Wednesday, January 30, 2019

European Reading Challenge 2019

I have SO MANY British books, both fiction by British authors and British social history. I love the European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader so I can expand my reading to other countries. I had only planned to commit to two challenges this year, my own and the TBR Pile Challenge, but whenever possible I do try to participate in other challenges if they'll help me achieve my goal of reading more of my own books. So here are some possible reads from my own shelves to help me travel through Europe: 

Austria: Beware of Pity by Stefan ZweigThe Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal
Denmark: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
France: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo; The Bright Side of Life by Emile Zola
Germany: Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
Ireland: Conversation Piece by Molly Keane; The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore; The Kellys and the O'Kellys by Anthony Trollope
Italy: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; Madame Solario by Gladys Huntington; Fenny by Lettice Cooper
Norway: The Wife (already completed) and The Cross by Sigrid Undset
Russia: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
UK: Imperial Palace by Arnold Bennett; Bella Poldark by Winston Graham; A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym; The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope (plus about 100 other books, but I'm narrowing it to three that I really hope to read this year).

Some of these I'm planning to read (or have already finished) for other challenges, but I'm hoping to read at least five, which should be easy. Ideally I'd love to finish ALL of these books, but who knows?

And some more books I really want to read from the library. Most of these are on audio or e-book, which is even better!

Belgium: Stealing the Mystic Lamb by Noah Charney
Greece: Apartment in Athens by Glenway Westcott
Hungary: Portraits of a Marriage by Sandor Marai
Poland: Irena's Children by Tilar Mazzeo
Spain: The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti
Switzerland: Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

Bloggers, which of these do you recommend? And are any of you signing up for the European Reading Challenge? 


  1. Hi Karen,
    I just signed up for the 2019 European Challenge. Thanks so much for reminding me that there was still time to sign up.
    I simply loved, loved, loved Hotel du Lac. It spoke to me, on a very deep level. It was one of my three favorite books in the year that I read it. (2011?? Think so.) I resonated and resonated. I believe it is a true classic.
    I also looked up one of your books set in Austria--The Exiles Return. I have heard lately, in an article I read recently, how profoundly anti-Semitic Vienna, and indeed all of Austria was in the post-war period. That goes for all of central Europe, I'm sorry to say. But I looked up a review from the Jewish Book Council and I've got to add it to my list of books to read. How did you come across it? I'm also going to look up the Stefan Zweig novel.

    1. The Exiles Return was a Persephone reprint -- I'm a huge fan of their books and I've read more than half of their backlist so far. I don't think I would have heard of it if they hadn't reprinted it.

  2. Great list. You have a good mix of stuff I have heard of along with titles that are new to me.

    I really loved the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan series but they seem to be marmite books. People either love 'em or hate 'em. I just read Buddenbrooks last year and liked it quite a bit. I want to read The Magic Mountain now too. Hotel du Lac I adored but I hated all the other books by Brookner that I tried (shhhh, don't tell Thomas at Hoggelstock!).

    1. I tried reading the first Ferrante a couple of years ago and got stuck, but my book group is reading it in a couple of months, plus I've saved the whole HBO series on the DVR. I thought Buddenbrooks would be appropriate as I'm living here in Germany. I've only read one Brookner so far which I pretty much liked. Maybe Brookner is a Marmite writer?

  3. Glad you signed up for this challenge, too! Your tentative list looks fun & I'm looking forward to seeing the reports...I'll second the recommendation for Ferrante's Neapolitan novels--I was in love 'em category myself. Buddenbrooks I found great, and Judith Hearne, grim but also really good.

    But I'm particularly curious to hear about the Westcott, the Zweig, and the Marai.


    1. Several on my list are NYRB classics which my library has on digital download, which is where I found the Westcott and Marai. They also have the Zweig, though I own a print copy. Sometimes having it on digital makes me choose a book strictly for convenience when I'm traveling (which is why I end up not reading my owned books, as it's one less thing to carry).

  4. You have great books ahead of you, Karen! I particularly loved Buddenbrooks, and I hope you enjoy it, too. I am looking forward to your reviews :)

  5. What a great selection of books! Thanks for joining the 2019 challenge!

  6. Yes, I'm joining the challenge too for the reasons you've mentioned; mostly the fact that my current tbr list contains quite a few already. You have some really interesting looking selections, and I'll look forward to your reviews. I did read Crime and Punishment last year, which was quite intriguing, as we'd expect from Dostoevsky.


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