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Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things, visiting participating weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

For 2015 I chose to set a goal on Goodreads. 2013-2014 had been slow book-wise, reading no more than 16 resp. 18 volumes. I was too embarrassed frustrated to even post the lists! ;) That’s why a target of 20 seemed a bit of a challenge for 2015, but doable.

<insert drumroll please…> YAY! I surpassed my goal by 9!!! Making a total of 29 (listed further on), whisping me back to the level of 2012. #happydance

For 2016 I won’t be aiming at a certain amount of books. Rather I’d be reinforcing the habit of reading more regularly. Once I’ve figured out the details I’ll share them.

BOTNS Book Bingo

BOTNS_bingo2015What helped keep me motivated the past year was the Books on the Nightstand Summer Book Bingo. I generated a card and though I didn’t really pick my books according to the squares, it was fun checking where a read would fit and crossing it of. My friend Muizz was also playing, which made it even more fun. You should’ve heard me scream “BINGO!” once I got a full row completed! *grin*

Books read in 2015

Listed from most recently to early 2015:

  • The Mutts Winter Diaries ~ Patrick McDonnell
  • Terug naar Oegstgeest ~ Jan Wolkers
  • The Fire Kimono (Sano Ichiro, #13) ~ Laura Joh Rowland
  • De fietser van Tsjernobyl / El ciclista de Chernóbil ~ Javier Sebastián
  • History of a Pleasure Seeker ~ Richard Mason
  • Hug Time ~ Patrick McDonnell
  • Gevallen God / A God in Ruins ~ Kate Atkinson
  • Legend of a Suicide ~ David Vann
  • Potifars vrouw ~ Sophie Zijlstra
  • The Children Act ~ Ian McEwan
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ~ Marie Kondō
  • Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and Still Have Time to Enjoy Your Trip!) ~ Dave Fox
  • The Buried Giant ~ Kazuo Ishiguro
  • De kat / 猫の客 / Neko no kyaku ~ Takashi Hiraide
  • Wachten op woensdag (Frieda Klein #3) / Waiting for Wednesday ~ Nicci French
  • Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley, #18) ~ Elizabeth George
  • Het boek van wonderlijke nieuwe dingen / The Book of Strange New Things ~ Michel Faber
  • Handleiding voor poetsvrouwen / A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories ~ Lucia Berlin
  • Geen gewoon Indisch meisje ~ Marion Bloem
  • Fox Evil ~ Minette Walters
  • Believing the Lie (Inspector Lynley, #17) ~ Elizabeth George
  • Housekeeping ~ Marilynne Robinson (audiobook)
  • Ik kom terug ~ Adriaan van Dis
  • Oorlog en terpentijn ~ Stefan Hertmans
  • Timothy’s Book: Notes of an English Country Tortoise ~ Verlyn Klinkenborg
  • The Rise & Fall of Great Powers ~ Tom Rachman
  • Maandagskinderen / Synir Duftsins ~ Arnaldur Indriðason
  • The Strange Library ~ Haruki Murakami
  • How to Be Both ~ Ali Smith (audiobook)

Some new or recent, some classics, some bulky — others slim, many Anglo authors, less Dutch and a few other nationalities, hardcore literature and non-fiction next to easier stuff like mysteries/thrillers. Being easy on myself I read English language books more often in Dutch translation than usual.

Have you read any of these books?

Read_in_2015

The Year of the Daves (aka Favourite Reads of 2015)

Cover Legend of a SuicideLooking back, the novel that left most of an impression is Legend of a Suicide by David Vann. It had been waiting patiently on my shelf for years — and didn’t disappoint! I don’t feel I’ve read anything like this collection before: gruesome, dreary, but touching at the same time. A rough diamant.

Cover Globejotting The most fun I had with Globejotting, a manual for travel journal keeping. It has helped me a lot and I can’t wait to start over, doing all exercises.

Depending on time and inspiration I’ll write a follow-up about some other highlights of 2015. For now: curl up on the couch and have a cosy Sunday!

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

I’ve called my yearly overview of books “The Pile of Books I Kicked Over..” once before, but this time the title fits even better. In 2011 I devoured a total of 38 books, which is nine more than I read in 2010!

Now how is that for a first post and Sunday Salon in 2012?

