Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Global reading notes: sidetracked, an unknown bestseller, Indonesia + Tasmania

Sidetracked between continents...
The plan for last week was: to read the next book for the 7 Continents Reading Challenge. It didn't really work out. Instead, I read a 5-million-copy-bestseller book that I hadn't heard about before: The Rainbow Troops (more about that, below). And then followed book blog links... and got even more sidetracked, in a good way. As it turns out, there are 2 book blogs that run short theme challenges - and both are interesting and inspiring, and connect to international books that are waiting in my shelf. So March will be the month of sidetrips and stop-overs for me.

Classic novel challenge
Book blogger John Wiswell from the "Bathroom Monologues" runs a yearly reading challenge for classic novels: "This is an annual tradition encouraging people to read the classic novels they've been putting off, because everybody has a few"... more here:  National Novel Reading Month

I will join with a classic of the different kind: "Maus" by Art Spiegelmann, published in 1991, is a classic in the world of graphic novels, and also the first graphic novels that won a Pulitzer Prize.

Eastern European Lit Month
"Winstonsdad's Blog" is a reading blog that focuses on global books - and this month, it will all be about books about / from the former USSR. The idea: "reading books from what made up the soviet bloc behind the iron curtain before it fell", here's the link: Welcome to Eastern European Lit month

I will join with the memoir "Picnic at the Iron Curtain: A Memoir: From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to Ukraine's Orange Revolution" by Susan Viets - the book won the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist's award.

7 Continents reading challenge 
The 7 continents challenge started in January, but it's open all year round, and there are still new readers joining. This week I browsed blogs and links, and now am tempted to get some of the books, too, especially the ones from France and South America. Here are some links:


Reading... into Indonesia and Tasmania

And here are the reading notes from last week:

Rainbow Troops: Andrea Hirata
The “Rainbow Troops” is a memoir from Indonesia, it tells the story of a village school with compassionate teachers who encouraged kids to keep learning – one of thee kids was Andrea Hirata, author of the book.

The touching and surprisingly positive story turned into a huge bestseller in Indonesia, with over 5 million copies sold. It's also a beautiful and inspiring read about the power of knowledge and learning, and the power of magic of books and stories. Here's a summary: "The poverty-stricken school suffers the constant threat of closure by government officials, greedy corporations, natural disasters and the students’ own lack of self-confidence. The story is written from the perspective of Ikal, who is six years old when the novel opens. Just as the author himself did as a young man, Ikal goes to college and eventually wins a scholarship to go abroad, beating incredible odds to become a writer."

I arrived at the book through the Guardian "best books from".. series, and probably will go and see what they suggest for other countries. So far, the reads from there all have been really good.

Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett 
This book... was a wrong order: I read a German book review of Parrett's latest book, which is a book that leads from Australia to the South Pole...and ordered an English copy. Well, turns out, I ordered the "wrong" one: Past the Shallows is set in Tasmania, and in many ways is the counterpart of Rainbow Troops: it's the story of 3 brothers who live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania, and they don't have an encouraging teacher, but have to deal with a troubled father and a painful family secret. It's a sad story, but written in a beatiful poetic voice - and it's probabably the story of many kids who are up against the odds of life.


Global Reading Challenge 2015 + Currently Reading:

For 2015, I try to read books / authors from different countries, the idea is to visit all continents. If you want to, join the reading challenge: 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - or just join the international facebook reading group.

Countries / regions visited so far: most population: China , highest coutry/region: Himalaya.

For more reading notes, click here: life as a journey with books. A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

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