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Purple Hibiscus
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lisette Lecat
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions
Thomas McNamee, Bob Reed
Collection: The Tailor of Panama / Our Game / The Night Manager
John le Carré
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions
Thomas McNamee
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
Sam Kean
Progress: 31/391 pages
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection
Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry
The Woman In White
Wilkie Collins
Merlin Trilogy
Mary Stewart
Progress: 340/928 pages
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle

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Project Hamlet

Around the World in 80 Books Mostly by Female Authors: Master Update Post

[World map created with Mapchart.net]

 

The aim: To diversify my reading and read as many books as possible (not necessarily 80) set in, and by authors from, countries all over the world.  Female authors preferred.  If a book is set in a location other than that of the author's nationality, it can apply to either (but not both).

 

On the map I'm only tracking new reads, not also rereads.

 

The Books:

Africa

 

 

 

Americas

USA

Michelle Obama: Becoming (new)

 

 

 

Asia

China

Xinran: The Good Women of China (new)

 

Japan

Shizuko Natsuki: Murder at Mt. Fuji (new)

 

 

 

Australia / Oceania

 

 

 

Europe

United Kingdom

Lorna Nicholl Morgan: Another Little Murder (new)

Stephen Fry, John Woolf, Nick Baker: Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets (new)

 

Ireland

Tana French: The Witch Elm (new)

 

Greece

Stephen Fry: Mythos (new)

 

 

 

 

 

The "Gender Wars" Stats:

Read to date, in 2019:

Books by female authors: 5

- new: 5

- rereads:

 

Books by male authors: 2

- new: 2

- rereads:

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies:

- new:

- rereads:

Christie-esque? Hardly.

Murder at Mt. Fuji - Shizuko Natsuki

Ugh.  If I believed the publisher's hype that this is among the best that Japanese crime fiction has to offer, I'd be done with Japanese crime fiction here and now.

 

Natsuki knows how to write "atmosphere", but how she could ever have become (according to her American publisher) "one of Japan's most popular mystery writers" is utterly beyond me.  And while I do believe that Natsuki really was trying to copycat Agatha Christie, all she produces is an overly convoluted plot and a novel brimming with inconsistencies.  From egregious scene continuity issues to essential information being gathered "off stage" by teams of policemen elsewhere, to characters behaving purely as the author's plot sequencing and writerly convenience dictates (with little to no regard for, and repeatedly even contrary to what should have been both their inner and their outer response to events), to a clichéd "woman facing off against villain during dark and stormy night" final scene, the novel abounds with things that either should have been weeded out in the editing process or should have prevented it from being published altogether. 

 

Worst IMHO, however, are the police, who

 

* let a family -- all of whom are suspects -- merrily go on living in the very house that constitutes the crime scene without having cleared the scene first (thus affording the suspects plenty of opportunity to tamper with the scene ... which promptly happens),

* give press conferences in the very building that constitutes the crime scene (again before the scene has been cleared -- allowing for the reporters to further muddy the scene),

* allow the suspects to be present at those press conferences (oddly, without a single reporter showing any interest in approaching the suspects -- instead, the reporters wait until most of them have finally departed to Tokyo, to then fruitlessly stalk the premises from outside at night),

* reveal every last scrap of information -- including and in particular things only known to the police and the culprit(s) -- to the press,

* and involve a civilian who only a day earlier had still been one of the suspects (and should actually be charged with conspiring to conceal a crime / as an accomplice after the fact) in an ill-conceived, risk-prone, and promptly almost fatally derailed scheme to entrap the killer.

 

Oh, and did I mention that -- though I can't comment on the substantive details of the Japanese legal provision central to the plot (which gets cite-checked to numbing point in the final part of the novel) -- Natsuki's research, if any, on the legal issues that I can comment on is seriously off as well?  (Which, in turn, may actually explain the otherwise inexplicably stupid behaviour of one particular character.)

 

Well, I guess at least I finally get to check this one off my TBR ... and check off Japan on my "Around the World in 80 Books" challenge.

 

Next!

Reading progress update: I've read 31 out of 391 pages.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

Well, let's just say Mr. Kean clearly isn't Helen Czerski (and that is not a good thing).

 

He either has no clear conception of who his target audience is, or he doesn't know how to talk to his audience.  Someone with an average to advanced training in science obviously wouldn't need any explanations as to the structure of the periodic table, to begin with.  The rest of us might need one -- but (and it speaks volumes that I even have to emphasize this) a clearly structured one, please, not an assortment of anectdotes that blows any explanatory structure clean out of the window.  Also, if you're writing a book subtitled (in part) "...Tales of ... the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements", wouldn't it be a good idea to give your readers an idea when and how the periodic table itself made its first appearance in the history of the world?  Just a paragraph or so, for reference in conjunction with its basic structure, so we know where we are, both in chemical terms and the history of science?  (Ms. Czerski did just that.  But as I said ... Mr. Kean clearly isn't Helen Czerski.) 

 

So far, he's managed the feat that only one of my school teachers ever managed, and that was my physics teacher, who, like Sam Kean, presented his material full of enthusiasm as to the magic of it all, or the big joke associated with a given scientific fact / discovery, or some other reaction clearly warranted in his eyes, while completely failing to transport to the rest of us -- and hence, leaving us entirely mystified -- what all all of this had to do with any of us and why it was actually important (other than in a way that only the initiated would be able to appreciate).  I used to actually like chemistry in school (unlike physics), and I believed I had a fairly good grip on the subject -- an impression my teachers seemed to share, judging by my grades.   A major reason for this was the fact that (unlike in physics class) I never had a moment's doubt as to why what I was learning mattered, and how it all fitted together in the grand scheme of things.  But if I didn't at least have this distant reservoir to rely on, I'm pretty sure I'd be entirely baffled already.  And I can only hope that this state of affairs is going to improve, because otherwise I'm either going to throw in the towel or it's going to take me eons to finish this book (and it won't earn a particularly high rating, either).

 

@MbD and BT: Obviously it really WAS only a matter of time ...

 

Charlie was the first (and seems more interested in the boxes currently sitting in my hallway overall), but Sunny has been observed sitting in one of them today, too -- unfortunately, when I didn't have a camera anywhere in reach.

 

ETA: ... and now here he is as well:

 

Proposed buddy read

Excellent Women - Barbara Pym

Themis-Athena, Murder By Death & I are planning a Buddy Read of Barbara Pym's Excellent Women to tentatively begin on Friday, January 25.

 

Plot summary: 

 

Excellent Women is one of Barbara Pym's richest and most amusing high comedies. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman's daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those "excellent women," the smart, supportive, repressed women who men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors--anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door--the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.

 

Barbara Pym was born in 1913 and died of breast cancer in 1980 and Excellent Women was originally published in 1952.

 

According to Wikipedia:

 

"several strong themes link the works in the Pym canon, which are more notable for their style and characterisation than for their plots. A superficial reading gives the impression that they are sketches of village or suburban life, and comedies of manners, studying the social activities connected with the Anglican church (Anglo-Catholic parishes in particular.) (Pym attended several churches during her lifetime, including St Michael and All Angels, Barnes, where she served on the Parish Church Council.)

 

Pym closely examines many aspects of women's and men's relations, including unrequited feelings of women for men, based on her own experience. Pym was also one of the first popular novelists to write sympathetically about unambiguously gay characters (most notably in A Glass of Blessings).  She portrayed the layers of community and figures in the church seen through church functions. The dialogue is often deeply ironic. A tragic undercurrent runs through some of the later novels, especially Quartet in Autumn and The Sweet Dove Died."

 

In 2013, The Telegraph published an interesting piece for Pym's centenary, which can be found here.

 

If any of this sounds interesting, feel free to join us!

