Tag Archive | Banana Yoshimoto

A to Z Reading Challenge 2011

Ok, so I’m a little late doing this, sorry, but better late than never eh!

In late 2010, I heard some people talking about reading novels from A to Z. I thought, what a brilliant idea, and decided to set myself a challenge of doing exactly that in 2011. As I was writing a blog about it, it occurred to me that other people may have the same idea. I googled A to Z Challenge and found this site – A to Z Challenge I didn’t have to start one all by myself!

I started with no plan at all, except to read the A to Z (author surname) in order, and stick pretty much to just those 26 books. In 2010 I’d read about 24 books, so knew I wasn’t going to be able to read many more than the 26.

Of course as time went by and I made my way through the challenge, I found there were other books I really wanted to read that either were a letter way further down the line, or that had a letter I’d already read, or already planned what I was going to read for it. I let myself read a couple of other novels – but only if I REALLY wanted to needed to.

I did cheat a little. Kinna. I didn’t actually finish 26 novels. There were 3 letters that for different reasons I didn’t finish the novel.

Letter L was Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee, I started it and was enjoying it, but it was all about sex, when this girl had it, where she had it and how much she thought about it. Nothing really wrong with that, but I do most of my reading on the tube, I felt embarrassed reading it on the tube, so picked up M, and told myself I’d read L at home. I never got round to it.

Letter O was a really good book – The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell. I got it from the library (a god send, I couldn’t have afforded 26 books in 1 year on top of the ‘really want ones’), and took it to Sweden when I went. I’m not sure if it was on the flight, at the hotel, or our friends’ house, but somewhere I lost it. Typical. I ended up having to pay it in the end anyway. I’d gone on to P while I was away, and just never got the opportunity to go back to it. At some point, I would like to buy it, or borrow it and finish reading it.

Letter Z was a hard one, which I started before a few other letters. I unexpectedly finished the novel I was reading on a Sunday and didn’t have a chance to go and get the next letter. Boyfriend came to the rescue and gave me a Z – Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. It was sci-fi which isn’t my choice, but I’d borrowed a couple off him in the years previously which I quite enjoyed. Lord of Light was not another one though. I just couldn’t get into, or really understand it. I gave it 50 or so pages, but couldn’t go on. When I gave it back to boyfriend, he said he’d had a hard job getting into it. Sigh.

So, I didn’t make 26 novels, but I started them all. In my book I finished it – yay!

Also, I didn’t review all, or add any of my review to the site, but to be honest, I didn’t find the website too easy to navigate, and lets face it, all I need is a little excuse and I won’t do something. I guess technically if I didn’t check-in, I didn’t really do it. In my mind I did though!

I’m really glad I did the challenge, I read a lot of authors that I’d never had done otherwise, and you know me, I love a challenge. But, I’d never do it again. I found it WAY too constrictive, and because I knew I couldn’t really read many other books, I felt guilty when reading one that wouldn’t go towards the challenge. There were times when I just HAD to read other books – like The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon and Faking It by Lotte Daley – and there were many, many more times when I wanted to read another book, but just couldn’t. There were also quite a few letters where I was so torn over which novel to read. M was a good example, I had about 3 books with the letter M on my TBR shelf at home. So what did I do? I went out and bought another. Typical! It was New Moon (Twilight) by Stephanie Meyer.

I discovered some brilliant authors because of the challenge though – Jeff Abbott, Allison Brennan, Ilana Fox Rob Ryan, Nancy Taylor Rosenburg and Minette Walters. Weird – most of the new good authors write thrillers… what does that tell me? I say I prefer women’s lit (chick-lit), but it’s a close call. I did discover new chick-lit authors, but when I discovered them, I read them out of sequence and out of the challenge because I just HAD to read them there and then (Ali McNamara and Lotte Daley)

I know all the books are listed on my ‘Books’ page, but here’s a list of them – from A to Z. Just for fun, I’m putting a comment and rating out of 5 after each one – not something I usually do. The ones which I have reviewed have the links to the actual review.

