Saturday, August 4, 2007

Autumn Challenges (or, How Eva Went a Little Crazy)

Well, my main challenge for the rest of the year is obviously in non-fiction. It should be interesting; seven books a month will make up about half my reading! But for the other half, I've decided to join some of the challenges coming up and design a couple of my own: I'm listing them in the order that they start and including pics of the books I own....

+I'm doing a sequel to the Reading Across Borders challenge that I completed earlier, to go from August through December. However, I'm going a little easier on myself this time and including one book from Italy and one from the Commonwealth.
If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino (Italy)
Yes, it's Italy, but I haven't read Calvino before, and I refuse to put him off any longer. :D
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler (Portugal)
I heard about this via the Amazon adult school feature (so much fun!), and then I mooched it. It's kind of violating my rule, in that I prefer for the book to be set in a country that the author is native to. However, it's historical, and it's about the Portugese Jews, and Zimler is Jewish, so that's how I'm justifying it.
The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie (India)
I haven't read Rushdie in way too long. So, despite the fact that he's one of my favourite authors, and thus not really a stretch for me, I'm putting him on the list. Have I mentioned how much I love Rushdie? I'm working my way through his oevre, so this should be fun!
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (Chile)
I decided to read another book by Allende, since I love House of Spirits and Zorro (I have the latter on cd-it's so much fun!). Plus, the library has a copy.
Snow Flower's Secret Fan by Lisa See (China)
I've heard lots of good things about this, and the library has a copy. I actually checked it out before but didn't get to it in time.
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (South Africa)
I'm looking forward to a book set in South Africa, and I've heard that this one is quite fair to both sides. And, once again, the library has a copy.
Bliss and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand)
I have an embarassing confession: I've never read a book set anywhere near Australia or New Zealand. High time to correct that!
Embers by Sándor Márai (Hungary)
I never seem to read books set in continental Europe. This one seems very interesting, and I could book mooch it!
War of the Saints by Jorge Amado
So, I knew that I wanted to include a Brazilian author on the list. I also knew I wanted to bookmooch it. This ended up narrowing the field to two Amados: this one or Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. I agonised over the decision, but in the end I went with this one because an African goddess comes to life through a statue of Saint Barbara. How awesome of a plot is that?!
In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Soueif
I wanted a book from the Middle East on the list as well, and I love Egypt (I got visit for ten days a few years back). I was hoping to grab the sequel to Mahfouz's incredible Palace Walk, but it wasn't at bookmooch. So, I decided to go for a woman author, and this one sounds fascinating. I had to decide between this and Map of Love; in the end, I went with this one because it's longer!

+Then, I'm doing a personal short story challenge. My goal is to read at least five short story collections and ten famous individual short stories before the end of the year (this also starts now). My selections are
Case Histories: A Novel by Kate Atkinson
This is a book of three connected stories centered around one detective. I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum a long time ago, and it'll be interesting to see what Atkinson does with this material.
Orsinian Tales by Ursula K. le Guin
I've heard good things about her over the years but never picked up any of her work. I'm looking forward to checking it out.
The Veteran by Frederick Forsyth
This is a collection of five thriller stories. It sounds interesting!
Two Good Collections Here
As you can tell, this list isn't fleshed out yet. I'm going to try and find three great collections at the library, but I wanted to leave myself some browsing room. Open for suggestions
Best American Short Stories of the Century
I'm hoping this will be the source for most of the individual stories-library has it.

