Back to the Classics challenge 2015 – wrapping up!

So about a year ago, I declared my intentions to join three reading challenges.

And failed miserably at two of them!

Surprisingly, I managed to meet my goal for the Back to the Classics challenge, which was to finish six categories. I read 9 books, although I only blogged about 8 of them. So yay! That is indeed one successful challenge! I am so bad at this…. I think I mostly join challenges just to make reading lists… and then forget them a few months down the road.


A Forgotten Classic: Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood

A Classic in Translation: The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai by Han Bangqing

A Classic Novella: Four Girls and a Compact by Annie Hamilton Donnell

A Classic with a name in its title: Mildred Pierce

A Classic Children’s Book: Mary Poppins

A 20th Century ClassicThe Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

A Nonfiction Classic: To Sir with Love by E.R. Braithwaite

A Classic Play: The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie

A 19th Century Classic: Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (didn’t blog about this, but really liked it, as I tend to like most books by Gaskell).

I am tempted to join in next year’s challenge as I know I always need a push to read more classics! How about you? What reading challenges have caught your eye?

Books in Translation Reading Challenge

2015 Translation

Books in Translation Challenge

I’m going for:

Conversationalist: 4-6 books




1Q84 – Haruki Murakami (translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel

Last Winter We Parted – Fuminori Nakamura (translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell)

Malice – Keigo Higashino (translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith)

The Road to Redemption – Su Tong, (translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt)

The Seventh Day – Yu Hua (translated from the Chinese by Allan H. Barr)

The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai – Bangqing Han (first translated from the Chinese by Eileen Chang, revised and edited by Eva Hung)

Post Office Girl – Stefan Zweig (translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg)

On a Day Like This – Peter Stamm (translated from the German by Michael Hofmann)

Who Ate Up All the Shinga?: An Autobiographical Novel – Yu Young-nan (translated from the Korean by Stephen Epstein and Wan-suh Park)

Story of a new name – Elena Ferrante (translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein)

(and more to come!)

What are some of your recent translated reads?


Once Upon a Time VIII

It’s Spring apparently.

Here in Northern California, it’s been Spring-like for quite a while now. Sometimes even summer-ish, with people in T-shirts, shorts and slippers (sorry if you’re reading this while huddled under a thick winter jacket and three layers of socks). But some of the trees in my neighborhood are in that lovely stage where there are some hesitant showings of first leaves. Other trees have already hurriedly shown off their flowers with a flourish and petals are everywhere. And it’s fava bean season again! I can’t wait to get to the farmers’ market on Sunday (it’s conveniently located at the local mall’s parking lot, just 5 minutes away, and the kettle corn always tempts).

(Although today as I post this – having written this yesterday when the sun was shining – it is raining and gloomy)

Vegetation aside, spring is time for Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge (here’s the Review Site). And I’ll be embarking on….

questthefirstRead at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres. 

Perhaps the most fun bit about a reading challenge is making the list. And so here is mine. Too long as always. But lots of fun went into its making!


Plenty of new-to-me authors here – Pamela Dean, Malinda Lo, Joan D Vinge, Steven Brust, Lucy Wood, Gail Carson Levine, Dubravka Ugresic

The Huntress – Malinda Lo
Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary – Pamela Dean
Kissing the witch – Emma Donoghue
My mother she killed me, my father he ate me: forty new fairy tales – edited by Kate Bernheimer
The snow queen – Joan D Vinge
The sun, the moon and the stars – Steven Brust
Tam Lin – Pamela Dean
Winter Rose – Patricia A McKillip
Mr Fox – Helen Oyeyemi
Diving Belles – Lucy Wood
Cart and Cwidder – Diana Wynne Jones
The fairy godmother – Mercedes Lackey
Ella enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
Boy, Snow, Bird – Helen Oyeyemi
Baba Yaga laid an egg – Dubravka Ugresic


Are you joining this challenge? Have you read any of these books? Which would you recommend? I know everyone’s reading Boy, Snow, Bird so I’m second in the hold queue at the library where its status is still ‘on order’.

