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Geo Cat February Europe

2020 Category Challenge

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Edited: Jan 16, 4:05pm Top

Welcome to the February GeoCat thread. This is for Europe but we are going to be excluding the UK (which gets saved for a later date).

Europe is the western part of the Eurasian land mass, and is bounded by seas to north, west & south; namely the Arctic Sea, Atlantic Ocean & Mediterranean Sea; and a land border with Asia on the East. This border is one of culture rather than geopolitical borders and usually taken as the Ural and Caucasus mountains, Black Sea, Caspian Sea and Turkish Straits. It does mean that some countries are in both Asia and Europe, namely Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

Away from the main landmass there are a number of islands that are also considered part of Europe. Iceland & the Faroe Islands (part of Denmark) are both in the North Atlantic. The Republic of Ireland, forming part of the island of Ireland would also count for this challenge. In the Mediterranean the island states of Cyprus & Malta are considered part of Europe, as are the various islands that are part of European countries. Sardinia & Sicily being part of Italy; Corsica is French; Crete, Lesbos, Corfu and any other number of Greek Islands; and the Spanish holiday destinations of Majorca, Menorca & Ibiza. Being islands, these often have a cultural nature that is unique to themselves.

There are about 50 countries in Europe, which vary considerably in size from the city states of the Vatican City and Monaco (area less than 1 sq mile between them!) to France, the largest country wholly within Europe, at a quarter of a million square miles. There are even more languages than countries, with any number of linguistic minorities retaining a strong regional presence within a larger country (the Basque language within Spain, for instance). At times there have been oppressed or seen as a touchstone of rebellion for cultural autonomy. The 5 most populous languages are Russian, French, German, Italian & English.

Europe is not culturally homogeneous with a range of different cultural groups both now and in the past. There’s everything from ancient Greece & Rome through the intricacies of Byzantium through the solid Germanic and heated Latin to Vikings and Visgoths. There really is something to suit every taste.

Edited: Jan 14, 4:11pm Top

List of reading ideas. These are a mixture of old and new authors here for different regions of Europe. It is by no means an exhaustive list!! Feel free to add your own ideas and suggestions, as well as the books you intend to read.

The Frozen North:
Iceland has the most publish authors per capita. Maybe it's the long cold winters. You could go back and read the Icelandic Sagas, maybe Laxdæla saga or try something more modern, Burial Rites wraps a fictional story around the last execution in Iceland.

Back on the mainland, but still in the frozen wastes, there's always the Norse gods, either in an older Prose Edda or newer Norse Mythology version. And if that doesn't float your viking longship, you could try Nordic Noir

The Sunny South:
Starting at the beginning, there's always the Greek & Romans. Follow Odesseus as he tries to get home in The Odyssey, follow Herodotus as he tries to tell The Histories and gets very sidetracked, follow the birth of thought with Plato and co. Of indulge in shenanigans with Gods (again).
There are also modern retellings of the ancient tales that are well worth a look. I'm going to plug Circe (again) as it is fantastic, and looke beautiful, but other options such as The Song of Achilles, The Penelopiad and The Silence of the Girls all offer a female take on an ancient male story.

Or if you'd rather something more modern, there's always Inspector Montalbano and his investigations on sunny Sicily. There are 25 so you're unlikely to run out!

To be continued...

Jan 14, 11:44am Top

I'm planning on reading A Year in Provence for this month's challenge.

Jan 14, 1:35pm Top

I am going to be reading Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais which is set in France. I will also be visiting France with my Non-FictionCat read, Paris in Love a travel memoir by Eloisa James

Jan 14, 3:35pm Top

I'm thinking about a couple options -- The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, which is set in France, I believe (although the author is Spanish), and Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr.

Jan 14, 3:44pm Top

>4 DeltaQueen50: I adored Piglettes, I hope you enjoy it.

I'd like to read Zola's His Excellency Eugène Rougon as I'm meant to be reading Les Rougon-Macquart novels but stalled after the first one.
I have a historical fiction by Dutch writer Stefan Hertmans, The Convert out from the library and on my shelves I see Romain Gary's memoir Promise at Dawn. Italy's Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis and Schlump by Hans Herbert Grimm. So hope to read 1 or 2 of these.

