27 January 2013

2013 Online Reading Challenge Round-up, Part III.2: Geographical challenges with + countries

From individual country challenges we move on to areas, continents and world reading challenges. Actually, I only found one each of the first two, Sadly, neither the Africa challenge or the South Asia challenge are running this year, but instead we have a Middle East challenge and a repeat of the Europe challenge.

The 2013 Middle East reading challenge is hosted on a dedicated blog of the same title. It is a challenge to read books, to quote the host: "...which are written by Middle Eastern writers, or take place in the Greater Middle East, or are concerned with the Greater Middle East and with historical and contemporary Middle Eastern issues." The area covered is more or less what is sometimes referred to as the "Greater Middle East" and is comprised of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories and all the nations within, bordering or relatively close proximity to the Arabian Peninsula including Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the Gulf Emirates. Some exceptions are given in the introduction post.
The challenge runs all year, I did not see a sign-up deadline, there are 4 levels, from 1 to 15+ books, and more rules can be found in the intro post. Considering how much the area has been in the news lately, remarkably few people have joined, so why not pop over and join them?

The European Reading Challenge is becoming a stable among reading challenges. It is hosted by Rose City Reader and is, quite simply, a challenge to take a tour of Europe through books where each book must be by a different author and set in a different country. There are five levels: to read 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 books. The challenge runs between January 1, 2013 and January 31, 201, there is no sign-up deadline, and there is a prize for the most books read. Overlap with other challenges is allowed and reviewing is not necessary unless you intend to compete for the prize, in which case you must review, either on a blog or in comments. There are 55 people already signed up and I can foresee a fierce competition for the prize.

Next we have the 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - Reading Challenge2013. This one has 7 categories, each covering 7 countries, and you must choose one and read book belonging to each category. 

Visit the hosting site for more information on the categories and the philosophy behind the challenge. I did not see a sign-up deadline, the challenge runs Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013, and there are already 19 participants. Why not become the 20th?

EDIT - I forgot about this one, so I'm adding it (1 Feb.):

The Global Reading Challenge is hosted on Mysteries in Paradise and is, as the title suggests, about reading globally. There are three levels, explained in the intro post, and it runs all year with no sign-up deadline. There are only 16 participants so far, which is a pity because itðs a great challenge. I may even join it myself.

The final challenge in this category is the Around the World in 80 Books challenge. Hosted by Have Books, Will Travel, it is a 5-year challenge that started on October 1, 2012 and ends on September 30, 2017. 

You can join at any time (but the sooner, the better) and each book must be set in a different country. If you're ready for a long-haul challenge, go join the 24 other who have already signed up.

20 January 2013

2013 Online Reading Challenge Round-up, Part III.1: Geographical challenges

Next up are the geographical challenges. These include country challenges, continent/area challenges and international country-hopping challenges.

I'll start with individual countries.The next post will be about area/continent challenges and international challenges. Please, if you know of more country challenges, let me know (just leave a comment).

First up is the Books on France challenge, hosted on the Words and Peace blog. The challenge is to read books related to France in some way: set in France, written by a French author, written in French or featuring a French theme. Any genre is valid, there are 4 levels, reviewing is expected, and there is a giveaway drawing for the participants at the end of the year. There are 22 participants so far, and you can find out more by following the link.

Then we hop over the Channel to Britain. The British Books Challenge is hosted on the Feeling Fictional blog. It is, quite simply, a challenge to read at least 12 books by British authors in the course of 2013. Monthly reviewing is expected, at least of you want to win some of the prizes. That's right: There are monthly prizes! (Most unfortunately the majority are only available to UK participants, but the host intends to try to do a couple of international giveaways as well). 56 participants so far, and further rules may be found by clicking the link.

Next we cross the Irish Sea to the Emerald Isle (boy, would I have aced this challenge last year with all those Nora Roberts Irish-themed books). Books and Movies is hosting the Ireland Challenge. This is an all-year challenge and, in the host's words, covers "Any book written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, or involving Irish history or Irish characters". Crossovers are allowed, levels range from 4 books (Shamrock) to 10+ books (Ceilith). 22 participants so far. More rules can be found by clicking through the link.