A Kiss Gone Bad by Jeff Abbott – brilliant. Can’t wait to read the other ones in the series – 4.5/5

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern – Prefered her earlier stuff, but still pretty good – 4/5 (I couldn’t choose between the As, so read them both)

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – Loved it, love his work – 5/5

Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan – So happy I discovered her. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series 4.5/5 (ditto the comment re A for B)

The Famous Writer’s School by Stephen Carter – Not what I imagined. 2.5/5

Ex-Girlfiends United by Matt Dunn – Little slow 2.5/5

Past Mortem by Ben Elton – Good, he’s done better, but still good – 4/5

Spotlight by Ilana Fox – Didn’t expect to, but loved it 4.5/5

The Love Verb by Jane Green – As usual loved it – 4.5/5

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes – Slow 2/5

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro – Couldn’t get over the cultural difference – 2/5

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell – Once got into it, really enjoyed – 4/5

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson – Loved every second – 4.5/5

Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee – what I read was good. I will finish it at some point 3/5

Twilight: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer – Not as great as Twilight, but still good. 4/5

One Day by David Nicholls – Took a long time to get into it. Had me crying like a baby at the end though. 3.5/5

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell* – I need to finish this – 3/5

Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks – as always a brilliant read from Ms Parks  4.5/5

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen – took ages to get into the story – 2.5/5

Trans Am by Rob Ryan – fast paced, gripping – 4.5/5

Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton – loved. Better than her first (and, you know –New York) – 4.5/5

Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenburg – Brilliant 4.5/5

Die for You by Lisa Unger – Not what I expected in a really good way. 4/5

The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine – slow, slightly boring. 2.5/5

The Sculptress by Minette Walters – Excellent – 4.5/5

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu – Really enjoyed it 4/5

Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto* – again, couldn’t get over the cultural differences 2/5

Lord of light by Roger Zelazny – just couldn’t get into it – sci-fi really isn’t my thing – 1/5

All in all, it was a good year, but I’m glad it’s over and I can read what I want to read, not what’s next on the list!

January Books Clubs

Last month, having gone from none, I got myself involved in two book clubs, and it seems I’ve done the same again this month.

A friend of mine, her sister and work colleague decided in November to start a book club, so December was month one. We read Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto, which unfortunately none of us enjoyed. I chose that book (I needed a Y for the A to Z Challenge), this time it was B’s turn to choose. Like me she gave the rest of us a choice, and we decided on The Tigers Wife by Tea Obreht. It sounds slightly depressing, but hey, I’ll give anything a go. I’ll read that after the next one, our next meeting isn’t until 25th, so loads of time!

The second book club is at NovelKicks, a website that my ROW80 buddy Laura runs. A year, or maybe 18 months ago, I tried to get involved in the NK book club, but at the time they were reading The Little Stranger by Sarah Walters. I got the book, I tried, but it just bored me. I promised myself I’d get involved the following month, but you know me, life got in the way.

Last month I saw Laura had chosen The Gift by Cecelia Ahern for the book. As it happened that was on my TBR pile, and I wanted to read it around Christmas. I joined in. Well, I commented that I’d started it, and I read the book. No more comments. How rubbish am I?!

I promised myself if I got involved again, I’d do better. This month the chosen book is When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman – a book that I’ve wanted to read since it came out last year (I’m not sure if it’s because it’s got a wicked title, or the actual story). Of course I’m joining in again. This time, I promise I’m going to join in with NK and comment! That’s the next book on my list. If you’re interested in joining, please do, everyone is welcome, Laura would love to see you HERE.

I’ve nearly finished Petit Anglaise. Yesterday I arranged to meet my other half in the library before we went shopping (gym clothes, not all that exciting). There were no computers free, so I sat in one of the chairs (that isn’t as comfy as it looks) and read for half an hour. It was great. I can’t wait until summer, so there’s a nice view of the water from the library (Canada Water water – the water the whole area was named after – small, but cute with swans and ducks and stuff!).

#ROW80 Check in – Wednesday 7th December

Ha ha, look at me. Two check ins for ROW80 in a row ON TIME! I am getting good!

You know what else is going good? My goals for this round/December. Really well. Since my last check -in on Sunday, I’ve hit all my goals every day. Ok, so that’s only 3 (including Sunday), but I’m still really proud of it. Yay, go me.

That means every day I’ve done my 3 writing goals (write 500 words, write another 500 words, write a blog), my 3 exercise goals (walk 2km, 20 minutes+ on the Wii and my knee exercises) and my 3 eating goals (5 portions fruit and veg, no chocolate and less than 1400 calories). On top of that, I’ve also completed my other goal of visiting 1 blog a day. I really want to get better at this one – 2 blogs a day isn’t too much to do at all.