Of course I pledged to tackle eleven more books this year for the Books on the Nightstand +11 in ’11 Challenge, which would have brought my total up to the nice round number of 40. Well, there you have it: my first #FAIL. ;)

Looking over my list, it is not easy to pick an instant favourite. Although I liked most of the books I read, there aren’t many outstanding works worth mentioning. Although I gave three of them the max of 5 stars in Goodreads, concerning one I have a hard time remembering about what it was exactly…

Interlude: here I corrected myself thanks to the marvellous, but strict Dr Kermode who will not allow the word order of “what it was about.” A grammar lesson learnt in 2011. ;)

So, did I accept quantity over quality? No Ma’m, I did not. I could’ve easily picked two short novellas from my shelf when the end of 2011 was nigh. Like Murakami’s Sleep, for instance, T.S. Elliot’s Cats or Joost Zwagerman’s Duel. But just as I promised when I joined the BOTNS challenge, I did not bend my reading preferences according to book size.

Now quit digressing! Here are the books I read in 2011 in reversed chronological order. Other thoughts and statistics will follow later on.

Nina cat checking out our bookshelves

Nina, the Grande Dame who came to live with us this year, checking out our bookshelves

Books read in 2011

  • Kandy: een terugtocht (‘Kandy: a retreat‘), F. Springer
  • Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
  • XY, Sandro Veronesi (Boekgrrls December read)
  • De duif en De erfenis van Maître Mussard, Patrick Süskind
  • Bandoeng-Bandung, F.Springer
  • Van het westelijk front geen nieuws (Im Westen nichts Neues / All Quiet on the Western Front), E.M. Remarque (November Boekgrrls read)
  • Season of the Rainbirds, Nadeem Aslam
  • Tinkers, Paul Harding
  • 1q84 (Boek een, twee & drie), Haruki Murakami (JLit Book Group November/December)
  • Modelvliegen, Marcel Möring
  • Thousand Cranes, Yasunari Kawabata (JLit Book Group August)
  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett (Boekgrrls August read)
  • Underground, Haruki Murakami
  • Dagboek van een Geisha (Memoirs of a Geisha), Arthur Golden
  • Witte oleander (White Oleander), Janet Fitch (bx copy)
  • Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson
  • The Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe (JLit Book Group June)
  • Zeitoun, Dave Eggers (Boekgrrls June read; nonfiction)
  • Verraad, verleiding en verzoening: de rol van eten in speelfilms, Louise O. Fresco & Helen Westerik (nonfiction)
  • Travels in the Scriptorium, Paul Auster
  • The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, Jonathan Coe (Boekgrrls May read)
  • Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America (a Food Memoir), Linda Furiya (nonfiction)
  • Crime School, Carol O’Connell
  • All She Was Worth, Miyuki Miyabe (Bookcrossing book ring)
  • Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone, Ann Gentry (cookbook; Netgalley e-book)
  • 2666, Roberto Bolaño (readalong)
  • La Dolce Vegan! Vegan Livin’ Made Easy, Sarah Kramer (cookbook)
  • In the Miso Soup, Ryu Murakami (JLit Book Group February)
  • Pinball, 1973, Haruki Murakami
  • Ik haal je op, ik neem je mee (Ti prendo e ti porto via / I’ll Steal You Away), Niccolò Ammaniti (Boekgrrls February read)
  • Geketende democratie: Japan achter de schermen (‘Democracy in chains: behind the scenes of Japan‘), Hans van der Lugt (nonfiction)
  • Sneeuwland (Yukiguni / Snowland), Yasunari Kawabata
  • Blacklands, Belinda Bauer (Boekgrrls Januari read)
  • Poelie de Verschrikkelijke (‘Poelie the Terrible‘), Frans Pointl
  • Hear the Wind Sing, Haruki Murakami
  • Kalme chaos (Caos Calmo), Sandro Veronesi (Boekgrrls December 2010 read)

Quite the list eh? And I also reread the beautiful short story Het geluid van een stoomfluit midden in de nacht (Yonaka no kiteki ni tsuite / ‘A Steam Whistle in the Middle of the Night‘) by Haruki Murakami.