Global Women of Color 2013

After coming across the link on Eva’s blog,  I ran down my own TBR list checking out what books might fit this interesting challenge. And the answer, sadly, was not that many. At least not those I added in recent months. And while I read more books by women than men last year, many of these women were of European descent. To be specific, out of the 114 books written by women that I read in 2012, only 23 were by women of colour. So I’m excited to join the Global Women of Color challenge, which Marilyn is hosting.
Global Women of Color
Here’s what the challenge says:

Subscribe or follow this challenge or blog.
Choose your level of commitment:

Structured: Read ten books by Global Women of Color, six of them from six different continents or regions.

Free Form: Read as many or as few books by Global Women of Color as you choose.

Blog: Simply follow and comment.

Leave a comment on the SIGNUP PAGE saying you are signing up. If you have decided on books to read, you may include them.

Women of color are descended from indigenous, non-European peoples everywhere.  No test of proportion of “native blood” or genealogy.

I’ll be joining at the ‘Free Form’ level, and hope to read more than ten books.


1. Three Strong Women – Marie NDiaye

2. Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale – Belle Yang

3. The Song of Everlasting Sorrow – Wang Anyi

4. Malinche – Laura Esquivel

5. Red Scarf Girl – Jiang Ji-li

6. Sky Burial: An epic love story of Tibet – Xinran

7. Zeina – Nawal El Saadawi

8. Empress – Shan Sa

9. A spy in the house (The Agency #1) – YS Lee

10. Real World – Natsuo Kirino

11. Revenge – Yoko Ogawa

12. Funny in Farsi – Firoozeh Dumas

13. Late for Tea at the Deer Palace – Tamara Chalabi

14. Maya’s Notebook – Isabel Allende

15. The Red Chamber – Pauline A Chen

16. A Different Sky – Meira Chand

My pool:


The Lies That Build A Marriage: Stories of the Unsung, Unsaid and Uncelebrated in Singapore – Suchen Christine Lim (Singapore)


Bombay Time – Thrity N. Umrigar (India – US)


The Pleasure Seekers – Tishani Doshi (India)


Forgotten Country – Catherine Chung (Korea – US)


Inheritance – Lan Samantha Chang (China – US)


Evening is the whole day – Preeta Samarasan (Malaysia)


The song of everlasting sorrow : a novel of Shanghai – Wang Anyi (China)


Grotesque – Natsuo Kirino (Japan)


Zeina – Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt)


Mornings in Jenin – Susan Abulhawa (Palestine – US)


The sand fish : a novel from Dubai – Maha Gargash (Dubai)


Nervous conditions : a novel – Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)


So Long a Letter – Mariama Ba (Senegal)


Mr Fox – Helen Oyeyemi (Nigeria – UK)


Three Strong Women – Marie NDiaye (Senegal – France)


Silver Sparrow – Tayari Jones (African-American)


Lima Nights – Marie Arana (Peru – US)
Malinche – Laura Esquivel (Mexico)

What’s in a Name 6 challenge

Beth Fish Reads is hosting this fun challenge and it’s my first time joining! Here’s the link to the sign-up page.

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories (my ideas in blue):

    1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Hand Me Down World (Lloyd Jones), Under Heaven(Guy Gavriel Kay)



    1. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title: The Price of Salt (Patricia Highsmith), The Cookbook Collector (Allegra Goodman)



    1. A book with a party or celebration in the title: The Shooting Party (Isabel Colgate), Larry’s Party (Carol Shields)



    1. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Enna Burning (Shannon Hale), The Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe), The Moon and the Bonfire (Cesare Pavese)



    1. A book with an emotion in the title: The Pleasure Seekers (Tishani Doshi), Comfort and Joy (India Knight). Read: The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg



    1. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: Lost Souls (Poppy Z Brite), What was Lost (Catherine O’Flynn)



Gosh that was fun! I’m tempted to go look up the previous challenges just to make more lists!

I’m sure I’ll be coming across other books with titles to fit these categories. And I’m looking forward to spotting them.

Which challenges do you have your eye on for 2013?