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader

Women Writers: Reading List

 

 

I originally compiled this list for the 2018 Women Writers Bingo, but decided to undust it and continue using it for this year's "Around the World in 80 Books Mostly by Female Authors."

 

Basically this is an extract from my bookshelves (both TBR and read -- "read" where I've already read other books by the same author and am interested in further exploring her work). Further authors are added on an ongoing basis as they come to my notice.  This ought to keep me busy for the next couple of years, I think ...

 

(Note: I'm tracking the precise reading year from 2018 onwards, and only authors read from 2018 onwards are crossed out / checked off.  Rereads count as "read" in the year of the reread for purposes of this list.  Authors who write under several pen names are added to the list under all names, with a note as to their alias(es).)

 

A

  • Alice Adams
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - 2018
  • Renee Ahdieh
  • Madeleine Albright
  • Louisa May Alcott - prior to 2018
  • Tasha Alexander
  • Isabel Allende - prior to 2018
  • Margery Allingham - 2018 and prior
  • Julia Alvarez
  • Vicky Alvear Shecter
  • Jessica Anderson
  • Donna Andrews - 2018 and prior
  • Mary Kay Andrews
  • Maya Angelou
  • Hannah Arendt - prior to 2018
  • Elizabeth von Arnim - 2018 and prior
  • Emily Arnold McCully
  • Maureen Ash
  • Frances Ashcroft
  • Mary Astell
  • Thea Astley
  • Kate Atkinson
  • Margaret Atwood - 2018 and prior
  • Phoebe Atwood Taylor
  • Jane Austen - prior to 2018

 

 

B

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Beryl Bainbridge - prior to 2018
  • Sarah Bakewell
  • Pamela Ball
  • Sandra Balzo
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakarumi
  • Muriel Barbery
  • Pat Barker
  • Djuna Barnes
  • Linda Barnes
  • Nevada Barr
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning - prior to 2018
  • Vicki Baum
  • Mary Beard
  • Simone de Beauvoir
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe - prior to 2018
  • Aphra Behn
  • Lauren Belfer
  • Josephine Bell
  • Gioconda Belli - prior to 2018
  • Marie Belloc Lowndes
  • Carol Lea Benjamin
  • Margot Bennet
  • Isabelle Berrubey
  • Barbara Beuys - prior to 2018
  • Ruth Binney
  • Holly Black
  • Victoria Blake
  • Moonyeen Blakey
  • Enid Blyton - prior to 2018
  • Tracy Borman
  • Phyllis Bottome - 2018
  • Margaret Bourke-White
  • Elizabeth Bowen
  • Marjorie Bowen - 2018 and prior
  • Dorothy Bowers
  • Pamela Branch
  • Christianna Brand
  • Charlotte Brontë - prior to 2018
  • Emily Brontë - prior to 2018
  • Anne Brontë - 2018 and prior
  • Geraldine Brooks
  • Nancy Marie Brown
  • Pearl S. Buck - prior to 2018
  • Thi Bui
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Jan Burke
  • Fanny Burney
  • Anna Burns
  • Jessie Burton
  • Stephanie Butland
  • A.S. Byatt - prior to 2018

     

     

C

  • Margaret Campbell Barnes
  • Trudi Canavan
  • Dorothy Canfield
  • Joanna Cannan
  • Charity Cannon Willard
  • Peggy Caravantes
  • Angela Carter - 2018
  • Miranda Carter
  • Vera Caspary
  • Helen Castor - prior to 2018
  • Willa Cather - prior to 2018
  • Catherine of Siena
  • Eleanor Catton - prior to 2018
  • S.A. Chakraborty
  • Suzanne Chazin
  • Andrée Chedid
  • Tracy Chevalier
  • Marjorie Chibnall
  • Laura Childs
  • Kate Chopin - prior to 2018
  • Agatha Christie - 2018 and prior
  • Rin Chupeco
  • Marchette Chute
  • Sandra Cisneros - prior to 2018
  • Susanna Clarke - prior to 2018
  • Ann Cleeves
  • Barbara Cleverly
  • Hilary Rodham Clinton
  • Colette
  • Maryse Condé
  • Kara Cooney
  • Artemis Cooper
  • Mairead Corrigan Maguire
  • Petra Couvee - 2018
  • Hannah Crafts
  • Charlie Craggs
  • Marie Curie
  • Eve Curie
  • Helen Czerski - 2018

     

     

    D
  • Elizabeth Daly
  • Clemence Dane
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Alexandra David-Neel - prior to 2018
  • Diane Mott Davidson
  • Lindsey Davis
  • Natalie Zemon Davis
  • Charlotte DeCroes
  • Barbara Demick
  • Anita Desai
  • Emily Dickinson - prior to 2018
  • E.M. Delafield
  • Joan Didion
  • Isak Dinesen (Karen / Tania Blixen) - prior to 2018
  • Emma Donoghue - prior to 2018
  • H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
  • Susan Doran
  • Kirstin Downey
  • Ruth Downie
  • Evelyn Doyle
  • Margaret Drabble - 2018
  • Daphne Du Maurier - 2018 and prior
  • María Dueñas
  • Sarah Dunant
  • Dorothy Dunnett
  • Nancy K Duplechain
  • Marguerite Duras - prior to 2018

     

     

    E
  • Angela Eagle
  • Maria Edgeworth
  • Esi Edugyan - 2018
  • Jennifer Egan
  • George Eliot - prior to 2018
  • Joy Ellis - 2018
  • Anne Enright
  • Nora Ephron - prior to 2018
  • Louise Erdrich
  • Jenny Erpenbeck
  • Margaret Erskine
  • María Amparo Escandón
  • Laura Esquivel
  • Janet Evanovich

 

 

F

  • Lygia Fagundes Telles
  • Linda Fairstein
  • Anne Fadiman
  • Jerrilyn Farmer
  • Elena Ferrante
  • Elizabeth Ferrars
  • Rosario Ferré
  • Helen Fielding - prior to 2018
  • Erica Fischer
  • Helen Fitzgerald
  • Fannie Flagg - prior to 2018
  • Judith Flanders
  • Jane Fletcher Geniesse
  • Joanne Fluke - 2018
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Moderata Fonte - prior to 2018
  • Sarah Foot
  • Amanda Foreman - prior to 2018
  • Karin Fossum - 2018
  • Earlene Fowler
  • Anne Frank - prior to 2018
  • Lois P. Frankel
  • Ariana Franklin
  • Antonia Fraser - prior to 2018
  • Caroline Fraser
  • Marilyn French - prior to 2018
  • Tana French - prior to 2018, 2019
  • Esther Freud
  • Alexandra Fuller
  • Margaret Fuller
  • Anna Funder

     

     

    G
  • Diana Gabbaldon
  • Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) - 2018
  • Mavis Gallant
  • Janice Galloway
  • Elizabeth Gaskell - 2018 and prior
  • Elizabeth George - 2018 and prior
  • Stella Gibbons - prior to 2018
  • Frances Gies
  • Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Beatrice Malleson, aka Anne Meredith)
  • Janet Gleeson
  • Kristin Gleeson
  • Molly Gloss
  • Lisa Goldstein
  • Carol Goodman
  • Nadine Gordimer
  • Charlotte Gordon
  • Sue Grafton
  • Caroline Graham
  • Anna Katherine Green
  • Kerry Greenwood - prior to 2018
  • Germaine Greer
  • Lady Augusta Gregory
  • Susanna Gregory - prior to 2018
  • Kate Grenville
  • Aceituna Griffin
  • Nicola Griffith
  • Martha Grimes . prior to 2018
  • Sarah Gristwood
  • Judith Guest
  • Ursula K. Le Guin

     

     