+First of the 'real' (i.e.-hosted)challenges, the Books to Movies challenge, which beings in September and gives the participants three months to read three books that have been turned into movies. My choices...
Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen
I saw this as a rec by a Duke professor, and when I read about it it seemed very interesting. So, when I saw it had been made into a movie and my library has it, I knew we were destined. :D
The Mirror Crack'd by Agatha Christie
I love Agatha Christie, specifically Miss Marple. So, I've taken the opportunity to bookmooch this one, since I plan on owning all the Miss Marples one day.
The Russia House by John le Carre
I've enjoyed the le Carre that I've read so far, but I think that his old stuff is far better than his new stuff. The library has this one as well, since bookmooch doesn't have it in the cover I want (yes, I value the covers of books I own).
alts, in case the library misplaces something, are
Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
Mom got this for me in hardcover a few months ago (I've really enjoyed the rest of the series), but then I saw the movie, so I haven't had much of an impetus to read it. This is the only book on the list that I've seen the film for.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
I bookmooched this, since I want to own all of Eco's work eventually, and I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It'd be fun to reread it, since I don't remember much about it.

+Next up is the Unread Authors Challenge, which also begins in September. You choose six books to read by February of 2008. Since a lot of the fiction I've mooched is new authors, this one works out well!
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
This was one of my very first mooches, since I think I'm the only one in the blogging community that hasn't read it yet! It keeps calling me from the bookshelf, but I've been distracted by challenge reads. It's time to make time to see what all the fuss is about. :)
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
I mooched this, because it sounded like a great mystery! I'm always ready to discover another good series.
That Night by Alice McDermott
I mooched this after a good review by litlove (I think it was litlove). It's a skinny read, but I'm looking forward to it.
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
I recently realised that the last Kipling I read was that mongoose story in 7th grade. Shame on me. Plus, I have to include at least one classic in the list!
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The heft of this one makes up for the slimness of the McDermott. A friend recommended this to me, and I'm very excited to actually get around to it. My bookmooched copy is just gorgeous!
The Stolen Child by Keith Donahue
I'm super excited about this one, so I wanted to include it on one of my challenges. The only problem will be waiting until September. :)

+Then there's the 2nds challenge. It doesn't start until October, but since I'm listing challenges, I might as well list them all! Joy is hosting this one, and since I didn't participate in the Non-Fiction 5 (kicking myself now), I definitely want to do this one. The idea is that you pick 3 new authors who you enjoyed, and read a second book by them. I think the point is to deepen your connection with authors you've recently discovered. :D I'm going with...
The Little Country by Charles de Lint
I first read de Lint for the Once Upon a Time challenge, and I loved him. So, I bookmooched this copy a couple months ago, and it's been patiently waiting for me. I can't wait to return to his gorgeous writing style and awesome worlds.
Lost in a Good Book Jasper Fforde
This is a follow-up to The Eyre Affair, which upon second reading turned out to be great fun. I mooched this at the same time as the first one, and I hope that it'll be as good.
Road Rage by Ruth Rendell
I first read Rendell for the Summer Mystery Challenge and had a lukewarm reaction. But, I really want to give her another go. This is another bookmooch-if I mooched a book from a user, I could pick one free. This was my freebie.


Joy said...

Hi Eva! Welcome to the 2nds Challenge! I'm interested in reading Fforde and Rendell, but just haven't got there yet. I look forward to your reviews. Happy Reading! :)

Sycorax Pine said...

Great "Unread Authors" list, Eva! We are so glad to have you with us. I love how many genres you include on your list. Ellis Peters is certainly an author that I used to love, but haven't read in a long time. I have been thinking over the past few months that I ought to go back and revisit Brother Cadfael.

-Sycorax Pine/ Por of Tour

Ana S. said...

I read "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler" earlier this year, also for Reading Across Borders, and I was actually a little disappointed. I think it's mostly my own fault, though - it's a demanding book and I picked the wrong time to read it. It's certainly highly original. I'll check back to see what you make of it.

The Richard Zimler interests me. I am Portuguese but I know very little about the history of Jewish people here. I'm going to look for it.

I love the sound of "War of Saints". I've been meaning to read something by Jorge Amado too, so perhaps that will be it.

I love Ursula Le Guin, but I haven't read "Orsinian Tales" yet. I think she's the kind of writer it's hard to go wrong with, though.

