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Personal Lists 2011-2013 > Eliana's 2013 list

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message 1: by Eliana (new)

Eliana I've been doing a continental challenge with a non-Goodreads online group, and when I saw this I decided to see how I was doing on countries! (I wasn't sure how to choose *which* book from countries for which I had more than one - check my shelves to see the others!)

US: The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton Age of Innocence is, imho, her masterpiece, but I am very fond of this one - and it is much less claustrophobic than her other works, set in a completely different world, the very free form world of the Bright Young Things. Five starts. Completed 1/28

Algeria: Caligula by Albert Camus. I was in the middle of a lot of Roman-themed reading and also looking for something to read in French and this disturbing, unsettling little play was a perfect fit. (though I read it in French, I have linked an English translation here - but I cannot vouch for its quality) Four stars. Completed 2/04

Germany: Selected Poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe I encountered and English translation of a Goethe poem and was dissatisfied by the translation, so I dredged up my very rusty German and worked through a German collection of Goethe's poetry. Four stars. Completed 2/07

Israel: Bar-Kokhba by Yigael Yadin. In my Roman reading I read several things about Emperor Hadrian, including Yourencar's brilliant Memoirs of Hadrian (fiction), and the tragedy of Bar Kokhba was fresh in my mind and heart, and then I found this engaging, delightful account of the archaeological expedition that found some Bar Kokhba letters and other artifacts. Five stars. Completed 2/11

Romania: The Bald Soprano and Other Playsby Eugene Ionesco. I read this in French in high school, but didn't care for it then. This time, I read some brilliant essays on (and by!) Ionesco, and I found much more interest and meaning in it this time around. Four stars. Completed 2/18

Canada: Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hemon. Another reread from high school French class. This is am amazing little story that gives a powerful depiction of Quebecois life in the early days of French-Canadian colonization. Five stars. Completed 3/02.

Dominican Republic: In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. One of several Alvarez books I read while doing Latin America. The writing isn't as strong as in her YA novel Before We Were Free (which covers a similar period of time), but it is a solid, powerful book that gives some insight into the painful history of the DR. Three stars. Completed 3/10

Columbia: Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - better known for his novels of magical realism. This is non-fiction, but as gripping as a novel, and a brilliant showcase for Marquez's prose. Five stars. Completed 3/13.

Cuba: Remembering Che: My Life with Che Guevara by Aleida March (his second wife). The material is fascinating and gives an interesting perspective on the Cuban revolution, but the writing quality is abysmal. Two stars. Completed 3/15

Mexico: Song of the Heart: Selected Poems by Ramon Lopez Vellarde. I love poetry, and feel that it shows the heart of a culture in a way prose cannot. The poetry in this is very nice (though I would like to try a different translation), but the illustrations were repulsive to me and detracted from my appreciation of the poetry itself. Three stars. Completed 3/22

Peru: Selected Poems by Cesar Vallejo. I've read some Vallejo in anthologies, and was disappointed by these translations. 2.5 stars, but I rounded up to three. Completed 3/23

Argentina: Sonnets by Borges. Borges is unbelievably amazing, with a synthesis of the cerebral and the visceral. His sonnets are no exception. Five stars. Completed 4/05.

Latvia: Strive for Truth volume 6 by Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler. Part of my inspirational reading for the year. Five stars. Completed 6/01.

Lithuania: Voice of Weepers: Commentary of the Dubner Maggid on the Book of LamentationsPart of my study of Eicha (the book of Lamentations) on Tisha B'Av. Completed 7/16

[my notes for the summer are disordered - my twins bas mitzvahed and our eldest daughter got married, so for most books I read in July and August, I have only the month, and the order, written down for when I completed things.]

Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays by Chinua Achebe. One of many amazing Nigerian books I read this summer. Five stars Completed in July.

