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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
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In 2006 I read 39 books, amounting to a total of 11.762 pages. I put 3 books aside without finishing, all nonfiction. If I’d count the number pages that I did read of these books, my total would pass 12.500!

Glancing over my list you can probably guess what my personal reading challenge was? If not, look again and pay special attention to the bold titles ;)

  • Canal dreams , Iain Banks ( 1989 )
  • Dietrich: mijn moeder ( Marlene Dietrich ) , Maria Riva ( 1992 ) nonfiction (biography); abandoned
  • The kite runner , Khaled Hosseini ( 2003 )
  • The ninth life of Louis Drax , Liz Jensen ( 2004 )
  • The fourth hand , John Irving ( 2001 )
  • Driedaagse reis ( Three day road ) , Joseph Boyden ( 2005 )
  • De Verdieping van Nederland: duizend jaar Nederland aan de hand van topstukken , Koninklijke Bibliotheek en Nationaal Archief ( [2005] ) nonfiction
  • Not on the label , Felicity Lawrence ( 2004 ) nonfiction; abandoned
  • Een verhaal dat het leven moet veranderen , Hans Goedkoop ( 2004 ) nonfiction
  • A traitor to memory , Elizabeth George ( 2001 )
  • After dark ( Afutaa daaku ) , Haruki Murakami ( 2004/2006 )
  • De collectie (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) , Erik Beenker ( 2005 ) nonfiction
  • Black Swan Green , David Mitchell ( 2006 )
  • The tattooed map , Barbara Hodgson ( 1995 )
  • The man who cast two shadows , Carol O’Connell ( 1995 )
  • Canongebulder , K. Paling ( 2006 ) nonfiction; abandoned
  • Slaughterhouse-Five , Kurt Vonnegut ( 1969 )
  • A dry white season , André Brink ( 1979 )
  • Everything is illuminated , Jonathan Safran Foer ( 2002 )
  • The woman in white , Wilkie Collins ( 1860 )
  • The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald ( 1926 )
  • De grote wereld , Arthur Japin ( 2006 )
  • Brokeback Mountain , Annie Proulx ( 1997 )
  • Ongelukzoekers ( Fools of fortune ) , William Trevor ( 1983 )
  • The Murder Room , P.D. James ( 1983 )
  • Less than zero , Bret Easton Ellis ( 1985 )
  • Lunar Park , Bret Easton Ellis ( 2005 )
  • Dead famous , Ben Elton ( 2001 )
  • Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde , Robert Louis Stevenson ( 1886 )
  • Mary Reilly , Valerie Martin ( 1990 )
  • The third man / The fallen idol , Graham Greene ( 1950 / 1935 )
  • When we were orphans , Kazuo Ishiguro ( 2000 )
  • Hong Kong Souvenir , Lisa Bresner ( 1995 )
  • The night watch , Sarah Waters ( 2006 )
  • A short history of tractors in Ukraïnian , Marina Lewycka ( 2005 )
  • Maps for lost lovers , Nadeem Aslam ( 2004 )
  • Zuidvleugel (Rijksmuseum) , Annemarie Vels Heijn ( 1996 ) nonfiction
  • One flew over the cuckoo’s nest , Ken Kesey ( 1962 )
  • Eight cousins , Louisa May Alcott ( 1875 )
  • On beauty , Zadie Smith ( 2005 )
  • Studio Zes ( Studio Sex ) , Liza Marklund ( 1999 )
  • Seven up , Janet Evanovich ( 2001 )

Although there were several favourite reads, the best by far was Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam. Just beautiful. *sigh* Other highlights: Black Swan Green (of course), The Woman in White, A Dry White Season, Slaughterhouse-Five (!) and The Ninth Life of Louis Drax.

Even though I had seen the movie adaption of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest some 20 years ago, I kept seeing Jack Nicholson while reading the book. (Oh, he’s on the cover, is he? ;) Still, that was a memorable read as well.

Some stats to end with…

Fiction: 35
Nonfiction: 4
Female authors: 15
Male authors: 23
Unknown authors: 1
Dutch authors: 5
Foreign: 34

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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