Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ireland Reading Challenge 2011

As the year draws to a close, and a new one is on the horizon, I find myself thinking about books I've read this year and ones I want to read next year. I know. Book geek. And proud of it. I'm just amazed there are so many people who aren't book geeks.

I am not a big challenge joiner. First of all, I don't care for the word. I don't 'challenge' myself in daily life. I'm not one who sets goals, etc. But when I read these words from raidergirl:
I don't so much challenge myself, as pick challenges that will make me remember to read the books I want to read.
I thought this was a fine way to look at a challenge. And so, I've decided to join the Ireland Reading Challenge for 2011. You may go here to sign up.

The details:

~ The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to November 30, 2011.

~ Any books read for this challenge can also apply to other challenges you are working on.

~ Re-reads are allowed.~ Any book written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, or involving Irish history or Irish characters, counts for the challenge – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, audiobooks, children’s books – all of these apply.

~ Choose your commitment level:

Shamrock level: 2 books

Luck o’ the Irish level: 4 books

Kiss the Blarney Stone level: 6 books

I wanted to be part of this one because I really do want to read the many Irish books I have on the shelf. I'm signing on for the 'Kiss the Blarney Stone level.' Here are the ones I own and hope to read this coming year:

1. One I didn't get to finish when I borrowed it from the library, so I bought it - Maeve Brennan Homesick at The New Yorker - An Irish Writer in Exile by Angela Bourke. Nonfiction.

2. And then a book of her work: The Long-Winded Lady - Notes From The New Yorker by Maeve Brennan. Nonfiction.

3. Are You Somebody - The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O'Faolain. Nonfiction.

4. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. Fiction. (loaner from a friend) finished February 28

5. An Irish Country Courtship by Patrick Taylor. Fiction.

6. Winterland by Alan Glynn. Mystery/Crime Fiction. finished March 7

7. The Dower House by Annabel Davis-Goff. Fiction.

Addendum: Two books by Alice Taylor - both nonfiction.

8. To School Through the Woods

9. The Night Before Christmas (I'll save this one for next November)

I also hope to read the following Irish books in 2011.
More by Davis-Goff, if I love The Dower House.
The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen. Fiction.
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. Young adult fiction. finished March 15 - Challenge Completed
And four by Maeve Binchy:
Quentins (a reread). Fiction. finished January 4
Nights of Rain and Stars (a reread). Fiction. finished January 15
Whitethorn Woods. Fiction. finished January 28
Minding Frankie. Fiction. finished March 17


  1. I just wanted to let you know I'm reading Patrick Taylor's Irish Country Christmas right now because you've recommended the series so highly and am quite enjoying it. I thought about waiting and starting the series from the beginning, but I just felt like I needed some more holiday books in my life and I feel like I never go wrong with your endorsements.

    Thank you!

  2. That is a great idea. I am Irish and have read quite a few of these books if you are looking for more ideas any Roddy Doyle book is worth a read- they are more true to life than some of the shamrock toting ones. Hugo Hamiltons book 'The speckled people' is also worth a read. Have a look at the work of Billy O Callaghan a poet from Cork, you will not be disappointed Best of luck. Laura.

  3. Noticed you omitted Leon Uris' Trinity and Redemption. These are really great novels of Irish history, especially Trinity. I highly recommend.

  4. What a nice thing to say, sprite! I try really hard to give the flavor of a book so whoever reads the book report can decide if they want to read it or not. I just finished Maeve Binchy's short stories for the season, and thought it was a great collection - This Year It Will Be Different.

    Laura, I have tried RD a few times and just can't get past the no quotation marks. Probably silly, but there you go. I haven't heard of HH, or the poet. Thank you! I think Maeve Binchy doesn't try and make things sound all wonderful and cheery. Her books seem quite honest to me.

    Jill, I didn't omit necessarily but his work isn't on my shelf. If I make it to the extras I noted - the ones I don't own, I'll be amazed. :<) I've never read LU. I will remember your recommendation with thanks.

  5. Welcome to the challenge! You have a great list of books there - and I have to tell you that Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd is absolutely amazing. And Trinity is one of my top-ten favorite books of all time. :)

  6. I am excited that you're doing this one..I'm sure I will pick up a book or two from your book reports next year!

  7. I bow to your book geekdom and I'm envious. I read a lot, but you are amazing. I do know that when I'm packing for a trip, the first thing I plan is reading material. How about you? Your challenge for the new year is worthwhile. Looking forward to some luck o' the Irish. (also, fabulous photo)

  8. Maeve Binchy is my favorite. She gives you such a feel for the characters and their surroundings.
    (Love the snowy picture)

  9. Another gorgeous header, Nan!! That snow is beautiful!

  10. Thanks for sharing the quote about challenges -- I haven't seen that blog -- but that is exactly how I think of the word 'challenge.'

    The punch and cookies in the previous post both sound wonderful.

    Merry Christmas Nan! (Sounds like your celebration is already off to a great start!)

  11. I'm glad you doing this 'challenge'. I too decided that 'challenges' are a spur to remember my to-be-read books and get them out to read.

    Night of Rain and Stars was the first Binchy book I read and I loved it

  12. I did this challenge last year-enjoy! I'm limiting myself to only 1 challenge this coming year.

    YAY for another book geek!!!

    Merry Christmas to you,Nan and your family also!!!

  13. Thanks, Carrie. I read Dowd's London Eye Mystery and loved it. So sad that she died. Sounds like I really must read Trinity! If I finish all my others, I'll see if the library has it.

    I'll be interested to see which ones you like, Staci.

    Joanne, I find myself amazed, amazed at bloggers who read well over a hundred books a year! And I'm home, kids grown, and still don't read nearly that much. We don't travel anymore but when we did, I used to buy books in places where we visited. I think this challenge will be fun!

    Ann, I really like MB too, esp. the newer stuff.

    Les, I don't think there is anything prettier!

    Sallie, I like the idea of the whole month being celebratory. That's why I've always opened presents as I get them instead of waiting till Christmas day. :<)

    Margaret, that was a great book. I'm not so fond of her early books, but these later ones are very good.

    Sherri, the same to you!

  14. This is tempting because I'm going to Ireland this year! Yay! I don't want to join challenges, but I will certainly have to keep an eye out for some Irish books to read over the next few months, or maybe to take with me on the trip. Or to buy when I'm there?

  15. Dorothy, lucky you! I have visited twice in 1971 and 1992. It's been too long. I will so enjoy reading about your travels.

  16. I love Irish fiction, but find a lot of what is published to be quite tedious. It is almost as if someone decided that there was a particular formula by which Irish writing had to adhere. But I will happily second the recommendation of Billy O'Callaghan's books. I'm not aware of his poetry (O'll definitely look for some) but he is a marvellous short story writer, one of the best I have come across in a long time. I don't know how well known he is but I came across a book of his called In Exile while on a visit to Ireland a couple of years ago. Initially, it was the striking cover that caught my eye but I picked it up and loved the stories. I later found another book called In Too Deep through amazon and again was very impressed. It is heartening to know that during these times when hype dictates what is successful and what isn't, writers like Billy O'Callaghan are out there, quietly producing such fine work. I would recommend him highly. I don't think anyone who reads him will be disappointed.

  17. I'll look out for your Bowen review, particularly. I've heard it is an excellent book.

  18. Thanks, Jake. I will definitely look into his work. Thank you.

    Vintage Reading, I hope to get to EB.


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