Thoughts

The book(s) I enjoyed the most this year was Haruki Murakami’s 1q84 trilogy. Readers from the Japanese and English speaking hemispheres may wonder why I keep using a lower case ‘q’ (kyu) when referring to the author’s latest work, since it’s originally written as 1Q84. Well, the Dutch translators decided to use a small ‘q’, resembling the number ‘9’ much better!

Volumes 1,2 and 3 together are over 1350 pages thick but I read all three of them in just two weeks. Enough proof of how much I liked it. :) It’s a typical late Murakami of which story you should know nothing beforehand.

Cover 1q84 Book One (Haruki Murakami); Dutch version Cover 1q84 Book Two (Haruki Murakami); Dutch version Cover 1q84 Boek drie (Haruki Murakami)

Reading 1q84 I regularly had to think back to a work of non-fiction I read earlier this year: Underground, about the Tokyo gas attack. It’s amazing how delicate Murakami treats the subject, showing more about himself as a person than I ever saw, heard or read in interviews or previous books.

Cover Underground (Haruki Murakami)

A further special mention goes to another Japanese novel: The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. A strange story calling up an eerie atmosphere; bordering on a grim fairy tale. The images easily reappear before my mind’s eye so I have no problems recalling what this classic is about. Oops, preposition at the end of my sentence again, apologies to Dr Kermode! ;)

Cover Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe

So it’s all Japanese favourites this year. Figures. ;) One of my intentions for 2012 is to read a little more OUT of my comfort zone. Another post will out-lay the rest of my reading plans for this year. *whispers* I haven’t really figured them out yet myself!

Luckily I also very much liked some non-JLit books like Sandro Veronesi’s XY (thought-provoking), Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (compelling), Belinda Bauer’s Blacklands (thrilling) and Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun (shocking).

The biggest bone to tackle this year was 2666 BY FAR. It’s supposed to be a contemporary classic and comes highly recommended by one of my favourite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro, but it could not charm me. I struggled all the way through to the end and I’m proud to say that I was at least able to finish it! 898 pages of small characters, in English. Gah.

Cover 2666 (Roberto Bolaño)

2011 Book charts

As always I’d love to share some pie charts. About the gender of authors read, the ratio of fiction to non-fiction (to faction, which is null ;), where I got my copies from, peer-pressure (!) and the language area from which authors originate.

Gender of authors read

Hm, I’m not completely satisfied with the ratio of female authors to male among the books I read this year.. Needless to say it should be more of a fifty-fifty situation!

Pie chart author gender 2011

Fiction to non-fiction

The fiction / non-fiction chart doesn’t show much difference from previous years: I obviously prefer to read fiction — especially now that I’m having ‘concentration issues’. O_o

Pie chart fiction to nonfiction 2011

The Pile

I haven’t looked at the origin of my books before, but as I seem to have read a lot of books being passed on by other Boekgrrls, I thought I’d analyse that data this year. ;)

Pie chart copies 2011

Peer-pressure

Oh how I love my peer-pressure. Buddyreads, group reads, readalongs & readathons, challenges, book rings… You name it — been there, seen it, done that. ;) Of course I should also have put in this graph the books I read without any relation to others… Next time, I promise.

Pie chart peer pressure 2011

Language areas

Now I did not read all of these books in their original language, it’s just a vague chart dividing my books into language areas. Most books that are written in English I read in their original language. The same goes for Dutch books. :) The rest I’ve read in translation to either Dutch or English. Maybe next year I’ll try my hand at some German..?
Note: of course Chilean and Pakistani are nationalities, not languages, but you get the idea.

Pie chart of author language areaSo, did you surpass and/or surprise yourself with the books you’ve read?
Any favourites you’d like to share?
Did you read any of mine?

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. November’s mission is to share ‘Five Japanese Favourites‘.

I guess we’re all sorry that this will be the last mini challenge for a while. But we have a fun time to look back upon and as I joined in the first challenge, I couldn’t miss the last! As a ‘tribute’ I decided to list my five favourite Hello Japan! topics for this task!

5 Favourite Hello Japan tasks!

Hanami 2009 in Japanse kersenbloesemtuin

The Hello Japan! mini missions started in 2009, shortly after I stumbled upon In Spring it is the Dawn. Tanabata’s blog struck a chord with me and has been one of my favourites ever since. I consider her a friend, even if she lives far away and we’ve never met. ;) Now that she’s moving, I missed the chance of meeting her in Tokyo — but no doubt there will be another chance somewhere else in the future! ;)

Looking back, I really feel like sharing my five favourite Hello Japan! mini challenges.

