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.