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Paruline's 2011 challenge

The 11 in 11 Category Challenge

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1paruline
Edited: Jul 21, 2011, 6:49am Top

This sounds like fun, I'm in! Again, since I manage to read between 40 and 50 books a year, 121 books is way out my range. Even a step challenge with 11 categories is not realistic. So I am going to aim for at least four books in each category.

I'm going to keep reading mostly from the 1001 books to read before you die, since I've made some great discoveries with it. However, I'm going to keep my categories a bit more open this year. So far, these are my categories:

En français: books written in French
War: going out of my comfort zone here
The core: from arukiyomi's excellent spreadsheet
Translation: books not originally written in French or English
Canadiana: Canadian authors or Canadian setting
Bookclub reads (replacing 2006: from the 2006 edition of the 1001 books to read before you die)
Women authors: self explanatory
Mount TBR: idem
New authors: idem
Non fiction: idem
Sci-fi: idem




2paruline
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 12:12pm Top

3paruline
Edited: Aug 16, 2011, 9:42pm Top

4paruline
Edited: Nov 12, 2011, 7:40am Top

The core: from arukiyomi's excellent spreadsheet -CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Beloved
2- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
3- The age of innocence
4- Slaughterhouse five

Candidates:
Atonement, Cloud Atlas, Giles Goat-boy

5paruline
Edited: Nov 18, 2011, 11:50am Top

Translation: books not originally written in French or English - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Crossfire
2- The tartar steppe
3- Fifi brindacier (Pippi Longstockings)
4- Paradise of the blind

Candidates:
Smilla's sense of snow

6paruline
Edited: Oct 5, 2011, 6:14am Top

Canadiana: Canadian authors or Canadian setting - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Fugitive pieces
2- The call of the wild
3- Fall on your knees
4- Unless

Candidates:
The shipping news, The Diviners

7paruline
Edited: Oct 5, 2011, 6:15am Top

Book club reads (replacing 2006: from the 2006 edition of the 1001 books to read before you die) - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Ignorance
2- Infidel
3- Purge
4- Farewell, my queen

Candidates:
L'immeuble Yacoubian

8paruline
Edited: Oct 28, 2011, 10:03am Top

Women authors - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Rebecca
2- Regeneration
3- 84, Charing Cross Road
4- I capture the castle

Candidates:
Mansfield Park, The tenant of Wildfell Hall

9paruline
Edited: Dec 5, 2011, 3:36pm Top

Mount TBR - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Guards! Guards!
2- The awakening
3- Oscar and Lucinda
4- The moonstone

Bonus:
5- God bless you, Mr Rosewater
6- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Candidates:
La reine Margot (Queen Margot)

10paruline
Edited: Dec 6, 2011, 2:58pm Top

New authors - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Gosta Berling's Saga
2- The Poisonwood Bible
3- The bridge on the Drina
4- Brighton Rock

Bonus
5- V for vendetta

11paruline
Edited: Aug 12, 2011, 8:36am Top

Non fiction - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- Mémoires d'un esclave (Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass)
2- Persepolis
3- Why zebras don't get ulcers
4- A whale for the killing

Candidates:
Your inner fish, If this is a man

12paruline
Edited: Aug 26, 2011, 6:45am Top

Sci-fi - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4/4 read

1- The midwich cuckoos
2- Chocky
3- Under the skin
4- I, robot

13paruline
Edited: Jul 1, 2011, 9:07am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

14auntmarge64
Aug 13, 2010, 10:43am Top

Nice categories. I especially related to your comment about war being out of your element, so want to say DO read All Quiet on the Western Front. I just finished it and it's superb. I see you have some Wyndham on your SF list - isn't he fun to read?

15paruline
Aug 13, 2010, 11:27am Top

14: The 1010 Challenge forced me to read books I kept pushing off. I expect my War category to be one of my most difficult because, well, I'm a sissy ;-)

As for Wyndham, I've only read his Day of the triffids but I enjoyed it a lot. And when I saw two of his books (for 50c each) at a used books sale lately, I grabbed them. I can't wait!

16christina_reads
Aug 13, 2010, 4:13pm Top

I like your categories -- it looks like you will have a nice variety of things to read!

17GingerbreadMan
Aug 13, 2010, 7:12pm Top

Lots of great titles here (I'm curious about Wyndham, but can't seem to fit him in next year either...)! Fateless blew me away earlier this year, and Blonde was a really big reading experience for me. I was also happy and surprised to see that you're picking up Selma Lagerlöf! Very much a part of the canon in Sweden (featured on our 20 kronor bill, even), she isn't much read abroad, it seems. How did you come across her? If you're interested, keep an eye on my 1010 thread. I'll be reading Lagerlöf's The Löwensköld ring as my next book :)

18-Eva-
Aug 15, 2010, 2:45pm Top

It'll be interesting to see what you think of The princess of Cleves. It was assigned reading for a college-course of mine and I didn't care for it at all, but later on I've been thinking that it may have been the professor rather than the text that irked me (the professor was horrible!), so I may have to give it another chance. :)

19clfisha
Aug 17, 2010, 5:36pm Top

I adored Wyndham when I was young, must reread them some, hope you enjoy them.

Be interested to see what you think of Queen Margot, such a fascinating period of history.

20cmbohn
Aug 17, 2010, 8:21pm Top

I have Suite Francaise on my TBR list. Any interest in a group read? I keep putting this one off, but if I have a buddy, I know I will get to it sooner.