    H
  • Radclyffe Hall - 2018
  • Brigitte Hamann
  • Barbara Hambly
  • Denise Hamilton
  • Edith Hamilton - prior to 2018
  • Sheila Hancock
  • Helene Hanff
  • Lorraine Hansberry
  • Valerie Hansen
  • Kate Harding
  • Kathryn Harkup - 2018
  • Joanne Harris
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • Mavis Doriel Hay - 2018 and prior
  • Eliza Haywood
  • Anne Hébert
  • Elke Heidenreich - prior to 2018
  • Lillian Hellman
  • Kristien Hemmerechts
  • Amy Hempel
  • Sandra Hempel
  • Jennifer Morag Henderson
  • Christine Heppermann
  • Georgette Heyer - 2018 and prior
  • Joanna Hickson
  • Susan Higginbotham
  • Mary Higgins Clark - prior to 2018
  • Patricia Highsmith - 2018 and prior
  • Hildegard von Bingen - prior to 2018
  • Susan Hill
  • Laura Hillenbrand
  • Lisa Hilton
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • Tami Hoag
  • Antonia Hodgson - prior to 2018
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett - prior to 2018
  • Beatrice Hohenegger
  • Renate Holland-Moritz
  • Victoria Holt (Eleanor Hibbert, aka Jean Plaidy & Philippa Carr) - prior to 2018
  • Winifred Holtby
  • Susan Howatch - 2018
  • Dorothy B. Hughes
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Siri Hustvedt
  • Elspeth Huxley
  • Hypathia of Alexandria

     

     

    I
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder - 2018
  • Susan Isaacs
  • Molly Ivins - prior to 2018

 

 

J

  • Shirley Jackson - prior to 2018
  • Lilian Jackson Braun
  • Miranda James
  • P.D. James - 2018 and prior
  • J.A. Jance - 2018
  • Tove Jansson
  • Lisa Jardine
  • Inge Jens
  • Ianthe Jerrold
  • Sarah Orne Jewett
  • Katherine (and Romilly) John
  • Elizabeth Jolley
  • Erica Jong
  • Morag Joss
  • Rachel Joyce
  • Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz - prior to 2018
  • Julian of Norwich

     

     

    K
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Liz Kalaugher
  • Lydia Kang
  • Ellis Kaut - prior to 2018
  • M.M. Kaye
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Susanna Kearsley - 2018
  • Helen Keller - prior to 2018
  • Faye Kellerman
  • Karen Kelly
  • Margery Kempe
  • Sarah Kendzior
  • Christine Kenneally
  • Hannah Kent
  • Jamaica Kincaid
  • Laurie R. King
  • Naomi Klein
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • Rosalie Knecht - 2018
  • Helen J. Knowles
  • Rachel Knowles
  • Clea Koff
  • Elizabeth Kostova
  • Nicole Krauss
  • Ellen Kushner
  • Aug San Suu Kyi

 

 

L

  • Marie Laberge
  • Camilla Läckberg
  • Mercedes Lackey
  • Mary Ladd Gavell
  • Carmen Laforet
  • Selma Lagerlöf - prior to 2018
  • Jhumpa Lahiri - prior to 2018
  • Lorna Landvik
  • Nella Larsen
  • Carole Lawrence - 2018
  • Camara Laye
  • Laurie Lee
  • Tanith Lee
  • Madeleine L'Engle
  • Charlotte Lennox
  • Donna Leon - prior to 2018
  • Doris Lessing
  • Elizabeth Letts
  • Laura Levine - 2018
  • Andrea Levy
  • Marina Lewycka
  • Amy Licence
  • Juliette Lichtenstein
  • Astrid Lindgren - prior to 2018
  • Leanda de Lisle
  • Clarice Lispector
  • Elizabeth Little
  • Ivy Litvinov
  • Guadalupe Loaeza
  • Norah Lofts
  • Sarah Lovett - 2018
  • E.C.R. Lorac - 2018

 

 

M

  • Sharon Maas - prior to 2018
  • Greer Macallister
  • Hilary Macaskill
  • Helen MacInnes - 2018
  • Margaret MacMillan
  • Karen Maitland - prior to 2018
  • Abby Mann
  • Erika Mann
  • Katia Mann
  • Elisabeth Mann-Borghese
  • Olivia Manning
  • Katherine Mansfield - prior to 2018
  • Hilary Mantel - prior to 2018
  • Beryl Markham - prior to 2018
  • Monika Maron
  • Ngaio Marsh - 2018 and prior
  • Megan Marshall
  • Sujata Massey
  • Francine Matthews - 2018
  • Doris Maurer
  • Margaret Mazzantini
  • Mari McAuliffe
  • Sarah McBride
  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Susan Carol McCarthy
  • Helen McCloy
  • K.D. McCrite
  • Sharyn McCrumb - 2018 and prior
  • Carson McCullers
  • Colleen McCullough
  • Val McDermid - 2018 and prior
  • Alison McGhee
  • Jill McGown - 2018
  • Maureen F. McHugh
  • Pat McIntosh - prior to 2018
  • Shirley McKay
  • Patricia McKillip - 2018
  • Paula McLain
  • Bethany McLean
  • Catherine Meadows
  • Leslie Meier - 2018
  • Lise Meitner
  • Francesca Melandri
  • Rigoberta Menchú
  • María Rosa Menocal
  • Anne Meredith (Lucy Beatrice Malleson, aka Anthony Gilbert) - prior to 2018
  • Claire Messud
  • Anne Michaels
  • Barbara Michaels (Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters)
  • Rosalind Miles
  • Margaret Millar
  • Marja Mills
  • Anchee Min
  • Denise Mina - prior to 2018
  • Rupali Mishra
  • Gladys Mitchell - prior to 2018
  • Margaret Mitchell - prior to 2018
  • Nancy Mitford
  • Miyuki Miyabe
  • Theresa Monsour
  • Rosa Montero
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery - prior to 2018
  • Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier
  • Lorrie Moore
  • Susanna Moore
  • Wendy Moore
  • Elsa Morante
  • Lorna Nicholl Morgan - 2019
  • Toni Morrison - prior to 2018
  • Toni Mount - prior to 2018
  • Hermynia Zur Mühlen
  • Bárbara Mujica
  • Alice Munro - prior to 2018
  • Lady Murasaki Shikubu
  • Iris Murdoch
  • Tamar Myers

 

 

N

  • Barbara Nadel
  • Meera Nair
  • Sylvia Nasar
  • Shizuko Natsuki
  • Marguerite de Navarre
  • Irène Némirovsky - 2018
  • Katherine Neville
  • Anaïs Nin - prior to 2018
  • Ingrid Noll - prior to 2018
  • Elizabeth Norton
  • Amélie Nothomb
  • Mary Novik - prior to 2018
  • Naomi Novik
  • Frances Noyes Hart
  • Tiina Nunnally

 

 

O

  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Tea Obreht - prior to 2018
  • Edna O'Brien - prior to 2018
  • Carol O'Connell
  • Flannery O'Connor - prior to 2018
  • Sandra Day O'Connor
  • Nuala O'Faolain
  • Sofi Oksanen
  • Susan Orlean
  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Emmuska Orczy - 2018 and prior
  • Mary Orr
  • Anna Maria Ortese - prior to 2018
  • Perri O'Shaughnessy
  • Elsa Osorio - prior to 2018
  • Meta Osredkar
  • Isabel Ostrander
  • Delia Owens
  • Helen Oyeyemi
  • Ruth Ozeki
  • Cynthia Ozick

 

 

