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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!

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Classics reading challenge 2009 buttonAs 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:

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!

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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