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On my last trip to Terschelling island I met a travelling cat. A handsome black fellow having its own raised bench on the passenger’s side of a grey van. Food and water in their slots on the dashboard. The car being parked, the cat was playing the cool dude, resting its elbow on the open window. Or so it seemed ;-)

I had to think back to this regularly while reading The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa — the first book I picked and finished for this year’s Japanese Literature Challenge 12. A picture of the cat I met would be perfect here but alas, I have none.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles coverThe Travelling Cat Chronicles is a novella about a stray cat called Nana () being taken in by Satoru. They become companions in life, and on the road in Satoru’s grey van.

When I finished the book -a month ago already- I threw it across the roomI HATE IT! I shouted — at the same time telling the hubs to quickly go read it… I guess the story more upsets me really than evoke rage. It is way too close to my heart, and I can’t take it.

So, kudos for Arikawa’s way with words. When another of her works is translated I will be sure to pick it up. But I may never read The Travelling Cat Chronicles again. It’s a thumbs up I don’t dare recommend. All I can say is: if you plan on gifting this book, be sure to include hankies.

Back to the Japanese Literature Challenge. Unfortunately not much will come of my plans to read a J-Lit for each of the three months. It ends March 31st and though I gave Haruki Murakami’s De moord op Commendatore (Killing Commendatory) first part; een idea verschijnt a shot, the story didn’t grab me at this moment — even inducing another reading slump. I’m giving up now but still declaring JLC#12 a success. I wanted to read Japanese Literature again, and did.

And so I can choose something new from Mt. TBR… it’s going to be John Irving: Last Night In Twisted River!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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I really don’t “do” New Year’s resolutions as I believe in starting changes right away and not just at the beginning of a year. However, the dark month of December is always a suitable moment for reflection. And glancing at my life I realised I want to read more often. I miss the cosiness and calm feeling of being curled up with a book. When did it stop being a big part of my life?

So this January I am thrilled to join the twelfth edition of possibly my favourite reading challenge: Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge!

Japanese Literature Challenge #12 button

Since I have A LOT of unread books on my shelves, another one of my non-resolutions is picking mostly from our personal library. For this challenge I’m thinking of:

  • Killing Commendatore (De moord op Commendatore) 1&2 ~ Haruki Murakami
  • The Traveling Cat Chronicles ~ Hiro Arikawa
  • Kokoro ~ Natsumi Soseki
  • The Book of Tea ~ Okakura Kakuzo (non-fiction)

I won’t be able to read them all as the Japanese Literature Challenge is running for just three months and January is already almost at the end *SHOCK* but I can’t wait to tackle at least one of these longtime Mt TBR residents.

Which one of the titles I mentioned would you choose?

I’ll be posting my choice and updating on Instagram using the appointed hashtag #JLC12.

Readathon TBR pile

24 hour readathon

Cover Donkey WorkYay, the spring edition of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon has come around again! I’ve kept most of my diary free and will do a LOT of reading this weekend (based in Utrecht, the Netherlands).

The picture above shows a selection of my Mount To Be Read (TBR). I will be choosing from this after I have finished my current read (of which I’ll tell you in a minute).

But I will definitely starting a new arrival (not to be confused with recent release); Donkey Work by Doreen Tovey. A children’s book, of which I’m usually not a fan, but I am VERY much looking forward to this one!

I am also very pleased that I will be having two local reading buddies this time Muizz and –if he doesn’t bail out– Mr Gnoe.

Currently Reading

Books I'm currently readingOn my nightstand are currently two nonfiction books and a novel. I hope to finish the latter quite quickly — after having started it sometime LAST YEAR early 2016!!! *shock* It’s The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel and I’ll tell you more about it later.

Please check in on Litsy, where I’ll be posting my updates.

Button 24 Hour Read-a-ThonWOW, I’ve been so much looking forward to this October 2017 edition of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! It’s my favourite fall event :) I’ve done a minimum of prepping and will be participating low key as my main goal is to just read at long(-ish) stretches of time. I slowly seem to crawl out of a reading slump that’s been going on for years and I’ll do anything it takes to keep going forward!!

But the fact that so many people across the globe are reading and interacting about it at the same time is of course a big part of the thrill so you’ll also find me hopping a few blogs, and mainly post as @gnoe on Instagram, Litsy and now and then Twitter (@graasland). Join me there?!

My plans

Part-time participant

I’m never able to read for the full 24 hours so I’m not going to try. Just as much as I can! Next to that I will try to make my other activities book related. My film club is gathering tonight and it’s my turn to choose a movie. So I suggested a few adaptions of literature. I had hoped to watch Red Sorghum from Zhang Yimou again (one of my all-time favourites), but I wasn’t able to get a copy in time. Now my bet is on either Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone (based on a story by Dennis Lehane), or Alan Parker’s Midnight Express (Billy Hayes) – both available on Netflix. Which one would you pick if you could join us?

