Sunday Salon: Housekeeping And New Challenges

sunsalonWelcome everyone to my new blog home! I wanted a site dedicated solely to books, and I had created this blog last year when I started a few challenges, but I never did anything with it. I’m still trying to learn my way around WordPress, which seems to have some advantages, but also some limitations. I hope you’ll bear with me while I learn.

February was somewhat productive. At least, I managed to finish my first challenge book, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. That excited me so much that I decided to sign up for an additional challenge, Orbis Terrarum, where I must read ten books from ten different countries by December. This seems manageable, and as I’ve visited so many book blogs, I realize how lacking I am in terms of reading literature from countries other than the U.S. and England. This is my chance to improve myself, and also play catch-up on some books on my TBR list. Here’s what I’ve chosen:

orbis-terrarum-map1. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (Australia). I’ve heard so many good things about this book, it was the first one I picked. I may end up buying it, because the library says it’s “indefinitely” on wait.
2. 100 Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Columbia). This classic has been on my list to read forever. No time like the present.
3. The Savage Detective – Roberto Bolano (Chile). My first choice would be 2666, but that might be a tiny bit ambitious, with the other challenges. Might as well take it slow.
4. The Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (Dominica). A new classic.
5. One of three choices for Canada (It has authors besides Alice Munro! Can you believe it?), but I haven’t decided which: Kamouraska – Anne Hébert, which I read about on Shelf Love; The Road Past Altamont – by Gabrielle Roy, which I also read about on Shelf Love; or The Little Country – Charles DeLint, which was recommended by Eva at A Striped Armchair. These are all available at the library, so if you have an opinion on any of these, I’d love to hear.
6. Red Mandarin Dress: An Inspector Chen Novel – Qiu Xiaolong (China). The way I see it, if I am going to branch out, then I am really going to branch out. A mystery novel by a Chinese author is way outside my usual reading picks.
7. Snow – Orhan Pamuk (Turkey). I’ve wanted to read this since it came out. Again, no time like the present.
8. Out Stealing Horses – Per Petterson (Norway). This was on so many “Best of 2008” lists, I had to add it to my TBR. Also on hold indefinitely at the library. My backup for this is The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (Sweden).
9. Something, I haven’t decided what (not an actual title, but wouldn’t it be a good one?) – Kenzaburo Oe (Japan). I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this author, I thought it was time to actually read something he’s written. Lots of choices at the library.
10. Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh (India). Kiss a cloud had a wonderful review of this, but really, the book jacket was the first thing to catch my eye. Shallow, I know.

An another note, my friend told me today about a new (to me) book site: Better World Books. They carry new, used, and rare books, as well as textbooks, and they have free shipping in the U.S., as well as a “carbon-free” option for shipping, but that’s not all:

In addition to selling new titles, Better World Books supports book drives and collects used books and textbooks through a network of over 1,600 college campuses and partnerships with nearly 1,000 libraries nationwide. So far, the company has converted more than 11 million donated books into $4.5 million in funding for literacy and education. In the process, we’ve also diverted more than 6,000 tons of books from landfills. 

Because we believe that most every book has lasting value and the potential to help change the world, we see our job as helping to find new homes for unwanted books. Thus far, we’ve donated nearly one million books to partner programs around the world. Our four primary literacy partners are Books for Africa, Room to Read, Worldfund, the National Center for Family Literacy, and Invisible Children. Good company, no doubt. 

Every book purchased from Better World Books contributes to individual literacy throughout the world and the promise of a better life. Clearly, we can’t do this work without our customers. That’s why we’re so passionate about trying to offer the best price, selection, customer service, and overall shopping experience.

A wonderful cause, and to top it off, they have a bargain bin, where you can buy 5 books for $15! Yes, I caved. I broke my no-buy rule and bought the following titles, all used:

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

The Country Life – Rachel Cusk

Divine Sarah – Adam Braver

The Dark Room – Rachel Sieffert

Aiding and Abetting – Muriel Spark

So I won’t feel too naughty about this purchase, I will most likely be giving these away after posting thoughts, so stay tuned! It may take me awhile, what with all these challenges, but I plan to get rhough all of these…

And finally, I really want to join Matthew this month as he reads Gone with The Wind. This month is my ten year anniversary in Atlanta, and I’ve never read the book, so I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. Is anyone else planning to read along?

Have a wonderful week everybody!

