SIY Reading Challenge [Jan-March]

SIY Reading Challenge #3
For Jan to March period I’m going to follow the SIY (Set It Yourself) reading challenge at Bookcrossing forum here. There is also a webpage by fellow BCer to keep track of people’s goals.

So my goal is:
2 award winning books (which could also be 1001 books)
2 1001 books (which could also be award winning books)
2 books from bookcrossers

Apart from those, I’ve got the first Harry Potter borrowed from a friend and I spare some space for potential bookring/ray coming my way. I keep the list small so I won’t have too much pressure :). Just need to make sure that I won’t add more books into my ToBeRead pile, because I think it reaches to around 50 books now (I don’t wanna count exactly cos it’s scary). Will keep track of what I read for the next 3 months here.

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

When We Were Orphans - Kazuo IshiguroThis book is the first book I got from Bookcrosser, sent direct from Sri Lanka :). Finally I’ve got a chance to read it and really, am quite happy with it. The book is on the Booker shortlist 2000. The author is Japanese-born who migrated to Britain since he was 5. So throughout the novel it all feels very English. I could hear the English accent in my head as I read it.

It’s a story about Christopher Banks, who is a famous detective in London. He grew up in Shanghai, before he left the city because of the loss of his parents. Eventually he went back to Shanghai to “solve the case” and looked for his parents. I found that the characters are quite interesting. The parents, the Japanese childhood friend, the English lady who always crossed path with Christopher, the orphan who Christopher took in. They’re not.. typical. Really, quite fascinating.

I think the book is very well written. The pace is quite slow at some places, but somehow I don’t mind. I enjoyed the words and everything he worded. Ishiguro is a good author. No wonder he has so many award winning novels. Definitely someone whose books I will watch out. His next book on my shelf is The Remains of the Day, which is the winner of Booker Prize in 1989 (which I got from my favorite used bookshop for a whooping one buck, still in jolly good condition :).

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5
Slow and enjoyable. I imagine it’s not something for everyone. It’s not a bad start at all for Ishiguro’s works.
Yes he added quite a few words into my vocabulary.

Memorable Quotes

Can you imagine an English gentleman with thick English accent saying this line: (easily the most hilarious line in the book)

“It appears to be quite permissible here to employ surprisingly rough shoves to get people out of one’s way. Though I have not yet found the nerve to take advantage of this license myself, I have already witnessed on a number of occasions refined ladies at society gatherings giving the most peremptory pushes without provoking as much as a murmur.” ~ p164, Christopher on Shanghai

Charming ;)

“She was very beautiful when she was younger. The most beautiful flower, my good sir. You cannot imagine. In this respect, I am like a Westerner in my heart. I have never wanted any wife but her. One wife, quite enough. Of course, I took others. I am Chinese, after all, even if I have lived all my life here in the foreigners’ city. I felt obliged to take other wives. But she is the one I truly cared for. The others have all gone now, and she is left. I miss the others, but I’m glad, in my heart I’m glad that in our old age, it is just the two of us again.” ~ p205 … “Certain kinds of beauty never fade.” ~ p210

Might have been one of my favorite parts. The part where Christopher talked to old Chinese man about the differences between Western and Chinese customs, how it’s quite inevitable at times to resist what’s accepted as culture.

SPOILER for discussion below (highlight to see)
I still don’t get how Christopher could think that his parents would still be held captive and alive after 15 years. All the more strange that other people in the city seem to think this way too. Like the Chinese captain, who even went all the way to take him to the old house in the middle of fighting. What’s going on there? I even dreamed about this. I thought there would be some weird fantasy twist to it later, like time traveling or whatever. But apparently he just thought they would be there, in the old house in the middle of the war. And what’s with the big case to be solved that could save the world they were all referring to? Well, these are some loose ends I’m a bit confused with.

Folktales from Africa: The Girl Who Married A Lion by Alexander McCall Smith

Folktales from Africa: The Girl Who Married A Lion by Alexander McCall Smith

I finished the book a while ago. Borrowed it from Hailey. In fact, I was the one recommended the book to her on one book fair in Expo many moons ago. But there’s really nothing much to say about the book, because it’s just far too simplistic. The most interesting about it is probably the book cover, the illustrations inside, and the introduction.

The stories are bland, even for children stories. Almost all characters are animals. Hare is often the bad guy and lion is often portrayed as powerful but kinda stupid. Some stories have no reasonings. Like why a lion would want to marry a human girl?

I’ve started the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by the same author though, now that is good book. Alexander McCall Smith is supposed to be good. I just think he’s no children story teller. That or the African folk tales are not that great to begin with.

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5
Overly simplistic. Therefore not exactly entertaining.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge

1001 Books You Must Read Before You DieStarted in 2007

This post is taken from my old post. Will update the list here from now on.

From the book published with that title, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list was handpicked by a team of international critics and literary luminaries (some 20+ of them). You can get the full list here.

