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And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the unveiling of my Secret Santa and what she gave me for Christmas 2010!
Thank you so much Zee (a.k.a. @zommie) from Notes from the North!
Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods was one of the first books on my Bookdepository wishlist so it’s awesome to finally get my hands on it! :)) Zee’s twitter alter ego @zommie wrote she had no trouble deciding at all since it was one of her favourite books of 2009! Knowing that makes this gift even more special.
I haven’t seen a note about Zee’s Secret Santa yet… I hope she got something nice herself too! :) I guess anything Scandinavian will do, since she’s hosting a 2011 Nordic Reading Challenge! ;)
Of course I was allowed to play Secret Santa too (that’s part of the deal ;) and I thoroughly enjoyed finding the right gifts for my Santee: Iris from Iris on Books, whom I’ve known and liked for quite some time now. She did a very nice blogpost about her Persephone & Book Blogger Holiday Swap presents.
Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011
I told you before I plan to read all books by Haruki Murakami. I am lucky enough to live in The Netherlands, where the first two volumes of his new novel 1Q84 came out in June this year, earlier than in other parts of the world. We got this treasure right away but the weird thing is… I still haven’t read it! Good thing tanabata from In Spring it is the Dawn decided to host a Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge in 2011. :) She made two awesome buttons which I can’t seem to choose from and will alternate between.
The level of participation I’m choosing is ‘Toru’: read 5 of Murakami’s works. That seems appropriate since Toru is the main character of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is how I came to know this fabulous author. It also really constitutes a challenge for me because that comprises almost 25% of the amount of books I can currently read in a year! But who knows, I might even upgrade later this year if I feel like finishing the rest of his oeuvre as well. ;)
The books I plan on reading:
- Hear the Wind Sing
- Pinball, 1973
- The Elephant Vanishes (buddy-read with Elsje, just like we did with Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman)
- 1Q84 – part I
- 1Q84 – part II
The list is not in any particular order, except that I wish to read Hear the Wind Sing before ‘Pinball‘, and part 1 of 1Q84 before the second. ;)
Books read and to-be-read
I finished reading Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil — which will probably end up real high on this year’s list of Best Reads — and Thomas J. Davies’ The Christmas Quilt (a warm blanket of a cozy x-mas story), just like I planned.
*pats herself on the shoulder*
Today I’ll start in my online book group’s December read: Kalme chaos (Caos calmo), by Sandro Veronesi. It’s quite a chunker and I don’t think I’ll be able to manage all of it this month, but I might at least get the ball rolling, so to say. I’ve heard raving reviews as well as people getting bored and/or annoyed, so I have no idea what to expect! Don’t you like it when that happens? :)
Are you free to read this week? What books are on your stack?
In June 2008 I posted my version of The Big Read: a list of 100 well-known books of which an average British citizen had read only 6 — at the time. My score was 37.
Now that this meme is making a new round on Facebook and Yvonne tagged me, I figured it would be fun to do a redux and see how many titles I’ve added in the last 2+ years… Assuming they haven’t swapped any books on the list of course! Something they have changed is highlighting the ones of which you saw the movie, instead of those you love… Is that an improvement???
You can also now indicate if you’ve just read an excerpt, where we used to share which novels we planned on reading. I guess that’s more interesting indeed and I’ve used this category for books I got to know in a special children’s version, like the Bible and Alice in Wonderland.
Two out of three makes a lot of changes on the original challenge, but hey: the most important question is still the same: how many books on this list have you read? Well, here goes!
- Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
- Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt.
- Underline the ones you’ve seen the movies of.
- Tag other book nerds.
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (yes, all of them!)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
So… (counting..) that makes a new total of 39. Thirty-nine. Just two more than previous time — how can that be? I know I’ve read at least 5 books on this list last year so something is definitely wrong. Either they’ve changed some of the titles, I miscounted or… cheated last time ;) If anyone bothers to find out, please let me know! I’m getting worried about the capabilities of my long-term memory :\
How many of these books have you read? More than 6? I’m not much of a tagger so feel free to pick up the challenge yourself!
I wonder if 6 is still the average amount for an ordinary British person. Maybe the BBC could do a redux as well?!
I should be locked in a cabin with just books and NO internet. Or my computer should block all book blogs. What happened? I joined another reading challenge! Like I need one… with those other 3 I already have going on :\
Well, at least Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge shouldn’t be too difficult for me: I need to read one work of Japanese origin before the end of January 2010. Hey, I can do that, right? I read three in the first half of 2009 and I have several waiting on the shelf anyway! For example:
Butterfly in the Wind (Rei Kimura), in Dutch
Dreaming Water (Gail Tsukiyama)
The Language of Threads (Gail Tsukiyama)
The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (Gail Tsukiyama)
Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World (Haruki Murakami), in Dutch
The Unconsoled (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Nocturnes (Kazuo Ishiguro)
But first I should make sure I finish my current book because it is taking waaaaaaaay too long!