21Nickelini
Edited: Aug 18, 2010, 1:06am Top

It's very interesting how you've worked 1001 books into your categories. For the Canadian authors, The Shipping News is set in Newfoundland, but Annie Proulx is American. You may want to replace it with Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance, Family Matters), a Canadian who writes books set in India, or Michael Ondaatje, who wrote The English Patient, which is set in N. Africa and Europe (and he's originally from Sri Lanka).

Edited to say: there is also Margaret Atwood, and on the new list there are several Canadian additions--Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence and a few others I think.

22paruline
Aug 21, 2010, 8:05pm Top

well, I was away for a week but now I'm back and trying to catch up on all the threads.

@16: Thanks!

17: Well, when I was 10, I was fascinated by the anime version of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (a few years ago, my sweet husband even bought me the DVDs and now I watch them with my children). I've therefore always wanted to read Lagerlöf.

18: It's supposed to be one of the first psychological novel and it's been gathering dust on my shelves. Time to read it!

19: I LOVE Alexandre Dumas so I'm really looking forward to that one.

20: Yes, I'm interested!

21: oops about Annie Proulx. Mmmm, I could replace her with Margaret Laurence (been meaning to read The Diviners) or maybe I'll change my category to include novels set in Canada. Anyway, thanks for the heads up!

23paruline
Aug 29, 2010, 10:29am Top

I tweaked my Canadiana category to include novels set in Canada and added a couple of candidates to some categories.

24paruline
Jan 11, 2011, 6:22pm Top

1- Guards! Guards!

Finally finished a book. I didn't think it would take me 11 days but with a job interview coming up, I spent the last two weeks studying.

I've only read another Diskworld book and again I was entertained. I liked the world building, the characters, the Monty Python-esque humour and especially the description of the library.

4∕5

25Bcteagirl
Jan 11, 2011, 7:09pm Top

I just found your thread. I am also hoping to read The Shipping News this year, and loved The Triffids by Wyndham. I recently picked up The Trouble with Lichen. Did you know that Simon Clark wrote a second novel Night of the Triffids? I have not read it yet but am keeping my eyes out for a copy in the used book stores around here.

I read Why Zebra's Don't Get Ulcers last year and found it a great read. I love the way the chapters are separated out, it makes it easier to pick a specific subject for each evening.

I am also going to be reading The Poisonwood Bible some time this year, so we seem to have a lot of books in common! :)

26pammab
Jan 11, 2011, 8:56pm Top

24
Good luck with the interview!

I read Small Gods by Pratchett a few years ago and wasn't very impressed.... I didn't find it funny. Apparently Pratchett is one of those authors that will be uneventful for a few sub-series and then you'll find some series that is laugh-out-loud funny, though; I just haven't returned yet. Glad you liked the one you tried.

27clfisha
Jan 12, 2011, 8:55am Top

Yep good luck! I always find them so stressful in the run up to an interview, usually much more than during the interview :)

I love Guards Guards, I think the watchman books are my favourites of Terry Pratchett.

28paruline
Jan 12, 2011, 12:01pm Top

@25: Welcome! Glad you found me. I really liked The day of the Triffids when I read it two years ago and that's why I grabbed some of his other books at a recent charity book sale. I'll keep a lookout for Night of the Triffids. Btw, I'm currently reading The Midwich Cuckoos and enjoying it a lot.

I've been curious about Sapolski's books for a while; he's apparently a great lecturer and has led a pretty interesting life. I'm really looking forward to Why zebras don't get ulcers.

I also noticed we have a lot of books in common this year. Great minds and all that... ;-) I starred your thread!

29paruline
Jan 12, 2011, 12:10pm Top

@26-27: Thanks for the good luck wishes. The interview went pretty well, seemed I studied enough. But I'll only know for sure in a couple of weeks.

pammab, if you're ever looking for another Pratchett book, I suggest Guards! Guards!. I received a couple of stares while I read during transit. Not sure if it was the goofy smile or the occasional chuckle.

30Bcteagirl
Jan 12, 2011, 9:04pm Top

Also sending good luck wishes for the interview!

You will have to let me know how you like The Midwich Cukooos. I read The Chrysalids in 2009 and enjoyed it, although The Day of the Triffids is still my favourite.

I used sections of Why Zebras Don't get Ulcers in teaching health psychology. Sapolski is in a video series that anybody can stream from PBS here under Primates Stress Club. It is a very good introduction to the book:

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1310/video/watchonline.htm

I also usually have them watch angry at heart.

31paruline
Edited: Jan 18, 2011, 9:07pm Top

2- The Midwich Cuckoos

Cuckoos survive by freeloading on the parenting instincts of other species. In this book, Wyndham explores the consequences of an alien species using the same technique on humans. Thoroughly enjoyable classic sci-fi, even though some bits on evolutionary theory are quite dated.

4∕5

Now reading Claudine's house

32Bcteagirl
Jan 18, 2011, 10:42pm Top

That one is on my TBR list as well. Have you read other Wyndam books, and if so how did it compare?

33paruline
Jan 19, 2011, 6:05am Top

@32: well, the only other Wyndham I read was Day of the Triffids. I have to say The Midwich Cuckoos is a slimmer book, so maybe there was less opportunity for world building, which is the aspect I liked most in Day of the Triffids. So, a little less memorable than my first Wyndham but still enjoyable.

34paruline
Jan 21, 2011, 10:12pm Top

3- La maison de Claudine (Claudine's house)

Colette revisits her childhood memories in this charming memoir. She grows up surrounded by a loving family and numerous pets, and nothing much happens. But it's all in the delivery, and the delivery is superb.