The there is the 50 States challenge hosted on the Book obsessed blog. The challenge is simple enough: Read books that are set in each of the 50 states of the USA. This does not appear to mean that you have to read fifty books - after all, the same book can be set in more than one state. Re-reads and cross-overs are acceptable and reviewing is a must. More rules can be found over on the hosting blog. So far 21 people have joined.

The Indian Quills challenge is hosted on The Tales Pensive blog. Books read for the challenge must be authored or co-authored by authors of Indian extraction. It runs all year and I did not see a sign-up date. You must commit to the number of books you read beforehand, and reviewing is expected. More rules and information after the link. 26 participants so far.

The final country challenge is the Aussie Author challenge. Hosted by Booklover Book Reviews, it has two levels: 3 books by at least 2 different authors, and 12 books by at least 4 male and 4 female authors, of which at least 2 are non-fiction and 4 different fiction genres are represented.

Reviews seem to be expected, I did not see a sign-up deadline, and further rules and a sign-up post can be found by clicking through the link.

11 January 2013

Reading report for December 2012

I finished the year 2012 with a more-than average reading month, finishing 16 books, most of which were begun as well as ended within the month. It's no wonder, since because of the way the weekends lined up the Yule holidays were long this year – I only worked one day between December 22nd and January 2nd because traditionally, in my workplace, we get the half-workdays of Christmas Eve and New Year‘s Eve completely off, as well as one extra winter vacation day over the holidays.

12 of these books were romances and 7 were written by Nora Roberts. Romances are a good genre for me during the darkest winter months, dealing as they do with positive feelings and happy endings, things I need as ammunition in my battle with depression, which is exacerbated by seasonal affective disorder at this time of the year. The rest included true and fictional crime, historical fiction and a cookbook.

The Books:
  • Dorothy H. Becker & Nancy S. Wallace : Fabulous Fondues. Cookbook.
  • Debbie Macomber: Christmas Wishes: Christmas Letters (2007); Rainy Day Kisses (1990). Christmas romance novellas.
  • Ed McBain: The Pusher. Police procedural.
  • Terry Pratchett: Dodger. Historical fiction/alternative reality.
  • Julia Quinn‘s The Bridgertons: The Duke and I; The Viscount Who Loved Me; Romancing Mr. Bridgerton; To Sir Philip, With Love. Historical romances.
  • Katherine Ramsland: The Devil's Dozen: How cutting edge forensics took down 12 notorious serial killers. True crime/Forensic history.
  • Nora Roberts‘ The Donovan Legacy: Captivated; Entranced; Charmed; Enchanted.
  • Nora Roberts‘ The Concannon Sisters trilogy: Born in Fire; Born in Ice; Born in Shame. Paranormal romance.

(This month I have already read 12 books, all of them romances and all by Nora Roberts - I was only going to read one 6-book series, but discovered that they were linked to two other series, and now I have discovered that one of those is connected to another two book sequence, so it very much looks like I will fill my Nora quote for the year in the first two weeks of January).

07 January 2013

2013 Online Reading Challenge Round-up, Part II: Title challenges, lists and number of books

Here you will find two related types of challenges: those that have something to do with titles and ones were you read books from a specific list. I have also updated the list from the original posting to include challenges to finish a certain number of books. Starting with the title challenges we first have:

The fabulous What's in a Name Challenge, 6th edition. It's being hosted on the Beth Fish Reads blog. To participate, you pledge to read one book in each of six categories. The categories consist of titles having a specific type of word in them:

  • up or down (or equivalent)
  • something you'd find in your kitchen
  • a party or celebration in the title
  • fire (or equivalent)
  • an emotion in the title
  • lost or found (or equivalent)

The challenge runs throughout 2013 and you can join up at any time. The challenge can overlap other challenges, reviewing is necessary (in a blog post or comment) and you are encouraged to be creative when choosing books. Further rules and sign-up can be fond by following the link. 157 participants had signed up the last time I looked. I will almost definitely join this one.