Edited to add: I was thinking… The Pillowbook by Sei Shonagon is not on my bookshelf yet, but it IS on my other challenge lists already. I should make things easy for myself and try to get my hands on a copy!
As you may have read in my earlier post, I also joined the 2009 Classics Challenge.
I entered the Classics Entree level, which means I have to read 5 classics this year. Plus I want to go for the bonus by reading a book of the ‘Future Classic List’, since I’ve got some of those titles piled up on Mount TBR!
I think I can manage this additional challenge because I planned to read some classics already. Here’s my list:
- Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (✔ read in April this year)
- The Chosen, Chaim Potok
I Am a Cat (vol.1), Natsume Soseki (✔ read in October)
- The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (✔ read in October)
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (✔ read in September)
- The Pillowbook, Sei Shonagon OR The Sea, the Sea, Iris Murdoch
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (✔ read in September)
Let’s see how things go: I consider Revolutionary Road a classic already so I might change my level to Classics Feast at the end of 2009 and read another bonus book ;)
To be honest, by joining this challenge I hope to help myself accomplishing the task I had set myself already. Now the hard part is really to blog my reviews!
Oh no! NOW look what you made me do, Weekly Geeks! By asking me about reading challenges, I just joined TWO MORE! As if I don’t have enough problems handling just one…
When I failed last year’s personal challenge I decided to cut myself some slack and stretch it to 2009. I had gotten halfway my list of 12 books by December, so that seemed fair. But now… I have only crossed off one more title since January! That means that, of the books on the Best Foreign Books longlist that were already on my wishlist before the election, I still have another 5 books to go:
- To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
- The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
- The Chosen (Chaim Potok)
- a choice of 2 from The Sea, The Sea (Iris Murdoch), The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen) or The Pillow Book (Sei Shonagon) — whichever of these I can get my hands on.
Five might not seem a lot to you, but it’s 20-25% of all the books I can manage in one year!
So why do I take on reading challenges?
I find having a challenge stimulates me in picking up books that I wouldn’t normally read, or that I wish to have read but never feel like starting, or that are almost totally random. And yes, sometimes I get stressed a bit when a deadline is nearing ;) But I think I might never have read the classics Slaughterhouse-Five, Don Quixote or Max Havelaar without these challenges! And I must say that I only enter challenges that (I believe) really stand a chance!
Each year at least one personal challenge just ‘appears’ to me. For example I notice a resemblance in some book titles, or a certain award long- or shortlist matches part of my wishlist, like last year. I’m curious to know if this happens to other people as well! So what reading tasks have I set myself in the past?
1) read a book from each decade from 1900 until 2005
2) read a total of 15,000 pages (I failed that by 333 pages…)
3) finish all Bookcrossing books on Mount TBR
- 2006: read 10 books with numbers 0-9 in their title
- 2007: read all books on the Best Dutch Book (ever) shortlist that I haven’t read yet
Having said all this… (thanks for hanging on ;) it might just be that I grew up in the Eighties so that I’m addicted to making lists, like Rob Fleming in Nick Hornby’s book High Fidelity ;)
After stumbling upon it in Puss Reboots Weekly Geeks post, I decided to join the ‘What’s in a Name?‘ reading challenge (2nd edition): 6 different ‘themes’ requiring a fitting title.
It’s a bit sneaky of me that I can already cross of five of them but hey, it is supposed to be fun right? I just hope I won’t be castigated for taking the categories too loosely… :\ No need to add extra stress to my reading life!
So, here’s the list!
- A book with a ‘profession‘ in its title:
The Little Emperor (Dutch title: De kleine keizer), by Martin Bril
read in May
- A book with a ‘time of day‘ in its title:
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
read in January
- A book with a ‘relative‘ in its title:
The Mapmaker’s Wife, by Robert Whitaker
This title also fits review theme 1: profession!
- A book with a ‘body part‘ in its title:
Grey Souls (Dutch title: Grijze zielen), by Philippe Claudel
read in January
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
read in November
- A book with a ‘building‘ in its title:
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh — I could have put this one at 3 (‘bride’) or 4 (‘head’) as well LOL
read in April
- A book with a ‘medical condition‘ in its title:
What came before he shot her, by Elizabeth George
reading in June
This week all book geeks should catch up on their book reviews. If they’re following Weekly Geeks, that is ;) This specific recurring question is how I came to know of Weekly Geeks so I can’t refuse, can I?
Now before I go on, MY QUESTION TO YOU is: which one would you like me to write about? And what question(s) about the book should I answer in my post?