Looking at this list I seem to like challenges that A. fit exactly in my comfort zones (dôh) and B. leave room for interpretation. I regret that the topics actually relating to Japanese culture didn’t make it into my top-5. It doesn’t mean I don’t like these, because I do! Like Temples and shrines of Kyoto and Japanese flora.

There are also four (nope, not five ;) challenges I desperately wanted to do but didn’t get around to.

If you’re interested, here are all the Hello Japan! mini challenges I participated in!

I’d like to end with a huge THANK YOU!!! to our generous host Tanabata who thought up this challenge and kept it going for so long. Each time she awarded a fitting prize to one of the participants — and althought the missions would have been just as much fun without them, I’d be lying if I denied these were an incentive. ;) So kudos Tanabata!!!

PEDRO: Bloggiesta logoP.E.D.R.O.
Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organise.

From Friday to Sunday I’ll be participating in the 4th Bloggiesta Fiesta hosted by our ever faithful Natasha from Maw Books Blog. Since I joined for the 2nd edition I always look forward to this semi-yearly event.

In preparation I’ve compiled a list of things to do and grouped them into ‘quick & easy‘, ‘bigger jobs‘, ‘possible posts to write‘ and tasks to do ‘in advance‘.

No way that I’m going to manage all of these chores in just one weekend! I’ll just be picking to-dos from different categories as I please. It’s weekend and I’m meant to enjoy myself! :)

Like previous times I want to focus on the work I mean to get done, so I’ll be keeping mini-challenges and other wogging (‘werk ontwijkend gedrag’ = displaying work avoiding behaviour) to a minimum — there’s always time to check out the other sparkling new blogs when the weekend is over! Though I probably won’t be able to ignore #bloggiesta in my twitter timeline ;)

To do in advance

  • make task list and blog  ✔
  • prepare starting line post
  • make bloggiesta template
  • decide on time frame updates
  • (template finish line post)

Quick & Easy

  • back-up blog
  • update ‘About’-page with pages I’m featured at
  • clean up sidebar (challenge buttons)
  • template: ō etc.
  • edit Sakura lyrics in 2010 Hanami post
  • add image to blogpost Books Read in 2008
  • add tag ‘weekendcooking’ to Weekend Cooking posts
  • make page ‘Read in 2011‘ for progress on BOTNS +11 reading challenge

Bigger jobs

  • write at least 1 recipe or food related post (urgent: ExtraVeganza!)
  • write at least 1 book related post, preferably ‘review’ (JLit wrap-up is urgent too)
  • work on at least 1 post about another subject (relatively urgent: Hello Japan! January mission)
  • clean up challenge pages: current & finished
  • clean up at least some of the last 11 posts in ‘Uncategorized‘ category
  • clean up Graasland to-do list in Netvibes (categories: 1st thing/later/maybe; and separate list(s) for post subjects?)
  • create Netvibes tab for ExtraVeganza pilot
  • clean up/organise rss-feeds in Netvibes tabs: decide on fav blogs to follow

Possible posts to write / drafts to finish

  • wrap-up reading challenges 2010
  • movies watched in 2010
  • sambal bawang or red beet hummus recipe
  • review of Christmas Quilt/The Sea/Affinity/Golden Pavilion/Pillow Book etc.
  • Purge that Pantry! Challenge / Eating vegetarian in Funchal, Madeira / Fav Indo Restaurants etc.
  • etc. etc.

Brain teasers & Research

  • claim graasland domain? (research)
  • decide on set weekly time to blog
  • decide on finishing or discarding draft Index Page for film & book reviews

Screendump Graasland: Redux 2010

Kookgrrls’ weblog

If I feel accomplished enough about the stuff I’m getting done on my own blog, I might also put in some time for the Dutch Kookgrrls’ weblog which I’m regularly contributing to.

  • finish draft Challenge page: rules & link list of previous challenges
  • post for January challenge: ‘cooking out of the pantry’

Experience tells me I might be a little disappointed with the work I’ll get done so I’d better not get my hopes up. ;)

Do you want to get some major work done on your blog while partying with the rest of us? There’s still time to join!