P

  • Tina Packer
  • Sydney Padua
  • Sara Paretsky - prior to 2018
  • Sandra Paretti - prior to 2018
  • Dorothy Parker
  • I.J. Parker
  • S.J. Parris - prior to 2018
  • Rachel Pastan
  • Ann Patchett - prior to 2018
  • Jill Paton Walsh
  • Renee Patrick
  • Maggie Pearson
  • Sharon Kay Penman - prior to 2018
  • Louise Penny
  • Andrea Penrose
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman - prior to 2018
  • Régine Pernoud
  • Anne Perry - 2018 and prior
  • Ellis Peters / Edith Pargeter - 2018 and prior
  • Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Mertz, aka Barbara Michaels)
  • Nancy Pickard
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Hazel Pierce
  • Tamora Pierce
  • Marge Piercy
  • Christine de Pizan - prior to 2018
  • Jean Plaidy (Eleanor Hibbert, aka Victoria Holt & Philippa Carr) - prior to 2018
  • Sylvia Plath - prior to 2018
  • Sarah B. Pomeroy
  • Elena Poniatowska
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Linda Porter
  • Beatrix Potter - prior to 2018
  • Susan Power
  • Helen Prejean - prior to 2018
  • Annie Proulx - prior to 2018
  • Barbara Pym

     

     

    Q
  • Rachel de Queiroz
  • Amanda Quick
  • D.M. Quincy
  • Anna Quindlen - 2018 and prior

 

 

R

  • Lea Rabin
  • Ann Radcliffe
  • Carol Daugherty Rasnic - prior to 2018
  • Pauline Réage
  • Kathy Reichs - prior to 2018
  • Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine) - prior to 2018
  • Barbara Reynolds
  • Lucy Ribchester
  • Dorothy Richardson
  • Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson)
  • Brenda Rickman Vantrease
  • Stella Rimington - 2018 and prior
  • Margaret Rivers Larminie
  • Candace Robb
  • J.D. Robb
  • Alice Roberts
  • Mary Roberts Rinehart - 2018
  • Marilynne Robinson
  • Roxana Robinson
  • Judith Rock
  • Katrin Rohde
  • Sally Rooney
  • Nelly Rosario
  • Colette Rossant
  • Christina Rossetti - prior to 2018
  • Roswitha von Gandersheim - prior to 2018
  • Laura Joh Rowland
  • J.K. Rowling - 2018 and prior
  • Arundhati Roy - prior to 2018
  • Gabrielle Roy
  • Priscilla Royal
  • Joanna Russ
  • Harriet Rutland
  • Sofie Ryan

     

     

    S
  • Vita Sackville-West
  • Jehan Sadat
  • Françoise Sagan
  • Angela Saini
  • George Sand - prior to 2018
  • Cora Sandel
  • Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
  • Sappho - prior to 2018
  • Beth Saulnier
  • Dorothy L. Sayers - 2018 and prior
  • Ruth Scarborough
  • Andrea Schacht
  • Katherine West Scheil
  • June Schlueter - 2018
  • Harriet Scott Chessman
  • Lisa Scottoline - prior to 2018
  • Alice Sebold - prior to 2018
  • Lisa See
  • Anna Seghers - prior to 2018
  • Sei Shōnagon
  • Annemarie Selinko - prior to 2018
  • Barbara Seranella
  • Julia Serano
  • Diane Setterfield - 2018
  • Anna Sewell - prior to 2018
  • Elif Shafak
  • Kamila Shamsie - 2018
  • Beth Shapiro
  • Mary Shelley - prior to 2018
  • Carol Shields
  • Katharine Sim
  • Helen Simonson
  • Helen Simpson
  • Mary Sinclair
  • Maj Sjöwall (& Per Wahlöö)
  • Margaret Skea
  • Karin Slaughter
  • Ali Smith - prior to 2018
  • Julie Smith
  • Shelley Smith
  • Zadie Smith
  • Rebecca Solnit
  • Susan Sontag - prior to 2018
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Diana Souhami
  • Muriel Spark - prior to 2018
  • Annie Spence
  • Julia Spencer-Fleming
  • Johanna Spyri - prior to 2018
  • Freya Stark
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Carola Stern - prior to 2018
  • Amy Stewart
  • Mary Stewart - prior to 2018
  • Rebecca Stott
  • Susan Stryker
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Kate Summerscale - prior to 2018
  • Rachel Swaby
  • Beverly Swerling
  • S.D. Sykes

 

 

T

  • Lalita Tademy
  • Amy Tan -- 2018 and prior
  • Natasha Tarpley
  • Donna Tartt
  • Mary Taylor Simeti
  • Janne Teller
  • F. Tennyson Jesse
  • Sheri S. Tepper - prior to 2018
  • Mother Teresa
  • Josephine Tey - 2018 and prior
  • Angie Thomas
  • Jane Thynne - 2018
  • Grace Tiffany
  • James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon)
  • Masako Togawa
  • Claire Tomalin
  • Jean Toomer
  • Lillian de la Torre
  • Stella Tower
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner
  • Rose Tremain - prior to 2018
  • Joanna Trollope
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Gail Tsukiyama
  • Barbara Tuchman
  • Abigail Tucker
  • Katy Tur
  • Janette Turner Hospital
  • Helen Tursten - 2018
  • Joyce Tyldesley - prior to 2018
  • Anne Tyler
  • Kathleen Tynan

     

     

    U
  • Jenny Uglow
  • Ludmila Ulitskaya - 2018
  • Sigrid Undset
  • Else Ury - prior to 2018

 

 

V

  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Sarah Vaughan
  • Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) - 2018 and prior
  • Serena Vitale
  • Susan Vreeland

 

 

W

  • Alice Walker
  • Amy Wallace
  • Maureen Waller
  • Harriet Walter - prior to 2018
  • Minette Walters
  • Evangeline Walton
  • Jo Walton
  • Sarah Waters
  • Winifred Watson
  • Tiffany Watt Smith
  • Betty Webb
  • Alison Weir - prior to 2018
  • Eudora Welty - prior to 2018
  • Patricia Wentworth - 2018 and prior
  • Debbie Lee Wesselmann
  • Rebecca West
  • Kate Westbrook - 2018
  • Megan Whalen Turner
  • Edith Wharton - 2018 and prior
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Sara Wheeler
  • Ethel Lina White - 2018
  • Samantha Wilcoxson - prior to 2018
  • Margery Williams - prior to 2018
  • Wendy Williams
  • Valerie Plame Wilson - 2018
  • Jeanette Winterson - prior to 2018
  • Margaret Wise Brown - prior to 2018
  • Susan Wittig Albert
  • Christa Wolf - prior to 2018
  • Mary Wollstonecraft - prior to 2018
  • Faith Wolseley
  • Barbara Wood
  • Frances Wood
  • Paula L. Woods
  • Virginia Woolf - prior to 2018
  • Jennifer Worth
  • Mary Wortley Montagu
  • Jennifer Wright - 2018
  • Andrea Wulf

     

     

    X
  • Xinran (Xuē Xīnrán) - 2018, 2019

 

 

Y

  • Tiphanie Yanique
  • Jane Yolen
  • Banana Yoshimoto - 2018
  • Marguerite Youcenar - prior to 2018

     

  •  

  •  

    Z
  • Juli Zeh - 2018
  • Xianliang Zhang
  • Edith M. Ziegler
  • Stefanie Zweig

 

 

 

Book Charities

 

As a follow-up to our charity picks for 24 Festive Tasks, I thought I'd share a few of the lists and websites I consulted when making my choice, and reproduce the brief descriptions of the organizations presented there, in case anybody here on BookLikes should be interested in following up with one of them.  Most of them have offices in the countries where the majority of BookLikers are from, so it should be easy for anyone interested to take a closer look.  As I said in my earlier post, there are many tremendously devoted organizations with phantastic programs out there; I really had a hard time making up my mind.

 

Bookfriends International, the charity I eventually chose, is located in the greater Chicago area (1000 N. Rand Road, #206 Wauconda, IL. 60084, phone (1-847) 726-8776; email bookfriends [at] earthlink . net).  I'm sure they'd be thrilled to hear more from us.

