More challenges

I so enjoyed reading Anthony Trollope’s nice long slow Victorian novel The Eustace Diamonds, I’m just going to sign up for a few challenges to get more reading more old books! Somehow after reading books like Middlemarch by George Eliot and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (or The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins or Anna Karenina or books by the Brontes), I feel like I’ve just had a rich full meal of a book. They are a bit harder to get into, but they make me feel so calm and satisfied and settled. (Charles Dickens may be the most popular Victorian author but he’s the only one who doesn’t make me feel this way!)

So here’s what I’m going for:

The 1% Well-Read Challenge has one level: 13 books from any of the editions of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die lists (that’s actually 1294 books to choose from altogether) and runs from April 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011. Since there are so many books on these lists that I want to read, I’m sure I’ll have no problem fitting in 13 of them.

Also, I give in! I am signing up for the 2010 Chunkster Challenge, at the ‘easy’ level of Chubby Chunkster which is 3 books of over 450 pages, from February 1, 2010 to January 31, 2011. I may do more but don’t want to fuss about it. George Eliot here we come…!

And hey, let’s just throw in the 18th & 19th Century Women Writers Reading Challenge while I am at it, since hello Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, etc and so on, yes I am reading you this year. Only 2 books are required for the challenge and it lasts all of 2010.

These are all sort of overlapping, as you’ve no doubt noticed, but yes, come here Our Mutual Read, a Victorian Reading Challenge! I’m going for Level 1, which is 4 books, two of which must have been written in the 1837-1901 time period. The others can be nonfiction or historical fiction. And again, this one runs from all of 2010. (now does my reading of The Woman in White and Fingersmith earlier this year but before I started this blog count?? Maybe I will get through a few more Victorians without those…)

And I’m debating joining the Women Unbound challenge as well, I just don’t want to overwhelm myself too much all at once!

I also have another personal challenge, to read one book from each of the countries my ancestors came from, so Germany, Sweden and Scotland (and if any of them came from England, then I’ve already covered it!) I’m particularly interested in exploring a bit of German literature, since I’ve hardly read anything from that country besides a few Bertolt Brecht plays and it seems like there’s a lot of rich German novels (and certainly a lot of fascinating history to explore), if only I knew more about the country, culture and history to feel comfortable! I’ve been flirting with Thomas Mann lately, taking The Magic Mountain and Buddenbrooks out from the library, partly just to look at them and see if they interest me, if I’m ready yet.  Does anyone have any German lit recommendations?

I’ve actually read more Swedish books than German, with a few Henning Mankell mysteries (they really are good, melancholy and bleak and yet he really cares about the social issues of his country), Pippi Longstocking as a child (although at the time I think I assumed she was an American!) and a play by August Strindberg. So I’m not as concerned with what I’ll read for Swedish literature, as long as it’s not completely sad. Any good recommendations are welcome though!

And also I want to read more Canadian books, but… this is enough for now.

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11 thoughts on “More challenges

  1. Bina says:

    Challenges are so addictive! 🙂

    For German lit, I´d recommend reading Süskind, The Story of Mr. Sommer is great (I´m going to reread it soon), but sadly completely overshadowed by Perfume.

    I love Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren is my favorite children´s lit author.

    For Swedish lit, I just reviewed Ninni Holmqvist´s The Unit, if you haven´t read this yet, it´s a really good dystopian novel.

    Good luck with the challenges!

    • Carolyn says:

      I was going to ask you for some recommendations for German books, so thank you. I’ve read part of Perfume (I forgot that was a German author), but not all of it, the guy got a little too creepy…

      I did see your review of The Unit and it does look interesting. I wonder if there’s any upbeat Swedish literature, besides Pippi obviously!

  2. Nymeth says:

    Those are some excellent challenges – some I’ve done as well, others have been really tempting me since the year started. You *should* join Women Unbound too! What’s one more? 😉 And you’ll probably be done with it before you ever know it.

    • Carolyn says:

      Now’s just a pretty stressful time for me, with my husband’s surgery still up in the air. But maybe later in the year. I did pull out a book I thought of reading for it, called Seafaring Women, and got pulled into it for a bit. There’s just something about ‘required’ reading that can be motivating, but also irritating at times!

  3. Iris says:

    Like Nymeth, I recommend joining Women Unbound!

    Reading challenges are very addictive. You just made me want to join a few more. The “Our Mutual Read” challenge looks great and so does the Chunkster Challenge and the 18th and 19th Century Women one.

    • Carolyn says:

      I’m glad. 🙂 I’m always wanting to read more Victorian novels after reading one of them, but then put the next one off because they’re so long. But they’re the ones that have the depth and solidity to satisfy me.

  4. Shannon says:

    This is my first year to do any serious challenges and I’m really enjoying it – they are addictive aren’t they! I might tackle the Chunkster and Women Unbound next year. I love the idea of your personal challenge. Whereabouts in Canada are you? I’m in Toronto.

    • Carolyn says:

      I live in Calgary now and have lived in Alberta all my life… (small sigh!) How do you like Toronto? My husband and I have thought of moving there, but it is somewhat far away (I see you’re from Australia though, which is much further!)

      • Shannon says:

        I’ve been told Alberta is Canada’s Texas – does that hold true? 😉

        I’m not a big fan of Toronto, to be frank. I find it ugly and boring! There’s plenty about it I like, and that I’ll miss when we do leave, but overall I have not connected well with it. Even if I were more social and took advantage of the music/film/theatre scene, I still wouldn’t like the city. It lacks personality. It has no intrinsic character, like other cities I’ve lived in. And I miss that 🙂

        • Carolyn says:

          In some ways, yes… there are a lot of country music fans out here, although I am not one of them! I was in the Houston airport lately and found it strangely familiar in some ways… But then I also think there are some misconceptions in eastern Canada about what the west is like, or at least what my experience of it has been like. I grew up on a farm, not a ranch or an oil rig. 😉

          I definitely feel that way about Calgary! There are a lot of rich people here, but it still feels ugly and lacking in character, as you say, and I don’t like living here. I wondered if Toronto was like that too. (what really annoys me is that it seems to dominate Canadian publishing so much) What other cities have you lived in? I love the small towns and countryside of Alberta more and also really wish I could live in London for a while!

  5. Shannon says:

    I’m sure you’re right about misconceptions – and stereotypes. I’d say people here consider Alberta to be rather a redneck place, which doesn’t say nice things about Texas either!

    I’m from a sheep farm myself, too, so I can sympathise! I’ve lived in small cities back home in Tassie – Hobart’s wonderful – as well as a year in Melbourne. Plus three years in Sendai, Japan. I spent a lovely two weeks in Paris and I’ve visited several Japanese cities like Tokyo and Hiroshima. I’ve been to Montreal, which has a nice European flavour to it.

    But I’m like you: I’d prefer to live in the country outside a small 6,000-person town, not too far from a larger city but unaffected by it (in other words, just like where my parents live!) I’m determined to settle back in Tassie in a few years.

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