Ringo sunbathing (2009)

I know I already did a book-related 2010 wrap-up post, but on Bookie Mee I came across the 2010 wrap-up meme inspired by A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook and thought it fun to play along.

So here goes…

The first book you read in 2010: Trespass by Valerie Martin

The last book you finished in 2010: The Christmas Quilt by Thomas J. Davis

The first book you will finish (or did finish!) in 2011: Caos Calmo by Sandro Veronesi

Your favorite “classic” you read in 2010: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima

The book series you read the most volumes of in 2010: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi (both graphic novels)

The genre you read the most in 2010: literary fiction (quite a lot of it being JLit)

The book that disappointed you: The Evenings (graphic novel) by Gerard Reve & Dick Matena

The book you liked better than you expected to: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

The hardest book you read in 2010 (topic or writing style): The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon (struggled with it for months and almost gave up!)

The funniest book you read in 2010: Mutts by Patrick McDonnell

The saddest book you read in 2010: this is a hard one.. probably The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam

The shortest book you read in 2010: A Steam Whistle in the Night by Haruki Murakami

The longest book you read in 2010: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A book that you discovered in 2010 that you will definitely read again: I’m really not much of a re-reader but I know I’ll be picking up David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet again: I just won a Dutch copy and because of the games Mitchell played with my language in the English version, I’m curious to know how it was translated. I’ve heard the author say he liked what the translators did, so… That’s why I worked so hard a winning a copy ;)

A book that you never want to read again: Thomas J. Davis’ The Christmas Quilt; not that it wasn’t a cosy read for the holidays, but once is enough

And finally, make a New Year’s Resolution: since 2010 was a slow reading year I plan to read more — in time as well as amount of books; at least 11 more to be precise (Books on the Nightstand +11 reading challenge) BUT I won’t give in on quality over quantity!

And what’s the relevance of cat pictures in this post?
Absolutely none. :)
They’re just my cuties that almost didn’t make it into the new year.
And I’m awfully grateful they did.

Juno sunbathing in a cardboard box (2009)

Yup, it’s that time of year again: here’s my 2010 books wrap-up!

I’ve read 29 books in total, which is six less than last year and approximately brings me back to the level of 2008.

I’ve made a photo of some (not all!), of the books I particularly liked!

Some of the books I loved reading in 2010

Two of the books read this year were comics, five graphic novels, meaning 22 were either novels, novella’s or collections of short stories.

2010 graph of book type

It took me a while to decide on my favourite read of the year. There were two candidates but I finally figured it out. So… let’s hear the drumroll!

Cover The Wasted Vigil (Nadeem Aslam)Best Book of 2010

The Very Best Book I read in 2010 is The Wasted Vigil, by Nadeem Aslam. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I hate myself for not picking it up earlier, since I’ve had in on the shelf from the moment it came out in 2008. I had equally loved Maps for Lost Lovers when I read it so Aslam now deserves to be listed among my (few) favourite authors! That’s a spot right along David Mitchell, Barbara Gowdy and Haruki Murakami: novelists of whom I’ve read, or will read, each and every book. So I’m waiting for Aslam’s 1993 début to arrive in my mailbox: Season of the Rainbirds. Don’t you just love that title? ;)

Cover The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet (David Mitchell, 2010)Second Best Book of 2010

Close upon the heels of The wasted Vigil is (not surprisingly) The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the latest novel by my all-time favourite David Mitchell. It was a real tiebreak but I figured I was probably a teeny weeny bit unfairly favoured to Mitchell just because I love his work so much and had been looking forward to his new book since Black Swan Green, in 2006. Then again, that might speak in favour of ‘Jacob de Zoet’ because novels eagerly anticipated often disappoint.

List of books I read in 2010

For those of you who are curious, or just plain addicted to lists (like me), here’s the complete pile of books I read in 2010. The ones that particularly stand out looking back on my reading adventures, I’ve given a bold title.

