Reading challenge May/June 2020

I’ve decided to structure my reading during May and June somewhat more than I usually do. There are two reasons for this:

  1. I’d like to finish most of the books I’ve started this year and not yet finished (there are a few..)
  2. I’d like to get through some of the chunksters I’ve wanted to read for a long time, but can’t get myself to start because I fear the big books

My plan is to make a schedule for my weekly reading and try to stick to it, though making the schedule flexible enough so that I can read other books in between the planned books. Setting a goal for when a book should be finished will hopefully activate my competitiveness and contribute to me getting through everything I want.

The books I am currently reading that I want to finish soon are the following:

  • Louis de Bernières – The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman
  • Jaroslav Hasek – The Good Soldier Svejk
  • Oisin Fagan – Nobber
  • Ocean Vuong – On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
  • J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Kazuo Ishiguro – When We Were Orphans

I started Cardinal Guzman in January and I loved it from page one. This was no surprise since I’ve read and adored both previous novels in his Latin America trilogy, but since I love it I do find it sad that after four months I’m still only on page 152. The reason for this is partly my varying reading mood and partly that though the novel is brilliantly written and hilarious – with a social commentary sting – it has a lot of characters and can be a bit confusing to follow at times. This makes it a slightly challenging read, so I feel I need proper concentration whilst reading it. Clearly I’ve not had much of that this year.

Svejk I actually started in December and have yet to pick up in 2020, but this is another very funny novel that I did love whilst reading it. Though we do follow a single storyline, it’s chapters are made up of episodes from his life and can be read and appreciated without reading the entire novel. The humor reminds me a bit of P. G. Wodehouse in that it’s very farcical and absurd, which is my kind of humor. I think it’s also common to draw a line between this and Catch-22, which is another novel I adored when I read it (a long time ago, might be time for a re-read). I’ve read 218 out of 752 pages, and finishing it shouldn’t be a problem if I can just stop being scared of bricks. Unless someone throws them at me, they can’t hurt me. The ones I enjoy I should be capable of finishing.

Nobber is a slow read, though very atmospheric. We meet the citizens of the Irish village Nobber, who are quarantined by their new, self-imposed leader, after most of the villagers die during the Black Plague. A traveling nobleman is trying to take advantage of the situation by buying up land and properties and this, I understand, will lead to trouble for them all. Though slow, once again I do like the novel a lot, and want to get through it during the next month.

On Earth I should be able to finish quickly. It’s not a long read, and though introspective and character driven it’s very readable. I have a feeling I’m not going to love it as much as many others have, but we’ll see. I’ve only read about 50 pages so far.

I’m not worried about finishing Half-Blood Prince. It’s my first time listening to the audio versions of the Harry Potter novels (narrated by Stephen Fry of course), and if anything, the experience is almost going by too quickly.

I’ve just started When We Were Orphans, and it’s another one I’m not worried about not being able to finish as it is incredibly readable, engaging and thought provoking. Ishiguro is one of my old favorites that I haven’t read for many years, and this novel is making me want to go back and re-read the ones I loved in my 20s, as well as getting to the rest of his novels that I have yet to read.

Then there are the novels I haven’t yet started that I would like to read during the coming months. One I have a plan to buddy read with some bookish friends, and one I have wanted to read for well over a decade, but have been to scared to start because of it’s size and because I have a slightly bad track record with the author. The third is a children’s classic I have just recently discovered which I think I would have loved as a child, and which I will hopefully love as an adult as well. These three novels are:

  • Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Brothers Karamazov
  • Joan Aiken – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

This post is hopelessly long already, but now for the important bit; the schedule.

Week 1 (May 11th – 17th):

  • Svejk: Part II, chapter 1 and 2
  • Karamazov: Part I, book 1 and 2
  • Orphans: Part 2, 3 and 4
  • On Earth: Page 45 – 127
  • Wolves: Chapter 1-6

Week 2 (May 18th – 24th):

  • Svejk: Part II, chapter 3 and 4
  • Karamazov: Part I, book 3
  • Orphans: Part 5, 6 and 7
  • On Earth: Page 128 – 242
  • Wolves: Chapter 7-11

Week 3 (May 25th – 31st):

  • Svejk: Part II, chapter 5 and Part III, chapter 1
  • Karamazov: Part II, book 4 and 5
  • Nobber: Page 90-150
  • Cardinal Guzman: Part I, chapter 27-34

Week 4 (June 1st – 7th):

  • Svejk: Part III, chapter 2 and 3
  • Karamazov: Part II, book 6 and Part III, book 7
  • Nobber: Page 151-226
  • Cardinal Guzman: Part II, chapter 35-44

Week 5 (June 8th – 14th):

  • Svejk: Part III, chapter 4 and Part IV, chapter 1
  • Karamazov: Part III, book 8 and book 9
  • Nobber: Page 227-296
  • Cardinal Guzman: Part II, chapter 45-54

Week 6 (June 15th – 21st):

  • Svejk: Part IV, chapter 2 and 3
  • Karamazov: Part IV, book 10 and book 11
  • All Quiet: Page 1-100
  • Cardinal Guzman: Part II, chapter 55-65 and Epilogue

Week 7 (June 22nd – 28th):

  • Karamazov: Part IV, book 12 and Epilogue
  • All Quiet: Page 101-207

I will obviously be starting other books as well during this time period, but I’ll try to stick to this plan and see if I can’t manage to finish all these books before June is over. Wish me luck!

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