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Wrapping Up and Joining Challenges

February 20, 2010

This is mainly a house-keeping post. :) I like to try to stay semi-organised with my challenge stuff! If you’re curious about the two new challenges I’m joining feel free to jump to the Chunkster Challenge or the Clover, Bee, and Reverie Poetry Challenge.

Japanese Lit Challenge III Wrap-Up
For the third round, Bellezza only asked participants to read one book by a Japanese author. I very much enjoy Japanese lit, though, so I ended up reading three Japanese authors and a ‘bonus’ book by an American about her year living in Kyoto (the Japanese city that I most want to visit).

Books read (linked to my reviews):
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
A Pale View of the Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
Translucent Tree by Nobuko Takagi
A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson

The best book: That’s tough for me! I really enjoyed all of them except The Housekeeper and the Professor. I feel like both Ishiguro and Takagi expect a lot from their readers, which I love. And Williamson’s sketchbook/travelogue was just wonderful.
Any new authors? Yep! Nobuko Takagi and Yoko Ogawa
Books I did not finish: I didn’t get to Beyond the Blossoming Fields, despite winning a copy (actually, that might be the reason; I have a bad habit and reading library books instead of my own TBR).
What did I learn from this challenge? I already knew that I enjoyed Japanese lit, but I’m excited that I tried out a couple more Japanese female authors (I think before that, I had read significantly more Japanese men than women). The Takagi in particular took me by surprise; she’s described as a popular Japanese romance author, but Translucent Tree was nothing like what I’d expect from the ‘romance’ genre.

And since I completed one, I’m signing up for two more!

2010 Chunkster Challenge
This is my fourth year participating in the Chunkster Challenge! That seems kind of crazy. :) Last year, I signed up for the Mor-book-ly Obese level and decided to read 3 books that were at least 1,000 pages each. I’d like to do the same this year, and I’ll definitely be reading Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer (1,184 pages in trade paperback) and The Terror by Dan Simmons (955 pages in the mass market paperback edition that I own). I considered leaving The Terror off this list, but it seemed childish to focus on a mere 45 pages. I’m not sure what I’ll do about the third book…I’m contemplating a reread of Middlemarch (which is usually 800-900 pages, but the Bantam Classics edition tops out over 1,000, lol) or War and Peace (which is 1,296 pages in my hardcover edition). Or maybe I’ll be brave of give Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty another try (I only get two pages into it the first time, lol). Or maybe I’ll come across some entirely random huge book and go for that instead! :) Technically, to complete the Mor-book-ly Obese level, I just need to read three books over 750 pages, so I’ve got a bit of wiggle room.

Clover, Bee, and Reverie: a Poetry Challenge
I’ve been meaning to sign up for this one ever since it was announced! Poetry scares me, so this is will be a real challenge for me, but I’m hoping I can get into a habit of reading poetry and then be happy. ;) With that in mind, I’m signing up for the Sonnet level, which is the highest. I’ll be reading 14 books of poetry before the end of the year and completing two ‘badges’ and one ‘expert’ badge (two books on a ‘theme’=badge, four books on a ‘theme’=expert badge). I haven’t decided what my badges should be yet; I figure, if I read a book of poetry I really love, I’ll just go for another one in that theme. I’m guessing I’ll end up w/ translated poetry as one of my badges though! ;)

Since I’m new to this, I’ve put together a list of poets whose poems I’ve loved in the past, but I also plan on trying out a few anthologies. For the latter, I have my eye on Essential Pleasures ed. Robert Pinsky, Ten Poems to Change Your Life ed. Roger Housden, The Poetry of Our World ed. Ed J. Paine, and 100 Great Poems by Women by Carolyn Kizzer.

As for the poets I’d love to read more of, here they are (if there’s a particular book I have in mind, that’s noted in parantheses):
Pablo Neruda, Carolyn Forche, ee cummings, Langston Hughes, William Carlos William, Christina Rosetti, Muriel Rukeyser, Charles Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver (Why I Wake Early), Anne Sexton (Transformations), and Rainer Marier Rilke (the sonnets to orpheus).

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2010 1:49 pm

    I have been meaning to sign up for the poetry challenge too. I just haven’t gotten my challenge post together yet. I used to love reading poetry but haven’t read any in quite a while.
    I would like to recommend Life Sentences by Nina Cassian to you. It is translated from the Romanian. I fell in love with this in high school. I have revisited this book several times during my life and still love it.

    • February 26, 2010 4:11 pm

      I know-it took me forever to get my poetry list together! Thanks so much for the rec; I hope my library has it. :)

  2. Mome Rath permalink
    February 20, 2010 2:34 pm

    I generally read one or two books of poetry a year, and really enjoy Neruda, cummings, and Dickinson. I’ve heard others speak of Rilke, so I may try reading some of his works in the future. As a Russophile, have you read much by Pushkin or Lermontov?

    • February 26, 2010 4:12 pm

      I am NOT a fan of Lermontov. But I do love Puskin, Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Blok, Yevtushenko, and so many more. :) I guess on my list, I was going for works I’d read in English…so maybe that’s why I didn’t include any of the Russians?

  3. fleurfisher permalink
    February 20, 2010 3:02 pm

    I’ve just gone into a reverie at the mention of Ladies of the Club – I read it years ago and fell in love.