  • Trespass, Valerie Martin (2007)
  • The Best of Mutts, Patrick McDonnell (2004)
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase no aishi ta sūshiki 博士の愛した数式, translated by Stephen Snyder), Yoko Ogawa (2003/2008)
  • De avonden (1) (The Evenings), Gerard Reve; Dick Matena (1947/2004)
  • The Rapture, Liz Jensen (2009)
  • In the Shadow of No Towers, Art Spiegelman (2004)
  • Careless in Red, Elizabeth George (2008)
  • I Am a Cat III (Wagahai wa neko de aru 吾輩は猫である, translated by Aiko Ito; Graeme Wilson), Natsume Sōseki (1907)
  • Een stoomfluit midden in de nacht (Yonaka no kiteki ni tsuite / ‘A Steam Whistle in the Night, translated by Jaques van Westerhoven), Haruki Murakami (2003 (2006))
  • Het Hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (Makura no Sōshi 枕草子 / The Pillow Book, translated by Paul Heijman), Sei Shōnagon (1002/1986)
  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Mekurayanagi to, nemuru onna, translated by Philip Gabriel; Jay Rubin), Haruki Murakami (2005)
  • Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger (2009)
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell (2010)
  • Silence (Chinmoku 沈黙 , translated by William Johnston (?)), Shusaku Endo (1966)
  • The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch (1978)
  • Affinity, Sarah Waters (1999)
  • The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951)
  • Persepolis (translated byMattias Ripa), Marjane Satrapi (2003)
  • Persepolis 2 (translated by Blake Ferris), Marjane Satrapi (2004)
  • Remainder, Tom McCarthy (2007)
  • Mutts: Dog-eared, Patrick McDonnell (2004)
  • Het volgende verhaal (The Following Story), Cees Nooteboom (1991)
  • Isabelle Avondrood: Isabelle en het beest (Adèle et le bête, translated by René van de Weijer (?)), Jacques Tardi (1976)
  • Isabelle Avondrood: Allemaal monsters! (Tous des monstres, translated by René van de Weijer), Jacques Tardi (1994)
  • Soulless, Gail Carriger (2009)
  • Het Gouden Paviljoen (Kinkakuji, translated by C. Ouwehand), Yukio Mishima (1966)
  • The Wasted Vigil, Nadeem Aslam (2008)
  • The Christmas Quilt, Thomas J. Davis (2000)

Which of these books have you read? Did you like them?

There are several classics in the list, including Japanese. Graphic novels and comics were a new adventure in 2010; although I tried my first during the October 2009 read-a-thon, I read many more this year — upgrading my level from Beginner to Intermediate in the Graphic Novel Challenge.

Other genres outside my usual reading nook: Apocalyptic (The Rapture), GLBT (Affinity), paranormal romance (urban fantasy) / ghost stories (Soulless, Her Fearful Symmetry).
All of these I particularly enjoyed!

More statistics

Original language
2010 graph of Original language

Read in translation or the original language?
2010 graph of Translation

Gender author
2010 graph of Gender of author

Century of publication
2010 graph of Publicaton year (century)

Except for a challenge wrap-up post, that’s about it for 2010. Book-wise I mean: I’ll need to work on my list of movies next! How are you doing evaluating last year?

The 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 ;)

Logo Monday: What are you reading?Yesterday I was so busy getting my buddy review of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman online with Elsje that I missed out on the Sunday Salon. Same thing happened last week, so today I decided to join in Sheila’s weekly meme on Book Journey: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? to bring you up-to-date.

Cover Silence, by Shusaku EndoI finshed reading Shusaku Endo’s book Silence for the Japanese Literature Book Group and Japanese Literature Challenge #4 on June 10th. I hope I’ll manage to review the book before the discussion starts on June 28th! Because it is set in Japan just after the country has been closed to foreigners (except Dutch), it was quite appropriate to read after The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (which I hope to review soon too) and it also brought to mind The Bridge of San Luis Rey and one of my all-time favourite movies The Mission.

Cover Geketende Democratie (Japan), Hans van der LugtAfter Silence I picked up some Dutch nonfiction about Japan: Geketende democratie, Japan achter de schermen by Hans van der Lugt. It hasn’t been translated into English (yet) but literally the title means ‘Democracy in Chains: Behind the Scenes in Japan’. Hans van der Lugt has been a correspondent in Japan for one our national newspapers (NRC Handelsblad) from 1995-2006. It’s an interesting book but I feel like reading a novel as well so I’ll be starting The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch in the next few days. We’re going on a short trip to one of the Wadden Islands in the North Sea so a book with such a title seems appropriate. It is also part of my personal challenge and the What’s in a Name challenge — I’ll be happy to finally cross it off my wishlist!