4∕5

35paruline
Feb 4, 2011, 10:46am Top

4- Crossfire

A young woman with the power of pyrokinesis becomes a vigilante. A policewoman with the arson division pursues her.

This was an enjoyable but ultimately forgettable read.

3.5/5

36paruline
Feb 7, 2011, 10:56am Top

5- Rebecca

What a great read! I connected with the unnamed narrator right away. Like her, I do have an (over)active imagination and I tend to make up scenarios about the future. Plus, I liked all the descriptions of Manderley and the different motivations of all the characters.

4.5/5

37paruline
Feb 7, 2011, 11:00am Top

For Black History Month, I'm planning on reading Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass and Beloved.

38paruline
Feb 9, 2011, 1:31pm Top

6- Mémoires d'un esclave Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass

A must read, lest we forget.

39paruline
Feb 16, 2011, 3:40pm Top

I've added my book club selections for 2011 in the appropriate category. I think we can look ahead to good discussions.

40paruline
Feb 19, 2011, 9:16am Top

7- Beloved

I went into this novel blind; I didn't know anything about the story. On the surface, it's about a former slave (literally) haunted by her past. But it's also a meditation about memory, the past, language, forgiveness, love, community and coping.

The only thing that distracted me was that I was always trying to figure out WHAT or WHO is Beloved. A ghost? A reincarnation? A fugitive slave with memory loss? An allegory for the past? Can a ghost get pregnant?

4∕5

41japaul22
Feb 19, 2011, 8:01pm Top

Haven't read Beloved yet, but it's on my list for this year. Sorry I can't comment on your question yet but I'll be thinking about it when I read the book. Have you read Song of Solomon by Morrison? I really loved that book.

42japaul22
Feb 19, 2011, 8:04pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

43paruline
Edited: Feb 20, 2011, 6:24am Top

41, this was my first Morrison and I really enjoyed it. I guess my questioning will remain more on the rhetorical side since even Sparknotes didn't have any answers and every choice has supporting evidence from the text. Maybe the answer one chooses reveals something about themselves.

Next: Ignorance

44paruline
Mar 1, 2011, 12:34pm Top

8- Dirk Gently's holistic detective agency

Lots of seemingly random events are tied up eventually in inimitable Adams' style. Very fun ride.

4/5

45paruline
Mar 1, 2011, 12:41pm Top

9- Persepolis volume 1 to 4

I decided to put this in my non fiction category. This graphic novel tells the autobiographical coming-of-age story of Marjane during the Iranian revolution. Definitely not for children, but mature teenagers would probably relate strongly to Marjane and her struggles through adolescence.

4/5

46GingerbreadMan
Mar 2, 2011, 5:19am Top

@45 Loved Persepolis, and learned so much about Iran reading it.

47paruline
Mar 2, 2011, 6:03am Top

@46 Definitely. And I loved her sense of humour. Did you see the movie? It's fairly faithful to the book and a good way to spend a couple of hours.

48GingerbreadMan
Mar 2, 2011, 4:56pm Top

@47 Nope, haven't seen the movie. Definetly will at some point though.

49paruline
Edited: Mar 4, 2011, 10:41am Top

10- Ignorance

In Ignorance, two emigrants, a man and a woman, return to Czechoslovakia after the fall of communism. They attempt to connect with each other and with their family and friends left behind, with mixed results. Kundera, an emigrant himself, explores themes of nostalgia, memory, and ignorance in this slim novel.

I found it difficult to enjoy the story. The writing is often beautiful and evocative; but the story felt disconnected, abrubt and unfinished. I also kept comparing the book (unfavorably, I'm afraid) to the wonderful L'enigme du retour which I read last year and that also talked about the experience of returning to one's country after exile.

2.5/5

50paruline
Mar 8, 2011, 2:41pm Top

11- The awakening

A great story about Edna becoming aware of the oppressive social constructs surrounding her. A not-so-great solution for breaking free of these constructs.

Happy International Women's Day!

4/5

51paruline
Mar 12, 2011, 4:12pm Top

12- Regeneration

An engrossing (if disturbing) look at the psychological damage that war does.

4∕5

52paruline
Edited: Mar 15, 2011, 6:42pm Top

13- La princesse de Clèves (The princess of Cleves)

Put together a bunch of hormone-driven rich teenagers, heavy expectations from family members, a strict social code of conduct, and incredible amounts of leisure time. Add a situation where everyone is spying on each other, where dissimulating one's feelings is necessary for survival and where communication can only happen through double entendres. Mix and serve. What do you get?

Passion. And jealousy. And death by passion and jealousy.

3/5

53paruline
Mar 15, 2011, 4:05pm Top

54paruline
Mar 23, 2011, 2:51pm Top

14- A l'ouest rien de nouveau (All quiet on the western front)

Powerful, gruesome, timeless account of the horrors of war.

4.5/5

Next: Chocky

55paruline
Mar 27, 2011, 6:13am Top

15- Chocky

When Matthew begins to talk to himself, his parents start to wonder whether he's not a little old for an imaginary friend. As with the other Wyndham that I read, this story deals with ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. A short and enjoyable read.

4∕5

Next: Oscar and Lucinda

56paruline
Apr 1, 2011, 4:06pm Top

First quarter recap

Total books read: 15
Total needed to complete the challenge: 44
Most beautiful cover: Regeneration
Ugliest cover: Chocky

Favorite books so far:
- Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass
- All quiet on the western front
- Rebecca

Least favorite books so far:
- Ignorance

Mean rating: 3.9

Categories:
En francais: 2/4
War: 1/4
The core: 2/4
Translation: 1/4
Canadiana: 0/4
2006: 0/4
Women authors: 2/4
Mount TBR: 2/4
New authors: 0/4
Non fiction: 2/4
Sci-fi: 2/4
Bonus (book club): 1/4

Women authors: 8
Men authors: 7

57lkernagh
Apr 2, 2011, 11:48am Top

I like your idea of listing your the most beautiful (and ugliest) book cover in your summary. I am now off to investigate what my choices would have been for my reading!

