!

I’ve got some fun bookish things to share from the past week. First of all I received a RABCK from ApoloniaX in Germany: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Did you know it is the prototype of the modern detective story in the English language?

But that wasn’t all. I also received my present from velvet’s 12 Days of Christmas giveaway on vvB32 reads. A package with no less than 3 books and some other goodies! A post about that will be up soon, so I’m keeping the exact contents a secret for just a while longer ;)

I also worked some more on Graasland: I added my list of books read in 2001 and published my review of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The classic is now on its way to another reader in the UK.

Me, I’m off to the suburbs for another release in Bookcrossing Monopoly. Sounds like I’m having a good time, right?

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 ;)

Sunday, actually most of the weekend, was dominated by my first Bloggiesta. And it’s not over yet, so I’m still having fun! Even though I didn’t get as much work done on Graasland as I had hoped. Especially regarding my review backlog… :(

Anyway, following last week’s Sunday Salon about the books I read in 2009 I made some pie charts on:

  • gender,
  • fiction/nonfiction,
  • original language.

I forgot about statistics on authors new to me: 22 of 34!

Yesterday I finally finished reviewing my best read of 2009: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. That is such a relief! Post scheduled for later this week.

I decided to cut back on challenges this year that require me to write reviews. That means I have to stick with the ones I’ve joined until now — and maybe even drop out of the What’s in a name? challenge. Unless I’ll be able to write really short reviews, or even just comments on the challenge blog. Let’s not be too radical at once ;)

During the week I finished reading 2 books, one of which belongs to the What’s in a name? challenge, category ‘title’ (Professor):

Both were VERY good, so I’m off on a good start this year! :)

My Gnoegle map of Bookcrossing releasesThanks to the Bloggiesta I added two challenge pages to Graasland: current and finished. That way I could declutter my sidebar of old challenge buttons. But I replaced them with something new: a Gnoegle map button leading to my Google map of Bookcrossing releases. I completely made it myself! *solliciting compliments*

One of the things you’ll be able to find on the Gnoegle map is team De Boekenleggers’ release in week 10 of Bookcrossing Convention Monopoly. Search for Een echte Lizzie kerst (A Real Lizzie X-Mas) on page 2. It was hung in a real life Christmastree and happened to be the 200th release of the game!

Which reminds me of some other Bookcrossing related activities I participated in last year, that haven’t been mentioned yet on this blog.

Being in the mood for archiving I also added two posts to Graasland about books read in 2005 en 2006. And I have updated my profile on the Bookcrossing bookshelf. Such a lot of maintenance I got done! HOORAY!

So, how was your week???

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 ;)

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 ;)

2009 was a good year for reading. I completed 35 books (5 more than last year) and I didn’t put any aside because I found them too disappointing. My eyes have goggled a total of 10.038 pages ;)

2009 FIRSTS:

I’m afraid I have a lot of ‘wrapping up’ to do on my challenges — writing reviews and wrap-up posts — so thank god for next weekend: it’s Bloggiesta!

Now, the highlights of 2009…. (drum roll)

BESTEST book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (published in 1939)

I would never have guessed it would end as my best read of 2009. I had a hard time getting into the book, especially because of the ‘epic’ chapters intertwining the story of the Joad family during the Great Depression in the US. But it really got under my skin. And looking back The Grapes of Wrath definitely made the biggest (and a long lasting) impression.
I still need to review it so I guess it’d better be one of the first to tackle. (Review added)

SECOND best book: The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata (1962)

I had never heard of Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, even though I’ve been reading Japanese authors for a while now. So I’m really glad I got to know him thanks to the Japanese Literature Book Group that started this year. Again, I haven’t reviewed this book yet :\ But I absolutely loved the detailed descriptions of Kyoto and Japanese culture. It reminded me of last year’s favourite: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. But The Old Capital is way more subtle — Japanese, where The Teahouse Fire is recognizably American in comparison. So, another review that’s high on my to-do list.

Worst book: Butterfly in the Wind by Rei Kimura (2000)
What do you know, I do have a review of this year’s worst read on Graasland! ;) That’s because it was the first book I read for the Japanese Literature Challenge (for which I actually only needed to read 1 book, but why stop, especially after such a disappointment? ;) I read Butterfly in the Wind in Dutch (Vlinder in de wind) and found the content, the way the story was told ánd the translation all h o r r i b l e.