Bookmark To Blog
A related challenge is the Monthly Key Word Reading challenge at Bookmark to Blog. The task is to read one book each month whose title includes one or more of the key words for that month.Variation is encouraged, so that, for example, you can interpret "snow" to mean, e.g. "snowflake" or "snowball" and you can tweak the key words so that "family" can mean a family member, like "mother" or "son". No sign-up deadline is mentioned, but you'll need to sign up before the end of January because each month's book must be read within that month. You seem to be expected to review or at least write something about the books. 86 participants so far.

And now for something more specific: The Color Coded challenge is being hosted by Bev of My Reader's Block. Should you accept the challenge, you will need to read 9 books, each with a specific color or variation thereof in the title. The challenge runs all year, the sign-up deadline is November 30th, and overlap with other challenges is allowed. Reviewing is expected and can be done by  blogging, commenting or through your Goodreads account. Everyone who finishes gets entered in a prize drawing.

The final challenge in this category is an alphabet challenge: The A to Z Book Challenge on Babies, Books and Beyond.

The aim is to read books with titles containing key words beginning with all the letters of the alphabet (see examples given in the challenge starter post). The challenge is year-long, you can join at any time and some kind of tracking is expected, e.g. links to blog posts or a website. There will be a mini-challenge each moth. 46 participants so far.

And now for the list challenges.

The first is the Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge. Basically, you choose books from a list of 105 books, recommended by 12 bloggers, and pledge to read a certain number of these books before the end of 2013. Levels range from 5 to 20+ books, you can sign up at any time and reviewing is not mandatory, but is appreciated. 28 people have already accepted the challenge.

The second list challenge is the “I’ve Always Meant to Read That Book” Challenge hosted by Carrie of the Books and Movies blog. This is a read-along challenge. Carrie has published a list of 12 books, one of each month of the year, that she has always wanted to read, and is inviting others to join her in a read-along. Reviewing is a must, but you don't have to read all the books. Further rules can be found at the hosting blog.

I'm sure there are other list challenges out there, e.g. to read books shortlisted for specific awards or books that have won awards, lists of "worthwhile" books.

Of those, there is one I would especially like to mention: The 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die challenge.

 This is not a one-year challenge but rather an ongoing reading project/challenge. The host is merely giving people who are tackling this massive reading list a chance to connect with others who are doing the same and to post and read reviews.

I decided to add two more challenges to this post - the ones for finishing a certain number of books, simply because they don't really fit in well anywhere else. While I do not feel a need to push myself to read a certain number of books - I feel that around 150 books a year suits me just fine - I think it's a fine challenge for someone who doesn't read that much to push themselves to read more. These challenges are for you.

2013 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge hosted by The Book VixenFirst there is the Outdo Yourself challenge. This is hosted by the Book Vixen, along with several other challenges (click on the 2013 challenges menu on the host site to check out the rest).

This is a yearlong challenge and the goal is simply to read more books in 2013 than you did in 2013. You can join up at any time, re-reads and crossovers from other challenges are allowed, as are audiobooks and ebooks. There are 4 levels, ranging from 1-5 books to 16+ books, so this is an ideal challenge even if you only want to finish one single book in 2013.

So why not join the 131 others who have already signed up?

The other challenge is rather more extreme. It's the 150+ Reading Challenge, hosted on the My Overstuffed Boohshelf blog.

The goal is, as you can see, to read more than 150 books in 2013. You can join at any time and all kinds and formats of books are allowed. Reviewing seems to be expected, but can be done e.g. on Goodreads if you don't have a blog.Crossovers from other challenges are allowed. 66 people have joined up already.

05 January 2013

2013 Online Reading Challenge Round-up, Part I: TBR challenges

The end-of-year holidays are over, the novelty is beginning to wear off the gadgets we got for Christmas, and we are in the process of reading (or have already finished) the lovely books we got (at least the ones we actually wanted). Some of us will also, by now, be having doubts about our new year‘s resolutions.  To keep things exciting, why not join a reading challenge?

Like last year, I have been looking for reading challenges. While I didn‘t find many I wanted to join, I found plenty that are (or might be) suitable for other readers, and to save someone (hopefully many someones) the search, I present here the second annual reading challenge round-up, part I.

