Progress report


Map showing the author’s country of birth for all books I have read so far in 2019. (Instructions for how I make these maps can be found here.)

August is at its end which I guess is a perfect time for me to look back at what I have read in 2019. So far I have read 81 books, by 35 women and 36 men (and ten by multiple authors). I have read books from 16 decades and by authors from 14 countries and I have read them in four different languages (which sounds really impressive unless I accidentally tell you that three of those languages are Scandinavian).

Some reading highligts

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson
  • Kolarhistorier (Charcoal burner’s tales) by Dan Andersson
  • Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag
  • Rereadings by Anne Fadiman (ed)
  • The Gentle Art of Tramping by Stephen Graham
  • My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Reading challenges in 2019

Reading classics

For the Classics club my ambition was to read and review 12 books from my list. So far I have only reviewed four, so I am falling a bit behind on this challenge but I have a few more in the pipe-line so I shouldn’t do too badly.

Read and reviewed in 2019

Read but not reviewed

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather

Currently reading

  • The Pillow Book
  • Fredmans epistlar
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Keep reading books by African, Asian and South American authors

I am not doing too well on this ambition. Africa and South America are once again blank spots on my reading map and although I am doing slightly better with Asia and the Middle East, most of my reading comes from UK, US or one of the Nordic countries. With only a few exceptions I am afraid that I have stayed quite firmly within my reading comfort zone this year. Hopefully the autumn will be calmer and leave me with more energy to be brave in my reading.

Best read in this category: Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag.

Book buying

My book buying ambition this year was to spend less on books than I did last year. I am doing well so far, I have only spend 72% of what I did the first eight months of 2018, so I am optimistic.

How is your 2019 reading going? Any recommendations on South American or African books? Recommendations on short, easy, but good, fiction from these continents are particularly welcome.













14 thoughts on “Progress report

  1. I loved this post. I also want to read more from Africa and in my case from Asia. I need the African recommendations too, so I will be looking forward to other comments. As for South America, I can recommend you any short books by Márquez, instead of his longer more well known ones, and also Juan Rulfo’s master piece, short book, El Llano en Llamas (it exists in English).
    I read Cry, The Beloved Country recently and loved it. Also A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa, by by Alexis Okeowo, was great.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! I did start Love in the time of cholera this summer and enjoyed the writing but got distracted and never got around to finish it (and it wasn’t my own copy so I don’t have it anymore). Trying some of Márquez shorter works sounds like great advice. I’ll look up the other titles too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When authors have short books and long ones, I usually love their longer ones best. With Márquez it’s difficult to decide, because he’s a master of the novella. Nobody Writes to the Coroner, Chronicles of an Announced Death (not sure about the correct translation of the titles), are faultless.
        Juan Rulfo’s book is published as ‘The Burning Plane and Other Stories’. It’s a good fall title, ghosts and death being the main themes.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sorry… last one. Among Spanish readers, better, among my Latin American friends, there’s an accepted opinion by many of them -that I also endorse-, that Juan Rulfo’s “The Burning Plane” captures the Mexican, and probably Central American spirit’s essence.
        After reading it, I went ahead to read reviews, and I also watched old black and white interviews with Juan Rulfo. Many try to go to Mexico and “visit” the iconic plane he wrote about, but it’s nowhere physically speaking.
        Maybe it’s the fact that I listened to it, narrated by a person with a Mexican accent, that it gave it an extra flair. But that’s not to discourage you from reading it yourself in English, or listening to it if audios are your things or some audios. And the bonus is that, should you not be blown away by it, it’s just a few pages! It’s short because Rulfo embodies that spirit of that more is said with less words, more is said with silence. If I ought to place two opposite writers. It’s like a drop of water that produces many reverberations in your mind. If you go for this underrated classic, not well known in the Anglo world, don’t force understanding. After all, in the universe of our memory, one doesn’t know what happened and what we imagine, what’s part of our individual experience, and what goes into our heads from the collective. Think of it as a ghostly tale of generations one traveler told you on a cold night by a fire.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I didn’t finish this… if I ought to place two opposite writers, Rulfo would be on one end, and Márquez long books on the other, of course. Rulfo is an exercise on constraint, Márquez is a show of excess and exuberance.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sounds good, I have added Rulfo to my wishlist, I love reading underrated classics. i have recently really started to appreciate short books, I am so much braver in my reading choices if the book in question is 200 pages or less.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Same here. Lately I’ve developed a love for well written short books. Like you, I’m not as scared to approach a short work and get a taste.
        Ishiguro’s A View of Pale Hills, is his first book, a short tale hard to place at any category. It has mystery but it’s not a mystery novel. It’s such a well executed short book. Though he grew up in England, this book, written when he was 26, if I remember well, it’s Asian at heart. It’s a story that happens in Japan, but it’s told from the beginning pages by a person who is currently in London. Given that it’s a UK book, it’s not just a UK book, ha ha ha.
        Still excited to see if we both get books from the African continent.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Last year I read two of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels, Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, both of them really good. Kamal Ben Hameda’s Under the Tripoli Sky was also good, although maybe less memorable (or at least I have forgotten more of it).


  2. ‘Of Love and Other Demons’ by Gabriel García Márquez is quite short ( though sadly the only one of his I’ve read so far—I know I ought to read more of his stuff, and ‘100 years’ is waiting on my shelves. I think 2020 should be the year I start to read more outside the US/Europe literature orbit…

    Liked by 1 person

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