Tag Archives: reading challenges

As Far As Plans Go..

..and I have a lot of them, buzzing around in my head, for 2011. I don’t believe I will succeed in many of them, but that is why many of them aren’t challenges, or year-long plans, but simply reading lists. Things I’d like to concentrate on, but not finish, per se.

There is one thing I am going to give my undivided attention, or that has priority (undivided attention is a big promise to make, isn’t it?) and that is The Year of Feminist Classics project that I am doing together with Amy, Ana and Emily (and it seems many more amazing bloggers!). We changed the list around a little, and in October I won’t just be leading the discussion on Ain’t I a Woman? by bell hooks, but I will also discuss one article from the anthology: Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism Anthology, namely Under Western Eyes by Mohanty. (Which is, coincidently, the most used keyword to find my blog – weird how that happens). If you would like to discuss any other article in the anthology (and there are many interesting ones in there), feel free to write a guest post! Also, just because I have to say it: Under Western Eyes is definitely a classic in feminist literature, whatever some people may say. Anyway, to follow the project, please visit the blog here.

There is also the project that Sasha started, the Classics Project 2011. And I do aim to read a lot of books in the classics genre. I am becoming more and more pessimistic, and think 10 will be all I will be able to do in both categories, but who knows?

And then there are challenges.. I promised myself to not sign up for any challenges, and for now I have almost succeeded. I like being able to choose what I read at random, dreaming up my own reading list. It seems to work better for me, at the moment. However, there were a few severely tempting challenges. But a lot of them involved things I will probably be reading anyway, such as the Victorian Literature challenge, or the Elizabeth Gaskell Reading challenge. I have to admit, I have trouble not joining the latter. I do so love Gaskell and I really like the efforts of the Gaskell blog. As I am writing this I am so tempted to write-up my own list for the challenge. But no. Stop right there. I have my ongoing Gaskell reading list, and I think I had better stick to it for now.

But then there was Zommie, and her idea of hosting the Nordic challenge. And I cannot be dissuaded from joining this one. My time in Sweden, even if I struggled with homesickness, has made me fall in love a little with the country and the people, and I want to cherish that. I will aim to read at least 5 books, coming from the following pool:

  • any of the books by Astrid Lindgren, if I feel adventurous, in Swedish
  • A Moomin book by Tove Jansson
  • The Summer book by Tove Jansson
  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen (and maybe some of the other plays included in the Oxford World Classics edition)
  • Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Hoeg
  • Purge – Sofi Oksanen
  • The Daisy Sisters – Henning Mankell (in Dutch)
  • Troll: A Love StoryJohanna Sinisalo
  • City of My Dreams – Per Anders Fogelström

Apart from focusing on my reading lists, including reading (on) the Brontë’s, reading on the Romantics (for which one of my dear blogging friends, Violet, composed me a list), reading the works by Austen and Gaskell, reading the Bloomsbury Group Books, more Persephone’s, some Virago Modern Classics (in short, I’d like to be more like Verity, if only I could), there is one more thing I plan to do sometime this year. And that will be my own project month, called “Educating Iris: Or, Learning to Appreciate Dutch Literature”. As some of you know, I used to have a complete problem with Dutch literature. But I have decided that this must end. And so, I’d like to play catch up, and educate myself in my country’s heritage. I hope some of you might join me. During this month (I am aiming for March or April, but if any of you have preferences, please say) I would like to organise a Read A Long of The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch as well as read a list of Dutch books that have been on my shelves, or that simply should be read by any Dutch person.

1% Well-Read Challenge III

I’ve always wanted to read more of the books mentioned in “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die”. I will never make the full list and I don’t intend to, but I like the thought of trying to read some of the works. And I think I’ve found the perfect challenge to do just that. Thus, I am joining the 1% Well-Read Challenge, hosted by 1morechapter: the goal is to read 13 of the books listed in either the 2006, 2008, or 2010 list before 30 April 2011.

