Easter read-a-thon – Sunday and Monday

Easter Read-a-thon with Nose in a book

As the long weekend approaches its end, I am sure you are all eager to know how my read-a-thon went for the past two days. Frankly, not as well as the first two days, at least if it’s number of books read that counts here.

On the other hand, I continued to have a good time and read more than doing anything else, so that’s a win as far as I’m concerned! I spent both days reading Dead Air by Iain Banks, which was a slower read than the other three I got through this weekend but still enjoyable. And when I finished it a couple of hours ago I decided it was time to stop and just think about (or start writing reviews of) those four books. And also spend some time with Tim who I’ve not seen much of this weekend despite us both being home! (He had a bunch of old friends visit. They took over the living room, I holed up in the library.)

I also squeezed in our usual pub quiz last night and more Easter chocolate than is healthy! I hope you have all had lovely weekends and found time to read some great books.

Easter read-a-thon – Saturday

Easter Read-a-thon with Nose in a book

So today has been a bit up and down, both on the holiday front and the read-a-thon front. By which I mean I haven’t felt entirely well and therefore wasn’t able to tuck into a bottle of wine, as I had been planning to do. I have had quite a lot of tea, of various kinds, which is also nice.

Today I finished reading The Small Hand by Susan Hill, which is a ghost story set in the current day but using the tropes of classic Victorian ghost stories. I enjoyed it but wasn’t at all scared, I must admit. I then read all of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which I had heard a lot about thanks to the film. It’s a very sweet, honest book about being a teenager and I am annoyed with the edition that I have, because it both a film tie-in (never a good move) and it has a quote on the front comparing it to Catcher in the Rye, which it’s nothing like and which gets referenced in the novel. But I suppose I never like quotes.

What else have I been up to today? Well, there was a brief trip to the local pub, or at least brief for me because I felt unwell and came home. I indulged myself for a few hours with a hot water bottle, Pretty in Pink and Gilmore Girls, before deciding to stop wallowing and get back to the books. I also helped Tim feed the five thousand (or however many guests it is he has) with an oven full of jacket potatoes.

Potatoes

Now I’m weighing up whether I’m awake enough to begin book four – Dead Air by Iain Banks or if I should just go to sleep.

Easter read-a-thon – Friday

Easter Read-a-thon with Nose in a book

I meant to blog this update last night but it was a bit of a late one. So far the read-a-thon is going well. I’ve read one and a half books – Room by Emma Donoghue and a chunk of The Small Hand by Susan Hill. Both disturbing, in different ways.

One of the reasons for this read-a-thon is that Tim has visitors all weekend. They have basically taken over the house but I have created myself a book cave in the dining room. It’s pretty awesome. I have fairy lights, a reading lamp, some cushions and all of the books. If we’d already got round to buying me that special reading chair we’ve talked about, it would be perfect.

Reading corner

Really, I don’t think I would have left my reading corner at all yesterday except that we had tickets to see Eels. Oh yeah. So we nipped out for that. It was a fantastic gig, supported by a singer called Nicole Atkins who I’d never heard of but who was excellent. The band did lots of hugging on stage and mostly played their rockier stuff, which I don’t know so well but completely suited the mood of the crowd. They squeezed in a cover of “Itchycoo Park” by the Small Faces and a mash-up of “My beloved monster” and “Mr E’s beautiful blues”. And my favourite moment was when we were ever-so-slowly shuffling out toward the exit and the band came back on stage, Mr E said “Fuck it” into the mike and they played a third encore with house lights up and the roadies clearing the stage around them.

Anyway, enough reminiscing over yesterday, time for more reading! How are you all doing?

Easter read-a-thon: Ready? Set?

Easter Read-a-thon with Nose in a book

Just a quick reminder to anyone who’s interested that I’m doing an Easter read-a-thon, from Friday morning to Monday evening (ish), and anyone is welcome to join me. I hesitate to say I’m hosting it because I’m not doing any fancy linky or giveaway business but if you want to join in, feel free to add a link in the comments and I’ll come and cheerlead for you at some point!

In a foolhardy moment I gave Tim first pick on what I should read this weekend, which has resulted in a slightly odd combination of books from the TBR. I’m not necessarily going to stick to this pile. Maybe I’ll consider it the starting point. Really, this weekend is all about reading just for fun, so if a book starts to feel like hard work I will probably put it down and come back to it another time.

Read-a-thon

The sort-of shortlist is:
Dead Air by Iain Banks
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Claudine and Annie by Colette
Room by Emma Donoghue
Small Hands by Susan Hill
Hell’s Angels by Hunter S Thompson

But what to start with? I may have to roll a die. Handily that list is six long…

Happy Easter and happy reading!

Sunday Salon: Easter read-a-thon anyone?

The Sunday Salon

Lately I seem to have spent a lot of my free time planning various holidays, which has got me thinking about what makes the perfect holiday. The thing is, my favourite way to relax is with a book, but when it comes to holidays I always want to go somewhere new, to see and learn new things, which tends not to leave masses of time for reading, or really relaxing.