I deliberately didn‘t look to see if the challenges I featured last year are being repeated, because I wanted to feature some new challenges, but neither did I exclude them when they popped up in my searches.

If you are running a challenge or know of a good one, do post a link in a comment to let me know and I will take a look at it. I can‘t promise it will make it into a post, but at the least it will be there in the comments for me and my readers to take a look at.

All links will open in a new window.

I begin, as I did last year, with a meta challenge: The Reading Challenge Addict challenge.

Reading Challenge Addict
It is, quite simply, a way for you to show just how badass a challenge addict you are. Rules may be found at the link above and sign-up is here.
Last time I looked, there were already 48 participants signed up. I didn't check if anyone had joined the Out of This World level, to enter and finish 16+ Challenges in one year, but it wouldn't surprise me at all. I don't have the discipline to do that level myself, but I might enter the Easy as Pie level, to enter and finish between 1 and 5 challenges.

 This year, I found several TBR challenges:

Bev Hankins is back with the Mount TBR Challenge.

This is a year-long challenge and the focus is on books owned by the participants. There are levels ranging from Pike's Peak (12 books) to Mount Olympus (150+ books). Sign-up ends on November 30th, audio books and eBooks count towards the challenge, and you can read the same books for other challenges. It is not necessary for you to own a blog, nor is it to post reviews. Further rules and sign-up can be found at the link. You can also click on the badge to be taken there. For those of you without blogs, you can join the Goodreads group for the challenge. So far 98 people have joined up.

6 bloggers have banded together to host the 2013 TBR Pile reading Challenge.

This is another year-long challenge focusing on owned books. The levels range from A Firm Handshake (1-10 TBR books) to Married With Children (41-50 books, and sign-up ends on December 15th. Reviewing is mandatory and can be done on a blog or other social media, e.g. Shelfari or Goodreads, or even on Amazon. There are mini-challenges to be entered throughout the year, and did I mention the prizes? How about the December giveaway? Further rules and sign-up at the link. Last time I looked, 315 people had joined.

Then there is the Embarrassment of Riches TBR Reading Challenge.

This one is being run (if I have my facts right) by author Patricia Burroughs. The focus is on owned books of any genre and if you want to join this one, you need to be quick, because sign-up ends on January 8th.

Reviewing is not mandatory, but you are expected to report on your progress. Levels run from Copper (6 books) to Platinum (50 books). Further rules and sign-up at the link. 44 people have already joined.

I am considering this one for myself, since the Platinum level coincides with my TBR goal for the year and there aren't too many hoops to jump through.

C.B. James of Ready When You Are, C.B. is hosting the TBR Double Dog Dare challenge and already has 50 participants.

This challenge, like the previous three, focuses on TBR books, but unlike them, it not only covers owned books but also library books, provided you requested them before January 1st. This challenge only runs between January 1st and April 1st. Further rules and sign-up at the link.

Finally, there is the 2013 Bucket List Reading challenge.

I am including it here because a bucket list is a kind of TBR list, but in this instance you don't have to own the books, you just have to want to read them, and they have to be worthwhile books - this is explained in the rules (and after reading this far, I'm sure you know how to find those).

Cross-overs are allowed, sign-up is until the end of the year, and you need to commit to reading 6, 12 or 24 books. Reviewing is expected, but need not be done on a blog. 9 people have joined so far. Why not become the 10th?

This is it for the TBR challenges. I will post the next installation in this series when I'm good and ready (possibly tomorrow, possibly on Monday).

03 January 2013

Looking forward to 2013

I don't own a crystal ball and have no idea what 2013 will bring, reading- or otherwise. However, one can always speculate.

In 2013 I will look into repeating the What's in a Name challenge and may enter other mini-challenges as I see fit. I will continue the TBR challenge, with the aim to read 50 TBR books from my own library. If I reach that number before the end of June, I may push it up to 75, but I will be happy with anything above 50. There are just so many other tempting books available from the libraries here that I can't commit to more. 