To prove how happy with it I am, I’m going to post a little picture of my chart this week:

Isn’t it lovely! All those green dots!

The green dots are actually supposed to be stars. Someone hasn’t bought me stars though, so I’m having to do with dots. I’m not all that happy about it, but there are worse things that happen! The point of this is I’m completing them – not I’m getting marks on a chart. I lie. I’m loving getting the marks on the chart. I can say 100% that I would not be doing this well without the chart.

I read something somewhere about someone (helpful eh)* needing recognition for the things they do. I am so like that, if I do something well, I want to tell the whole world, and get praise for it too if I’m honest! Prizes are even better (if you’ve not been reading about this challenge, each dot on the chart is a point, and if I get a certain numner of points I get certain prizes – Wii games, boots, shopping sprees!), but it’s not really about the prizes (yeah, I hardly believe that either, but it’s true), I just love filling in the chart and doing well.

I probably would have accepted this challenge even without the prizes, but shhhhhhh, don’t tell the boyfriend…

I’m struggling with the book I’m reading (Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto). I don’t know if there’s something I don’t like in the translation, but I’m just finding it a little repetitive and slow, and so I’m not excited about reading it. This has happend for the last few books I’ve read, and it’s frustrating. Especially because I’d heard such good things about Banana’s novels. There are so many other books I want to read this month, that I know are going to be good, that I don’t want to carry on with something that’s hard. But at the same time, I’m not ready to put it down. Sigh. I want everything me don’t I!

*Just remembered it was Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project.

Book Groups Galore

Because November was NaNo month, for the whole month I think I pretty much missed out on writing about anything other than NaNo (quite frankly I’m surprised that I DID anything other than write for the month, but I did)! Now we’re into December I should probably start blogging about other things going on in my life.

Like my new book club.

Well, two book clubs really.

My dear ROW80 buddy Laura runs a site called NovelKicks which every month hosts a book club. I’ve joined in a couple of times when they were readings novels I really wanted to read, and December is another of those books! This month they’ve chosen The Gift by Cecelia Ahern.

Somehow this book coming out completely passed me by. I heard about it by accident one day (maybe on her website, I can’t remember) and knew I had to read it (seeing as it was Cecelia Ahern – I love her novels!). The problem was it looked like a Christmas book, which is fine, unless it’s summer. Which it was.

So I added it to my ‘wish list,’ which I promptly forgot, until the following summer, which was this summer. I was at a friend’s house when I found her book shelf. Hmmmm. Book shelf + me = more books on MY bookshelf. She told me to help myself to anything. I was SO good, I only took 3. One of which was… you guessed it The Gift. Like a good girl, I put it on my shelf, to read in December.

Of course I forgot. Until Laura asked on Facebook the other day what people’s favourite Christmas book is. I don’t have one, but I mentioned this and that I wanted to read it. She was thinking the same (great minds think alike eh!). So now it’s their book club December book. And when I’ve finished my current book, I’m going to jump in. I cannot wait. If you’d like to join in, anyone’s welcome, go here.

What’s the book I’m reading at the moment you ask? Well, it’s the one for my other book club.

Mid way through November, I went for a cheeky drink or two with a friend and her work colleagues and sister. Four of us were talking about how cool it would be to be part of a book club (I think it came from them all wanting to read my novel when I finish it), but in a really relaxed atmosphere (yeah, pub). We decided to start our own mini book club.

1 book per month. One pub meet up per month. No looking for hidden meanings – just if we enjoyed it or not.

We then had to decide on a book. I’m still finishing my A to Z Challenge so I suggested a novel who’s author’s surname begins with Y – the letter I had left to find. Everyone agreed, but decided I had to find the novel.

Hmmmm. Author whose surname begins with Y. Not that many. The library wasn’t that helpful, but Waterstones was. Especially when I found an author called Banana Yoshimoto. Now, I’m not saying I chose it for the name Banana, but it helped. Amrita the book we chose sounded good too.

So, currently reading Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto. Then The Gift by Cecelia Ahern. Then I have to read an X for the A – Z Challenge, then I think we’ll get to 2012, and the reading starts again, with new challenges too 😉