It looks like you have some great reading ahead of you!

Eva said...

Joy, thanks for the welcome. :) Just waiting for October!

Por of Tour, I hadn't realised how many genres I included until I looked at it again! Should be a fun challenge. :)

Nymeth, you're the first person I've heard say anything but high praises for Calvino. I'll definitely wait until I'm in the mood for a more experimental book. You're Portugese? That's cool-I'll try to find the link to the Amazon page that lists books about Portugal. It'll be fun if you end reading the Zimmler and/or Amado at the same time-I love seeing what other bloggers think of books I've read!

Anonymous said...

English Lessons and Other Stories by Shauna Singh Baldwin is my favourite short story collection. I also very much enjoyed Rohinton Mistry's Tales from Firozsha Baag (which I think is also published under the title Swimming Lessons.)

I'm reading Ahdaf Soueif's I Think of You: Stories right now, and I've liked what I've read so far.

Anonymous said...

We Australians like to claim any famous New Zealander who has spent more than 5 minutes in our country as our own. (Though some people draw the line at Russell Crowe.) So with regret I have to inform you that Katherine Mansfield was from New Zealand.

Eva said...

Poodlerat, thanks for the suggestions! I'll definitely look those up. :)

Edmund, I am so dumb! I knew that Mansfield was from New Zealand, and I still typed Australia. lol Is Russell Crowe really from New Zealand? I didn't know that!

Sarah said...

Wow, that is quite an ambitious challenge list. Good luck!

Calvino, Rushdie & Mansfield are favourites of mine, so I hope you enh=joy them. But the others are all new to me, so I can't wait to read your thoughts.

Coincidentally, I'm reading The Eyre Affair at the moment (also my second attempt), and this time round I'm really enjoying it.

And re Russell Crowe: he was born in NZ but grew up and lives in Australia. I believe he thinks of himself as Australian, but can live if he doesn't :)

Eva said...

Sarah, it is an ambitious list, but it's mainly full of books I wanted to read anyway and that happened to fit into challenges. Hopefully that'll make it easier!

That's funny that we both enjoyed The Eyre Affair more the second time around. I think, for me at least, it was because of expectations.

Thanks for filling me in on Russell Crowe. Good to know. :D

Melwyk said...

Wow, Eva, it looks like a very busy reading fall ahead for you. You've pointed out a couple of challenges I'd missed hearing about; now I'm going to have to check them out.

Anonymous said...

Eva are you crazy?! :) Just kidding. It looks like you've got some wonderful reads ahead of you and some awesome challenges. I am considering a couple of the challenges you mentioned but I need to finish up some others first. Good luck!

Wendy said...

Eva, your site looks remarkably like mine *LOL*

What a great list of books you have lined up. I'm participating in many of the same challenges - if you love reading challenges, I'd love to have you join us at my Yahoo group: A Novel Challenge

Eva said...

Melanie, glad that I could point you towards some new challenges! Always a fun addiction. :)

Iliana, I am crazy. :) All the more so, because my baby niece comes home soon, and I'm going to be nanny to her and a couple other toddlers until I leave for the Peace Corps. So, who knows how much reading I'll actually get done?

Wendy, you definitely have me beat as far as challenges go! I'll check out the Yahoo group. :)

Kathleen said...

Thanks for joining the Books to Movies Challenge!

raidergirl3 said...

I think we are in a lot of the same challenges, but I'm not trying th eunread author , ...yet.
Once you try Brother Cadfael, there are a whole bunch more in that series to enjoy, like comfort food. And you won't find Pillars of the Earth that long, you'll fly through it; I love that book.
I haven't read Bel Canto yet or anything by McDermott.
I'm amazed at the variety of the Books to Movie challenge.
I read Calvino's Baron in the Trees and enjoyed its whimsy. I'm intrigued by If on a Winter's Night.. as well.
Happy reading.