Reading Bingo 2015

reading-bingo-small (1)

Thank you, Cleo, for making me spend far too long on this – but hey, it’s my day off and if I choose to spend it reviewing my year’s reading, then so be it!

More than 500 pages

Genji
Not the edition mentioned in the text, but the translation I prefer, by Seidensticker.

Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (transl. Royall Tyler)

Masterpiece of Japanese literature, world literature, medieval literature and anything else you can think of. Poetry, romance, heartbreak and sumptuous description of clothes, festivals and the Imperial Court. I did struggle with this far too literal translation (and footnotes), though, and it took me about 6 weeks to read its 1000+ pages.

Forgotten Classic

Jean-Patrick Manchette: Fatale (transl. Donald Nicholson-Smith)

Violent, twisted, hardcore, with a compassionate streak. Not for fans of poetic descriptions or deep psychological insights – it’s all very dark and externalised.

Became a Movie

Film poster from imdb.com
Film poster from imdb.com

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Read the book, met the author and saw the movie within a few weeks of each other. I liked all three: the book had far more filmworthy scenes which never made it to the screen; the film did not have the preposterous coincidence at the end. And the author ain’t bad-looking either! (He’s also written the screenplay for the current TV mystery series ‘London Spy’).

Published This Year

Girl at War by Sara Novic

Quite a bit of jostling in this category, although less than last year. I’ve stuck to my plan for reading beyond the obvious latest releases. This is a touching, if somewhat uneven description of life during and after the Yugoslav war.

Number in Title

De zece ori pe buze (10 Times on the Lips) by Adina Rosetti

Since Child 44 was already taken for another category, this was all I could come up with – a collection of stories about life in Romania before and after the fall of Communism.

GuezAuthor Under 30

Paris la Nuit by Jeremie Guez

At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to find anything in this category, but then I realised that Jeremie (who has written 5 novels by now) is still only 27 years old. This, his debut novel, was published in 2010, when he was just 22.

Non-Human Characters

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

Again, a difficult category, but I think this counts:  a sentient sea on a strange planet, who makes all the characters revisit all the things they fear most or feel most guilty about counts as a very unusual.

Funny

Wendy Cope (editor): The Funny Side

Poems that challenge our perception of poetry as far too serious, elitist and abstract. A delight – and it’s not just limericks!

Female Author

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

And a topic that goes straight to the heart of women’s suffering – just so powerful and emotionally draining. I’ve read a lot by female authors this year, but this is the one that I automatically think of when I hear ‘women’s writing’, whatever that might mean.

Mystery

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I read so many crime novels, yet I was really stumped for this category, as I felt I wanted to include a writer that wouldn’t fit in any of the other categories. In the end, I will dispense with originality and go with a classic that has been so influential in film and writing since its publication.

From babelio.com
From babelio.com

One-Word Title

Silences by Tillie Olsen

A book that has been so influential on me as a woman and a writer – talking about all the artists who have been silenced by history, circumstances, gender or jobs, written by one of the first generation of American feminists.

Short Stories

Meisternovellen by Stefan Zweig

I haven’t read many short stories this year, but Zweig’s novellas and short stories are always worth a reread- thank you German Literature Month for making me revisit them.

Joker – Poetry

When I Grow Up I Want to Be Mary Beard by Megan Beech

Outspoken, hopeful and charmingly humorous as only young people can be: my first volume of spoken word poetry (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms).

Different Continent

Ru by Kim Thuy

Not just one, but two different continents: Vietnam, Malaysia and Canada.

Non-Fiction

100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl

For anyone who has ever been overwhelmed by motherhood and artistic impulse, To Do lists and reality, and whose creativity has to take the back seat on occasion.

First Book by Favourite Author

lullabiesLullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

Or is it too much to claim a favourite author if this is the only book I have read by her? I have just bought her latest book, though, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, and hope to read it over the holidays.

Heard About Online

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli

This one had so many lovely reviews from bloggers whose opinion I trust, such as Stu, Jacqui, Bibliobio, Tony, Naomi Frisby, Poppy Peacock, that I just had to try it for myself.

Bestseller

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

I’m pretty sure it’s a bestseller, as it’s been No. 1 on Amazon for ages and Orenda are busy doing a second print run. Well deserved, an intriguing blend of Icelandic chill and Agatha Christie puzzle.

True Story

L’Adversaire by Emmanuel Carrere

Made all the more chilling because it involves the death of children and took place 500 metres down my road.