I’m still keeping up with the Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book read-along. I’ve read all my entries for this week (#110 in the Morris edition) but I just don’t have anymore time to tell you all about it. That’ll have to wait to another Sunday Salon — or It’s Monday! What Are You reading? :)

Bloggiesta starting line
Yay, the third Bloggiesta has started! I can’t believe I almost missed it… I guess I haven’t been paying attention to twitter nor my feed-reader. My excuse is that I have this annoying cold — which I probably got from David Mitchell when I saw him in Teylers Museum on Saturday, so who’s complaining ;) Of course I should have just marked my calendar for June’s Bloggiesta right after January’s.

Anyway, although my head feels like $%#@&*$#$ and I’ve got other plans for the weekend, I’m going to try and squeeze in some tasks from my Graasland to-do list. Can’t let a Bloggiesta party go by without participating — especially since I really need it at the moment!

Before Monday 8am (GMT+1) I hope to spend 12 hours on the following jobs:

  • backup my blog ✔
  • finish most recent backlog posts about this week’s csa vegetable bag and today’s bento (how convenient that I don’t need to take a break for preparing lunch because it’s already waiting for me!) ✔
  • write 1 book review, preferably David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  • spend 15 minutes on putting previous posts containing recipes (or links to recipes on other websites) in the Recipe category I created a short while ago ✔
  • add archive post for books read in 2002
  • spend 30 minutes on cleaning up old imported posts (tagged ‘Uncategorized’; 9 left)

Bloggiesta logoI probably can’t do it all in the set amount of time — especially since I plan to visit, comment on, cheer & tweet other participants as well and I really need my sleep these days — but at least you know what my priorities are. I’ll probably leave the mini-challenges for what they are ;)

If possible I’d also like to work on some other posts that have been high on my priority list for quite some time (the ones that are really bugging me):

  • my buddy review with Elsjelas of Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
  • my guest post for the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge
  • report of David Mitchell’s talk in Haarlem (combining it with my review of ‘The 1000 Autumns‘ will probably turn out too difficult)
  • review of Shusaku Endo’s Silence (Japanese Literature Book Group read for June & my first book in the 4th Japanese Literature Challenge)

So much to do, so little time ;) How fortunate that Mr Gnoe is dining out and will be home late today! :))

The 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 ;)

2009 was a good year for reading. I completed 35 books (5 more than last year) and I didn’t put any aside because I found them too disappointing. My eyes have goggled a total of 10.038 pages ;)

2009 FIRSTS:

I’m afraid I have a lot of ‘wrapping up’ to do on my challenges — writing reviews and wrap-up posts — so thank god for next weekend: it’s Bloggiesta!

Now, the highlights of 2009…. (drum roll)

BESTEST book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (published in 1939)

I would never have guessed it would end as my best read of 2009. I had a hard time getting into the book, especially because of the ‘epic’ chapters intertwining the story of the Joad family during the Great Depression in the US. But it really got under my skin. And looking back The Grapes of Wrath definitely made the biggest (and a long lasting) impression.
I still need to review it so I guess it’d better be one of the first to tackle. (Review added)

SECOND best book: The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata (1962)

I had never heard of Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, even though I’ve been reading Japanese authors for a while now. So I’m really glad I got to know him thanks to the Japanese Literature Book Group that started this year. Again, I haven’t reviewed this book yet :\ But I absolutely loved the detailed descriptions of Kyoto and Japanese culture. It reminded me of last year’s favourite: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. But The Old Capital is way more subtle — Japanese, where The Teahouse Fire is recognizably American in comparison. So, another review that’s high on my to-do list.

Worst book: Butterfly in the Wind by Rei Kimura (2000)
What do you know, I do have a review of this year’s worst read on Graasland! ;) That’s because it was the first book I read for the Japanese Literature Challenge (for which I actually only needed to read 1 book, but why stop, especially after such a disappointment? ;) I read Butterfly in the Wind in Dutch (Vlinder in de wind) and found the content, the way the story was told ánd the translation all h o r r i b l e.