I’m interested to (sort of) follow this list and see how far it could take me (literary-sense wise). Let’s just say it’s my personal lifetime challenge. So I’ll keep track of books in the list that I’ve read, or sometimes, which I’m planning to soonish.

Update 25/04/2010

Since the original list published in 2006, there have been updated 1001 list published in 2008 and 2010. Some books were left out and some added. The total combined list of all three is a whooping 1294 books. I’ve decided to count my total against the combined list, as I cannot make myself waive the ones that I have read from the original list and since then have been removed. Since it gets very tricky to both obtain and keep track of the lists, I’m using arukiyomi spreadsheet to help out. With a small donation you can get it too. For the sake of organization, I’ll update this page following the 2006 list and mention if the book is added in 2008 or 2010.

Update 06/12/2014
Started to consider the newest edition from 2012 (4th edition). Took the total amount of books from 1294 to 1305. Had only read 1 book from the books added in the newest addition.

Books read in 2015: (7 books)
Everything Is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Spring Snow – Yukio Mishima (book 1 of The Sea of Fertility tetralogy)
Chess – Stefan Zweig
Silence — Shusaku Endo

Books read in 2014: (9 books)
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
The Outsider – Albert Camus
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges
Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Beloved – Toni Morrison
The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark

Books read in 2013: (8 books)
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Watchmen – Alan Moore
To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells
The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells
The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe (short story)

69 out of 1305 books (5.28%)

Read (2006 list) – 1st edition

63 out of 1001 books (6.3%)

2000s (8 books)
1) Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
19) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
24) Fingersmith — Sarah Waters
26) Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
28) Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
33) Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
42) Atonement – Ian McEwan
49) Life of Pi – Yann Martel

1900s (40 books)
77) Disgrace J. M. Coetzee
78) Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
80) Intimacy – Hanif Kureishi
90) Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
93) Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
101) Silk — Alessandro Baricco
116) The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
117) A Fine Balance — Rohinton Mistry
125) The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
142) The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
147) The Secret History – Donna Tartt
190) The Remains of the Day — Kazuo Ishiguro
223) Beloved – Toni Morrison
227) Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons
242) The Handmaid’s Tale — Margaret Atwood
256) The Unbearable Lightness of Being — Milan Kundera
272) The Color Purple – Alice Walker
300) If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler — Italo Calvino
301) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
362) The Sea of Fertility — Yukio Mishima (Book 1: Spring Snow)
363) The Driver’s Seat — Muriel Spark
378) Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
399) One Hundred Years of Solitude — Gabriel García Márquez
450) The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie — Muriel Spark
456) To Kill A Mockingbird — Harper Lee
467) Breakfast at Tiffany’s — Truman Capote
472) Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
496) Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
521) The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
529) The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
564) Animal Farm – George Orwell
572) Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges
574) The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
579) The Outsider — Albert Camus
603) Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
608) Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
686) To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
699) The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (Read this as compulsory novel for my English literature class in college. Didn’t enjoy it though.)
717) Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
770) The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton

1800s (14 books)
791) The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
794) Dracula — Bram Stoker
796) The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells
801) The Yellow Wallpaper — Charlotte Perkins Gilman
854) Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
868) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — Lewis Carroll
876) Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
880) The Woman in White — Wilkie Collins
902) Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
905) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
913) A Christmas Carol — Charles Dickens
916) The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe
931) Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
938) Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen

Pre-1700s (1 book)
996) The Thousand and One Nights – Anonymous (Read this when I was in primary school, in the form of many many thin books, in my mother tongue, Indonesian. I wonder if that counts? I’m not sure if I have really completed the whole series. I remember all the stories were really good that I couldn’t stop going to the library and reading.)

Read (2008 list addition) – 2nd edition

5 books

pre-1700s (1 book)
13) Monkey: Journey to the West — Wu Cheng’en (I devoured the Monkey King series since I was very little from countless medium: illustrated books, series, film adaptations, derivations, so I’m crossing this off my list)

1900s (4 books)
410) Chess — Stefan Zweig
417) Pippi Longstocking — Astrid Lindgren (read in childhood)
602) Silence — Shusaku Endo
819) Kitchen — Banana Yohimoto

Read (2010 list addition) – 3rd edition

Read (2012 list addition) – 4th edition *newest

2000s (1 book)
976) The History of Love — Nicole Krauss

Planning to read soonish (several years out of date…)

13) Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
64) After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
92) The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
110) The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
143) The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
165) Wild Swans – Jung Chang (On my shelf)
230) An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
236) Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
274) A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
320) Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice (I reckon I should also read Anne Rice’s books a couple of times in my life)
494) The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien (I don’t know whether I will ever read this book or it will be in my to-read list forever)
610) The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien (same comment with The Lord of the Rings)
744) Kokoro – Natsume Soseki (Just picked it up from this list because I’ve been lately pulled by strange force to Japanese authors)

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