A New Blogging Year

Well, we’ve made it to another year. In our unsettled world every day feels like a gift to me, not least because I can keep reading! So I hope to make good use of my time this year, and to that end some reviewing and updating of my priorities is always helpful.

In 2019 my life was very crazy and it was hard to accomplish any reading or blogging goals. So I have little progress to report, and I’m just not going to be hard on myself about that.

Part of the craziness was that moving to Europe meant doing a massive book purge that involved selling, giving away, donating, or passing on to relatives more than half of my book collection. Maybe more like three-quarters — I didn’t keep track. It was difficult to let go of some of these old friends, but I am hopeful that they will go on to new homes where they will be read and loved. To me, that is the most important thing.

I did complete five years of the Classics Club and almost made my goal of 50 books, which I found pretty amazing. I’m still reading from my list, and participating in the occasional spin, but I won’t have any specific goals.

I also have the deadline-free goal of reading All Around the World — books from as many different countries of the world as possible. I finished four excellent books toward this goal during 2019: Don Quixote (Spain), My Brilliant Career (Australia),Β  Daring to Drive (Saudi Arabia), and Born a Crime (South Africa).

However, four is not enough. In the coming year I would like to raise this number considerably! In fact, I would love it if the bulk of my reading was about diverse countries around the world. Here are some of the books on my TBR — let me know if you think I should make any of these a priority, or have any other recommendations.


  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi (Ghana)
  • Pachinko – Min Jin Lee (Korea/Japan)
  • The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende (Chile)
  • Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia)
  • Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie (India)
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy (India)
  • My Name is Red – Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
  • The Architect’s Apprentice – Elif Shafak (Turkey)
  • Akhenaten – Naguib Mafouz (Egypt)
  • King Hereafter – Dorothy Dunnett (Scotland)
  • Zorba the Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis (Greece, obs.)
  • A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki (Japan/Canada)
  • Galore – Michael Crummey (Canada)
  • The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo (Malaysia)
  • The Gate – Natsume Soseki (Japan)
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent (Iceland)

I was sad that last year I did not really have time to participate in Nonfiction November, and there are so many nonfiction books piling up on my list that I have not gotten around to. Here are some of them:

  • The Library Book – Susan Orlean
  • The Last Girl – Nadia Murad
  • The Brain that Changes Itself – Norman Doidge
  • An Anthropologist on Mars – Oliver Sacks
  • A Time of Gifts – Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • SPQR – Mary Beard
  • A Tiger in the Kitchen – Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
  • Prairie Fires – Caroline Fraser
  • Secondhand Time – Svetlana Alexeivich
  • The Republic of Imagination – Azar Nafisi
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  • I Contain Multitudes – Ed Yong
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • Every Word Is a Bird We Teach To Sing – Daniel Tammet

As you may notice, many of these would count for Reading All Around the World as well. If I could get to even half of the list this year, I’d be very happy!

Otherwise, I haven’t jumped officially onto any challenges this year (except the Book Blogger Discussion Challenge, as usual), but we’ll what happens.

As for events, following the success of Robertson Davies Reading Week, I’m thinking of doing a shorter follow-up event in late August, as there were some readers who said they would still like to participate. And of course, I’ll be looking forward to Witch Week in October/November (thank you Chris and Lizzie for keeping up the annual tradition!) with the theme of Gothick.

That seems like enough to start with. What are your plans, wishes, and dreams this year?

25 thoughts on “A New Blogging Year

  1. You had quite an eventful year, Lory, with this big move and having to give up more than half your library? Wow.

    It looks like you have a great reading plan ahead of you which will make quite a dent in the Reading All Around the World challenge.

    Happy New Year in your new part of the world and I wish you a great reading year in 2020!


    1. Yes, it was quite a year! It was difficult to make those decisions about letting go of books, but I am overall really happy with my reduced library. It is so much easier to access books now than it used to be, that I don’t need to cling to my old habits of acquisition. It feels like could I let go of some of the weight of the past along with those hoarded pages.

      I’ve already started on two Around the World books (Pachinko and The House of the Spirits) and I’m loving it. I look forward to many more discoveries.


  2. Well done on getting through the year and having new goals! I’d recommend Ozeki’s A tale for the time being and An Anthropologist on Mars – Oliver Sacks
    A Time of Gifts – Patrick Leigh Fermor out of your list as great reads. Happy reading!


  3. Happy new year, and what great lists! I hope you enjoy them. I’m particularly keen to know what you think about the Rushdie, as I started out loving it and by the end hated it so much I could barely read it. πŸ™‚ I really loved My Name is Red and I’m always meaning and failing to read some Mahfouz so hope you’ll be able to review it here.

    I am filled with admiration at how you dealt with your book purge and hope it’s made space for lots of exciting new reading experiences. (Ironically, when I saw Burial Rites on your list I thought, maybe the time has come to read that, and searched for it, only to remember I purged it a couple of months ago, bother.)


    1. Hm, for me Rushdie’s latest, Quichotte, went downhill in a similar way. Still, I am curious about Midnight’s Children because of its acclaim and influence. So at some point I want to give it a try.


      1. That’s interesting. I do think that MC has been influential and has a lot going for it; I also think we can get a lot out of books even if we don’t like them. But I hope that you enjoy it more than I did.


  4. So much achieved in literary vein this year, Lory, despite having so much going on in your life, and I’m impressed! I’m sorry we didn’t invite you to participate in Witch Week 2019 –we thought you might have a lot else on your mind — but pleased you approved of our management of your brainchild!


  5. What a fantastic list of titles! Some I am familiar with and some not so much. I read very little nonfiction but I did read Secondhand Time last year and found it fascinating. I think you will appreciate it as well.

    I recently picked up Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love at a library book sale. I’ve never read her before but have long been curious. I will be interested to hear what you think if you pick up The Architect’s Apprentice.

    So far, I have a plan to read at least 21 books from my shelves before 2021 and I will participate in the Back to the Classics 2020 challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. I also hope to take part in the 1920 Club hosted by Stuck in a Book and Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.


    1. Thank you Charlotte! Things are going pretty well here. I am looking forward to a return visit, especially when you open your children’s bookstore. πŸ™‚


  6. Happy new year, Lory. I know 2019 was a big one for you, but you’ve survived and it looks like you’re ready for a great year of reading ahead. I can definitely recommend Things Fall Apart, as well as Midnight’s Children. If you’re looking for short stories, consider Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand). Also from New Zealand, Keri Hulme’s novel, The Bone People.
    Happy reading!


    1. I read Katherine Mansfield for the Classics Club, but would like to read more. (Of the stories in the volume I read, I was surprised how few were actually set in New Zealand.) The Bone People is a great suggestion, thanks!


      1. I just remembered another author: Yasunari Kawabata (Japan) — incredibly beautiful writing. Especially Snow Country. I’ve just inspired myself to shift that book onto this year’s TBR pile.


  7. There’s so much crossover in our hopes for 2020, I’m so excited! I’m going to be reviewing The Library Book for Non-Fiction November too, and I’ve got a copy of When Breath Becomes Air waiting for me on my shelves. I’m also hoping to get to Pachinko, Love In The Time of Cholera, and A Tale For The Time Being (if I can track down a copy, it’s eluded me so far). This is going to be a great year, can’t wait to follow your reading adventures!


  8. I’m glad to hear you’re not being hard on yourself about your reading last year – an international move sounds must be incredibly complicated and time consuming!

    I love your list of nonfiction to-reads and would especially recommend The Library Book and Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing πŸ™‚


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