From Explorer to Master: up-levelling at the non-fiction reading challenge

Oh look!  I’ve completed ten books for the non-fiction challenge.  That fulfils the requirement for the “Explorer” level, which is what I signed up for.  As we’re not even half-way through the year yet, I’m going to move myself up two levels, to “Master” level, for which I need to read 16-20 non-fiction books altogether.

I’m enjoying this challenge!

I’m heading over to The Introverted Reader (host site) now, to mention my upgrade.

From CD to DVD: up-levelling at the ebook reading challenge

When I signed up for the ebook reading challenge, I had no idea how many ebooks I would read in 2014, so I played safe and chose ten (CD level).  Well it’s only the end of February and I’ve already completed nine, so I’m declaring my intention of going for the next level up, which is 25 ebooks (DVD level).

Who knows, I may eventually even go higher?

I’m going over to WorkadayReads (the host blog) now, to mention it there.

2014 Africa Reading Challenge


It’s totally reckless of me to join another challenge – but here goes.  I can’t get this one out of my mind.

The Africa Reading Challenge is hosted by Kinna at KinnaReads; signup post is here.

The goal is to read five (or more) books “which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues”.  At least three books must be written by African writers.

I’ve just started reading The Granta Book of the African Short Story, so that will be one of my books.

Unread on my shelf at the moment are Acts of Faith, by Philip Caputo (set in Sudan, by an American author) and The Water House, by Antonio Olinto (set in Nigeria, by a Brazilian author).  I aim to include either or both of these.

For the others, I’m thinking of A Question of Power, by Bessie Head (South Africa); Sardines, by Nurudin Farah (Somalia); Ancestor Stones, by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone); and On Black Sisters Street, by Chika Unigwe (Nigeria).  But it may be others!

Non-Fiction Reading Challenge 2014


The Non-Fiction Reading Challenge is pretty simple: it’s about reading non-fiction.  Excellent.  More details can be found here, at the sign-up post on the blog of the host, Introverted Reader.

I read all kinds of non-fiction, and I’ve already got some titles in my plan for this year, so I’m signing up for Explorer level, i.e. 6-10 non-fiction books, and may go up a level later if things go well.  Bring ’em on!

Deal Me In: Short Story Reading Challenge 2014

Deal Me In

This challenge, hosted by Jay (Bibliophilopolis), looks really interesting.  It involves reading 52 short stories, one per week, over the course of the year, choosing each week’s story by drawing a card at random from a deck of playing cards, and reading the story that has been assigned in advance to that card!  Full details at the sign-up post, here.

I’ve already got one book of short stories on my TBR list for 2014: The Granta Book of the African Short Story.  And I’d like to read it – and any other short stories – in a thoughtful way, not just rushing from one story to the next.  Focusing on just one a week sounds like a good way of doing that.  So I’ve chosen more stories to make 52 altogether, and I’m in!

29 of these stories (marked * below) are from The Granta Book of the African Short Story, ten (marked %) are from Flavorwire’s “10 Wonderful Short Stories to Read For Free Online”, two (marked %2) are from the same website’s “10 (More) Wonderful Short Stories to Read for Free Online“, and eleven (marked <>) have been chosen at random from online listings of classic short stories.

Here is my list:


2H: A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor %
3H: The School, Donald Barthelme %
4H: In the Penal Colony, Franz Kafka %
5H: Signs and Symbols, Vladimir Nabokov %
6H: Gooseberries, Anton Chekhov %
7H: Sea Oak, George Saunders %
8H: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, Ursula K. LeGuin %
9H: The Veldt, Ray Bradbury %
10H: The Bear Came Over the Mountain, Alice Munro %
JH: The Nose, Nikolai Gogol %
QH: Desirée’s Baby, Kate Chopin <>
KH: The Mouse, Saki <>
AH: The Sniper, Liam O’Flaherty <>