 

That said, here are the resources I consulted when making my decision:

 

 

1. To begin with, there is the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning / Book Donation Agencies page, which lists the following book charities:

 

African Childrens Libraries

http://www.africanchildrenslibraries.org/

African Children's Libraries
2221 NW 12th Street
Corvallis, Oregon 97330-1459, USA
E-mail: ann @ africanchildrenslibraries . org
Contact: Ann Easterly, Executive Director

African Children's Libraries donates children's books and assists mostly in elementary schools in establishing libraries. They are working with mainly children’s libraries in Liberia. ACL have helped establish 18 school libraries and sent some few books to a community college, nursing school and hospital over the last 15 years.

Currently, they can provide consultation to those looking for resources but are not taking applications for additional schools.

 

African Library Project

http://www.africanlibraryproject.org

Thistle Street Portola Valley, CA 94028, USA
Phone: (+1) 650-851-3640
E-mail: info @ africanlibraryproject . org

Contact: Chris Bradshaw

African Library Project sends English language books, which are collected through book drives. Books are at U.S. preschool to 8th grade reading levels. Available resources include baby board books, children’s picture books, fiction and nonfiction, juvenile literature, children’s encyclopedias, children’s and adult dictionaries, recent atlases, and textbooks in English, science, math and geography.

 

Asia Foundation / Books for Asia

http://www.asiafoundation.org/

465 California St., 9th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
Phone: (+1) 415-982-4640 and Fax: (+1) 415-392-8863
E-mail: info @ asiafound . org
Contact: Melody Zavala, Director (melody . zavala @ asiafound . org)

The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program donates new and high quality used books on all educational subjects and at all levels. Field offices of the Asia Foundation distribute the books to libraries, universities, schools and other institutions in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Please contact the nearest Asia Foundation office (often in capital cities of project countries) and ask for the Books for Asia Programme.

 

Books Abroad

http://www.booksabroad.org.uk

Unit 1, Richmond Avenue Industrial Estate, Rhynie, Huntley, Aberdeenshire, Scotland AB54 4HJ, UK
Phone: +44-0-1464-861446 and Fax: +44-0-1464-861446
E-mail: info @ booksabroad . org . uk
Contact: Hazel Stephen, Administrator

Books Abroad sends educational, library and resource books for all ages to places of greatest need. New and lightly used school textbooks in all subjects, library books, atlases, dictionaries and health books are available. Books are mainly donated by local schools and North East of Scotland Library Service Libraries. Most of the work is carried out by volunteers. To date, over 3 million books have been despatched worldwide.

 

Book Aid International (BAI)

www.bookaid.org

39-41 Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell, London SES 9NR, UK
Phone: +44-20-7733-3577 or Fax: +44-20-7978-8006
E-mail: info @ bookaid . org
Contact: Samantha Thomas-Chuula, Head of Programmes

Book Aid International works in partnership with libraries in Africa by providing books, resources and training to support an environment in which reading for pleasure, study and lifelong learning can flourish. They provided 563,424 new books to over 3,300 libraries in 2013 alone and have sent more than 30 million books to partner libraries since 1954. The books are distributed by in country distribution partners - library services, local NGOs, or distribution committees. To request books please read through the information and fill out the form on their website.

 

Bookfriends International NFP

http://www.bookfriends.org/

1000 N. Rand Road #206, Wauconda, IL  60084, USA
Phone: USA Toll Free (+1) 877-726-8777 and Office (+1) 847-726-8776 or Fax (+1) 847-726-8775
E-mail: bookfriends @ earthlink . net

Bookfriends International NFP is a non-profit public foundation that seeks to provide educational resources to the secondary school age children (grades 5 - 12) of Africa by providing them with textbooks, library books and reference materials that are in desperately short supply in their local villages.

 

Books for Africa

26 East Exchange StreetSuite 411Saint Paul, MN 55101, USA

Phone: (651) 602-9844 or Fax: (651) 602-9848

Email: bfa @ booksforafrica . org
Contact: Patrick Plonski, Executive Director (Patrick @ booksforafrica . org)

A non-profit organization seeking to share books with the English-speaking countries of Africa. Books for Africa are the largest shipper of donated textbooks to the African continent and have shipped over 30 million school, university, and library books to 49 African countries since 1988. The organization only sends new or gently used books in excellent condition. All books are donated, with receiving organizations paying the costs ($10,000 - $15,000 per container) of shipping donated books in 40-foot containers each holding approximately 22,000 books.

 

Books for International Goodwill (B.I.G.)

www.big-books.org

Parole Rotary Club, P.O. Box 6327, Annapolis, MD 21401-0327, USA
Phone: +1-410-293-6865
Contact: bigbookdonations1 @ gmail . com

B.I.G. is a non-profit charitable organization associated with the Parole Rotary Club providing gifts in kind in cooperation with the public and private sectors. They ship books from individuals, bookstores, schools or libraries to needy countries in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and other areas of the world. The books are sorted into the following categories: college texts, high school texts and elementary texts and general reading for libraries (fiction and non-fiction), medical school, religion and paperbacks. The books are sorted and stored by volunteers. Shipping can be paid primarily by B.I.G. (with the recipient responsible for customs clearance and inland transportation). Over 6.4 million books have been sent.

Note: B.I.G. has suspended operations pending the procurement of a new warehouse. They cannot accept volunteers or book donations at this time (11/01/2018)

 

Books for the Barrios, Inc.

http://booksforthebarrios.org

1125 Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek, California 94598, USA
Phone: (+1) 925-934-6718
E-mail: joinus @ booksforthebarrios . org
Contact: Nancy Harrington

Books for the Barrios operates in the Philippines. Elementary textbooks, children‘s fiction and picture books, toys and games, athletic equipment and consumable school supplies are available.

Due to the large size of shipments, individual requests cannot be honoured except as part of an ongoing project to the requestor’s particular locale. Individuals interested in acting as coordinators for large book shipments, however, should contact Books for the Barrios. Coordinators assist in identifying appropriate recipient schools, repacking books in smaller lots and organizing distribution. Coordinators can identify shipment sponsors among local government officials and civic leaders. The program is eligible for available countrywide development fund support.

 

Bridge to Asia

http://www.bridge.org/

1505 Juanita Way, Berkeley, CA 94702-1103, USA
Phone: (+1) 510-665-3998 and Fax: 510-665-3988
E-mail: asianet @ bridge . org
Contact: Newton X. Liu, Ph.D.

Bridge to Asia operates in China and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam). New and lightly used books, journals, magazines, databases, children‘s books, school books, reference books and other educational materials are available. Bridge to Asia has only a limited ability to send materials to individuals and to organizations not part of the recipient universities distribution system. Such requests often require personal attention and special shipping procedures. Bridge to Asia can still fulfill requests from individuals, but it may be several months before the books are sent out.

 

Brother's Brother Foundation (BBF)

http://www.brothersbrother.org/

1200 Galveston Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15233, USA
Phone: (+1) 412-321-3160 or Fax: (+1) 412-321-3325
E-mail: mail @ brothersbrother . org
Contact: Frank Seanez (Warehouse Assistant and Education Program Coordinator)

The Brother's Brother Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization providing gifts in kind in cooperation with the public and private sectors. Working with volunteers in host countries, they have sent over 8,000,000 books to schools, universities and civic organizations since 1986. Brother's Brother Foundation typically deals in very large quantities (a ton may be considered a small quantity). They provide medical supplies, textbooks, food and seeds to countries all over the world. Their Education Program helps developing countries to build educational infrastructures by providing donated books and educational materials to Africa, South and Central America, East Europe and Asia. All donated books are screened to ensure that they are usable and relevant. Currently 15% of donations are used books and 85% are new books. Once a recipient is established, BBF makes available a book list for the recipient to select titles and quantities. On the website you will find an online application for receiving donations.

