Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Reading Swap

So, this is not exactly a challenge, because the only challenge to which I have absolutely committed myself this year is to clear off my unread bookshelves, aka The TBR Dare.  However, my good friend Amanda from The Zen Leaf -- yes, the very same blogger that got me sucked into the world of book blogging -- asked if I'd like to do a reading swap in 2011.

Basically, she chose five books for me, and I chose five books for her.  Here's what she chose for me:

1.  The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.  I was underwhelmed by Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but Amanda swears this is so much better.  And there's an audio version narrated by Alan Rickman, need I say more?

2.  Flush by Virginia Woolf.  Because it's on my to-read shelf, and Amanda really liked it.  And she knows how much I love dogs.  And it's a Persephone!

3.  East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  Because we both love Steinbeck and I still haven't read it.  And Amanda says it has the best villain ever.

4.  Kindred by Octavia Butler.  A great time-travel novel about the antebellum South.  Enough said.

5.  Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov.  Because Amanda swears it's nothing like Lolita.

Amanda and I both have eclectic tastes -- sometimes wildly different.  Sometimes she absolutely hates books I love, and vice versa.  I'm really excited about the first four books (especially because I own copies of East of Eden and Flush, so that counts for the TBR challenge!).  The one book on this list that scares me a little is the Nabokov.  I read Lolita years ago, in college, and it still creeps me out.  But I am willing to give him another shot.

And in case you're wondering, here's what I chose for Amanda:

1.  Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh.  Because she was underwhelmed by Brideshead Revisited, and this is nothing like that.  If you haven't read it, it's hilarious.

2.  Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.  Because it's on her to-read list, and I thought it was just wonderful.  One of my favorite books from the Modern Library Top 100.

3.  West with the Night by Beryl Markham.  Because she loved Out of Africa, and because it's one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.  Also a ML Top 100 Non-fiction pick.  If you haven't read it, go out and get it right now.  You won't be sorry.

4.  Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence.  Because she hated Lady Chatterley's Lover and I think she should give Lawrence another try.  I was afraid of this book but after one chapter I was really hooked.  The characters are kind of repulsive, yet I couldn't put it down.

5.  Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.  Because Amanda still hasn't read any DWJ and I think she'd really like this one.  DWJ is wildly unappreciated in this country and it is my personal responsibility to fix that.  Howl is brilliant, and I liked the movie but the book is soooo much better.

So -- we both have a year to finish these books.  I think it's doable.  Bloggers, have you read any of these books?  Loved them or hated them?


  1. Well I *will* say that the Nabokov book is wildly different from Lolita in CONTENT, but not necessarily in STYLE. He is always pretty poetic and flowery with the language, but Invitation to a Beheading does not have an uber-creepy narrator, nor is there any pedophiles in the book (that I can remember from almost 10 years ago, anyway). It's about race relations and prejudice in a surreal world. Just pretend it's not by the same guy who wrote Lolita going into it. :D And I'll try to do the same for DH Lawrence.

  2. PS - Thanks for doing the swap with me!

  3. This is just like the Gignac Reading Club, but among friends! I think I will have to share this with my cousins and see if they want to do something similar, although I'm a bit frightened about what they'd choose for me :)

  4. I'm going to give Hardy another go too, after disliking Tess. (Teresa of Shelf Love is who convinced me!) And I want Flush to be my next Woolf: it's already downloaded on my Nook. :D East of Eden is incredible, as is Kindred. And I need to read more Nabokov!

    West with the Night is a great choice Karen. :D And I just read Howl's Moving Castle a couple months ago: it was such fun!

  5. What fun! East of Eden is an all-time favorite, but I was just lukewarm about Kindred. I really enjoyed Angle of Repose, too, but Crossing to Safety may just be my favorite book ever... must read more Stegner this year.

  6. Amanda -- I'm looking forward to your choices. And I will be brave about Nabokov, since I know it'll be pedophile-free.

    Anbolyn -- that's why Amanda suggested it. I love reading about her Gignac family book club so now I feel like I'm in the club too, sort of!

    Eva -- I'm glad I'm not the only one who was underwhelmed by Tess. It didn't help that I'd seen the movie so I knew the ending. But I'll give Hardy another try.

    JoAnn -- Crossing to Safety has been on my to-read list forever. I really must get to it this year. I really loved Angle of Repose. Thanks for reminding me!

  7. Howl's Moving Castle is my least favorite Diana Wynne Jones. Amanda may love it, because her taste and mine can be entirely opposite sometimes. But if she doesn't love it, urge her to try another!

  8. I love Hardy but I don't like Tess either! My favourites are Mayor of Casterbridge & Far From the Madding Crowd but I also enjoyed Return of the Native. Also loved West with the Night. Sounds like an excellent challenge.

  9. What a neat challenge ... it is so personalized and not too big that you couldn't do it. I hope you guys have fun with it.

  10. Jeanne -- I'm so surprised that you didn't like Howl, it's one of my favorite DWJs. Which ones do you like?

    Lyn -- I'm also reading Mayor of Casterbridge with my IRL classics group, but it's not until December. Hopefully I'll get through both Hardys this year.

    Jenners -- What I really like is that Amanda didn't just choose off my Goodreads list. She picked out some books that are a little out of my reading comfort zone, like Nabokov and Kindred, so hopefully I'll expand my horizons a little. Five books is a nice number.

  11. Oh I'd love to read West with the Night. Wasn't Beryl Markham involved with Denys Finch Hatton, too? Putting this on my tbr, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  12. Karen, East of Eden is amazing...and I agree, the villain is awesome!! I'm still creeped out thinking about it.


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