    • February 26, 2010 4:13 pm

      That makes me more excited to read it!

  4. February 20, 2010 3:04 pm

    Yay Clover Bee! :D

    • February 26, 2010 4:13 pm

      lol! You made the prettiest buttons ever!

  5. February 20, 2010 3:31 pm

    I joined both the chunkster and the poetry challenges. I’m not brave enough to read a 1000-page book yet though War and Peace is on my TBR list for this year.

    • February 26, 2010 4:14 pm

      I love 1,000+’ers, because the author has space to create such a huge, varied world. It’s like a mural instead of just one painting. But I know they’re not for everyone!

  6. February 20, 2010 4:17 pm

    You totally rock at challenges, so I know the new ones will be no problem for you. Congratulations on completing the Japanese Lit challenge!

  7. mtqt permalink
    February 20, 2010 4:22 pm

    I loved Lonesome Dove but it was really hard to get in to for me. I thought the beginning dragged but once I hit the 100 page mark I couldn’t stop reading it. I definitely recommend it. You just have to get through some slow reading at first.

    • February 26, 2010 4:14 pm

      Ok-I’ll try to keep that in mind! It still makes me nervous though.

  8. February 20, 2010 5:47 pm

    I considered a lot to join the Chunkster challenge. That’s probably the only way I’ll get to those 1000 page tomes. But well, I gave it a pass this time around, maybe I’ll join next year. Good luck with your challenges! Have fun! :)

    • February 26, 2010 4:14 pm

      Big books are fun! :) You should join in next year.

  9. February 20, 2010 8:39 pm

    I signed up for the poetry challenge too! Fun! Love your list.

    • February 26, 2010 4:15 pm

      I can’t wait to see your posts on your favourite poetry!

  10. bethfishreads permalink
    February 21, 2010 7:21 am

    Oh gosh — I loved, loved, loved Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer. I couldn’t put it down so wonderful and perfect for Women Unbound too. You just mentioned the title and now I want to reread it! I know I read it a thousand years ago, because my dad’s mom was still alive and she’s the one who gave me the book to read.

    Lonesome Dove is one my favorite books — so I vote for that too!!!

  11. February 21, 2010 10:52 am

    Wow! I remember reading a 1000+ book back in the day…Gone with the Wind!

    I think there were some others, too, but that one I reread a couple of times.

    Wally Lamb writes hefty books, but I can’t recall the page numbers right now.

    • February 26, 2010 4:15 pm

      I was obsessed with GWTW in middle school. :D

  12. February 21, 2010 12:52 pm

    Ohhh I love Rilke, I’m very tempted to sign up for the poetry and world religion challenge which you mentioned in your Sunday Salon post, I should know more about both areas but both areas are ones which scare me a bit :)

    • February 26, 2010 4:17 pm

      I’ve always loved reading about religion, but I’m with you on the intimidation factor of poetry! :)

  13. February 21, 2010 7:28 pm

    If you’re looking for anthologies for the poetry challenge, here are a few recent ones you might find interesting:

    “New Caribbean Poetry: An Anthology” edited by Kei Miller, Carcanet, 2007

    “Paper Dance: 55 Latino Poets” edited by Victor Hernandez Cruz, Leroy V. Quintana, and Virgil Suarez, Persea Books, 1995

    *”Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology” edited by Charles Harper Webb, University of Iowa Press, 2002

    “Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets” edited by Sina Queyras, Persea Books, 2005

    **”Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century” edited by James Byrne & Clare Pollard, Bloodaxe Books, 2009

    *U. S. poets
    **British poets

    If you’re interested in Neruda, you might want to look at an anthology such as “Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda,” edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell, Harper Perennial, 1997. This particular anthology focuses on what Mitchell considers his personal favorite among Neruda’s works, those written between about 1950 and the mid-1960s; those are also my favorite of Neruda’s works, particularly what I think is his best work (after the 400-page epic “Canto General”), the Elemental Odes and the pieces in “Extravagaria” and “Fully Empowered.” Another volume to look at might be one of the last books Neruda completed before his death (there were in fact 8 completed but unpublished volumes at the time of his death): “Winter Garden” translated by William O’Daly, Copper Canyon Press, 1986.

    A couple of contemporary poets you might find interesting:

    Margaret Gibson, particularly “One Body,” Louisiana State University Press, 2007
    Barbara Hamby, “The Alphabet of Desire,” New York University Press, 1999 (recently reprinted by Orchises Press)
    Elizabeth Bachinsky, “Home of Sudden Service,” Nightwood Editions, 2006

    • February 26, 2010 4:17 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write out all of these suggestions Hedgie! I’ll definitely be referring to them. :)

  14. February 22, 2010 12:40 pm

    Ooo thanks for your poetry list, will help me get ideas of where to go. I have so much poetry I want to read, but I have a hard time making it a priority!

    Wow on the Chunksters. I didn’t know War and Peace was so long. I wanted to read it this year (before my 30th birthday). Now I’m intimidated!

    • February 26, 2010 4:18 pm

      Honestly, War & Peace doesn’t *read* like a crazy long book. I absolutely loved it, and I was sad to see it end. So don’t be intimidated!

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