June 2012 – Monthly Wrap Up post

So with June gone, we’re halfway through the year and it’s time to do not only a monthly wrap-up post but take a look at the first 6 months and see how far I’ve come in my goals for the year. In total, I’ve read 26 books which is one every week and exactly half of my goal of 52 books – so right on target with that one. Of the 25 books I’ve decided to read this list, I’ve read 12 which is pretty much on target too. So I just need to basically repeat this in the second half of the year.

I also want to talk about Armchair BEA, an online book blogger award that took place early June. For four days, bloggers socialized, talked about books and visited each others blog and discussed the many facets of book blogging. I met some fascinating new people, found great new blogs and had a great time. Although I haven’t changed anything on the blog after BEA, I certainly got a lot to think about as well as some new inspiration – and got more certain about some of the things I do. Maybe I will add some new features or change things up a bit at a later point, for now I’m pretty much satisfied with things as they are. I highly recommend anyone to join Armchair BEA if it is held again next year.

I’ve read 1794 pages this month which is a bit of an improvement on the last couple of months but still not quite where I want it to be. I made it through 4 books which is okay but again, I really would like to read 2000+ pages and at least 5 books.

  1. Haruki Murakami: Underground. Murakami’s take on the 1995 terror attack in the Tokyo subway. Interviews with victims and with members of the cult who did it. All together, they give an interesting view into terrorist attacks in general and the Japanese psyche in specific. 4 stars.
  2. Mark Helprin: Winter’s Tale. The fourth book added to my favorites shelf this year! (The other three were We Need to Talk about Kevin, Drood and The Woman in White.) Such an amazing book – Peter Lake, Beverly Penn, Athansor and all the other fantastic characters that you can’t help fall in love with. Bigger than life characters, beautiful language, great story – all set in a mythical New York. It’s a great, great book. 5 stars.
  3. Daniel Defoe: Moll Flanders. I’m sorry to admit that these novels about ‘fallen women’ from the 18th century isn’t really working for me. Still, it’s an interesting read this story of Moll Flander’s life, several marriages and children, criminal career and prison time. 3 stars.
  4. Salman Rushdie: Shalimar the Clown. Amazing story about Shalimar, his wife Boonyi, Max Ophuls the American ambassador to India, and Max and Boonyi’s daughter India … It’s also about Kashmir, the relationship between muslims and hindus – and it’s such a great read! 4 stars.
Even though I feel like I worked hard with Clarissa this month, I haven’t finished the June letters yet. I have read more than half of them though, and at the moment, I’m enjoying them very much. Expect my Clarissa read-along post in a few days.

I finished the Haruki Murakami challenge – since I had only signed up to read one book by Murakami this year, this challenge was finished the moment I closed Underground. I do hope that I will have time to read more Murakami this year, time to read some of his fiction. All in all, I’m feeling on target with all my challenges.

So in July, I’m going to spend time watching Tour de France and reading about it, as I’ve already mentioned. I think I can read through the three books rather quickly and after that, I’m not quite sure what I want to continue with but I probably need to focus a bit on books for my challenge, maybe the two last volumes in the Earth Children’s series by Jean M. Auel, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley or The Message to the Planet by Iris Murdoch. I hope to get a lot of reading done in June to stay on track!

Related posts:

To network or not to network – Armchair BEA day 3

So day 3 of Armchair BEA has arrived. I have to say I’m really enjoying BEA. I’m exploring blogs, participating in twitter parties, chatting with other bloggers, getting inspiration for books I absolutely need to read and more. I’ve already added several blogs to my Google Reader, blogs that I’m really eager to explore. Everyone is friendly and eager to participate, eager to talk about what we all love: Books. This way of networking online is definitely a hit!

So BEA today is all about networking. We’re supposed to talk about how we use our blog to get involved in our community and share positive experiences about interacting with our local literary community.