58paruline
Apr 2, 2011, 7:31pm Top

57, thanks, I got the idea from others in the 1010 challenge last year.

59GingerbreadMan
Apr 3, 2011, 5:43pm Top

"Mean rating"? 3.9 looks pretty benign to me! :)

60paruline
Edited: Apr 9, 2011, 6:25pm Top

16- Oscar and Lucinda

ok, so before picking up a book, I usually play peekaboo with Wikipedia. I try to find out the main outline of the story without getting any spoilers. For this book, it went something like this: Peekaboo! Two lovers... Peekaboo! Gambling addiction... Peekaboo! Glass church... Peekaboo! Australian outback...

Sounds like two people with a gambling addiction fall in love and make a bet to get a glass church to a remote post by crossing the Australian outback. That looks interesting and exotic, yeah!

Except they meet around page 200. And leave with the glass church around page 400. And arrive around page 450. But if you like well-drawn characters who slowly, methodically and completely ruin their own lives, then this is the book for you!

3∕5

61Nickelini
Apr 9, 2011, 7:35pm Top

I'm planning to read Oscar and Lucinda this year. Thanks for letting me know what not to expect!

62paruline
Edited: Apr 22, 2011, 12:43pm Top

This week, I finished Suite francaise and Infidel, both excellent in their own way.

Next: Fugitive Pieces

63paruline
May 2, 2011, 2:00pm Top

So, even though I'm still reading, you might have noticed me slowing down with the reviews. That's because I've been busy packing for my trip to Spain. I'm leaving tomorrow and I'm only going to bring my bird field guide as 'reading' material.

See you in three weeks! Ta!

64lkernagh
May 2, 2011, 8:56pm Top

Have a great trip! I look forward to following your posts when you return.

65paruline
Edited: Jun 7, 2011, 9:45am Top

19- Fugitive pieces

A young fugitive Jew (Jakob) is rescued and raised by a Greek geologist and is haunted all his life by the traumatic events that he witnessed. The novel is divided into two parts; the first part is narrated by Jakob and the second part by Ben, an admirer of Jakob's poetry.

This is a very introspective novel and involves peeling back layers of meaning from past events. Reminded me of the poetic writing of Ondaatje, but I connected less strongly with the story this time, especially the second part.

3.5/5

66paruline
Jun 8, 2011, 2:13pm Top

20- The Moonstone

Suspenseful 19th century crime novel with interesting characters and more twists and turns that you can shake a fist at - I stayed up late to finish this one. Wilkie Collins also managed to sneak in some criticism on class structure and imperialism.

4/5

Next: La légende de Gostä Berling (Gosta Berling's Saga)

67paruline
Edited: Jun 12, 2011, 6:50am Top

21- La légende de Gostä Berling (Gosta Berling's Saga)

A year in the life of Gostä Berling and his drinking, singing, gambling, dancing companions. I really enjoyed this: strong female characters, interweaving story lines, a touch of magical realism, and lovingly described wintery landscapes.

4∕5

Next: Le désert des Tartares (The tartar steppe)

68GingerbreadMan
Jun 14, 2011, 4:19pm Top

Loved Buzzati's book when I was a teen. Will be interesting to see how it holds up! Oh, and always happy when someone enjoys Selma Lagerlöf! One of Sweden's greats, in my opinion.

69paruline
Edited: Jun 15, 2011, 7:55pm Top

22- Le désert des Tartares (The Tartar steppe)

*pant pant* I'm halfway through the challenge *catches breath*! And this last book was a really good one to reach that milestone.

Drogo gets his first military assignment to the Bastiani Fort and waits and hopes for the war that will bring him glory. And waits. And waits. And the more he waits and sacrifices for this hope, the more he *has* to hope to justify his sacrifices and the wasteful life he's leading. Powerful writing and some fantastical elements, like the fluidity of time and the spell the fort seems to cast on everyone, make this a memorable read.

4.5∕5

Next: Purge

70paruline
Jun 17, 2011, 1:27pm Top

23- The call of the wild

This is the tale of the adventures of Buck, a sleigh dog, during the Yukon gold rush. Could also be taken as an allegory of the fight between civilization and primitive instincts. Enjoyable even though Buck was annoyingly perfect.

3.5/5

71paruline
Edited: Jun 21, 2011, 9:02pm Top

24- Purge

There are a lot of good things to say about this novel. For example:
- I learned a lot about Estonia;
- The author can sure keep her audience interested, very good writing;
- I like reading about all the skills necessary to run a farm (canning, milking, cooking...);
- It passes the Beschdel test with flying colours!

However, I almost dnf for two reasons:
- I do not like to read about state-sponsored rape of 7-year old girls, even if these things happen in real life;
- Some may view one of the main character, Aliide, as strong and resilient, but to me she seemed rather borderline psychopath. She did not seem to be able to empathize very much with others and she manipulated people around her to further her goals.

Furthermore, I read the ending three times and it still doesn't make sense to me. So, a good book, but not really for me.

3∕5

Next: Waiting for the barbarians

72jfetting
Jun 26, 2011, 3:30pm Top

Just got caught up with your thread - you've been doing a lot of really interesting reading.