I have thought of listing more books especially worth mentioning, but I had many good reads this year so I’ll just give you the whole lot of them. The first title (Silk) was read last, the last of the list my first book of 2009 (Falling Angels). Are there any of these you would have picked as your best read?

  • Zijde (Seta / Silk), Alessandro Baricco
  • The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson (online reading group)
  • I am a cat (Wagahai wa Neko de Aru), 2nd volume, Natsume Sōseki (Japanese Literature Read-along, JapLit Challenge)
  • The Old Capital (Koto 古都), Yasunari Kawabata (Japanese Literature Reading Group)
  • Persuasion, Jane Austen audio book
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (November Book Group read; What’s in a Name)
  • I am a cat (Wagahai wa Neko de Aru), 1st volume, Natsume Sōseki (Japanese Literature Read-along, JapLit Challenge)
  • Coraline, Neil Gaiman (graphic novel)
  • De pianoman, Bernlef
  • Be With You (Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu), Takuji Ichikawa
  • The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck ((multiple) challenge book) TNX to boekenxnl for this rabck!
  • Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (Classics challenge; online reading group)
  • Het Pauperparadijs, Suzanna Jansen (non-fiction)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (Bookcrossing bookring / (multiple) challenge book)
  • Vlinder in de wind (Butterfly in the Wind), Rei Kimura (Japanese Literature challenge book)
  • Away, Amy Bloom (online reading group)
  • The Mapmaker’s Wife, Robert Whitaker (Bookcrossing bookring / What’s in a name challenge book)
  • What came before he shot her, Elizabeth George (What’s in a name challenge book)
  • With no one as witness, Elizabeth George
  • Zo god het wil (Crossroads / Come Dio Comanda), Niccolò Ammaniti
  • De inboorling, Stevo Akkerman
  • Ten zuiden van de grens, ten westen van de zon (Kokkyo no minami, Taiyo no nishi / South of the Border, West of the Sun), Haruki Murakami
  • De kleine keizer (‘The Little Emperor‘), Martin Bril (What’s in a name challenge book)
  • Nikolski, Nicolas Dickner (ring)
  • Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh ((multiple) challenge book / bookgroup)
  • Slam, Nick Hornby
  • Notes from an exhibition, Patrick Gale
  • Rivier der vergetelheid (Meuse l’oubli), Philippe Claudel
  • Dans dans dans (Dansu dansu dansu / Dance dance dance), Haruki Murakami
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro ((multiple) challenge book)
  • Grijze zielen, Philippe Claudel (What’s in a name challenge book)
  • The National Trust for Scotland: Brodie Castle (non-fiction)
  • De ijdele engel, Godfried Bomans
  • The End of Mr Y, Scarlett Thomas (TNX to rapturina for this rabck!)
  • Vallende engelen (Falling Angels), Tracey Chevalier

The ‘stats’ (for real geeks like me ;) will have to wait until another day. But here’s what I read in 2008 and in 2007 — for those of you who haven’t had enough yet (are you also from the Eighties generation, too fond of making lists? ;)

My Google map will show you my Bookcrossing releases of all-time. Making a sidebar button for it is one of my wishes for next week’s Bloggiesta! As is, maybe, a special page where I can bring my year lists together?

Coincidently (dôh) this week’s Booking Through Thursday wants to know exactly what I’ve been talking about today!

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 ;)

Well, obviously this week was dominated by Dewey’s 24 hour read-a-thon. You can’t have missed it! Not only if you’re a visitor of Graasland: we also made it a trending topic on Twiter. Yay!

I had a lot of fun, but it was much more difficult than I had expected. From the total of 24 hours I’ve slept six and a half — the rest was spent on the event (except for some eating and stuff). Because of that my totals seem a bit meager!

Read-a-thon totals

Hours spent on the read-a-thon: 17:30
Hours read: 6:24
Pages read: 319
Books read: 2
Mini-challenges: 8

I couldn’t keep track of time spent behind my computer, but it didn’t feel as if I was cheering or blogging or twittering too much. So it was the community aspect of this read-a-thon that made it great, but also more difficult to read as much as I would have normally been able to. Time flies when you’re having fun! ;)

Read more about what I read and what I found hard about the read-a-thon in my last progress update and the ‘End of the Event Meme‘.

During the read-a-thon I took part in the following 8 mini-challenges. Unfortunately several times I’ve forgotten to admit my link to the challenge post; who knows what prizes I would have won otherwise! ;)

Other bookish stuff

Cover Be With YouWas there no other bookish stuff going on this week, you ask? Of course! I finished Be With You (Takuji Okigawa) just before the read-a-thon started. I absolutely loved it! I will be adding it to my Japanese Literature Challenge so you might look forward to a review.

