Sunday, December 27, 2020

European Reading Challenge 2021

One of my favorite challenges is back -- the European Reading Challenge! Hosted by Rose City Reader, the challenge is to read books set in different European countries, or by European authors. I'm signing up for the Five Star or Deluxe Entourage, which is five different books. I'm on track to finish at least ten for the 2020 challenge (maybe even twelve!) so five should be no problem. I love this challenge because I'm always looking for new books in translation and this always inspire me to find new authors. 

Here are some of my possible reads and authors for the challenge, listed by country:

  1. Austria: The Constant Nymph by Margaret Kennedy; Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig; or his complete short stories
  2. Belgium: Amelie Nothomb or Georges Simenon
  3. Bosnia: The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric
  4. France: Renoir, My FatherThe Bright Side of Life by Emile Zola; The Complete Claudine
  5. Germany: Fraulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther by Elizabeth von Arnim
  6. Greece: Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki
  7. Hungary: They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy; The Door by Magda Szabo
  8. Iceland: Haldor Laxness
  9. Ireland: The Real Charlotte by Edith Somerville. Some of Trollope's early novels are also set in Ireland, so they would work.
  10. Italy: The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa or A Favourite of the Gods/A Compass Error by Sybille Bedford 
  11. Netherlands: Amsterdam Stories by Nescio 
  12. Norway: a play by Ibsen
  13. Poland: The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schultz
  14. Romania: The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller
  15. Russia: Dostoevsky, Gogol, Teffi, or Vassily Grossman
  16. UK: Angela Thirkell, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope
  17. Ukraine: The Mirador by Elisabeth Gille
  18. [Yugoslavia]: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West (I realize Yugoslavia is now seven different countries; at the time it was published in 1941, it was still united. I'll have to read it first before I choose one country for the challenge).

Sadly, not too many from my own TBR shelves, but quite a few from my NYRB Classics to-read list. Some of them could also cross over into other challenges -- besides this one and the Back to the Classics Challenge, I'm also signing up for a World War II Reading Challenge and another Chunkster Challenge. I'm also looking for more books from Scandinavia and the Baltics if anyone has suggestions. 

Are you signing up for the European Reading Challenge? What are you reading? 


  1. I'm doing the European Challenge this year. I did it a few years ago & enjoyed it. Black lamb & Grey Falcon is a book I'd like to read. I don't know if this would appeal to you but it's set in the Balkans: It was quite intense and a bit philosophical at times but it's quite a powerful story.

  2. What an interesting Challenge and what a very interesting list! I've read Szabo's The Door, which was wonderful and took a stab at Banffy's They Were Counted a few years ago, but gave up after 40-50 pages (nothing against it, exactly, just the wrong book at the wrong time). I loved The Leopard -- it's one of my favorites, very 19th century in feel (to me at least) although it's relatively modern (wasn't it written in the 1940s or something?) Theodore Fontane was one of my big discoveries this year (for the Back to the Classics Challenge, no less! Never got around to reviewing either of the two novels I read) -- I really enjoyed Effie Briest and Tangled Paths (think it has several different titles, depending on the translator). Schultz, Muller, Nescio and Laxness are on my own list (I, too, have lots of NYRB Classics to read!). Although I haven't read Beware of Pity, I do like Stefan Zweig quite a bit and have enjoyed his various novellas. Another good Austrian read is Roth's Radetzky March. As for Sybille Bedford, she's one of my absolute favorites; I loved both Compass Error and Favourite of the Gods although it's been some time since I read them. I'm having so much fun with your list, maybe I should pop over to the European Challenge site itself!

    1. You should, it sounds like you have a lot of European books you want to read! Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Welcome back! Thanks for signing up for the European Reading Challenge in 2021! I'm also looking for Scandinavian and Baltic books, so I'll check back to see if anyone gives you ideas. Your list is giving me ideas for Eastern Europe. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon popped up on my TBR shelf and I might use that one too -- with the same caveat.

  4. I'm not participating in this challenge this year - too many unread books on my shelves ! But if it still exists next year, I'll be very much interested in expanding my reading horizons.

  5. If I may offer a suggestion for The Netherlands....(I'm ex-pat living in this country for years...)
    Try this is much better than "Amsterdam Stories" IMHO
    The Assault (original title in Dutch: De aanslag) is a 1982 novel by Dutch author Harry Mulisch. Random House published an English translation by Claire Nicolas White in 1985. It covers 35 years in the life of the lone survivor of a night in Haarlem during World War II when the Nazi occupation forces, finding a Dutch collaborator murdered, retaliate by killing most of the family in front of whose home the body was found. According to the New York Times, this novel "made his reputation at home and abroad.