Reading Challenges 2017

Sure, I might squeeze in another couple of books before midnight on December 31, 2017 but I think I can safely draw a line under the reading challenges for the year.

I participated in five challenges this year – finished three; one is ongoing (I made a solid start); and I failed one – not miserably but I didn’t complete the target number of books. Continue reading

Miss Chopsticks by Xinran

If you’ve never read anything by Xinran before then allow me to get bossy: Read something by Xinran.

Actually, I’ve only read her non-fiction, which is invariably so affecting, so powerful that the stories she tells will never leave you. I was keen to see how she tackled fiction and her novel, Miss Chopsticks, was recommended to me by Lisa (an excellent suggestion to meet a tricky reading challenge category).

Miss Chopsticks is the story of peasant sisters – their mother is considered a failure because she never produced a son, and the daughters only merit a number as a name.

“In my village, girls are called ‘chopsticks’ and boys ‘roof-beams’. They all say girls are no good because a chopstick can’t support a roof.” Continue reading

Top Ten Books for 2013

top ten books 2013

It’s that time of year (the last reading day of 2013) where I pick my favourite and bests. The first nine are in no particular order: Continue reading

Translation Reading Challenge 2013 – Wrap-up

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It was Curiosity Killed the Bookworm’s Translation Challenge that I found the most ‘challenging’ of this year’s reading challenges. But it also delivered some of the best and most thought-provoking books I read this year.

I started and finished the challenge with books about mothers (both were brilliant) – Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran and The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante. Xinran’s stories will never leave me – steel your heart a little before beginning it although regardless of how prepared you feel, you’ll finish in tears. Continue reading

‘Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother’ by Xinran

I don’t imagine there will be many books in the lifetime of this blog that instead of providing a thorough review, I simply say just read it. However, Xinran’s Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother is one of those books. It has left me heartbroken, tearful and feeling completely helpless. But there’s also purity and raw feeling in each of the short stories that keeps you turning the pages.

The book is a collection of stories from Chinese mothers—students, successful businesswomen, midwives, peasants—who, whether as a consequence of the single-child policy, destructive age-old traditions, or hideous economic necessity, have given up their daughters. Their stories are confronting and horrific. Here are just a few snippets –

“There is an emptiness that can never be filled, there is an ache felt by the broken-hearted birth mother, by the adoptive family in the West, and by the daughter who will spend the rest of her life in a dual embrace – because the life she lives is a product of great joy but also of great sorrow.” Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – ABC….My Alphabetical Author List Has Some Gaps

You’re going to think I’m weird. A little obsessive-compulsive. But since I finally got around to organising all my book reviews into a handy list, ordered alphabetically by author, there’s something that has been really bugging me. The gaps.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – this week’s topic is a freebie so I’ve decided to list some authors that I MUST read so that my alphabetical list has at least one author for each letter of the alphabet. At this point, some of you will totally understand this need for completeness. Others will think I’m a total nut.

So, the letters missing authors are (in alphabetical order of course): Continue reading