Cover ZijdeAnd I bought another book (thinking I could read the novella during the read-a-thon, dôh): Silk, by Alessandro Baricco, in Dutch: Zijde. Unfortunately the book cover is not original but shows the movie poster… I don’t like it when publishers do that! I do not plan to see the film; here’s what Mee wrote about it.

And last but not least: our Bookcrossing Monopoly mission was ‘restaurant’, so De Boekenleggers released a Dutch copy of Como Agua Para Chocolate (Rode Rozen en Tortilla’s) at the moped of a Mexican Delivery Boy. Have you seen it crossing Utrecht city? We know it has been caught, but unfortunately there’s no journal entry yet!

Bookcrossing Monopoly release wk 2: restaurant

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 ;)

This is very exciting: on Wednesday the Monopoly 2.0 release game got started! My teammate myranya and I are called De boekenleggers, which can be translated into bookmarks – but it is a better name in Dutch because it is literally ‘the book layers’ (people laying books). Our first assignment is to leave a book at an IKEA shop… This is my 2nd time playing Bookcrossing monopoly and it was great fun last year!

Cover The CorrectionsSpeaking of Bookcrossing: I received no less than two RABCK’s this week! (Weekly Geeks made us improve our weblogs, so I’m referring you to my new glossary for the explanation of RABCK ;) First came Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections from Marsala. It is #1 on the list of Best Fiction of the Millenium (so far)! Marsala read the book during the September readathon. And yesterday my surprise gift for joining in that same monthly readathon arrived! I had joined in preparation of the 24 hour Read-a-Thon of October 24th. I am really excited that I already got my pile of books done! Here’s what I will be reading during those 24 hours (although I probably won’t manage all of the books/hours):

  • short stories: Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • De pianoman (‘The Piano Man‘), by Bernlef
  • audiobook: Modelvliegen (‘Model Gliding‘), by Marcel Möring
  • [my current book of that moment]
  • Dromen van China (The China Lover), by Ian Buruma
  • graphic novel: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
  • graphic novel: Persepolis & Persopolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi
  • comic: The Best of Mutts, by Patrick McDonnell

There’s just one title I would like to add: Zijde (Silk), by Alessandro Baricco. So if anyone has got a copy available, in Dutch or English..?

Buying graphic novels for the upcoming read-a-thon was a first for me! I figured it would be great for variety. But the funny thing is I can hardly wait to start reading them now! I should keep myself from picking them up first thing on THE Day ;)

My mailbox really had to work overtime this week: I also received my three online Japanese book group reads yesterday!

    Japanese book group books

  • I Am a Cat (Wagahai wa Neko dearu 1905), by Natsume Sōseki — readalong, part 1 TBR before November 15th
  • The Old Capital (Koto 1962), by Yasunari Kawabata — TBR before November 30th
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase no aishi ta sūshiki 2003), by Yoko Ogawa — TBR before January 30th 2010

Next week I hope to have finished John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath… I’ll see you then!

Sunday Salon logoThe 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 ;)

Let’s start this Salon post with a confession: I have been a bad grrl and bought 3 more books for myself!

  • I Am a Cat (Natsume Soseki)
  • The Old Capital (Yasunari Kawabata)
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor (Yoko Ogawa)

I’ve got a great excuse though: I joined the new online Japanese Literature Book Group and Read-along at In Spring It Is The Dawn — and these are the first books on the agenda. I am really looking forward to it!

Hello Japan! logoAnother fun thing to do over there is this months Hello Japan! mini mission:

Read or watch something scary, spooky, or suspenseful, and Japanese of course!

DarkWaterSince I have enough to read already I decided to rent a movie that has been on my wishlist for a long time now: Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara), by Hideo Nakata. You might have heard of the American remake with Jodie Foster, but I prefered to see the original. I’ll tell you why in my upcoming review post! It was a nice Friday night activity to surprise Mr Gnoe with, especially with the stormy autumn weather that has set in :)

But back to bookish things. For the last three months of 2009 I am also participating in the Set It Yourself Challenge (SIY) #10. Just to keep the pressure on my challenges: I have listed all 5 books I need to read before the end of this year:

  • The Chosen (Chaim Potok)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
  • The Pillowbook (Sei Shonagon)
  • The Sea, the Sea (Iris Murdoch)
  • The Old Capital (Yasunari Kawabata)