My tentative reading list is as follows:

White Teeth – Sadie Smith
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Garden Party – Katherine Mansfield
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
Women in Love – D.H. Lawrence
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Evelina – Fanny Burney
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell

Books Read:

  1. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  2. Candide – Voltaire

Joining the China Challenge

I’ve decided that I do not currently participate in enough challenges (note the sarcasm) and so I am joining the China Challenge, hosted by Jennie of Biblio File. I came across this challenge through Eva’s blog A Striped Armchair and when I thought about it I noticed that I actually have four books on China on my bookshelves, waiting to be read. Thus, it wasn’t all that hard to decide what books I want to read for this challenge. I am still looking for a good non-fiction book on China and I could do with some more fiction-recommendations as well. I am joining the Fast Train to Shanghai level, which has the following rules:

Read 5 books about China before september 2010
1 should be a translated work of fiction by a Chinese author (or not translated if you have the language skills.) I will make exceptions for Chinese authors that also write in English– their English works are fine.
1 should be nonfiction

I’m thinking that I’d like to participate on some of the activities mentioned for the Silk Road Trek (for example, reading a Chinese blog, watch a Chinese movie, eat Chinese food, etc), but I know I won’t be able to read 10 books on China this year. So I might just cheat and report on these activities anyway.

The books that I have selected for now are:

  • Red Dust by Ma Jian: A book about a journey through China by the author. I picked this book up a few years ago at a book sale. It’s part of the Vintage books “Take Your Imagination East” series. [Finished Reading 04/07/10: Read Review]
  • Miss Chopsticks by Xinran: Another booksale buy. Part of the blurb is the fascinating sentence: “Women, their father tells them, are like chopsticks: utilitarian and easily broken.” I think I could read this for the Women Unbound Challenge as well, but we’ll see. [Finished reading 03/24/10: Read Review]
  • Becoming Madam Mao by Anchee Min: This has been on my shelves for forever, I don’t even remember when or where I got it from. I’ve never read it, because the size of the book makes me hesitant to pick it up. I think this book will be the hardest to actually start reading for this challenge.
  • Wu. The Chinese Empress Who Schemed, Seduced and Murdered Her Way to Become a Living God by Jonathan Clements: This might be my non-fiction pick for this challenge, although I might want to read more non-fiction about China this year. It’s advertised as “the true story of the first and only woman in Chinese history to become ruling emperor’. Something about this line tells me that this might be a rather too-popular non-fiction read. Actually, I bought it thinking that it would be a fiction book. But there are some notes at the end of the book, so let’s just say I’m curious to see what I’ll think of it when I’ve read it.

I have a copy of Wild Swans by Jung Chang waiting to be reread on my shelves. I remember how I loved this book when I was a fourteen-year-old, but I’m thinking that I might want to add a book that I haven’t read already.

Do you have any recommendations on books I might like to read about or related to China?

Joining the Women Unbound Challenge

Since I am interested in a gender perspective in both anthropology and historical research, I decided to join the Women Unbound Challenge. I think this might stimulate me to get a little bit more well read in this area of interest. I decided to specify the challenge further: I’ll mostly read books concerned with gender, ethnicity and religion. I am joining on the Suffragette level, which means I have to read 8 books before November, 2010. They’ll be mostly non-fiction books.

My Reading List for now contains:

  • Rachel Alsop, Annette Fitzsimons and Kathleen Lennon – Theorizing Gender
  • Nupur Chaudhuri and Margaret Strobel ed. – Western Women and Imperialism. Complicity and Resistance
  • Waris Dirie – Desert Flower
  • Catherine Hall – Civilizing Subjects. Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-1867
  • Philippa Levine – Gender and Empire
  • Chandra Talpade Mohanty – Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses (article)
  • Dana L. Robert ed. – Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers. Missionary Women in the Twentieth Century
  • Joan Wallach Scott – Gender and the politics of history (contains the classic “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis”, which every gender historian has to read, I’ve been told).
  • Rhonda Anne Semple – Missionary Women. Gender, Professionalism and the Victorian Idea of Christian Mission
  • Ann Laura Stoler – Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule
  • Mary Wollstonecraft – A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Jane Austen Challenge

Having found the British Reading Challenge, I couldn’t resist not signing up for the Austen challenge as well. I’ll be doing the Lover category: 4 books by J. Austen, 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors).

I know I’ll be able to do more than 4 re-writes, sequels, etc, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to reread 6 Jane Austen novels this year, since I’m hoping to start reading more other classics as well.