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18 comments

  1. Hi Pris…let me know if you want me to send The Book Thief…it’s just sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read again.

    Love the new blog…looks great! You are very ambitious, with all of these challenges. Good luck! Mom

  2. What a great list for Orbis Terrarum 2009. You’ve included some of my favorites. Out Stealing Horses is an amazing book, so is 100 Years of Solitude, The Wide Sargasso Sea and Snow. I haven’t chosen all of mine yet but Sea of Poppies is definitely one of them. Thanks for the tip about Better World Books!

  3. The new blog looks great (and the comment system is easier to navigate too!)! Of the books on your Orbis Terrarum list, I’ve only read 100 Years of Solitude, but it immediately joined the ranks of my all-time favorite books, so I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Marquez is truly a master writer. I also have Out Stealing Horses on my shelves, but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet.

    And thanks for the heads up about Better World Books. I’ll definitely be checking out their bargain book section, for better or for worse!

  4. Gavin, Better World Books really has a great selection! I was so impressed. I’m going to check there first when I’m hunting for something.

    I’m excited about the Orbis Terrarum challenge. It will give me a chance to catch up on some wonderful books and get me out of my rut!

  5. Hi Steph! Yes, the Haloscan comment thing was sort of a nightmare. This does seem to be friendlier!

    I had a copy of 100 Years of Solitude forever, and then I sold or swapped it. What an idiot–first for not reading it, second for getting rid of it! Be careful on Better World Books…they have great deals. I could’ve easily got five more books!

  6. Congrats on the new blog home!

    Ooh The Book Thief is wonderful so I hope you’ll enjoy it. Out Stealing Horses is quite a good book too! Have fun with the challenge.

  7. I have read #2, 7, and 10. Sea of Poppies is on my night-stand as I’m still reading through the Booker shortlist. I have enjoyed Amitiav Ghosh’s The Glass palace so I’m looking forward to reading Sea of Poppies.

    It’s raining cat and dog here in San Francisco. I have found myself staying in all day immersing in the world of Scarlett O’Hara! I certainly have made headway through the book. I cannot put it down!

  8. Matthew, I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts on Sea of Poppies. I am hoping to get to the library tomorrow to get Gone with The Wind. We had snow in Atlanta today, so I stayed cozy. I’m really looking forward to that book. I can’t believe I’ve never read it!

  9. Love your new blog home! I’ve been wanting to switch to wordpress for some time now and have created an account, but there seems to be a problem when I import: the blank lines in between paragraphs disappear. How did you do it?

    You have a great reading list for Orbis Terrarum. I haven’t finished my own list for it yet! I’m glad you’ve decided to read Sea of Poppies.. hope you enjoy it, too! 100 Years is wonderful! Those two are the only ones I’ve read from your list but planning to read some other titles you have there as well. And thanks for the Better World Books link.. I’ll be visiting. Have a great week! 😀

  10. Sadly, I haven’t read any of those books but I’ve been meaning to read 2, 7 and 10. Particularly 2, because I’ve heard such wonderful things about Marquez. And 10 (Claire’s review also convinced me)

    Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books so I once tried the Rhys, but I was disappointed. I look forward to reading your thoughts on it though 😀

  11. Hi Claire! I’m not sure how I did it…I just imported and it seemed to work. Maybe it’s the template I chose? Also, before importing, I had tried cutting and pasting a few posts. I had problems there and made adjustments. It could be that those adjustments got applied to everything when I imported. My only issue so far is with the sidebar…Wordpress does not allow javascript apps, so some of the cool little apps (like Sunday Salon participants dropdown) don’t work. *sigh*

    I’m so excited about the Orbis Terrarum challenge! I can’t wait to see your list.

  12. Tuesday, that’s too bad about the Rhys. I’ve not read Jane Eyre since high school, so I wonder if I should re-read that first, or maybe just let it stand on its own? I’ve got so many good books on this list, I am not sure where to start, but I think the Marquez or Sea of Poppies will probably be first. 🙂

  13. You’ve got a great list of books for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge. I’ve been meaning to read something by Orhan Pamuk for a few years now but still haven’t managed to. Hopefully this will be the year.

  14. Welcome!! I am so glad you are joining in on the OT challenge 🙂

    Make sure you check back on the OT blog often as we’ll have a chance to interact on more than international reading. Let me know if you ever have any questions or comments.

    Again welcome.

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