I have joined this Bookcrossing challenge before in 2008 and 2009; succeeding twice, failing once…

Speaking of Bookcrossing: I made a first attempt at the Bookcrossing monthly readathon. 24hrreadathonbuttonBut instead of 24 I read for 15 hours and 8 in the last week of September. So technically I failed but I am actually quite proud of the result because it was an awfully busy week. You can read about my thoughts concerning the readathon in Friday’s post. Now I am really looking forward to the autumnal 24 hour read-a-thon of October 24th! I am already making a list of books and snacks to lock myself in with :)

Partly thanks to the readathon I finished more books in September than I usually read in a month:

  • Vlinder in de wind (Butterfly in the Wind) by Rei Kimura (reviewed)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (review pending), #4 on the list of Banned and Challenged Classics
  • Het pauperparadijs (Pauper Paradise) by Suzanna Jansen (no review planned)
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (review pending)

Current book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Wednesday’s update post will tell you why I picked this book. I am ‘buddy reading’ with two Boekgrrls: MaaikeB and Manon, so one of these days I should mail them my thoughts so far!

Another exciting thing going on this week is BAFAB! Buy A Friend A Book. One of my favourite reads of the past years is on its way to a long time friend that is on a busy schedule at the moment. I’ll give the book a chance to arrive for a few days longer, so I can’t say more! ;)
Do you BAFAB?

Challenges / Bookgroups etc.

Progress update on my challenges that I have not yet mentioned above:

Current Bookgroup reads:

  • Boekgrrls September book: Away, by Amy Bloom (read and reviewed in Dutch on the mailing list)
  • Boekgrrls October book: Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates (read, to be reviewed)
  • Japanese Literature Book Group for November 30th: The Old Capital, by Yasunari Kawabata (TBR)
  • Japanese Literature Read-along for November 15th: I Am A Cat (part I), by Natsume Soseki (TBR)

That’s it for now. I need to get up my review of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird a.s.a.p. so that I can send this Bookcrossing book along to the next reader. Better get on with it!

As expected I did not reach the goal of reading 24 hours in a week, but I did accomplish my own target of 12! ‘Half-a-readathon’, as another Bookcrosser put it. I even surpassed it a little, with an end total of 15 hours and 8 minutes. And it has been fun! So I will probably join in again, maybe even in the Spooky Booky October Readathon. If I have any reading energy left after the full time 24 hour read-a-thon in the weekend of October 24th, that is…

Anyway, it is a GREAT surprise that I have won the monthly readathon prize! I’ll keep an anxious eye on my mailbox to see what wishlist book chucklethescot has sent me!

Banned Books Week posterWhat I liked best about the readathon is that I used any free minute to try and read. I started fresh with Revolutionary Road and finished it in only a few days! After that I picked up a book fitting Banned Books Week (The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck) and I got 1/5th read of it already. Sometimes it takes me a while to get into a book because I read too little, but I had no problem with that now ;) Both books by Steinbeck and Yates are part of this years Classics Challenge (among others), so the readathon also gave me quite a push ahead at that!

On the other hand… what I liked less about the readathon is that I didn’t get to do other stuff, like review books (or take enough time to think them over) or make bento’s for lunch. That gave me a feeling of being behind… But it was only for a week and I’ll be able to catch up now! But it is something to consider next time I join in.

With only one more day to go in the Bookcrossing September Readathon, I have read for 13 hours and 37 minutes. No way I am going to reach the target of 24 hours, but I was going to be proud at myself if I would make 12 hours — and I’ve gotten that far one and a half hours back! :))

More good news is that I (started and) finished a book during the readathon: Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates. And it was a great read!!! You’ll have to wait a while for a review because first I’ve got to try my hand at To Kill a Mockingbird.

Cover Grapes of WrathNow I have started reading another classic: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. I picked this one because it is part of my personal and Classics challenge and this week it is Banned Book Week in which Americans celebrate the freedom to read. They have been doing so since 1982, in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Steinbeck is #3 on the list of banned and challenged classics. #1 (The Great Gatsby) I read in 2006, #2 (The Catcher in the Rye) I have tried sometime and put away again. The Grapes of Wrath was burned (!) in its year of publishing by the East St. Louis, III Public Library and as late as 1993 it was challenged in the Union City Tenn. High School classes (read more?). Well, it is too early for me to have any opinion on the book but I am against censorship no matter what.

Let’s see what my end total will be tomorrow!

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