If I could take longer holidays, of course that wouldn’t be a problem, we could go somewhere long enough to sightsee and have whole days off reading. But being average folks who can usually only take a week off work at a time, we’re trying to figure out where we can go with enough amenities so we have food choices and some culture, plus beautiful surroundings so that if we do take a few days to chill and read, we can call it enjoying the beauty around us. I’m thinking maybe lakeside?

But in case we do plump for an action-packed city break later in the year, I figure I should make the most of any empty weekends at home to do lots of reading from the comfort of my sofa. Now as it happens, over Easter I have six days off work and plans on only two of those days. And Tim’s busy for most of the weekend, so that leaves me a lot of free time.

Easter Read-a-thon with Nose in a book

Which gave me a brilliant idea – an Easter read-a-thon! Okay, it wasn’t strictly my own idea. The primary school I volunteer at once a week issued a challenge to the kids to read six books over the Easter holiday. Now, they have two weeks, whereas I have four days, but I still think I can meet the challenge. Anyone want to join me?

I’m not going to set any rules, this is strictly for fun. But if you want to join in, feel free to use my button and have a fun weekend of reading. I’ll blog later in the week with my choice of books to tackle.

Yay, Easter read-a-thon!

NB The button was made using a Creative Commons photo by Ian Britton/freefotouk and a bit of fiddling in Photoshop.

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.

48-hour TBR read-a-thon – it’s a wrap

48-hour TBR read-a-thon

It’s now roughly 48 hours since I turned off the TV and started reading on Friday evening. I’ve got a lot of reading done – two full books, the last quarter of one and the first half of another – and I’ve been thoroughly reminded of the pleasure of putting reading before everything else, of spending hours on end absorbed in the pages of a book, so thank you to Wallace of Unputdownables for the challenge.

I haven’t read entirely solidly, of course. Besides a couple of long nights’ sleep, I also did some housework, ran some errands, met friends for lunch. And I’m not stopping right now either, though I do have evening plans that will prevent me getting much more reading done this weekend.

In total, I finished off Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, read Saturday by Ian McEwan (on the back of a recommendation from Kath of [Insert suitably snappy title here…]), read Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut (as recommended by Gusset and several others on Twitter) and made a good start on reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (recommended by Amy of Amy Reads).

All the books I’ve read this weekend were really good, excellent even, and full reviews will follow when I get a chance to write them out! I hope all my fellow read-a-thoners have enjoyed/are still enjoying their weekend reads.

(If you missed my previous posts and are wondering what all this is about, Wallace of Unputdownables challenged her readers to join her for a 48-hour TBR read-a-thon this weekend. I look forward to the next one!.)

48-hour TBR read-a-thon – halfway point

48-hour TBR read-a-thon

So, an update on my progress so far in the 48-hour TBR read-a-thon. Yesterday I started well, finishing off Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (which I was already three-quarters through) before reading Saturday by Ian McEwan, on the back of a recommendation from Kath of [Insert suitably snappy title here…]. That turned out to be an excellent choice, keeping me so absorbed that I was awake until 1 a.m. when I finished it.

Today I decided to tackle Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, which I’ve been eager to read for a while but then I mentioned this to a friend on Thursday who said she thought it was horribly hard-going, so that put me off. Some encouragement via Twitter put me back on track and I am definitely liking it so far. I’m only halfway through, partly because it’s not a quick read despite its short length, but also because I wasn’t able to entirely ignore the rest of the world today.

I’ll write proper reviews at a later point, but for now some quick summaries:

The Graveyard Book is an evocative, imaginative adventure with intriguing characters and, in true Gaiman style, doesn’t shy away from tough subject matter. However, I just wasn’t absorbed by it and kept putting it aside to read other things instead.

Saturday, on the other hand, was all-consuming and brought together politics, self-discovery, brilliant characterisation and outstanding writing. My only complaint would be that the main character is so irritatingly, snobbishly upper middle class; but that’s part of the point of course.

And now I’ll get back to the reading. I hope all my fellow read-a-thoners are enjoying their weekend reads!

(If you missed my last post and are wondering what all this is about, Wallace of Unputdownables challenged her readers to join her for a 48-hour TBR read-a-thon this weekend. I am still intending to read the Southland Tales books by David Kelly, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Double Fault by Lionel Shriver. Or at least, that’s the slightly unrealistic aim.)

48-hour TBR read-a-thon – the plan

48-hour TBR read-a-thon

Wallace of Unputdownables has challenged her readers to join her for a 48-hour TBR read-a-thon this weekend. Because clearly I have nothing else I should be getting on with (like decorating or building bookcases) I have decided to join in.

(I know, I know, I am all about the challenges lately, which is a little unlike me. Thing is, I’ve been struggling a little to read much but these mini challenges from wonderful fellow book bloggers have helped me enormously, so thank you to everyone who takes the trouble to run these things.)

Anyway, the point of this particular challenge is to make a dent in the TBR, which in my case is more than 130 books. That’s a lorra lot. We’re supposed to pick out a few that we intend to read, but I’m a bit lost as to where to start so I thought I’d ask for recommendations. My TBR is here. Please do take a look then come back and tell me what you both recommend and think I stand a chance of getting through in a weekend.

I was thinking of queueing up Half of a Yellow Sun, Slaughterhouse 5 and the Southland Tales books. Any advances on that?