For me, however, there’s a big but. I write a blog in English but I live in Denmark so English is my second language. This means that most people read books in Danish. A lot of books are translated to Danish – but, of course, even more books are not translated. I read many books that are not available in Danish so I started my blog to talk with other people who read the same books as I do. This means that the literary community here are not interested in the same books as I am so a lot of the events hold no interest for me.

That being said, there have been events that I wanted to participate in but couldn’t for one reason or another. Sometimes, because I didn’t have the opportunity with two small children, other times, sad to say, because I couldn’t be bothered to get my butt moving. There are some nice events happening in my local area from time to time and also, in the country as a whole. I’m still sad I missed seeing John Irving – but it would have meant a more than two hour train ride each way and I simply didn’t have the time (or money) to do that. Still, I want to make an effort to try to get out more and do bookish stuff with real people – and not just the lovely internet people!

I want to talk a bit about online networking too. I don’t really do much to promote the blog. I post on twitter when I post something new. I visit other blogs and comment when I feel I have something to say. I participate in challenges. I have to say one of my favorite online events are the year long read-along of Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. Joann from Lakeside Musing and Terri B. from Tip of the Iceberg have done a great job hosting this and since we’re all struggling with this novel, we’re kind of having a small community thing going on, all working together against our common enemy. So I’m really enjoying this even though the book isn’t always thrilling and exciting…!

Anyway, my favorite thing about book blogging is getting to share and discuss what I read and what others read. Therefore, my main reason for networking is to make people stop by the blog and hopefully inspire them to share a comment so we can get a discussion going. And that’s what I love about Armchair BEA – every time I log on my blog these days, there’s so many new comments and I’m so thrilled about it. I hope this will continue after BEA with the new bloggers I’ve gotten to know in these days.

Related posts:

Best of 2012 – Armchair BEA day 2

So … if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I went nuts back in January, posting post after post about all the exciting new books coming out this year. I mentioned quite a few novels – but I must admit that I haven’t read any of these. I have bought a few of them though and plan on buying more.

That being said, there are of course more books I’m excited about. One of these is a new novel by Mark Helprin. I’m reading his novel Winter’s Tale at the moment and I love it. If the new is somewhat along the lines of Winter’s Tale, I’m going to love it. And it does sound like it so I’m hoping. Here’s the blurb:

Mark Helprin’s enchanting and sweeping new novel asks a simple question: can love and honor conquer all? New York in 1947 glows with post-war energy. Harry Copeland, an elite paratrooper who fought behind enemy lines in Europe, returns home to run the family business. In a single, magical encounter on the Staten Island ferry, the young singer and heiress Catherine Thomas Hale falls for him in an instant, too late to prevent her engagement to a much older man. Harry and Catherine pursue one another in a romance played out in postwar America’s Broadway theaters, Long Island mansions, the offices of financiers, and the haunts of gangsters. Catherine’s choice of Harry over her long-time fiancé endangers Harry’s livelihood and eventually threatens his life.Entrancing in its lyricism, In Sunlight and in Shadow so powerfully draws you into New York at the dawn of the modern age that, as in a vivid dream, you will not want to leave.

Another book I’m really excited about is John Irving’s new novel, In One Year. I’ve just bought it yesterday and since I love Irving and this is supposed to be Irving revisiting some of the themes from A Prayer for Owen Meany and The World According to Garp. Since Garp is my favorite novel and both are amazing novels, I’m really excited about this book. Blurb time:

In One Person is a novel that makes you proud to be human. It is a book that not only accepts but also loves our differences. From the beginning of his career, Irving has always cherished our peculiarities-in a fierce, not a saccharine, way. Now he has extended his sympathies-and ours-still further into areas that even the misfits eschew. Anthropologists say that the interstitial-whatever lies between two familiar opposites-is usually declared either taboo or sacred. John Irving in this magnificent novel-his best and most passionate since The World According to Garp-has sacralized what lies between polarizing genders and orientations. And have I mentioned it is also a gripping page-turner and a beautifully constructed work of art?

