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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!

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This week’s Booking through Thursday asks everyone to share their Mt. TBR. Well, here’s mine!

As you can see my Mount To Be Read contains 14 books. 14? Not 15? No, better look closely and count again! :)

From top to bottom, small to large:

  • Away (Amy Bloom)
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (Michael Chabon)
  • Travels in the Scriptorium (Paul Auster)
  • The Brooklyn Follies (Paul Auster)
  • Drivetime (James Meek)
  • Dead Air (Iain Banks)
  • The China Lover in Dutch (Dromen van China, Ian Buruma)
  • Butterfly in the Wind in Dutch (Vlinder in de wind, Rei Kimura)
  • Dreaming Water (Gail Tsukiyama)
  • The Language of Threads (Gail Tsukiyama)
  • The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (Gail Tsukiyama)
  • The Mapmaker’s Wife (Robert Whitaker) — just starting this one
  • The Wasted Vigil (Nadeem Aslam)
  • The Gargoyle (Andrew Davidson)

This stack shows what you might consider my ‘priority reads’. I have some more books lounging unread in several spots in my home, like The Chosen (Chaim Potok) and Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck). Hm, I really should put those higher on the list since they are part of several personal reading challenges ánd they are Bookcrossing books that like to travel!

But wait a minute… where are Revolutionary Road and Easter Parade by Richard Yates???

Good thing Booking Trough Thursday made me check my Mount! I guess I I have some rearranging to do — I don’t think my (literal) bookshelf will hold any more copies without coming off the wall.. So, bye for now!

Gnoe on pile of books

Gnoe (?) on pile of books

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!

And now I’ve put some more pressure on by joining the ‘What’s in a Name‘ and ‘Classics‘ challenges! Yes, you may call me stupid if you want to ;)

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?

  • 2005:
    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

More about these challenges can be found in my post about my 2008-2009 challenge, except for 2007 which has its own blogpost.

Speaking about collective challenges, up until yesterday (LOL) I’ve only joined the SIY (Set It Yourself) challenge at Bookcrossing several times. I’ll let the title speak for itself ;)

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 ;)

resemblance

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…

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