73paruline
Jun 26, 2011, 5:12pm Top

Thanks! I'm really enjoying this challenge.

74paruline
Jun 29, 2011, 7:06am Top

Finished two books last week.

25- Waiting for the barbarians

When there are rumors that the Barbarians are planning a war, the Empire sends 'investigators' (read, torturers) to a remote outpost in order to extract the truth from prisoners. The outpost's aging Magistrate takes a stand against their cruelty and is branded a traitor.

I've never taken a literary analysis class, but I can imagine that, with the right teacher, this book would be really interesting to study; it's full of dreams and symbols and allegories. Very thought-provoking.

4∕5

26- Bonjour tristesse

Cécile is 17, is spending the summer on the French riviera with her playboy father (Raymond) and is enjoying their carefree, bohemian way of life. Until Anne comes visiting: she is cultured, refined, intelligent, organized and Raymond decides to marry her. This will not do for Cécile and she plots to get Anne out of their lives.

Written when the author herself was only 18, there are really good descriptions of the internal struggles of a teenager: rage, silliness, remorse, anger, compassion, depression.

4∕5

For Orange July, I'm going to read The poisonwood bible.

75lbucci3
Jun 29, 2011, 10:30am Top

paruline Hope you love The poisonwood bible, I read it a few years ago and thought it was great. :)

76paruline
Jun 29, 2011, 2:26pm Top

I'm looking forward to it!

77paruline
Edited: Jul 1, 2011, 9:07am Top

Second quarter recap

I'm pretty happy with my progress. More than halfway done and my first category completed. However, I don't think I read enough in a year to have a bonus category. Seeing as my 2006 category has been so neglected, I'm replacing it with my Bonus category.

Total books read: 26
Total needed to complete the challenge: 44
Most beautiful cover: Fugitive pieces
Ugliest cover: Chocky

Favorite books so far:
- Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass
- All quiet on the western front
- Rebecca
- The tartar steppe

Least favorite books so far:
- Ignorance

Mean rating: 3.8

Categories:
En francais: 3/4
War: 3/4
The core: 2/4
Translation: 2/4
Canadiana: 2/4
Book club reads (replacing 2006): 3/4
Women authors: 2/4
Mount TBR: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!
New authors: 1/4
Non fiction: 2/4
Sci-fi: 2/4

Women authors: 14
Men authors: 12

Upcoming reads:

For Orange July, The Poisonwood bible and Fall on your knees followed by some sci-fi and non-fiction, two categories I've been neglecting.

78paruline
Edited: Jul 7, 2011, 9:30am Top

27- Fall on your knees

Four sisters grow up surrounded by family secrets. Man, this was depressing.

3.5∕5

Reading now: The Poisonwood Bible.

79Bcteagirl
Jul 12, 2011, 3:25pm Top

I have heard that Fall you you Knees is depressing, and hence have been avoiding it :P Rest assured The Poisonwood Bible is not depressing, I read it for the challenge earlier this summer :)

I am glad you liked Bonjour Tristesse I found it to be a light read, that was quite realistic. Apparently created quite a lot of shock waves when it was written :P

80paruline
Jul 13, 2011, 8:01am Top

Fall on your knees felt like Little Women: the Revenge (now with more violence, madness, depression, suicide, drunkenness and incest!). Same basic personality types, and there was even one incident when the youngest daughter destroyed the prized possession of another :P Very strong sense of place though and good writing.

I enjoyed Bonjour Tristesse. I think it was also on Yann Martel's list of books sent to Harper.

81jfetting
Jul 13, 2011, 8:05pm Top

Giggling over "Little Women: the Revenge"

82paruline
Edited: Jul 21, 2011, 6:45am Top

28- The Poisonwood Bible

A trip down memory lane for me. I was five when my family spent nine months in a small village of what is now DR Congo. Kingsolver gets (almost) everything right: killer ants, eating grubs (delicious btw), turtles and monkeys, pili-pili, malaria, tam-tams, facial scars, village justice system, children with distended stomachs... My only nitpick would be that no one would have let fish go to waste because of a lack of ice. The villagers would have simply smoked or dried them.

That aside, an amazing feat.

4∕5

Reading now: Under the skin and Why zebras don't have ulcers.

83ivyd
Jul 24, 2011, 12:36pm Top

>82 paruline: Much to my surprise, I enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible very much. It's interesting to see a comment from someone who's actually been there.

84paruline
Jul 25, 2011, 8:37am Top

I am lucky to have parents that liked to travel and that brought 3 children under the age of 5 with them.

85japaul22
Jul 25, 2011, 11:09am Top

I read Poisonwood Bible this year and really enjoyed it. Glad to know from someone who's been there that Kingsolver got a lot of it right! And wow, you have brave parents!

86GingerbreadMan
Aug 3, 2011, 11:30am Top

Just like jfetting, I'm chuckling over "Little women - the revenge".

87paruline
Edited: Aug 3, 2011, 11:39am Top

@ 81, @ 86, might have been the only two chuckles this book ever got :-) I'm thinking 'Little women - the revenge' might be a good title for a parody novel like Pride and Prejudice and zombies. Or maybe for a band. Mmmmmm.

88GingerbreadMan
Aug 3, 2011, 11:48am Top

Well, there is Little women and werewolves, but I think that particular concept is up for grabs :)

89paruline
Aug 4, 2011, 9:09am Top

29- Why zebras don't have ulcers

Very interesting account of the innumerable ways in which stress can affect health and what to do about it. Slow going though because of the amount of information.

