Challenges and read-a-longs and read-a-thons, oh my

I have decided that this is the year when I am going to make more of an effort to join in all of those group activities going on in the book blogging world. I haven’t been much of a joiner to date, but I’ve already spotted several great looking challenges/events that I want to get stuck into. So here’s my list of fun…so far.

2013 Translation Challenge hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

The aim is simply to read one book that is translated into English from another language per month, every month. Seeing as how I had recently concluded that I am a bit rubbish at reading translations, this is the ideal challenge for me, and I have already started reading my first translated book of 2013: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa. There is an optional additional challenge to read 12 books translated from 12 different languages. That might be tough, but I won’t say no just yet.

read-a-long-plain-001

Crime and Punishment read-a-long hosted by Wallace of Unputdownables

The thing is, I tried reading this in December and those first 80 pages dragged, I hated the main character, it was all predictably depressing and I decided life was just too stressful at that time to make myself read something that got me down. But I do still really want to read it and it just happens that this read-a-long is scheduled for February and March, which seems like the only way I’m likely to tackle it again any time soon. Also, it’ll count towards the translation challenge! And the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge (see below).

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

I actually posted about this ginormous ongoing challenge (not unlike the Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list) last July, but failed to read anything from it until last week. I think a sensible aim would be 12 books this year. At which rate it will take me 20+ years to complete, but that’s not really the point of giant long lists like this, is it?

2013tbrpilechall

2013 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader

This is almost cheating, as I’d already decided the TBR was too unwieldy for me to be allowed to buy new books until I made a dent in it, but this challenge is specifically about digging out those older books that have sat on the TBR for far too long. And I have to post a list of the books I aim to read, so here goes:

1. A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé
2. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
3. The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer
4. Immortality by Milan Kundera
5. Other Colours by Orhan Pamuk
6. Chasm: a Weekend by Dorothea Tanning
7. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
8. A Paper House by Mark Thompson
9. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
10. Dan Yack by Blaise Cendrars
11. The Stories of English by David Crystal
12. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

Alternates
1. The Prince by Niccolo Macchiavelli
2. Disgrace by J M Coetzee

Bloggiesta

And the rest

I will also be joining in at least one Bloggiesta, giveaway and read-a-thon, so let me know if there’s any coming up. I also have an idea for a little challenge for myself involving all those rarely opened cookery books in our kitchen, but more on that another time. Do you do challenges etc? Which ones caught your eye this year?

UPDATE: I’ve created a new challenges page here.

Bookish things in the post

Life has been hectic for me lately, so I haven’t been paying the blog enough attention, but I’ve had a few bookish arrivals in the post that I thought I might share.

The Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange is a very lovely idea run by Courtney and Judith. When I got post from France I was initially confused who it could be from, but when I saw this lovely card inside it twigged:

Card from the Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange

My exchange partner was Beth and I love my French card and the very friendly bookish message written inside it, so thank you Beth.

I also received this very exciting book from And Other Stories:

First book on subscription from & Other Stories

And Other Stories is a small publisher that works on a subscription model. They publish six new books per year, often translations into English. Subscribers get their names printed in a numbered first edition of each book they subscribe to. I was very excited to read my name in this book! And as a bonus they included a few copies of this poem, which I have stuck to our fridge:

Lovely poem from & Other Stories

Have you had any good post lately?

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

This week has been (and just about still is) Book Blogger Appreciation Week, which is a fab event for, you know, book bloggers. I sadly have been far too busy to take part properly but I wanted to say a quick hello and thank you to the book-blogging community. You’re ace.

Though I haven’t been able to post on this every day, many many people have done just that. You can find out more and follow some or all of the links to their posts here. Each day this week had a theme for discussion, and today’s is “blogging”.

I didn’t intend to start a blog. No, really! A few different things led me to the idea of creating a website and my initial idea was almost a database of short book reviews, but as I started the design process I looked around the interwebs and realised that a book blog made total sense. And there were lots of them about to share thoughts and ideas with.

Although I was reasonably web-savvy (and had the huge advantage of knowing HTML, thanks to my day job), it’s still a pretty steep learning curve, this blogging thing. I am always learning new things and the main way I do that is through my fellow book bloggers (and indeed some non-book bloggers, who are also great). I can’t join in every meme, readalong, challenge or giveaway but I do tip my toes in. I love that there is such a huge, active community with so much going on.

We’re supposed to include in this post “essential tried and true practices for every blogger and new trends or tools you’ve adopted recently or would like to in the future”. My tried and true are:
1. Follow, read and comment on lots of other blogs that you like.
2. Install Akismet (for WordPress) to catch those nasty spam comments.
3. Don’t be afraid to tell people you know that you have a blog (unless it’s anonymous and/or deeply personal, I suppose!) – most people are really interested and will stop by to have a look.

As for new trends or tools, I recently took part in a couple of blog hop giveaways, which were fantastically successful. It’s a great way to reward your readers and being part of a blog hop rather than just hosting it yourself means that it’s likely at least someone will enter!