Bottom of TBR

Morgue Drawer Four by Jutta Profijt

Free download when I first bought my husband a Kindle 4 years ago. I was clearing out the books I had on his Kindle and it fitted in well with German Literature Month. Let’s put it this way: I wouldn’t have died if I’d forgotten about it.

Loved by a Friend

people-in-glass-houses-novel-shirley-hazzard-paperback-cover-artPeople in Glass Houses by Shirley Hazzard

Not sure I can claim Petina Gappah as a friend, but we do know each other from the Geneva Writers’ Group and she recommended this book when she spoke on a panel in Morges, saying it was the best portrayal of the UN and ‘organisation man’ that she’d ever come across.

Scary

The Woman Who Fed the Dogs by Kristien Hemmerechts

Blood-chilling portrayal of the accomplice of a serial killer of young girls – it gave me nightmares.

10+ Years

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie by Jean Rhys

Still one of my favourite authors and books – this will break your heart, but oh, how well written.

2nd Book in a Series

The Defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto

This Finnish police procedural with a touch of immigrant blues about it is getting better and better – so looking forward to the next.

barracudaBlue Cover

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Actually, a lot of the books I read have blue covers – either it’s a publishing trend at the moment, or else I am subconsciously drawn to my favourite colour.

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27 thoughts on “Reading Bingo 2015”

  1. If it’s any consolation it took me an age to put mine together – and you’ve done so well!! I did particularly love your comments about the one from the bottom of your TBR! Thanks for linking to my effort.

  2. I did this last year and spent a lot of fun time on it too! I loved Child 44 but have yet to see the movie. Now I know he’s written the screenplay I’m going to catch up on London Spy too!

    1. I did find the first 2 episodes of London Spy a bit too slow – but that’s not necessarily the fault of the screenplay, but of the director. After all, the scene could say: ‘He sits and waits nervously in the waiting room.’ but then it’s the director who makes a 5 minute scene of it – and nothing but that.

  3. What a great idea! I’ll play bingo this afternoon!
    Loved Ru, J. Guez, Machette, H. O’ Neill are new authors for me and K. Hemmerechts (Belgian) is so close to NL….but I never read her.

  4. Wow, this is great. Kudos to you for reading The Tale off Gengi. I’ve been tempted, but the length has always intimidated me. Faces in the Crowd is amazing. I’m going to save this list and see if any are available from the library.

    1. I have to admit I had to read Tale of Genji the first time round for my degree (I studied Japanese), otherwise I might have avoided it too. I fell in love with it though and have since read all the different translations of it (including one in modern Japanese, as it’s nearly impossible to read in the original).

  5. I love these! I like the sound of People in Glass Houses and after reading The Book of Memory a Gappah endorsement is another reason to buy it. Ru’s already on my list after reading the lovely Man – gorgeous writing. Thanks for spending ‘far too long’ on this post: it’s much appreciated.

    1. Look forward to reading yours when it’s ready… Of course, as soon as you post it, you will suddenly remember another book that would have fitted better into a particular category!

  6. I love these too… great way of jogging my memory of some of the books I’ve spotted on your blog this year.

    For a treat I’m pencilling in a day in December when I’m home alone to dedicate to this & the TBR meme to have a good bookish end of year fest to see what I’ve read but also appreciate what I’ve still got to look forward to.

  7. Must do this, though I reckon there are one or two I’ll find impossible to fill. I love the range you cover – eclectic lists are so much fun. Glad to see you rate Snowblind, since it’s gradually making it’s way to the top of my reading pile. And always good to see our Agatha get a mention.

  8. Oh, my. So many books I haven’t read yet. “Faces in the Crowd” though, due to length, might get an reading/review this year at some point.

  9. I strongly disliked Child 44, in part because I thought it was very one-sided in its view of Soviet life. As the child of a GDR man and a Soviet woman, I am a bit biased.

    I’m considering stealing your bingo later in December, by the way. 🙂

    1. Please do! And yes, it wasn’t very accurate in portrayal of Soviet life – although perhaps Stalinist times were harder than what we remember. But for sheer entertainment and fear factor, it was a thrilling read.

  10. Yours is the first Bingo list where we share a title – Ru by Kim Thuy – except I selected it for my one word book. Thuy also came out to Australia for the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May. I met her at a local book function as well as seeing her session at the festival a few days later. She is as vibrant and funny as her books.
    I was also delighted to see an Aussie book on your list 🙂

    1. I have to admit, to my shame, I read far too little Australian/New Zealand fiction. My only excuse is that it’s not that easy to find in France (except in translation, and I’m not going to read English-speaking authors in French!) I would have loved to meet Kim Thuy – and certainly want to read more by her.

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