4∕5

90paruline
Aug 4, 2011, 9:14am Top

30- Under the skin

Under the skin, we're all the same. Or are we? In this weird little novel, our expectations and certainties are constantly being challenged by Isserley. She picks up hitchhikers, but only if they are male, healthy and with big muscles. And she always tries to determine if someone special is waiting for them.

4∕5

91paruline
Edited: Aug 4, 2011, 9:24am Top

31- Fifi brindacier (Pippi Longstocking)

Read this in an hour this morning. Armed with superhuman strength, Pippi (or Fifi in French) defies societal norms by living alone in a big house with a monkey and a horse. Very fun, but the last chapter had me knock out half a star because Pippi plays with guns (not something you want your child to think is fun and harmless).

3.5∕5

Next: A whale for the killing

92thornton37814
Aug 4, 2011, 9:40am Top

I loved Pippi Longstocking when I was a kid. I think one of our teachers used it as a read-aloud in class in probably the 3rd or 4th grade.

93GingerbreadMan
Aug 4, 2011, 11:49am Top

The Swede approves! :) Our boy is just starting to enjoy chapter books, and will be getting the Pippi books for his birthday in a month. The only thing we'll alter a little bit is Lindgren's use of the word "Neger" (Negro) - a product of it's time of course, but not something we'd want our kid to pick up.

94paruline
Aug 4, 2011, 12:07pm Top

Glad to have the Swede's approval :-) I've also started to read chapter books to my son. We might get to Fifi pretty soon. With plenty of maternal warnings about playing with guns.

95Bcteagirl
Aug 7, 2011, 6:03pm Top

You have been busy! I read The Poisonwood Bible for this challenge as well and really enjoyed it. :) Interesting note about the fish (Would love to hear more about the ants!).

I read Why Zebra's don't Get Ulcers last year and was able to use some of the information to teach with, which was great. You may also enjoy Forty studies that changed psychology : explorations into the history of psychological research as a great book :)

96paruline
Aug 16, 2011, 11:52am Top

Hi BCteagirl, fortunately I never encountered a marching column of driver ants but I did get to experience their painful bite! I was playing near an anthill and suddenly my feet felt like they were on fire. Instead of running away, bright child that I was, I just started wailing until a neighbour pulled me away from the ants.

97paruline
Edited: Aug 16, 2011, 12:03pm Top

32- A whale for the killing

It's the late sixties, whaling is still practiced by numerous countries and there is a very real possibility that within the next decade, most species of great whales will be extinct. When a fin whale becomes trapped in a small cove, Farley Mowat decides to do everything in his power to save it, even when his actions antagonize the local community.

Farley comes across as a sympathetic if clueless protagonist. In fact, this book could be read by conservation biologists as a warning about how NOT to help a species.

3.5/5

Next: Être sans destin (Fateless)

98paruline
Edited: Aug 24, 2011, 4:20pm Top

33- Être sans destin (Fateless)

'... I thought I would like to live a little bit longer in that nice concentration camp' (my translation from the French edition).

The 15-year old narrator spends a year in three concentration camps before being liberated and coming back home. At first, he is a typical teenager, with family problems, but not too preoccupied with the war, unlike the adults that surround him. Then, one day, he is rounded up, and shipped to Germany.

We get the story in real time, in what feels like a conversational, but at the same time detached, tone. Very powerful, insightful and effective.

4/5

Next: Le rouge et le noir (The red and the black), I, robot, or The bridge on the Drina

99Bcteagirl
Aug 18, 2011, 3:39pm Top

A whale for the killing is on my wishlist, so am glad to see a review thank you :) I think you would likely enjoy My Discovery of America as well ;)

100paruline
Edited: Aug 18, 2011, 4:27pm Top

Farley is a gifted writer and passionate about the cause. It's also wonderful to see how far we've come as a society in terms of our relationship with the whales (although much remains to be done). Thanks for the tip about My discovery of America. Maybe next year?

101paruline
Aug 29, 2011, 11:18am Top

34- I, Robot

Once again, Asimov explores the themes of humanity and progress in this collection of short stories. Entertaining classic sci-fi.

4/5

Next: The bridge on the Drina or The red and the black.

102paruline
Edited: Sep 7, 2011, 4:12pm Top

35- Le pont sur la Drina (The bridge on the Drina)

How difficult to describe this book. On the surface, it's the story of Visegrad, a town set close to the Serbian frontier, over many centuries. But it's so much more: the clash of cultures, history as experienced by the people, the passage of time, luck, resilience, war, community.

Through it all, there is the bridge that links east and west, a silent witness that remains unchanged. And gorgeous, luscious writing.

4/5

Next: Brighton Rock or The red and the black (man, this one is taking forever).

103GingerbreadMan
Sep 7, 2011, 4:41pm Top

Fatelessness was one of my top reads last year. I remember using the words "detached" and "powerful" a lot in my review.

104paruline
Sep 8, 2011, 6:42am Top

Great minds and all that ;-)

105paruline
Sep 17, 2011, 5:43pm Top

36- Brighton Rock

So. My first noir. I had some trouble with the slang at the beginning ('hey, there's a skirt waiting for you', wait, what?). Eventually, I got caught up in the story of Pinkie trying to hold together his small mafia ring by silencing witnesses. Since Greene was a catholic convert, there are also some discussions of Good vs Evil, Right vs Wrong etc, etc. Might go see the new movie.