Jan 14, 4:07pm Top

I am planning to read Cousins by Meto Jovanovski. According to the dust jacket flap, "This literary gem is the first novel translated into English from the Macedonian."

It is from the country now known as The Republic of North Macedonia.

Jan 14, 4:32pm Top

I'm planning on reading A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis which is set obviously in Vienna. :) I'm also hoping to finally get back to All This I Will Give to You by Dolores Redondo which is set in Spain.

Jan 14, 6:16pm Top

My online reading group is reading the first half of Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey in February. I may also read The Iron Age by Arja Kajermon (Finland/Sweden)

Jan 14, 7:05pm Top

I'll be listening to a Donna Leon in February, so Italy is the country. I'm sure I can find one or two others to fit though.

Jan 14, 9:00pm Top

I've set aside Cop Killer, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, for this challenge. I have two more books left in the Martin Beck series, and this is one of them.

Jan 14, 9:43pm Top

I have chosen Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips, which is set on Kamchatka Peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia.

Jan 15, 4:11am Top

Jan 15, 4:29am Top

>13 MissWatson: Thanks! My first time hosting, at least I've started out right.

>12 JayneCM: While it up to everyone to set their own rules, I will just point out that Kamchatka is not the part of Russia that is in Europe. That would fit this month's Asia challenge much better on a geographical basis.

>4 DeltaQueen50: Nice, double dose of the French.

>9 Robertgreaves: Enjoy, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of The Odyssey, which I did while on a cruise in the Med. It did not take us 10 years to get home!

>7 pamelad: That's certainly different! I'm hoping to get to a book in translation, but probably not from Macedonian.

Jan 15, 5:02am Top

I'm going to read a really old ebook called Past Imperfect by John Matthews which is a French mystery. Then if time, I will read Circe.

Jan 15, 5:21am Top

>12 JayneCM: Oops! I will look for something else then.

Jan 15, 10:22am Top

I'm also planning to read Journey to the Alcarria which will fit this GeoCAT, the "in translation" theme of TravelKIT, and the travel theme of the NonfictionCAT. Triple bang with one book!

Jan 16, 4:07pm Top

>17 thornton37814: that's a book doing some heavy lifting!

>15 tess_schoolmarm: Do, get to Circe, I adored it. It was one of only 2 books that I awarded 5 stars last year.

Edited: Jan 17, 5:08am Top

Thanks for the great intro HelenLiz!

>6 avatiakh: I love The Rougon Macquart series but His Excellency Eugène Rougon did not quite make it for me. Maybe skip to a later one, such as The kill?

Two of my favorite books of all time are by European authors (and are set in Europe): The idiot by Feodor Dostoievski is so full of great stuff that it's hard to describe. The characters are really complex and well described. Of course there are other Russian classics that I recommend, such as War and Peace: the parts about the battle descriptions were a bit long for me but overall the book was great, with fascinating story and characters.

One of my other all time favorite is Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen, apparently translated to English with the title Her lover. I don't know how the English translation fares since there are some long, rambling stream of consciousness parts that are very special. The book is an incredible love story but so much more than that, a social satire, a reflection of the place of jews in the European society before WW2, the beauty of a spark of madness, and Solal is such an incredible character!
(EDIT: Touchstones seem to be working, yay!)

Jan 17, 10:45am Top

Another European author whose books left a very strong impression on me is Portuguese Antonio Lobo Antunes. In particular his book The splendor of Portugal impressed me the most. It alternates between the point of view of a mother and her three (grown up children), between Angola and Portugal, between a time when Angola was still a colony and the present where it is not. The description of the colonisation period is very disturbing but very interesting, in particular the treatment of the black "workers" in the portuguese family's plantation.

Also if you have been tempted to join in this year's group read of Jerusalem by Alan Moore, now's the time to do it! I read it last year and found it a remarkable work!

Jan 17, 1:04pm Top

I have an absolute pile of books that I started last year, but didn't finish. So for this challenge, I will try to finish Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

Jan 17, 3:17pm Top

>19 chlorine: Thanks for that hint. I have about 5 of them including The Kill.

Group: 2020 Category Challenge

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