Zimbabwe: The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu. For a you-are-there glimpse of the chaos and challenge of life in Harare wrapped in a chick-lit flavored story, with all the pluses and minuses of that genre. Three stars. Completed in July

Egypt: Beer in the Snooker Club This felt a little like some of the books I was reading this year from the British 1930's (it's set in post-Faruck Egypt in the 1950's), which was disconcerting, but fascinating. I found the bittersweetness more bitter than sweet, and the humor darker, more shadowed, than many reviewers, but I join them in highly recommending it. Four stars. Completed in July.

Guinea: The Dark Child by Camara Laye. A beautifully written memoir of Laye's childhood in an African village. Five stars. Completed in July.

Spain The Selected Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca. Neruda's prose writings Passions and Impressions made me want to read more than the few Lorca poems I'd read, and I am very glad I did!
Four stars. Completed 9/07

Kenya: Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance an interesting argument for the importance of writing in one's native language,and for the preservation of languages. Five stars. Completed 9/17

Martinique: A Tempestby Aime Cesaire. I had just reread Shakspeare's Tempest, and had memories of this echoing in my mind, especially with all the African perspective on colonization I had been reading. Brilliant and unsettling. Five stars. Also completed on 9/17

Chile: The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems by Pablo Neruda. I indulged in many volumes of Neruda this year - his poetry is amazing! Five stars. Completed 9/24.

Senegal: So Long a Letterby Mariama Ba. A widow shares her thoughts and memories, and her reactions to her husband taking a second wife, in a series of (fictional) letters to her best friend. Four stars. Also completed 9/24.

Greece: Euripides I: Alcestis / The Medea / The Heracleidae / Hippolytus Reread after rereading Racine's Phedre. Even more powerful than I had remembered - and, oh, my, but Aphrodite as 'goddess of love' is anything but friendly and loving!
Five stars. Completed 10/02

United Kingdom: The Wavesby Virginia Woolf. Part of a massive Woolf/Bloomsbury read. I've read a number of other things by Woolf, but never this one. It has an innovative, inter-woven stream of consciousness form, that, for me at least, required, more concentration and focus. Five stars. Completed 10/05.

Russia: Weby Yevgeny Zamyatin. The grandfather of dystopian literature. The prose is delectable (this translation is particularly wonderful), and the story powerful. Five stars. Completed 10/06

Italy/Ancient Rome: Phaedra by Seneca a third version of this story - all three so very different! Five stars. Completed 10/07.

France: Le Cidby Pierre Corneille. French play riffing off the Spanish saga of the Cid. Part of what I love about this is the language, and although I've seen Moliere well translated, I've never liked the translations I've seen of Racine or Corneille... I am wildly fond of this this play, with bonus points for the agency the female characters have in it. Five stars. Completed 10/19

Czech Republic: A Cup of Coffee With My Interrogator: The Prague Chronicles of Ludvik Vaculik by Ludvík Vaculík. These little essays are less grim than the title sounds. the situation behind the Iron Curtain was very grim, and those issues are well highlighted, but there is humor and self-reflection as well.

Switzerland: Berlin Storiesby Robert Walser. The early stories are especially delightful, but the whole collection was well worth reading. Four stars. Completed 10/27

Ghana: Night of My Blood poems by the Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor who was killed in the Ghana mall shooting this year. Five stars. Completed 10/31

Iceland: The Whispering Muse by Sjon. And odd little book blending modern day Scandinavia with ancient mythologies (primarily Greek)
Three stars. Completed 11/06.

Hungary: Embers by Sandor Marai. A quiet, taut, elegant masterpiece. Five stars. Also completed 11/06

Ireland: Early Poems by Yeats. Four stars. Completed 11/08

Finland: Purgeby Sofi Oksanen. Deeply, profoundly disturbing, but compellingly, absorbingly written. Five stars. Completed 11/11

Austria: Journey Into the Pastby Stefan Zweig. Uses a well-worn trope deftly to do something fresh and moving. Four stars. Completed

Poland: The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński. A Polish journalist's experiences and observations over ~ half a century of reporting in Africa. Four stars. Also completed 11/18

South Africa: "Master Harold"...and the boys by Athol Fugard. Fugard writes incredible scripts - five stars. Completed 11/19.