3.5∕5

106Nickelini
Sep 18, 2011, 9:06pm Top

I'm listening to this on audiobook. I haven't found the slang too bad, but I do find it painfully dated, as I often do with 1940s novels (which I find curious, since I gobble up 1800s, 1910s through 1930s novels with no problems). Don't know how far I've progressed, because I can't tell with my iPod, but I think the film will be interesting, as I hear they updated it. I imagine that I too will rate it about 3.5.

107paruline
Sep 19, 2011, 1:14pm Top

I agree the slang is not that bad, but as a non-native English speaker (non-English native speaker? non-speaker of native English? Sigh, English is hard...;-) it did interrupt the flow for me.

108Nickelini
Sep 19, 2011, 1:27pm Top

Oh yes, that would do it, wouldn't it! I grew up watching English TV shows and reading older English books, so I haven't really noticed much slang (other than the really dated terms). But yes, if I didn't grow up with that exposure it would be tricky.

109paruline
Sep 20, 2011, 3:20pm Top

37- The Age of Innocence

A man who never speaks to his wife falls for another woman with whom he never manages to have a conversation.

3.5/5

110japaul22
Sep 20, 2011, 8:16pm Top

Ha!! That description of The Age of Innocence is spot on!

111paruline
Edited: Oct 5, 2011, 1:09pm Top

38- Unless

I wasn't sure about that one when I started: contemporary family drama? Yikes! I usually run away from exactly that in my reading.

But! It was very clever (a woman writing about a woman writing about a woman writer - I loved it) and thought-provoking.

4∕5

112paruline
Edited: Oct 6, 2011, 8:17am Top

39- Paradise of the blind

During a train ride, a young woman remembers her life growing up in Vietnam. We learn mostly about her mother and her aunt, two hard-working and resilient women who get caught in the communist revolution. The author also denounces some traditional aspects of vietnamese society, such as the burden usually imposed on the eldest child in a family.

4∕5

113paruline
Edited: Oct 5, 2011, 6:15am Top

Third quarter recap

I'm pretty happy with my progress. Seven categories completed and only five more books to go to completed the challenge. However, I've been stalling on The red and the black which is not grabbing me at all.

Total books read: 39
Total needed to complete the challenge: 44
Most beautiful cover: The age of innocence
Ugliest cover: Chocky

Favorite books so far:
- Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass
- All quiet on the western front
- Rebecca
- The tartar steppe

Least favorite books so far:
- Ignorance

Mean rating for this quarter: 3.8

Categories:
En francais: 3/4
War: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!
The core: 3/4
Translation: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!
Canadiana: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!
Book club reads (replacing 2006): 3/4
Women authors: 2/4
Mount TBR: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!
New authors: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!
Non fiction: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!
Sci-fi: 4/4 CATEGORY COMPLETED!

Women authors: 20
Men authors: 19

Upcoming reads:
Farewell, my queen.

114lkernagh
Oct 2, 2011, 11:23am Top

You have made great progress on your challenge. Almost done I see!

115japaul22
Oct 2, 2011, 12:51pm Top

I've tried reading The Red and the Black several times and have never finished it. Hope you can get into it - I'd like to know if you feel it was worth the time in the end.

116paruline
Oct 2, 2011, 2:38pm Top

Don't have much time for LT these days but thanks for the encouragement!

117paruline
Oct 6, 2011, 8:27am Top

My reviews for Unless and Paradise of the blind are up!

118paruline
Edited: Oct 6, 2011, 8:37am Top

40- Les adieux à la reine (Farewell, my queen)

This novel chronicles the four days between the fall of the Bastille and the fall of the French monarchy as seen through the eyes of the Queen's second Reader. At first, in Versailles, there is incredulity and arrogance, but this is quickly followed by worries and panic as the carefully-constructed and artificial world of the royalty disintegrates. There are some arresting moments, as when the Queen is stuck in a hallway because there is no one to open the doors for her, and surely she can't open her own doors now, can she?

A quick and easy read.

3.5∕5

119paruline
Edited: Oct 15, 2011, 8:27am Top

I've been reading Atonement on and off for the last week and now, at page 70, I'm putting it aside for a good long while. It's just too easy to put down and too hard to pick up. I guess I'm not in the right frame of mind for this book, so I'm moving on...

120paruline
Oct 19, 2011, 10:17am Top

41- 84, Charing Cross Road

Finally, another book read! I've been in a reading funk all October and this was just the ticket to get me excited about reading again.

This slim book contains letters between Helene Hanff of New York and a London bookstore specializing in ancient books. Helene is hilarious, telling the staff in one sentence to stop be lazy and send her books already! and in the next sentence that she is sending them all Christmas presents. The staff all love her and we see the friendship that develops over twenty years of correspondance.

This would be a great book to give high school students - short, funny and full of book love.

4.5/5

121paruline
Edited: Oct 20, 2011, 1:25pm Top

42- Je n'oublie rien

Still mostly reading graphic novels and YA, but this one fits into my En français category.

I love the Thorgal series and have been a fan since I was a teenager. Basically, the story follows Thorgal, a good man who only wants to live in peace with his wife (Aaricia, a Viking princess) and their children (Jolan and Louve). Only problem: he's a Viking, lives in a brutal world, and those pesky gods just can't leave him alone.

In the last few books, the focus has shifted from Thorgal's adventures and in this installement, we learn about the background of the beautiful, selfish, and cruel Kriss de Valnor who was a major character previously.

4/5

122japaul22
Oct 20, 2011, 12:29pm Top

Is 84, Charing Cross Road fiction or non-fiction? I keep seeing it mentioned on LT and I'm interested in reading it. Sounds like a lovely book.

123paruline
Oct 20, 2011, 1:21pm Top

It's non-fiction: a collection of the real letters that were exchanged over a 20-years period. And it IS lovely. I hope you'll enjoy it.