 

Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE)

http://www.codecan.org

321 Chapel Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 7Z2, Canada
Phone: +1- 613-232-3569 or Fax: +1- 613-232-7435
Contact: Hila Olyan, Director of International Programs (holyan @ code . ngo)

CODE is a Canadian charitable organization that has been promoting education and literacy in the developing world since 1959.  CODE builds the bridge of literacy by developing partnerships that provide resources for learning, promote awareness and understanding, and encourage self-reliance. CODE’s book donation programme is based on a long-term partnership arrangement with mostly non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania. North American donated books are selected by local book committees from booklists that are made available to the partners by CODE’s affiliate organization, the International Book Bank (IBB), based in Baltimore, USA. The donation programme is supplemented by funding for the organizations that enables them to purchase books from local publishers or to publish books themselves for free distribution to the target audience. The different sources of books ensure that materials are relevant to the needs of the end users, the readers. CODE and partners also establish libraries, train teachers, librarians and other literacy agents to support quality education for children. Please ask CODE headquarters for the nearest local organization or have a look at their website.

 

Darien Book Aid Plan

http://www.darienbookaid.org

1926 Post Road, Darien, Connecticut 06820, USA
Phone: +1-203-655-2777
E-mail: darienbookaid . international @ gmail . com
Contact: Libby Gedney

Darien Book Aid Plan has books on different subjects that are less than 10 years old. They send small boxes of books directly to libraries, schools and hospitals all over the world. The organization does not accept magazines in general, but forwards The National Geographic if it is less than 5 years old. Darien Book Aid Plan does not work with partner organizations. Apart from libraries, they also support local prisons with paperback books and give books to organizations that hold fundraising book sales. Darien Book Aid Plan will send a postcard informing you of the date of the transportation. They appreciate receiving a thank you note with a picture of the library or institution.

Please write a letter or an e-mail to apply for book donations with the following information:

  1. the name of your institution and the type of education or services you offer   
  2. the ages of the people who are the intended readers    
  3. the English reading level of the intended readers – beginning, intermediate or advanced    
  4. the types of books that would best fill your needs – textbooks, reference books, story books, fiction, non-fiction etc. (Please be as specific as possible. We want to fill your needs as closely as we can.)
  5. your mailing address and phone number in the exact form it should appear on our mailing label.
  6.  

Global Book Exchange (GBX)

http://www.bookexchangemarin.org

664 Hilary Drive, Tiburon, CA 94920, USA
E-mail: global.k12books @ gmail . com
Contact: Marilyn Nemzer, Director

GBX operates worldwide and is non-sectarian and supports all secular and religious recipients. However, religious texts are not available. Grades K to 12 used textbooks, teacher’s editions and readers are available. GBX collects surplus used books from local schools. The books are evaluated for condition and applicability. Books not deemed useful are recycled. For shipped books, GBX prefers to ship to a Rotary Club for distribution. The receiving club is responsible for customs clearance (when required) and distribution to clients. GBX gives high priority to recipients able to pay for port-to-port shipments. Shipping costs for a typical pallet shipment of 1000 books are approximately $500. A typical container shipment of 15,000 books costs approximately $4,000. Recipients are expected to pay any in-country costs (customs clearance, storage, distribution). GBX has limited funds for shipping costs. For international shipments, GBX sends as few as thirty boxes and as much as a 20-foot container.

 

International Book Project, Inc.

www.intlbookproject.org

Van Meter Building, 1440 Delaware Avenue, Lexington, Kentucky 40505, USA
Phone: (+1) 859-254-6771
Contact: director @ intlbookproject . org

Book Project sends books to libraries, schools, hospitals and universities in the Global South and parts of the U.S.A. since more than 36 years. Books can be new from publishers or used from individuals, schools and libraries. They cover all levels, children's books through graduate and professional books. On the website you will find an application form for book donations that will be assessed based on the quality and completeness of the application, suitability of the organization as a long-term partner and the IBPs ability to provide the specific books requested.

 

Rotary Books for the World

http://www.rotarybooksfortheworld.org/

4601 Hamblen Court, Seabrook, TX 77586, SA
Phone: (+1) 281-474-2260 and Fax: (+1) 281-474-1492
E-mail: c . clemmons @ att . net / b . clemmons @ att . net
Contact: Charlie Clemmons or Barbara Clemmons

Rotary Books for the World mainly operates in Southern Africa. They work through partnerships with Rotary Clubs in the Global South with their main partner being the Rotary Club of South Africa. The South African Rotarians have a new Rotary Humanitarian Aid Centre which serves as the book distribution center as well as district offices, training facilities, and dispenser of other aid materials. It holds racks of books carefully sorted by subject matter making it easy for the teachers to select their books. The Centre is open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for qualified schools, libraries, and educational institutions to come and pick up as many books as they can carry. New and used primary, secondary, and college-level textbooks, and general reading material for libraries are available. For requests, please contact Charlie or Barbara Clemmons.

 

Skipping Stones

www.SkippingStones.org

Box 3939, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Phone: 541-342-4956
E-mail: Arun Narayan Toké, Editor (editor @ SkippingStones . org)

Skipping Stones has donated books and back issues of Skipping Stones magazines all over the world. All kinds of books are donated: fiction and nonfiction, picture books, chapter books, juvenile novels, reference books, nature, multicultural works and folk tales. Skipping Stones, an international, non-profit, multicultural and nature awareness magazine, is now in its 30th year. The magazine, published quarterly (4 times a year), includes original writing, poetry, art and photography by all ages, especially youth. This non-commercial, ad-free magazine welcomes your students’ writing and art in English, as well as all bilingual (with another language) submissions. Annual Subscriptions are $35, including international postage.

While the donations of books and magazine back issues are free, Skipping Stones asks that those requesting donations arrange for shipping and handling costs. With increased international postage for overseas shipments, it is not possible for Skipping Stones to cover the postage. A large Flat Rate Priority Box of books (weight, approx. 16 to 20 pounds) costs us US$92.00 in postage. If you can arrange a US mail to address, postage can be much less.

 

Sources of Donated Books for Schools and Libraries

Peace Corps. 2012. Sources of Donated Books for Schools and Libraries. [pdf] Washington DC, Peace Corps. Available at: http://files.peacecorps.gov/library/RE003.pdf [25.01.2018]

This document originally intended to help Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts identify organizations that might provide books and other educational materials for schools and libraries in their communities. However, the organizations listed also provide support to other organisations.  The services described for each organization listed in Section A apply specifically to Peace Corps Volunteers. The services and procedures for organizations listed in Section B apply to counterparts or other host country nationals requesting assistance directly.

 

The World Bank Family Network (WBFN) / Book Project

http://www.wbfn.org/

1818 H Street NW, MSN J2-202, Washington DC 20433, USA
Phone: +1-202-473-8960 and Fax: +1-202-522-0142
Contact: Catherine Mathieu, WBFN Coordinator (bookprojectwbfn @ worldbank . org)

The Book Project receives, packs, and distributes donated books to educational institutions in rural and disadvantaged areas of developing countries. Books are donated to all school levels, libraries and community groups concerned with education. When a Distributor requests a shipment book request forms are received from the institutions to justify sending a container of books to a country, WB Book Project in cooperation with a Distributor in Washington, DC finds a recipient organisation to clear the books through customs and distribute them to the recipients. The Distributor can either be spouses/staff of World Bank Missions, the Peace Corps in countries where volunteers are working with libraries and schools, ministries, or local or international NGO's.  WB Book Project sends up to four containers (20' or 40') of 320 or 576 boxes of books per year to developing countries around the world (shipping is paid to the nearest point of entry). Write to them for a book request form (do not contact the local office of the World Bank). Development workers or librarians visiting Washington D.C. can select books from their warehouse to take to libraries overseas. Due to the long waiting list of countries wanting shipments, it usually takes at least two years for WBVS to collect enough requests from one country, find a reliable distributor, pack the shipment and send it overseas.

