Saturday, 26 April 2014

Liveblogging Readathon 2014

Hour 0

My book stack is ready, as is my journal! 

I always take longhand notes on things I read, but I thought the occasion warranted something extra, hence the special spread. A little bit of smashing in my writing journal, why not?

Hour 1

Kick-off Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

London, UK

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Tricky. I think it will be 100 Years of Solitude, but I also can't wait to get on with Valente.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Palmiers from M&S. Yum.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I have over 400 unread titles in my home.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

Nothing really, I am happy with what I did last time, which was spending part of the time in a cafe. I plan on going to Waterstone's today, and tomorrow, should the weather hold, I'd love to finish the Readathon at a park.

Hour 3

Finished The Bread We Eat in Dreams, which I enjoyed very much.

Entered 3 mini-challenges.

Hour 6

The Best of My Reading Year Mini Challenge

Here are my responses to this mini-challenge hosted by Lisa's World of Books.

Best Book of Your Reading Year
I am not sure if I can do it, but I so far One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I am reading right now for the Readathon is a revelation. If it continues in the same vein, it will be the best book of the year to date, hands down.

Otherwise, Wise Children by the late and great Angela Carter. A smart, witty, layered read with a lot of social awareness.  

Best Fantasy Book of Your Reading Year
The Kingdom of Gods by NK Jemisin. Identity, power, politics, and one of the best and most thoughtful takes on the divine and the numinous in the modern fantasy.

Best Supporting Character of Your Reading Year
Hanna Schmitz from The Reader

Hour 8

I am a quarter into One Hundred Years of Solitude. I am completely entranced and captivated. Can't wait to get back to the reading.

Hour 17

Two thirds into One Hundred Years of Solitude. I think I have another 3.5 hours of reading to go before finishing it. Since the last update, I slept for about 4 hours, and so now feeling refreshed and ready to read until the end of the Readathon.

Hour 21

One Hundred Years of Solitude: 55 pages to go.

Hour 22

Completed One Hundred Years of Solitude!

And now I am in a bit of a bind: I can continue reading now, but I am not sure that I want to. The completed novel is dominating my thoughts now and I am not sure I am ready to let go off it.

Hour 24

At the end of Hour 24 I have further read 100 pages of It's All Chinese to Me and 72 pages of The House in the Forest, leaving me with both at 50% read.

Now it is time to take a break and summarize my Readathon experience.

Readathon in Numbers

Texts Finished: 2
Catherynne M. Valente, The Bread We Eat in Dreams, a short story
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, a novel
Other Texts Read During the Readathon: 3
Michele Desbordes, The House in the Forest, a novel
Pierre Ostrowski & Gwen Penner, It's All Chinese to Me. An Overview of Culture and Etiquette in China
Rhoda Lerman, The Book of he Night, a novel

Total Pages Read: 594
Hours Spent Reading: 13
Pages Read Per Hour: 46

April 2014 Readathon Time Distribution

Challenges Entered: 4

End of Event Meme:

Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 12! I was fighting a battle with sleep that I have ultimately lost.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Literary: The Painted Veil or Cakes and Ale my W. Somerset Maugham, both very smoothly written, sharply observed, witty and not too long. 
SFF: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, if you like high magic and the fast pace.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
Can't think of anything.

How many books did you read?
What were the names of the books you read?
Completed 2 texts (1 novel and 1 short story), and reads sections of 3 more. Details above.

Which book did you enjoy most?
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Which did you enjoy least?
The House in the Forest

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I'll be reading again.

Friday, 25 April 2014

24 Hour Readathon Countdown

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is quickly becoming the one event I try to do my best to participate in every year. ... Along with Eurovision. Hm...

I tend to have at least as much fun selecting my reads for the occasion, as I do challenging myself to read, read, read. So, without further ado, here's my line-up for April 2014!


1. Catherynne M. Valente, The Bread We Eat in Dreams, a short story
This one was my TBR list since forever. Which is silly, because Valente is brilliant.

2. Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, a novel
I picked this novel for my Readathon before the sad news earlier this month. Every Readathon I want to attempt to start and finish a normal length novel, and this is my choice for April 2014. This is also a title which will count towards the TBR Pile Challenge, so win-win.

3. Greg Keys, The Briar King, a novel
A longish (500 pages+) epic fantasy, which should be an easy and not very challenging read. I picked it as the main Readathon novel alternative, in case I discover that I just can't get on with Márquez. Also counts towards the TBR Pile challenge.

4. Michele Desbordes, The House in the Forest, a novel
I know almost nothing about this book, apart from it being a short novel (186 pages) with dreamlike poetic prose and some rubbish reviews on Amazon. This was an impulse purchase from a few years' back. Now it is time for it to sink or swim.


5. Ian Stewart, Letters to a Young Mathematician
6. Alex Bentley at all, I'll Have What She's Having. Mapping Social Behavior 
7. Pierre Ostrowski & Gwen Penner, It's All Chinese to Me. An Overview of Culture and Etiquette in China
8. Rosalind Ashe and Lisa Tuttle, Children's Literary Houses
9. R. Hamilton, Ancient Egypt. Kingdon of the Pharaohs (want to read through it before I start unpicking it for pictures).

Essential Snacks

Monday, 13 January 2014

The 2014 TBR Pile Challenge

Last year was the first time that I had signed up for a bunch of reading challenges, including the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge. I enjoyed the process of picking the books that would fit into the challenge criteria, because it felt like a natural extension of my normal book selection process.

When it came to reading, things did not turn out so good, mostly because for various resons I effectively stopped reading fiction halfway into the year. My final TBR Pile 2013 tally was 4.5 books read out of 12.

It would be very difficult not to do better this year.

The 2014 TBR Pile Challenge


1. W. M. Thackeray, Vanity Fair
2. T. Mann, Joseph and His Brothers
3. C. Valente, The Orphan's Tales
4. J. Abercrombie, The First Law Trilogy
5. G. Keyes, The Briar King
6. J. Bruckhardt, The Civilisation of the Renaissance Italy
7. T. Holland, Persian Fire
8. A. Carter, Wise Children
9. G. Eugenides, Middlesex
10. G. Garcia Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude
11. P. Gedge, The Twelfth Transforming
12. Kalevala

The alternates:
1. J. Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar
2. J. Blish, Cities in Flight

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Reading Challenges 2013, Results

The Challenges

The 2013 TBR Pile Challenge
My Goal: 12 pre-selected books
Progress (31.12.13): 4/12

2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
My Goal: Renaissance Reader, 10-14 books
Progress  (31.12.13): 17/14, including 2 hist. fantasy
Level Achieved: Medieval

Back to the Classics Challenge 2013
My Goal: 6 required categories + all 5 optional ones
Progress (31.12.13): 2/6 + 0/5

The 2013 Middle East Reading Challenge 
My Goal: Diplomat, 5-9 books
Progress (31.12.13): 0/9

Tea & Books Reading Challenge 2013
My Goal: At least Berry Tea Devotee, 4-5 books 
Progress (31.12.13): 6/5
Level Achieved: Sencha Connoiseur

Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2013
My Goal: Mt. Ararat, 48 books
Progress (31.12.13): 39/48 incl. ebooks; 31/48 paper only
Level Achieved: Mt. Vancouver, 36 books