Nominating the next read for my book club is also up to me this month. I have a long list of options ready in Goodreads but I can only suggest five… Picking and sending out those is on my chore list for today as well.

Books

During the RaT I’ll definitely be reading the following two books:

  • Ghostly, A Collection of Ghost Stories ~ Audrey Niffenegger
    Thoroughly enjoying this selection of haunting fiction for the month of Spooktober. I’m currently at page 137 in Oliver Onions’ 1911 tale The Beckoning Fair One. Since I don’t read a lot of short story collections I will alternate this with other books.
  • Ezel-basics (Donkey Basics) ~ Margret Keijzer
    A while ago I stranded at chapter 8 of 12 in this nonfiction book about donkeys; probably because I don’t care about the subject of breeding. I’m really into rescue animals and know there’s a surplus of animals looking for a home without needing to add to that amount. Besides, as a volunteer at the Ezelsociëteit donkey sanctuary my interest goes out to the wellbeing of and caring for these wonderful creatures.
  • A novel from Mount TBR, to be chosen at the moment I’ll be starting it.

Optional reads

During household tasks and such I hope to listen to @weepingwillow84’s short story Memento Mori, broadcasted on BBC Radio4 on September 22nd. Chances are I won’t be allowed access though as I’m not an inhabitant of the Commonwealth…

I have plenty of books on my shelf that I’m looking forward to. Don’t you just love picking a new read that fits your mood? A few titles to choose from:

  • The Marriage Plot ~ Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Sisters Brothers ~ Patrick De Witt
  • De wijnrepubliek (The Republic of Wine) ~ Mo Yan
  • Lord of the Flies ~ William Golding
  • Here I Am ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Monica, mijn vader (Monica, My Father) ~ Maaike Sips
  • De offers (The Sacrifices) ~ Kees van Beijnum
  • The Lives of Others ~ Neel Mukherjee
  • The Master and Margarita ~ Mikhail Bulgarov
  • Ghana Must Go ~ Taiye Selasi

Plus several J-lits. I’ve been neglecting my favourite genre and decided to join in Dolce Bellezza’s 11th Japanese Literature Challenge, running through January 2018 (sign-up post to be written later).

  • The Book of Tea ~ Okakura Kakuzo
  • Kokoro ~ Natsume Sōseki
  • The Unconsoled ~ Kazuo Ishiguro

Then there’s also that DNF that’s been bugging me: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel that I would still like to give another chance. It -literally- drove me crazy with its (so far) 87 pages of one Tomás driving a car on a quest to I’m-not-sure-what-yet.
These days I usually quit when the narrative still doesn’t grab me around page 80, but I’ve had trouble getting into Martel’s books before and they were totally worth pushing through the hard part.

Any of these you want to recommend? Or advise against? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Local starting time: 14.00 o’clock.
Reading from Utrecht, the Netherlands, Europe

Graasland used to be mainly about books and bentos. And then menu planning with CSA vegetables. But for a while now this grazing land has become barren.

Life goes on and people change. There’s no real need for me to make lunchboxes. And I can’t seem to beat my reading slump. BUT. There’s plenty of other stuff going on!

So this month I plan on flooding you with… snailmailing! I love old-fashioned letter writing and card sending (you did not think I meant the mailing of real snails I hope; a thing that actually happens I recently learned *HORROR*). It’s called snailmail because, well: it’s sloooooweeeer than electronic messaging. Not just because of the time and effort that go into handwriting or the journey it takes from sender to receiver. There’s also the added touch of decorating and/or choosing small gifts to send along your mail. Check the #snailmail and #mailart hashtags on Instagram (IG) if your interested!

Letter writing month 2016 #01

My LWM2016 item #01

April started as National Letter Writing Month in the US and turned global after letterpress greeting card companies Egg Press and Hello!Lucky shared their joint Write_On campaign on social media in 2014, to “promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence“. The challenge to write 30 letters in 30 days has had a growing fanbase. I bet the free stationery kits they supply help – 10.000 this year! :D

Anyway, I’m in! And although I’ve already been posting all my outgoing (and incoming ;) mail on IG labeled #outgnoe (resp. #ingnoe) I’d like to show a bit more of it over here.

The first thing I sent out (on April 1st), was the garden-themed March “Winner Takes All” prize in the photo above. It went to Ciska in The Netherlands, who won it on the Swap-Bot SENG forum.