 

 

 

2. Then, there is an International Book Giving Day blog post on a book reviewer's blog called Playing by the book, which presents 150+ literacy and reading charities (both international and domestic): Some of these overlap with the UNESCO list, but the blog post lists many other charities as well.  The blog post also contains links for the UK Charity Commission Register and The Office of the Scottish Charities Register (the link provided there for the IRS charity search page is broken; the new IRS charity search page is here); and it features, inter alia, MbD's and Moonlight's 2018 choices (and my 2017 choice), The Book Bus and Room to Read:

The Book Bus
The Book Bus believes that every child should have the opportunity to discover the hidden treasures that books contain. Our aim is to reveal the value of literacy by instilling a lifelong love of reading in young children. Using the spoken word, artwork, puppet-making and a host of other media, our volunteers bring to life the worlds within storybooks. The Book Bus provides a mobile service and actively promotes literacy to underprivileged communities in Zambia and Ecuador. The legacy of each Book Bus visit is a reading corner and bookshelves stocked with children’s books.

 

Room to Read
Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.

... as well as, for example:

IBBY – The International Board on Books for Young People
The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. As well as supporting the general organization you can also donate to specific projects around the world through their Children in Crisis Fund.

 

LitWorld
LitWorld works to cultivate literacy leaders worldwide through transformational literacy experiences that build connection, understanding, resilience and strength. LitWorld joins together with teachers, parents, community members, and children to support the development of sustainable literacy practices across the world. One of their main activities is World Read Aloud Day.

 

GBA Ships
The ships visit each port for several weeks each and open the gangways to hundreds and sometimes thousands of visitors each day. On average, over one million visitors have been welcomed on board every year! The floating book fairs offer over 7,000 titles, providing many visitors their first-ever opportunity to purchase a wide range of quality literature.

 

SHINE
Shine is a literacy charity that works in Zambia. They run a literacy school in a shanty town in Lusaka which has around 150 children all learning how to read and write. Every child receives a daily meal at the school and pays no fees whatsoever.

 

Friends of African Village Libraries
FAVL’s goal is to assist the rural poor of Africa with the creation of village libraries. FAVL refurbishes community-donated buildings, transforming them into a space to read and study. Libraries are stocked with books by local authors and in local languages to the greatest extent possible. In addition, FAVL sponsors librarian training and provides for librarian salaries, thereby empowering locals with skilled employment.

 

Wings of the Dawn
Our Vision is to establish functional literate communities in Africa to bridge the gap between poverty and prosperity. Our Mission is to help build economically stable and productive societies in African communities by ensuring access to self-sustaining educational centers for its citizens.

 

3. And finally, there is of course Google, which will take you directly, inter alia, to the websites of these two programs:

World Literacy Foundation

"We strive to ensure that every young individual regardless of geographic location has the opportunity to acquire literacy and reading skills to reach their full potential, succeed at school and beyond. We provide free access to quality education materials and innovate solutions that target wide-scale illiteracy. We envision a world in which every one of us can read and write, in which there is free access to education for all."

 

Aid for Africa / Girls Education Project

"Aid for Africa is committed to empowering girls through education. When a girl in Africa gets the chance to go to school and stay in school, the cycle of poverty is broken and things change."

Obsidian Blue: Authors and Readers

Signal boost for a great post by OB -- everyone should read this.

 

And while you're at it, why not go the whole hog and also read Moonlight's The Shaming of Blythe Harris?

 

To Kathleen Hale and her ilk:

Ever.

And for the record:

24 Festive Tasks: It's Giving Time (Part 2)

... or rather, giving back time -- giving back to all of you for the enthusiasm and creativity you brought to the 2018 version of 24 Festive Tasks!

 

As MbD said, there are many deserving charities with many deserving individual projects out there, and a heartening number of them are book-related.  My choice this year, again, was a charity that not only fosters reading and education but, more specifically, girls' education:

 

I chose Bookfriends International, NFP, a U.S.-based, registered (501(c)3 tax status), volunteer-run nonprofit committed to helping educate children in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi by providing secondary schools (equivalent to American grades 5 to 12) and teachers in these African countries with books, supporting educational materials and services donated by schools, libraries, used book stores, book clubs, educators, and private individuals.  They work on a grassroots level, in direct contact with school administrators and village leaders in their African partner areas.

 

 

From their website:

"To understand what Bookfriends International is about is to understand our belief that education can generate the real, long-term solutions for many of our world’s problems. Strong democracies, vibrant economies, healthy societies and responsible birth control can only progress on the foundation of an educated population.  We center our efforts around supporting the African education system.

 

Bookfriends International was founded on the belief that every child deserves a chance to learn and to develop his or her individual abilities. [...]


Our founders envisioned that the surplus and used books in America could be put to efficient use to bolster educational opportunities in Africa. After years of working with many school teachers and administrators in Africa, we know even more fully that good books, properly placed, create individual growth and bring personal victories of dynamic proportions.

 

We know that when hearts and minds become hopeful, helpful and forward-looking, communities and whole societies benefit. Education is basic to tackling poverty, corruption and social injustice and to keep those problems from passing to the next generation.

 

An important element of our philosophy is to provide the right books to a school at the right time. We work closely with African schools to satisfy their individual needs."

 

"Bookfriends provides children and their educators and librarians in Africa hope for the future. Education is the key for African youth to become self-sustaining and contributing citizens of a better world.  Each book we donate is very much like casting pebbles into a still pond: the ripples created by each book received, creates the awakening of a young mind!

 

The schools’ needs are pre-determined prior to gathering books for a shipment through direct contact with our established and growing network of school and village leaders in Africa. [...]

 

Each school receives a well-chosen library of approximately 1,000 books.  To date, more than 100,000 students have found a productive direction for their lives, thanks to volunteers and donors of Bookfriends."

 

A donation of USD 100 will provide for 200 books -- or one fifth of the library provided to one particular school.

 

The types of books being shipped include scholastic material for all major subjects, including STEM, English, world history and geography, economics / business, health, music, and fine arts; as well as library resources and reference material (dictionaries / encyclopedias, thesauruses, and copies of National Geographic), and also fiction books.  A detailed list can be found here.

 

 

In addition, Bookfriends International has initiated a Girls' Project to assist African girls to stay in school longer.  They explain:

"In many cultures around the world, including Africa, girls are often not valued very highly.  It is just the way it is, and has been for centuries.

 

How can this change?

 

There ARE solutions, and Bookfriends is working on an initiative to encourage the girls to remain in their classrooms consistently simply by having monthly hygiene supplies. By staying in school, they are able to continue receiving an education.  Education can change their lives dramatically.

 

The educated female students, in turn, are more valued by their families and communities.  As the young women display their capabilities, they are appreciated more than ever by their peers as well.  Additionally, the great increase in their self-esteem as educated young ladies gives the girls aspiration and visions for a healthy and productive future.

 

If a girl can remain in school all month, she won’t fall behind in her classes. If she stays home for a week per month, she may not be allowed by her family to return. She will have less risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking if she can remain in school. [...]

 

Each container of books that we ship serves 10 schools, in which there are approximately 4,000 female students."

The monthly hygiene kits provided by Bookfriends and its volunteer contributors contain the basic items that women in North America and Europe have come to take for granted, but which are still in woefully short supply in parts of Africa and elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, such as pads and clean underwear; as well as information brochures.  Obviously, menstrual hygiene is only one of the hurdles that girls in Africa have to overcome on their path to education, but it's one of the most jaw-droppingly basic ones, and I love seeing a charity that understands and addresses the fact that education -- especially women's education -- is not an issue separate and apart, but can only be truly successful if it is seen in conjunction with the students' lives outside school (or at least those aspects of their lives that have the very real power of negatively impacting their learning and school attendance).