124paruline
Oct 28, 2011, 11:08am Top

43- I capture the castle

Jane Austen meets Charlotte Bronte. Wonderful.

4/5

125paruline
Oct 28, 2011, 11:54am Top

I went to a book sale yesterday and came home with the following titles:

Slaughter-house five (I think this is going to be my last choice for this challenge)
God bless you, Mr Rosewater
Z
Invisible Man

See, I haven't given up on the 1001 list!

126paruline
Nov 12, 2011, 7:42am Top

44- Slaughter-house five

Don't really know how to review this book, so I'll just say that I enjoyed it very much.

4/5

127paruline
Nov 12, 2011, 7:48am Top

And that completes my challenge! I'll post a more detailed analysis in the next few days.

I think I'll keep posting my reading on this thread until the end of the year. I'm also going to have to think seriously about the 12 in 12 challenge. But right now, I'm going to celebrate!

128lkernagh
Nov 12, 2011, 10:32am Top

Congratulations on completing your challenge!

129christina_reads
Nov 12, 2011, 11:27am Top

Congratulations! Looking forward to seeing you at the 12 in 12 -- after you celebrate, of course!

130ivyd
Nov 12, 2011, 11:55am Top

Congratulations!

131japaul22
Nov 12, 2011, 12:17pm Top

Congratulations! I've enjoyed your thread!

132AHS-Wolfy
Nov 12, 2011, 3:50pm Top

Congratulations!

133DeltaQueen50
Nov 12, 2011, 5:33pm Top

Congratulations!

134paruline
Nov 12, 2011, 8:26pm Top

Thanks everyone!

135VictoriaPL
Nov 14, 2011, 7:41am Top

Well done! Congratulations!

136paruline
Nov 14, 2011, 10:05am Top

Thanks!

137paruline
Nov 18, 2011, 1:47pm Top

Challenge recap and statistics:

Total books read: 44
Most beautiful cover: The age of innocence although I quite liked the cover of A whale for the killing
Ugliest cover: Chocky - what can be a worse cover than a greenish floating child's head on a dark background?

Favorite books:
- Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass
- All quiet on the western front
- Rebecca
- The tartar steppe
- 84, Charing Cross Road

Least favorite books:
- Ignorance
- Oscar and Lucinda
- The princesse de Cleves

Mean rating : 3.9

Mean rating by category:
En francais: 3.8
War: 4.1
The core: 3.9
Translation: 3.9
Canadiana: 3.6
Book club reads (replacing 2006): 3.2
Women authors: 4.2
Mount TBR: 3.8
New authors: 3.9
Non fiction: 4.1
Sci-fi: 4

Women authors: 23
Men authors: 21
New authors: 33

Books read by original language:
English: 27
French: 8
Swedish: 2
German: 1
Hungarian: 1
Japanese: 1
Italian: 1
Vietnamese: 1
Finnish: 1
Bosnian: 1

Books that were like drinking sunshine: 84, Charing Cross Road, Claudine's house
Books that I would give to mature teenagers: Persepolis, I capture the castle, The tartar steppe, Bonjour tristesse
Books that I would give to my grandmother: 84, Charing Cross Road, Suite francaise
Book that left a big impression: Unless - heartbreaking but not depressing, ifyouknowwhatImean
Book that I enjoyed but forgot as soon as I finished: Crossfire

138paruline
Edited: Dec 5, 2011, 3:14pm Top

45- God bless you, Mr Rosewater

A rich man is believed to be crazy because he wants to help those less fortunate. Nothing has changed since this was written. Correction: things have gotten worse.

4/5

139paruline
Dec 5, 2011, 3:29pm Top

46- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

A retired spy tries to find a Russian mole in the MI-6. The first hundred pages were kind of slow, because we are introduced to all the different branches of the network and the who's who of those branches.

Somehow, I kept picturing the story happening in the 1950s in black and white.

3/5

140paruline
Dec 6, 2011, 3:03pm Top

47- V for Vendetta

This graphic novel asks the question: does the end justify the means? What about when the end is one you agree with?

So, an interesting premise but the execution didn't work for me. The images were too dark and the characters not distinctive enough.

3/5

141paruline
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 3:23pm Top

Used to read these graphic novels when I was a teenager. It was fun to revisit them.

48- Olivier Rameau tome 2
A mysterious disease has appeared in the Land-that-doesn't-exist. It's up to Olivier Rameau, Mr. Pertinent and Colombe Tiredaile to find the What-if-it's-true Bubble, the only cure for the disease. They'll have to battle dragons, a witch, and an ogre.

4 out of 5

49- Olivier Rameau tome 3
Two visitors from the Real-world-where-you-get-bored bring cupidity and violence to the Land-that-doesn't-exist. Our heroes have to use their wits to bring back unreason (which is the only true way to be reasonable) to their beloved country.

4 out of 5

142paruline
Edited: Dec 21, 2011, 1:37pm Top

50- Mansfield Park

Acting is bad. Passion is bad. Cities are bad. But a near-incestuous marriage between cousins who have been raised as brother and sister is A-OK.

I kid, I kid, I really liked it!

3,5/5

143christina_reads
Dec 21, 2011, 12:54pm Top

@ 142 -- Haha, love this review! I like MP a lot, but I do sort of think Fanny's marriage is creepy.

144Bcteagirl
Dec 31, 2011, 11:23am Top

LMAO!

Belated congratulations by the way! See you in the 12 in 12 Challenge.

Group: The 11 in 11 Category Challenge

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