Outgoing LWM2016 items 1 and 2

LWM2016 items #01 and #02

Because there’s no mail pickup in the weekend, I decided to also mail my item for April 2nd early. It’s a thank you to Marion from Snailmail Magazine who sent me #42 in her 366 postcards project back in February. I hadn’t gotten around to that so YAY for letter writing month!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon buttonAlas, Dewey’s 24 hour readathon has ended. Even though my ‘numbers’ (which I’ll add later) may not show it, things went very well this time! I rediscovered my love of reading; so much that I wish the event could continue for another day! Maybe it’s a good thing my Lynley mysteries didn’t arrive in time for the weekend — when I’ve finished my current book they’ll probably be here to help me keep my mojo. Without the help of a RaT. And anyway, the community –YOU– will be still around for motivation!

End of the Event Meme

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    None in particular: all of them due to the pull of social media and mini challenges. Of course I went to bed at three to sleep for a few hours.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    A sequel in a series you like and acknowledged page turners in a favourite genre.
  3. Illustration Mutts © Patrick McDonnellDo you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Nope. It’s perfect!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    The possibility to pick a medium of choice for updating; not just blogs AND the warm-up tip to use Storify to keep everything in one place! Here’s my story.
  5. How many books did you read?
    Four (not all finished yet).
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    Oorlog en terpentijn (finished)
    Timothy’s Book: Notes of an English Country Tortoise (finished, after three years on hold!)
    Housekeeping – on audio
    Ik kom terug

    Handleiding voor poetsvrouwen
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    The book I’m currently reading: Ik kom terug. Loving it and I want to own a copy after I give it back to the friend who lend it to me.
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    Maybe Housekeeping, just because audio isn’t as intense as reading a book yourself. That I enjoyed this one least of all four does NOT mean I don’t like it!
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    Be strict about the amount of time allotted to cheering… I found myself spending way too much time in cyberspace instead of in a story. Make a choice — and stick to it.
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    YESH! I can’t wait! I’ll sign up as reader-cheerleader again and hope to keep a better balance. ;)

A big THANK YOU to Mr Gnoe, my Instagram and blog followers, all readers, organisers, cheerleaders, challenge-hosts (and anyone I may forget) for making this event such a success. WOOT!

Mutts strip © Patrick McDonnell

The Sunday Salon.com

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon button1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
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?

  1. I’m from Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  2. Looking forward to The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and reconnecting with The Best of Mutts.
  3. Can’t wait to devour my homegrown veggies (wrote about them in my kick-off post)!
  4. I like to snailmail: sending old-fashioned letters with small gifts enclosed in pretty envelopes. It’s relaxing and addicting at the same time.
  5. The previous time I participated (last autumn) I hardly read. But I’m mega motivated now! Also, I signed up to be a cheerleader for the first time. :))

Remember, I’m not really updating on the blog during the event. Follow my progress on Storify or Instagram!

YESH! It’s that time of year again: Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is on. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend awfully much because I desperately want to get my reading mojo back. And the prospect of it actually made me pick up a book and read, read, read already in the past week. :) Let me show you my readathon stack.

My reading stack and snack

I desperately hoped my order from Bookdepository would arrive in time because I’m dying to start a new Inspector Lynley mystery. But I just saw the parcel delivery van pass my home without stopping. :'( Not that I haven’t enough to choose from… ;)

I’m currently reading the award-winning Oorlog en terpentijn by Stefan Hertmans, which I’ll probably finish in one and a half hour. I know this because of the Readmore app I use to keep track of my reading. :) On audio I’m listening to Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.

My next read will either be Adriaan van Dis’ Ik kom terug or Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, alternated by Lucia Berlin’s collection of short stories Handleiding voor poetsvrouwen (A Manual for Cleaning Women), translated by my talented friend Maaike (and co’s). The Best of Mutts comics and Timothy’s Book will provide yet another change of palate.

Mutts strip © Patrick McDonnell

The greens in the background are there for a reason: they’ll provide healthy snacks. Homegrown radishes (did you know you can eat the leaves as well?), corn lettuce and baby spinach. I’ll have to share though because Mr Gnoe is joining me in the readathon for the very first time! Yay, love having a buddy. :D

I don’t plan on reading for the full stretch. I’m not feeling too well today and I never manage twenty-four hours anyway (remember, I’ve been up for half a day already!) Luckily staying at home, taking a rest and read is just what the doctor ordered. ;) I’m just cheating a little by starting a bit early… Local starting time is 2PM and since I’ll be officially cheerleading that first hour I’m kicking-off reading at the nice round number of 1 o’clock. Shoot me if you don’t approve. ;)

Wishing all participants a blast!!!

You can follow my updates during the event on Instagram via @gnoe!

Or see it all collected in one story on Storify.

What are you reading?