China: Ancient Melodiesby Shu-hua Ling. Memoir from the very early 1900's in China that reads more like fiction - almost a series of related short stories. Four stars. Completed 11/21.

Iran: Things We Left Unsaid by Zoya Pirzad A quiet story set in Iran in the early 1960's. Four stars. Completed 11/22.

Australia: The Perfectionistby David Williamson. Williamson is significant Australian playwright, but this work is clearly not his best, and its exploration of gender roles and marriage feels a little dated. Three stars. Completed 11/23.

Saudi Arabia: Girls of Riyadhby Rajaa Alsanea. Disappointing, but the fairly shallow chick-lit flavor was made a little more interesting by its very different setting. Two stars. Completed 11/26.

India: Dropping the Bow: Poems from Ancient India more erotic than I am generally comfortable with, but quite beautiful. Four stars. Completed 11/26

message 2: by Lilisa (new)

Lilisa | 1952 comments Mod
Eliana wrote: "I've been doing a continental challenge with a non-Goodreads online group, and when I saw this I decided to see how I was doing on countries! (I wasn't sure how to choose *which* book from countri..."

An impressive and interesting list of books Eliana - I will have to check some of them out. Sounds like you've definitely had a fun tour around the world. Thanks.

message 3: by Eliana (new)

Eliana Lilisa wrote: "Eliana wrote: "I've been doing a continental challenge with a non-Goodreads online group, and when I saw this I decided to see how I was doing on countries! (I wasn't sure how to choose *which* bo..."

It has been so much fun! This is the first year I've ever tried challenges, and it is exciting the way they help focus my overwhelming TBR piles, and give some patterns to my reading. ...and, in the case of the continental challenge, encourage me to step out of familiar territory!

message 4: by Tanya (new)

Tanya (tanya_) | 229 comments I concur - there are some new titles on this list that I definitely need to follow up on. Looking forward to seeing what else makes your list.

message 5: by Eliana (new)

Eliana I left off a book from April:

Scotland: The Expensive Halo: A Fable Without Moral by Josephine Tey. Tey is better known for her (very well done) mysteries, but this gem is my favorite. I reread it this year b/c it is set in the Bright Young Thing era of British life, and I remembered it doing some interesting things with some different strands of life/society. It does indeed. Five stars. Completed 4/28

I also want to change my selection for Australia. I read David Malouf's incredible masterpiece Ransom last week, and can't imagine listing anything else for this year's visit to Australia. Five stars. Completed 11/28

New additions:

Saudi Arabia: Girls of Riyadh An uninspiring chick-lit novel made tolerable by the novelty (to me) of the setting. One star. Completed 11/26.

Japan: Kitchen a slim, quirky book about grieving and choices and friendship. Four stars. Completed 11/27

Basque Territory: Plants Don't Drink Coffee Another delightful, quirky little book! Four stars. Completed 11/29

Morocco: Hope & Other Dangerous Pursuits A collection of vignettes united by a shared attempt to sneak into Spain from Morocco (via inflatable boat!). Three stars. Completed 11/30

I'm at 47/52! ...I have a few choices for Turkey, one for Pakistan, and one for Taiwan sitting on my bedside shelf, and, I think, some possibilities for another country or two around here in the stacks of library books.

message 6: by Eliana (new)

Eliana Pakistan: The Reluctant Fundamentalist a mesmerizing read. Five stars. Completed 12/01/2013

Turkey: Istanbul: Memories and the Citya mix of history and memoir with old photos of Istanbul sprinkled throughout. Four stars. Completed 12/03/2013

Antigua: A Small Place an, at times, sharp-edged novella length essay on Antigua. Four stars. Completed 12/04/2013

Ukraine: Restore My Soul an inspiring selection of Rebbe Nachman's insights. Completed 12/11/2013

Taiwan: The Old Capital: A Novel of Taipei4 short stories and novella. An odd, but interesting assortment - I felt I was missing pieces, and might go back and try this again when I have more background. Three stars. Completed 12/22/2013

I completed exactly 52, but left so many interesting places/books unread, that I look forward to starting over again this year!

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