Finally, the third book I want to mention, is Ben Marcus’ The Flame Alphabet. I’ve written about this before and I have bought it – or rather, I have had my friend buy it for me, I just haven’t gotten it in my hands yet. It sounds totally amazing and I can’t wait to read it!

A startling epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition.

Related posts – new books 2012:

Related posts – Armchair BEA:

Better late than never – Armchair BEA 2012

So yes, Armchair BEA begins today – and … I’ve just signed up. Yes, I’ve read about it for a while and thought it sounded interesting and inspiring. So yes, I’ve signed up and I hope to participate a lot. Today, I don’t have time for much more than answering these 5 questions and checking out various blogs. Tomorrow is a holiday in Denmark so the kids are home – and my 3-year old daughter’s best friend/boyfriend and his family are coming to dinner so I don’t know how much time I will have. But I will try to participate tomorrow too – and then Wednesday and Thursday, I’m there! Anyways – these questions. 10 to choose from – 5 to answer.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

First the facts. My name is Christina, I live in Denmark with my boyfriend, our two daughters, Kayleigh the cairn terrier and Esmaralda the hamster. One wall in our living room is covered by a huge book case, symbolizing my love of books. I’ve always been a reader. I joined Goodreads back in 2007 because I missed having people to talk to about books. I mean, there are book clubs at my local library and so, but I mostly read fiction in English and that means I read a lot of books that are not available in the Danish language.

Anyways, that’s me. I’ve been blogging since January 2011, so almost 1,5 years now. I love having this personal place on the internet where I can share my love of books, hopefully discuss books, keep track of what I read and what I plan to read and much more. I blog because I love books, it’s as simple as that.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

Currently, I’m reading Mark Helprin’s huge novel Winter’s Tale. It’s an amazing book about a man, a girl and a horse. It’s magical, lyrical and beautiful. I’ve read a lot of great novels this year – both classics and contemporary novels – but the two that has made the biggest impact on me have been We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I have a master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Southern Denmark, Odense. I loved studying philosophy – it opened my eyes and mind for completely new ways of thinking. That said, if I could choose all over, I would study literature instead. I wrote my thesis ‘I collect, therefore I am’. The collection as an example of the human relation to the material reality on our relationships with things and objects – and I plan on writing a blog post soon, arguing that a library is not a collection. The summary of my thesis can be read here.

Where do you see your blog in five years?

Oh, I don’t know. I want to continue what I have going and elaborate on it, make it better and keep on evolving as both a blogger and a reader. Blogging forces me to think more about what I read – in a good way. I hope to continue this and evolve as the same time as I keep my love of reading.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

If I could, I would go to The Inn of the Last Home in Solace. It’s an inn in a huge vallenwood tree and I would just love to make my way up that staircase, plop down in a chair and get a taste of Otik’s famous spiced potatoes. I would look around me and cross my fingers that Tanis, Goldmoon, Riverwind, Cameron or any of the other companions would be there – and I would keep my possessions close by to avoid Tas or any other kender from borrowing them.

In every DragonLance novel I’ve read where the author mentioned Otik’s potatoes, I’ve been drooling! They sound so delicious! There is a recipe available – but I’ve never dared making them, afraid they will never live up to my imagination.


Ingredients: 1 pound potatoes, 3 tablespoons butter, 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped, 1-2 dashes of cayenne

How to Make: Scrub potatoes, and remove any eyes. Chop into 1/2-inch cubes with skins. Melt butter in frying pan (traditionally an iron skillet), and heat until sizzling. Add cayenne to butter, stir. Place potatoes in butter and fry until crisp; stir occasionally. Add onion and fry 1 more minute. Serve hot, salted to taste. Serves 2-4.

That’s it for me for today. I’m signing off, heading to bed, checking out a few blogs before it’s time to sleep. Looking forward to meeting all you other participants!