Thursday 12 August 2010

Reading Challenges

Reading Challenges seem to be spreading far and wide.  I had never heard of them before, but now that I spend a fair amount of time reading, I’ve begun to dip into some of the thousands of blogs about books.  And through some of them I’ve come across all kinds of reading challenges.  The one that first caught my eye was the Scandinavian reading challenge.  The challenge is to read six books by Scandinavian authors by the end of 2010.  This challenge has been put up by Amy, a Californian who blogs at Black Sheep Dances.  
This is the only challenge that I have actually signed up for and I have already managed to complete nine books.  So far I have read: The Redbreast and Nemesis, both by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø;  The Draining Lake and Silence of the Grave, both by Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason;  The Ice Princess and The Preacher, both by Swedish author Camilla Läckberg;  The Man from Beijing by Swedish writer Henning Mankell;  Woman with Birthmark by another Swedish writer Håkan Nesser;  and Death in Oslo by Norwegian author Anne Holt.  All very, very good reads and all very different.  If you count Finland as part of Scandinavia, I need to add a book by a Finnish and a Danish writer to complete the set of all Scandinavian countries.  Will need to do a bit of research to discover Finnish and Danish writers, especially crime writers.  Two of the best sites for this kind of information are Eurocrime and Petrona, both a minefield of information and reviews of crime fiction.
Reading Challenges are not of course limited to crime novels or specific countries.  If you fancy setting yourself a worldwide challenge then the Global Reading Challenge is for you.  This comes in four levels from easy to extremist.  For the easy level you need to read one novel from each of the six continents - Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America (includes Central America) and South America.  The harder levels require you to read more novels and add in further challenges - eg two novels set in Antarctica.  For details see Globalreadingchallenge.  I’ve almost managed the easy level.  I only need to read a novel from South America.
Closer to home Book Chick City is sponsoring a couple of reading challenges.  The first is the Typically British Reading Challenge.  She doesn’t though specify what constitutes a typical British book, only that it must be fiction.  Anyway you can make up your own mind.  The challenge has four levels:
  • Put the Kettle On - read two novels
  • Gordon Bennett - read four novels
  • Bob’s Your Uncle - read six novels
  • Cream Crackered - read eight novels.

I’m already through the cream crackered stage, though whether they all count as typical British novels is open to question as they include authors as diverse as Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, William Boyd, Robin Jenkins, Ann Cleeves, Ian Banks, Rose Tremain and Alex Gray.
Book Chick City is also promoting the Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge.  Though as this includes science fiction, fantasy fiction and horror fiction, it is definitely one challenge I will not be taking up.  However if this is your scene then you once again have four levels to aim for - from the inquisitive to the obsessed.
Back to the mainstream and lovers of all things Oz, can delve into the Aussie author challenge, promoted by Aussie Sheila, Joanne P.  This has only two challenge levels, but you do have not just read the books, you also have to post up a review.  The Tourist levels requires you to read three books by three different authors, while to reach the Fair Dinkum level you need to have read eight books by a least five different authors.  I am afraid not much up on Australian literature, and am most unlikely to even reach the Tourist level.  So far this year I have only read one book by an Aussie writer, The Truth by Peter Temple.  However this was an excellent crime novel, so I should try a few more from Down Under.  The only other Aussie writer I’ve read recently is Kate Grenville, whose work is also very good, but I read her novels last year.
To end with a, for me, almost impossible challenge - the fourth Japanese Literature Challenge.  This is promoted by Bellezza, an American blogger.  There does not seem to be any minimum number of books for this challenge - I guess reading even one Japanese novel is a bit of a challenge for most of us.  However she does include a very helpful list of titles to choose from.  If I can get one from the library I promise to read at least one Japanese novel.

1 comment:

  1. For Danish, how about Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, by Peter Hoeg. And of course Isak Dinesen. Also I would strongly recommend investigating the Nobel Laureate Knut Hamsun, who fell out of favour for his pro-German stance, but was rehabilitated several years ago. The first I read of his was "Hunger", and this encouraged me to go through most of the rest of his works. David