I will also try to buy as few books as possible. I am saving up for some serious travelling and plan to try to cut down as much as possible on buying non-essential items. I do consider books to be just about as essential as water and air, but when you own as many TBR books as I do and also possess a library card giving you access to hundreds of thousands of books, buying books on speculations (as I have been doing for a long time now) is not a priority. Therefore I hereby pledge, in 2013, to only buy books I 
a) absolutely must read and can not get by any other (legal) means,
b) want for my keeper shelves. 

As for books to be read in 2013, I would quite like to read more in my native language than I have been doing for the last 10 years or so. Every year during the weeks leading up to Christmas the market gets flooded with new books (book publishing in Iceland being a mostly Christmas affair - I really should write something about this phenomenon...) and I promise myself that I will read the books everyone is raving about, and then never get round to it. I have even fallen behind with my favourite Icelandic crime writers, which I really need to remedy.

Since most of the books I got from my grandparents (see previous post) are in Icelandic, those will be a priority, but I also plan to read some Icelandic books that I have put on my other TBR list, the one of books I don't own but want to read. But these are just wishes, and I don't intend to make this a challenge or a pledge.

As for actual titles, I do know I would like to finish Brennu-Njáls Saga (The Saga of Burnt Njáll), which I started in 2012.Then I want to read Sturlunga saga because I want to have the original story straight before I begin to read a modern trilogy of novels based on it, the final book having been published this Christmas season. 

 Other books I'd like to read/reread in 2013 include
  • A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett (which I got for Christmas - I'll probably wait until I can include it in the TBR challenge, meaning I will read it in June or thereabouts)
  • Volume 1. of the Jón Árnason collection of Icelandic folk-tales  
  • Some of the many, many books I have "on hold", i.e. books that I have read anything from 1 chapter in to 2/3 of the book and then for some reason stopped reading it. This especially means Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, but also such varied books as The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (which I am reading in English for the first time), A Thousand Miles up the Nile by Amelia B. Edwards, and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

In addition, I would like to (finally) get going with Ulysses by James Joyce. I bought a copy in 2009 shortly after acquiring a book of annotations for it, but the annotations are longer than the actual novel and I get jittery just looking at them. I'll probably end by just diving into the novel and only using the annotations if things get really incomprehensible. If I do make the plunge, you can expect to see blog posts about my efforts.

As for more book blogging, my interest in that is at a low ebb at the moment, but who knows: it might pick up again.Right now I'm planning to repeat the reading challenges overview from last January. Those posts should start rolling during the coming weekend.

Finally, I hope 2013 will be at least as good a reading year for me as 2012 was.

How about you? What reading plans do you have for 2013? Feel free to comment or post a link to your own reading plans/resolutions for 2013.

02 January 2013

Looking back on 2012

Happy New Year!

I read 155 books in 2012, which was about the same as in a normal reading year. I finished two reading challenges, the always entertaining What's in a Name challenge, which I may repeat this year, and a personal challenge of finishing 50 books from my own library that I had not read before. The second challenge started out as a means to reduce the TBR part of my library below 600 books. Then I got around 20 books from my grandfather when he cut down his library in preparation for moving into a serviced apartment, and inherited nearly 90 books from my grandmother. Naturally, this upset the original challenge. This influx of books caused me to give up on the original goal and I decided to concentrate on finishing a certain number of TBR books rather than reducing the library down to a particular number.

The books that stood out for me in 2012 were wildly different from each other:
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith is an honest portrait of the relationship/friendship between her and photographer/artist Robert Mapplethorpe.
  • Fruits by Shoichi Aoki is a photographic celebration of Japanese teen fashion.
  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey is a beautifully written blend of personal memoir, philosophy and natural history.
Interestingly, they are all non-fiction.

All in all, it was a good reading year. Books gave me a temporary escape from the sorrow of watching my grandmother's health decline and temporary relief from the grief over her death. It's no accident that I have been seeking out books with guaranteed happy endings for most of the year and I expect that when I do my annual statistical analysis it will reveal a larger than usual number of romance novels. I did a lot of serial reading in that genre and went through all of the currently available books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the first seven Bar Cynster books by Stephanie Laurens, some of the Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn, a number of romance trilogies and the first three Cedar cove books by Debbie Macomber.