I have thought of listing more books especially worth mentioning, but I had many good reads this year so I’ll just give you the whole lot of them. The first title (Silk) was read last, the last of the list my first book of 2009 (Falling Angels). Are there any of these you would have picked as your best read?

  • Zijde (Seta / Silk), Alessandro Baricco
  • The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson (online reading group)
  • I am a cat (Wagahai wa Neko de Aru), 2nd volume, Natsume Sōseki (Japanese Literature Read-along, JapLit Challenge)
  • The Old Capital (Koto 古都), Yasunari Kawabata (Japanese Literature Reading Group)
  • Persuasion, Jane Austen audio book
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (November Book Group read; What’s in a Name)
  • I am a cat (Wagahai wa Neko de Aru), 1st volume, Natsume Sōseki (Japanese Literature Read-along, JapLit Challenge)
  • Coraline, Neil Gaiman (graphic novel)
  • De pianoman, Bernlef
  • Be With You (Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu), Takuji Ichikawa
  • The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck ((multiple) challenge book) TNX to boekenxnl for this rabck!
  • Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (Classics challenge; online reading group)
  • Het Pauperparadijs, Suzanna Jansen (non-fiction)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (Bookcrossing bookring / (multiple) challenge book)
  • Vlinder in de wind (Butterfly in the Wind), Rei Kimura (Japanese Literature challenge book)
  • Away, Amy Bloom (online reading group)
  • The Mapmaker’s Wife, Robert Whitaker (Bookcrossing bookring / What’s in a name challenge book)
  • What came before he shot her, Elizabeth George (What’s in a name challenge book)
  • With no one as witness, Elizabeth George
  • Zo god het wil (Crossroads / Come Dio Comanda), Niccolò Ammaniti
  • De inboorling, Stevo Akkerman
  • Ten zuiden van de grens, ten westen van de zon (Kokkyo no minami, Taiyo no nishi / South of the Border, West of the Sun), Haruki Murakami
  • De kleine keizer (‘The Little Emperor‘), Martin Bril (What’s in a name challenge book)
  • Nikolski, Nicolas Dickner (ring)
  • Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh ((multiple) challenge book / bookgroup)
  • Slam, Nick Hornby
  • Notes from an exhibition, Patrick Gale
  • Rivier der vergetelheid (Meuse l’oubli), Philippe Claudel
  • Dans dans dans (Dansu dansu dansu / Dance dance dance), Haruki Murakami
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro ((multiple) challenge book)
  • Grijze zielen, Philippe Claudel (What’s in a name challenge book)
  • The National Trust for Scotland: Brodie Castle (non-fiction)
  • De ijdele engel, Godfried Bomans
  • The End of Mr Y, Scarlett Thomas (TNX to rapturina for this rabck!)
  • Vallende engelen (Falling Angels), Tracey Chevalier

The ‘stats’ (for real geeks like me ;) will have to wait until another day. But here’s what I read in 2008 and in 2007 — for those of you who haven’t had enough yet (are you also from the Eighties generation, too fond of making lists? ;)

My Google map will show you my Bookcrossing releases of all-time. Making a sidebar button for it is one of my wishes for next week’s Bloggiesta! As is, maybe, a special page where I can bring my year lists together?

Coincidently (dôh) this week’s Booking Through Thursday wants to know exactly what I’ve been talking about today!

As you know I have joined next year’s What’s in a Name challenge, hosted by Beth F. Even though it is not compulsory I decided to try and compile a list of books fitting the categories — just to keep myself on track. Of course I might change titles along the way.

  1. Category food: Living Among Meat Eaters by Carol J. Adams (non-fiction), or The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (‘Zoet’ in this title being a Dutch surname meaning ‘sweet’).
    * read in April – May *
  2. Category body of water: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving,
    or The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch.
    * read in July *
  3. Category title: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.
    * read in January *
  4. Category plant: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
    * read in August *
    And The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
    * read in August – September *
  5. Category place name: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi ( an ancient capital, Unesco World Heritage Site in what is now Iran)
    * read in September *
    Or The China Lover by Ian Buruma.
  6. Category music term: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.
    * read in April *
    And Silence by Shusaku Endo.
    * read in June *

Can I start now? Please? ;)

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