2S: Eva is Inside Her Cat, Gabriel Garcia Marquez <>
3S: The Stranger, Katherine Mansfield <>
4S: A Haunted House, Virginia Woolf <>
5S: Araby, James Joyce <>
6S: The Library of Babel, Jorge Luis Borges %2
7S: The Half-Skinned Steer, E. Annie Proulx %2
8S: The Coming Out of Maggie, O Henry <>
9S: The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Ernest Hemmingway <>
10S: A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas <>
JS: Death Makes a Comeback, James O’Keefe <>
QS: The Arrangers of Marriage, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *
KS:Faeries of the Nile, Mansoura Ez-Eldin *
AS: Stickfighting Days, Olufemi Terry *


2D: Dancing to the Jazz Goblin and His Rhythm, Brian Chikwava *
3D: Promenade, Henrietta Rose-Innes *
4D: An Ex-mas Feast, Uwem Akpan *
5D: Ships in High Transit, Binyavanga Wainina *
6D: The Moustached Man, Patrice Nganang *
7D: A Good Soldier, Maaza Mengiste *
8D: Préférence Nationale, Fatou Diome *
9D: Homecoming, Laila Lalami *
10D: Street of the House of Wonders, Rachida el-Charni *
JD: Bumsters, E. C. Osondu *
QD: Passion, Doreen Baingana *
KD: The Fugitive, Alain Mabanckou *
AD: Haywards Heath, Aminatta Forna *


2C: Missing Out, Leila Aboulela *
3C: Why Don’t You Carve Other Animals, Yvonne Vera *
4C: The Centre of the World, George Makana Clark *
5C: Propaganda by Monuments, Ivan Vladislavic *
6C: Mme Zita Mendes, a Last Image, Alaa al Aswany *
7C: An Unexpected Death, Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa *
8C: The Homecoming, Mily Jafta *
9C: Oxford, Black Oxford, Dambuzdo Marechera *
10C: You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, Zoe Wicomb *
JC: Cages, Abdulrazak Gurna *
QC: The Last Bordello, Manuel Rui *
KC: The Eyes of the Statue, Camera Laye *
AC: Slipper Satin, Alex La Guma *

Back to the Classics 2014 Challenge


Okay, I can’t resist it.

This challenge is hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate; the sign-up post is here.

“Classics” here means books more than 50 years old, i.e. published no later than 1964.

There are six required categories, four optional categories, and an extra fun challenge.  Participants are encouraged to list their proposed books in advance, so here are mine:


  1. A 20th Century Classic – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Anita Loos (1925).  Just so that the list won’t be too heavy! 
  2. A 19th Century Classic – Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1899).  I made two attempts at this on my Kindle earlier this year, and gave up pretty quickly.  Perhaps I’ll go for the audio version this time.
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author – Castle Rackrent, Maria Edgeworth (1800).
  4. A Classic in Translation  – Eugene Onedin, Alexander Pushkin (1825).  (I know there’s a readalong happening somewhere soon, but I don’t expect to participate – I won’t get to this until later in the year).  [Alternative: Peig, Peig Sayers (1931), an Irish-language classic from my schooldays.]
  5. A Wartime Classic  – China Sky, Pearl S. Buck (1941).  [Alternative: Rags of Glory, Stuart Boete (1963)]
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You – The Wild Irish Girl, Lady Sydney Morgan (1806).  Not only is she completely new to me, I’ve just learned that this book was written in response to Castle Rackrent, my #3 above, which is a neat link-up
Optional Categories:
  1. An American Classic – Little Women, Louisa M. Alcott (1868)
  2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller – Something from the Maigret series, Georges Simenon
  3. A Historical Fiction Classic – one of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, possibly Regency Buck
  4. A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series – Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (1936)
  5. Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4 – not sure if I’ll do this, but we’ll see!

2014 Ebook Reading Challenge


I’m not joining any more challenges – but I’ve got  to join this ebook one.  My Kindle is filling up, and I’ll neglect too many of those (mostly) freebies if I don’t have a challenge towards which they can count…

The challenge is hosted  by Sarah at Workaday Reads, and the signup post is here.

I’m playing safe for the moment and signing up for the second level, “CD”, which means reading 10 ebooks.  It’s a bit of a jump up to the next level, at 25 books… but I may move up to that level as the year progresses.

And that is really it for 2014 challenges.