Challenges to blogging and to reading

First an apology for any readers who have experienced instabilities or squiffy formatting recently. I have been having some templating problems and because of lack of time to sort them out during the week, reverted temporarily to an old design. I spent some time yesterday (Friday) evening working through causes and effect, ending up with a new template and layout. I hope that things here have now settled down a bit, and any previous loading problems are solved. If not, please let me know in the comments

Another type of challenge is the reading "challenge" (I don't regard reading as a challenge so perhaps I can call it "exercise"). Having completed the crime-fiction alphabet exercise, initiated by Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise, I am turning my attention to two other similar ventures in which I am participating.

Scandinaviamap-1  First up, because I think I've finished it, is the Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2010 by Amy of The Black Sheep Dances blog. The challenge is to read six books from Scandinavian countries between the beginning of March of this year, and the end of the year. Here are mine (actually more than six, in case the definition of Scandinavia is the purist one of Sweden, Norway and Denmark only):

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (Norway)

The Last Fix by K. O. Dahl (Norway)

The Woman from Bratislava by Lief Davidsen (Denmark) (review submitted to Euro Crime)

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (Denmark)

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (Sweden)

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell (Sweden)

The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg (Sweden)

The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt (Sweden) (review drafted)

Snow Angels by James Thompson (Finland, though the author is American)

And, currently reading: My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland).

The other challenge is more of an actual challenge, it is Dorte's Global Reading Challenge . This is in four levels: easy (read one book from each continent), medium (two books, in total from 12 countries or states), expert (adds Antarctica) and extremist (three plus a wild card). The extremist category is Craig's fault because he's already completed the three previous levels.(But there don't seem to be links to his 
Globus_2achievements in the Global Challenge blog's country listings.)  Like Bernadette, I rather fancy being officially an extreme reader, but I think I am not doing so well on this particular challenge so far, owing to the presence of Antarctica and my current predilection for European translated crime fiction. (One is only allowed to count books read this year.)

So, how am I doing? 

South America – 1 (Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pinerio - Argentina).

North America – 3 (B-very Flat by Margot Kinberg – USA;  Where the Dead Lay by David Levien – USA; Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – Canadian author, set in USA). [And numerous others in USA]

Europe – 3 (Captured by Neil Cross – England; Death in Oslo by Anne Holt – Norway; The Reunion by Simone van der Vlugt – The Netherlands). [And numerous others throughout Europe.]

Australasia -3 (Truth by Peter Temple – Australia; Blood Sunset by Jarad Henry – Australia; A Certain Malice by Felicity Young – Australia). 

Asia – 2 (Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong – China; The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang – China). [3 if you count The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell!]

Africa – 3 (Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer – South Africa; Like Clockwork by Margie Orford – South Africa; Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer – South Africa).

So by my calculation, I have finished the Easy challenge. To complete the Medium challenge I need to read one novel from South America that isn't Argentinian, one from Australasia that isn't Australian, one from Asia that isn't Chinese and one from Africa that isn't South African. OK, I'll stop there, go for that, and then see what I have to do to meet the expert level (Antarctica looms).

Thanks very much to Dorte (Global Reading), Amy (Scandinavia) and Kerrie (Alphabet) for organising these amusing distractions. 

11 thoughts on “Challenges to blogging and to reading

  1. I don’t see why you should escape the ice and tedium of Antarctica Maxine🙂
    I like the new design by the way – the header is particularly soothing. I blamed my problems loading your blog on our antiquated IE6 that we use at work.

  2. Well done on completing the Scandinavian challenge Maxine. I’m impressed and a long day from doing that myself.
    You are doing well on the GLobal Reading Challenge too

  3. Very well done Maxine. I’m very much impressed too. Congratulations on the Scandinavian challange. I’m well behind since I have just finished my second book and during this year I’ve only read four books set in the Nordic Countries to be more precise. As far as the Global challange is concerned you are already officialy an extreme reader, there is no doubt about it. I just can’t follow your pace and I won’t even try it.

  4. Maxine – I, too, am very impressed! You expert and extreme readers leave me in awe and admiration. My hat is off to you! All that and the Scandanavian challenge too?! Wow. On another note, like Bernadette, I like the new layout of your blog quite a lot.

  5. I think your new template is simple and beautiful!
    As I had not foreseen all the pressure from the extremist participants, I have only read eight for the global challenge yet (and I am not sure I will join the extremists).
    The Scandinavian challenge should be a piece of cake, though. I have read 5 ½ already but am not going to count more than two Danish novels. I plan to read 2 Danish, two Norwegian and two Swedish so the only one I have to buy is the second Norwegian.

  6. I’m just getting started on the Scandinavian challenge so I’m impressed! I have four of my 6 picked out but am still deciding on my last two. What was your favorite of these?

  7. I just read The Man from Beijing since March 1. I had read The Demon of Dakar (Kjell Eriksson; great book) and The Locked Room by Sjowall/Wahloo before March 1 so can’t count them. Haven’t read more Scandinavian books yet but had to get to the newest Commissario Brunetti by Donna Leon and try Juli Zeh’s In Free Fall (slow going).
    I’ll have to work to get the 6 only because of pulls by other books. I am amazed and in awe of the amount of reading done here and by other bloggers and readers. Now if I gave up sleep and errands and any work, I could do it.
    Will this post be readable later on to refer to?

  8. Nice work Maxine! Great list of Scandinavian crime. So far in 2010 I haven’t read any Scandinavian-set crime (after reading quite a bit of it last year, in prep for a feature for Good Reading) – but I have some new-to-me authors on my bookshelf I want to get to, including Yrsa, so I may have to take up the Scandinavian challenge too.

  9. Thanks for all the lovely comments.
    Kdurkin and Jose – I only read so much because I don’t have a life outside work and domestic duties. i.e. reading (and writing about reading) is my life, I guess.
    Karen – I highly recommend The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, it does not take long to read😉, is not really any particular genre, and for me, has left a lasting impression. If you like traditional detective novels, The Last Fix by K. O. Dahl was quite a find, for me. The Snowman (Nesbo) is a good thriller but not short and is probably best if you’ve read some of the previous novels first (not essential).
    The Scandinavian challenge was easy for me as I was “doing it anyway”.

  10. I was told to read Nesbo’s books in order by a good authority.
    You must read very fast though. I often have reading time but my reading is a lot slower than it was when I was in my 20s and 30s when I could read a book every few days. Now I can’t unless it’s Stieg Larsson’s or “The Man from Beijing,” where I just stayed up all night reading until I was finished. Or, actually Indridasson, too. And I guess Donna Leon, too.
    You could try some of Colin Cotteral’s books to get more Asian books in your challenge, since you have some on your shelves anyway.
    Where can one find books from Antartica?

  11. I read on average one or two books in a typical week (i.e. when I am at work and when the weekend is “normal” so I get most of a day over Sat/Sun to read). If I am on holiday I read more, maybe one a day or every two days. Some of the reviews I’ve been posting here recently are books I read a while back but the reviews had not yet seen the light of day for one reason or another.
    Colin Cotterill – well, I liked the first book very much, but have to admit that the supernatural/spiritual elements aren’t my favourites in any book. Antartica – there is a useful Euro Crime blog post that lists quite a few – there is a link to that on the Global Reading Challenge Blog main page (with other useful links). I haven’t seen one yet that appeals to me, though, as they are all adventure yarns which I stopped reading years ago (Hammond Innes is one example, the last one of his I read was probably 30 years ago! Wilbur Smith, likewise).

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