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon button

Button 24 Hour Read-a-ThonWhile the weather is turning rather nasty as if to mourn, the fall edition of Dewey’s 24 hour readathon has ended. And I’m SO glad I participated! It remembered me of ‘old times’… making me all warm and glowy inside. ;)

What I read

Cover The Bone ClocksAs planned I immersed myself in The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and got some 20% down. Love it! I’m glad it’s a tome and I still have the majority to go. :) I’m sorry I can’t give you a short summary of this magical realist novel yet – I’ll have to see where it’s going first! The birthday party that broke up this RaT was of family I hadn’t seen in a long time. Of course I was very eager to see and speak to everyone, but it didn’t take long or I longed to be back in ‘Mitchell-verse‘.

During some housework I also listened to a short story on audio by Esther Verhoef, called Nouveau Riche. I hadn’t read anything from her yet and I now don’t think I will again. The account of expats in France reluctantly receiving friends from the past was largely predictable and not at all exciting. It was… just okay I guess.

The numbers

To help me keep track of time I used the Timelytics Time Log app on my phone. Handy!

  • Total of time read: 6:55
  • Of which the audiobook took: 0.55

This surprised me as it feels like I read for more than a scant seven hours. I could have gotten in another one at the end but I was hungry and got distracted by making lunch. Before I knew the readathon was over! :( But I’m not going to let that spoil my mood: it was fun and I haven’t read this much in twenty-four hours for a long time!

Lentil salad for lunch

Already planning next time!

In my start-up post I didn’t know yet where I’d pop up in cyberspace. It happened to be on twitter (where I hadn’t been for a long time either; it’s becoming a theme! ;) Twitter is quick and dirty easy, which makes it perfect if you want to feel connected but spend not too much time at your computer or mobile device. And socializing, I realized, is something I really love about Dewey’s readathon and missed some of the previous times I participated. A big thank you to Cautious‘ Katja B. (@eeyorenyk) whom made me aware of it (ánd was a faithful cheerleader).

Jotting down my plans for next time here so that I’ll know where to find them in six months time.

  • I’ll try to completely clear my schedule so I can devote the full 24 hours to the readathon.
  • I’ll reserve some time for socializing — and to keep me to it I may even sign up as a cheerleader!
  • I’ll return to pre-readathon planning:
  1. think about food & snacks; prepare some meals in advance (including a lentil-, pasta – or couscous salad and possibly lasagne or casserole),
  2. line up some audio books for when I can’t read a physical copy and make an actual schedule for when to use these,
  3. revive my ‘readathon update post’ template,
  4. get some drafts set up.

Edited to add after listening to other participants’ experiences:

  • read successive books from a (familiar) series – for example the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (I’m up to #3 Blameless);
  • go read in a library for a while.

Last but never least

I really enjoyed seeing familiar faces names in my time-line – old times relived! My IRL readathon buddies were Mr Gnoe and da kittehs Nina and Kuki, one on each lap (from me and hubs that is). A fun fact is that Mr Gnoe and I are both reading the same book; he’s got the paper -limited edition- copy and I have my Kobo e-book. Can you imagine anything more cosy? :D

Kuki on our limited edition of The Bone Clocks

I’d like to thank all cheerleaders, hosts and participants whom made this readathon a success. And I salute the memory of Dewey, without whom we never would’ve had this marvellous event. I wonder if it’s a (perfect) coincidence that there was a cameo of Professor Dewey in The Bone Clocks today???

Quote from The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Button 24 Hour Read-a-Thon Wow, two blogposts in one week? Sure, why not! It will probably be even more because tomorrow I’m participating in the biannual 24 hour readathon. I’m playing by my own rules and adjusted the time element because my cousin is hosting a “Just sixty” birthday party and I don”t want to miss that (either)!

My plan

The official times for my region are 2PM Saturday – 2PM Sunday. As I have to leave for the party around 3:30 ánd need to get dressed for the occasion -you all watch Downton Abbey and know how it works, right?- that doesn’t leave much room for reading. So I’ll be brave and set my alarm clock at 7:30 PM to start RaT-ing early!

We’ll get to the party venue by bus on which I hope to be able to do some unofficial cheerleading. If I don’t get carsick that is… >.< Once home again I’ll probably go to bed and get up indecently early next day.

Book(s)

I plan on immersing myself in just the one book: The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. *happy dance* Mitchell is my favourite author and I’ve been looking forward to this novel SO much! I wonder which old acquaintances will I meet?

The book is 600+ pages and I want to finish it before a book club meetup on November 15th. That won’t be an easy feat in my current reading pace. So I have started already and am currently on page 15. My progress can be followed on Goodreads and I may occasionally post here too.

In case I really need a change of palate I will be reading short stories from Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes. Can’t wait to get comfy and read-read-read!

The rest

I probably won’t be participating in (m)any mini challenges because I know they just distract me from reading. The same goes for blogging and spending time on social media. But you never know where you’ll meet me in cyberspace during the RaT! Where can I find you?

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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Gnoe herding…

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