Hello again, bookworms! Welcome back to those mad enough to read my blogs. Finished two books off on Friday night on the reading front, This Bleeding City by Alex Preston and Venus In Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. However, don’t get any ideas about kinky boots and stuff! Having recently bought myself a Sony eReader, I found it on a website for downloading free eBooks and, knowing the Velvet Underground song, was interested in reading the book on which that song was based. Still can’t find that bloody cd, though! Epic compact disc location fail there, unfortunately!
Anyway, on with the proposed book project which I intend to start in the New Year and will run for however damn long it takes to get through eighty different books of varying lengths. Around The World In 80 Books. It matters not whether they’re factual or fiction, I need eighty different international settings, so it could be a factual book about that country or fiction set in that country. But I need eighty books for a round-the-world reading adventure! The other thing is that, ideally, they’ll be books I have but have not got round to reading yet, so that it gets them off my notoriously long to-read list once I’ve read them, as well as being a world tour in book form. Hardback, paperback or eBook, it matters not. With this in mind, I’m currently looking at the huge collection of books I already own and getting down on a spreadsheet as many possibilities as I can, to see how many countries I can cover in existing books before I need to purchase further reading material. If I can get forty different countries with the books I already have, that’s half my world tour already accounted for and thus I’d only have to acquire books about or set in another 40 countries!
Looking at my spreadsheet printout, I seem to have listed books for at least 35 different countries thus far: Afghanistan, Australia, Bosnia, Botswana, Brazil, Burma, China, Congo, Crete, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Siberia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad, Ukraine and the USA. Ok, maybe Siberia is cheating a bit, or is it? Someone please let me know whether Siberia is part of Russia or is a separate entity. Thanks!
This dilemma also brings me on to the matter of the United Kingdom and I am getting the inclination to split the UK up, Commonwealth Games style, into its component countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, simply to get more countries out of it and thus more book possibilities. Also, I’ve got Buddha Da by Anne Donovan in mind for Scotland’s representative! The sod of it is that I’ve recently already read a book set in Wales, The Earth Hums In B Flat by Mari Strachan, so I’m going to have to find another Welsh entry, and I need a Northern Ireland entry. There’s plenty of choice for England, but I might decide that my home country also needs a book on matters local to me and read Shadowplayers: The Rise And Fall of Factory Records by James Nice – the setting being not only English but Mancunian as well!
On top of this book project, I will also have my Waterstone’s bookclub books to read, whichever ones those turn out to be (hoping one or two of them might have international settings and count towards Around The World In 80 Books), and I may well also be reading books to assist our family friend, Samuel, as he embarks on his A Levels at college and has chosen English Literature as one of his subjects! So, don’t be terribly surprised to find me reading First World War poetry and at least one helping of Shakespeare in the coming year or so!
Just before I love you and leave you for now, I have an update on this blog which I actually started yesterday, and it comes about because while making my way to Old Trafford by public transport yesterday afternoon, I popped into a local charity shop near the bus stop and acquired Me, Myself & Prague by Rachael Weiss for a mere 99p. Weiss is an Aussie but has Czech roots on her dad’s side, so this is her account of discovering the joys of the Czech Republic’s capital city and the Bohemian region her dad came from. It also gets the Czech Republic on the list of countries for my book challenge! Yes, I do already have a few books set in Prague and around what used to be Czechoslovakia at the time, but then I’ve already read those and, in the case of Too Loud A Solitude, I’ve actually read that one twice! I guess, at a push, if I hadn’t found a new book set in that country, I could’ve read Closely Observed Trains for a second time and been amused once again by the arse-stamping incident! (For all you who thought arse-stamping was invented by DCI Gene Hunt in Life On Mars, this practice can actually be traced back to railway stations in wartime Czechoslovakia! So now you know!)
This Bleeding City – Alex Preston
Venus In Furs – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Buddha Da – Anne Donovan
The Earth Hums In B Flat – Mari Strachan
Me, Myself & Prague – Rachael Weiss
Too Loud A Solitude – Bohumil Hrabal
Closely Observed Trains – Bohumil Hrabal