So, here are some of the books that I still need to review…
Crossroads (Zo God het wil / Come Dio Comanda) by Niccolò Ammaniti (2006)
I bought this book because of a very positive review in Simon Mayo’s Book Panel. Great podcast to listen to btw! Crossroads was compared to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (but said to have more humor), and to movies by the Coen Brothers… I finished it recently during my holiday on Madeira. I’m waiting for Mr Gnoe to read it because I would really like to discuss whether this is a good book or if it will be thought another The Shadow of the Wind in a while…
The Native (De inboorling) by Stevo Akkerman (2009)
In 1883 a Colonial Exhibition was held in Amsterdam, and real people from the Dutch colonies were part of it. De inboorling is a novel about a black Dutchman who, at a time when the Rijksmuseum is planning an exhibition in remembrance of the centennial of this event, discovers his great grandfather was one of the people exhibited. An interesting ethical subject for a museum employee like me! I bought this book at Teylers Museum, where an exhibition about exploitation of humans in exhibitions and art fairs just closed (De exotische mens).
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (2006)
I am really embarrassed that I haven’t reviewed The End of Mr. Y yet, because it was given to my as a RABCK by Rapturina: a Random Act of Bookcrossing Kindness. And I have a personal rule that I always review bookcrossing books that are sent to me, either as book ring, ray or rabck. Also I can’t send this book on the road again until I’ve made a journal entry about it! This novel about books and time traveling was an appropriate read when I had the flu ;)
South of the Border, West of the Sun (Ten zuiden van de grens, ten westen van de zon / Kokkyo no minami, Taiyo no nishi) by Haruki Murakami (1998)
Haruki Murakami is one of my few favourite authors. Some fans read all his books in one continuous flow, others (like me) like to take it slow and read a book every once in a while. Savour it, so to say :) South of the Border is my 9th book of this author since I started with The Wind-up Bird Chronicles in 2004 and I read it together with Elsje, who’s a Murakami addict of the other type ;)
BTW Did you know there’s a new Murakami novel coming soon? It’s called 1Q84 and has been for sale in Japan since the end of May. It’s a great succes already. Ha! Another 1000 pages to enjoy soon ;) Erm, soon? It will be published in Holland in 2011…
Anyway, here’s a bonus for all Murakami lovers in suspense of the new novel: 1984 by the Eurythmics on YouTube. Why? Q = kyū= 9 > 1984!
Some of you may know that I like challenges. I also like baking and — this is getting better and better: my favourite chocolate is white. So… what great luck to run into the Cupcake Hero 2.0 contest of the holiday season for which white chocolate is the required ingredient! Although I’m a rookie I can’t resist an attempt to become the holiday hero :)
So I’ve been thinking about matcha cupcakes but because of the winter season I decided on a recipe containing orange and whisky: golden cupcakes (based on a raisin cake without raisins ;) … in Dutch such a cake is called a turban btw :)
This weekend I finally had an excuse to bake: my cousin and his wife were coming over on Sunday to play mahjong. And here’s the result!
The topping is orange-whisky glazing with white chocolate and orange peel sprinkling. (Orange peel, that makes me think of the Variér Peel armchair that we’re awaiting!) Our visitors liked their treat very much and especially appreciated the contrast between the soft cake and its crunchy top.
Recipe for approx. 15 golden cupcakes
- 1 organic orange
- 250 g butter, room temperature
- 500 g granulated sugar
- 5 eggs
- 250 g self-raising flour
- 100 g dried apricots, in small pieces
- 25 ml whisky
- 100 g white chocolate, in pieces
- Pre-heat oven at 175 °C.
- Clean the orange and zest half of it. Cut rest of the peel in small strips or sprinkling.
- Mix butter and 250 g sugar.
- Add the eggs one by one.
- Stir in self-raising flour and a pinch of salt.
- Blend in orange zest and apricot.
- Pour the mixture in the (silicon) cupcake moulds.
- Bake in oven for about 40 minutes.
- Juice the orange.
- Heat remaining 250 g sugar in a saucepan (with thick base), on low heat and without stirring.
- As soon as the sugar starts melting (before turning to caramel), take saucepan of heater and stir in orange juice and whisky.
- Pour this mixture over the cupcakes when they are still warm.
- Let the cupcakes cool down.
- Microwave chocolate for 2 minutes on 600 Watt. After 1 minute: stir every 15 seconds.
- Pour chocolate over cooled cupcakes.
- Sprinkle with orange peel.
- Soak the dried apricots in the orange juice-whisky mixture before use.
- Pour some orange juice and whisky onto the cupcakes, before getting the glazing on. The cakes will get a bit soggy that way but that’s okay!
- Don’t be too stingy with the orange peel.
These adjustments will get you a better balance between sweet, sour, bitter and the whisky ‘bite’.
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
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!