 


(All images in this post from the Bookfriends International website)

 


 

ETA: I've had not one but two very nice, personal emails from one of the co-founders of the project thanking us for our donation and expressing appreciation for the BookLikes community.  From her emails I take it that our donation will go towards funding books, but it will also make a significant contribution to the girls' project.  W00t!

Reblogged from Themis-Athena's Garden of Books

Written with the Pen Grown in Her Heart

The Good Women of China - Xinran

Wow. 

 

Raw, sad, lyrical and candid -- my first book of 2019, and already a huge winner; I'm pretty sure this will be one of my overall top reads of the year.  I can see few ways how this reading experience can possibly be topped.

 

Xinran tells the stories of some of the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of women whose stories she listened to (and, if allowed by both the women themselves and by the Party censors, broadcast) for eight years as a Nanjing radio presenter on a nightly program called Words on the Night Breeze; a combination of recorded interviews and live talk radio with musical interludes.  As a young reporter she had come to realize that, conditioned by centuries of physical and emotional suppression (far from being abolished, made even worse by the Cultural Revolution), complete and unbridled male dominance in society, and the associated deep-set mysogyny which Chinese women had even swallowed themselves, hide and hair, her countrywomen had practically no sense of self -- nor any sense how to talk about their feelings, experience, traumas, hopes, dreams, disappointments, and injuries.  Indeed, as the Chinese characters explained on the book's back cover (see below) make clear, even the words "female" and "woman", "mother" or "girl" are not anywhere near synonymous in writing: All female substantives are "female" with a specific function: a "woman" is "a female whose job is to do the housework", a "mother" is "a kind female" (or "a female with kindness"), a "girl" is "a female with kindness and [a sense of] tradition (or, since the second part of the sequence is identical with "mother", "a female with a sense of tradition who is attached to her mother") -- and lastly, if a "female" has a son attached to her, the result is "good".

 

In this book, which she wrote after having moved to England in 1997, Xinran takes her readers on her voyage of discovery of the lives of some of the women she met during those eight years of reporting; as well as her discovery of herself and her role as a reporter.  We meet, inter alia:

 

* The girl who kept a fly as a pet (and if you think that's a euphemism for poverty and hunger, think again: the title of the chapter hints at the fact that a baby fly's feet were the sole soft touches this girl ever felt after having "become a woman" at age 11, from which time she was brutally raped daily by her own father -- so much so that she took to making herself dangerously ill, in order to be able to spend time at the hospital, where she was better (though not perfectly) protected ... until she died of septicemia at age 17);

* The scavenger woman who, though well-educated, lived off scraps and in a ramshackle hut near Xinran's radio station just so she could be near her son -- an important man whose threshold she had not even crossed a single time;

* The mothers who endured an earthquake and saw their loved ones perish before their eyes, painfully and in one instance, over a period of two weeks (a young teenage girl, her lower body squashed high up in the ruins of a broken wall, with rescue coming too late to reach her and rescue equipment falling woefully short of what would have been needed); in another instance, as a double suicide of husband and daughter, after the daughter had been gang-raped by strangers in a tent near the rescue facility where she had been taken -- and yet, these mothers had built a new community with the children made orphans by the earthquake and were giving all their love to these orphaned children;

* Xinran's mother and several other women, all left emotionally and often also economically destitute as a result of their lives having been broken to pieces by the Cultural Revolution (no matter whether for reasons of their education, foreign contacts and financial independence, or similar reasons for being considered "counter-revolutionaries", or because their youthful idealism for the new system was brutally abused and ground to shreds, and they were tossed, literally within a single day and by the Party itself, into loveless and abusive marriages with high officials);

* The childhood Xinran herself cannot leave behind and which, likewise, was replete with physical and emotional abuse for being the daughter and granddaughter of suspected "counter-revolutionaries"; as well as several other women of Xinran's generation with similarly devastating experiences;

* The Guomindang general's daughter, who grew up with a Chinese family after her parents had had to flee to Taiwan without being able to take her (then five years old) with them, and who was driven into insanity by a combination of seeing her foster family being tortured on her account and the torture and abuse that she herself suffered after having been "outed"; and

* The women of Shouting Hill (a remote, barren hillside area to the West of Xian), the encounter with whom was the last straw for Xinran to leave China and life as she knew it behind and seek a different life for herself and her son in London. 

 

 

On this last group, Xinran writes:

"Women there [in Shouting Hill] are valued solely for their utility: as reproductive tools, they are the most precious items of trade in the villagers' lives.  The men do not hesitate to barter two or three girl children for a wife from another village. [...] After they become mothers, they in turn are forced to give up their own daughters.  Women in Shouting Hill have no rights of property or inheritance.

 

The unusual social practice of one wife being shared by several husbands also occurs in Shouting Hill.  In the majority of those cases, brothers from extremely poor families with no females to barter buy a common wife to continue the family line.  By day they benefit from the food the woman makes and the household chores she does, by night they enjoy the woman's body in turn. [...]

 

They [the women] lead an extremely hard life.  In their one-roomed cave houses, of which half the space is occupied by a kang [earthen bed heated from below], their domestic tools consist of a few stone slabs, grass mats and crude clay bowls; an earthenware pitcher is regarded as a luxury item for the 'wealthy families'.  Children's toys or any household items specifically for the use of women are unthinkable in their society.  [...]

 

It is the women who greet the dawn in Shouting Hill: they have to feed the livestock, sweep the yard and polish and repair the blunt, rusty tools of their husbands.  After seeing their men off to work on the land, they have to collect water from an unreliable stream on the far side of a mountain two hours' walk away, carrying a pair of heavy buckets on their shoulders.  When cogon grass is in season, the women also have to climb the hill to dig up the roots for use as cooking fuel.  In the afternoon, they take food to their menfolk; when they come back they spin thread, weave cloth, and make clothes, shoes and hats for the family.  All through the day, they carry small children almost everywhere with them on their arms or on their backs.

 

In Shouting Hill, 'use' is the term employed for men wanting to sleep with a woman.  [...]  After being 'used', the women tidy up and attend to the children while the men lie snoring.  Only with nightfall can the women rest, because there is no light to work in.  When I tried to experience a very small part of these women's lives through joining in their daily household tasks for a short while, I found my faith in the value of life severely shaken. [...]

 

I noticed a bizarre phenomenon among the female villagers of Shouting Hill: when they reached their teens or thereabouts their gait suddenly became very strange.  They began walking with their legs spread wide apart, swaying in an arc with each step.  There was no trace of this tendency in the little girls, though.  For the first few days I puzzled over this riddle, but did not like to enquire too deeply into it.  I hoped to find the answer in my own way.

 

It was my habit to make sketches of the scenery I thought typified each place I was reporting on.  No colour was necessary to depict Shouting Hill, a few lines were enough to bring out its essential qualities.  While I was sketching, I noticed some small piles of stones that I could not recall having seen before.  Most of them were in out-of-the-way spots.  On closer inspection, I found blackish-red leaves under the stones.  Only cogon grass grew in Shouting Hill; where had those leaves come from?

 

I examined the leaves carefully: they were mostly about ten centimetres long and five centimetres wide.  They had clearly been cut to size, and seemed to have been beaten and rubbed by hand.  Some of the leaves were slightly thicker than the others, and were moist to the touch, with a fishy odour.  Other leaves were extremely dry from the pressure of the rocks and the burning heat of the sun; they were not brittle but very tough, and they too had the same strong salty smell.  I had never seen leaves like this before.  I wondered what they were used for and decided to ask the villagers.

 

The men said, 'Those are women's things!' and refused to say any more.

 

The children shook their heads in bewilderment, saying: 'I don't know what they are, Mama and Papa say we're not to touch them.'

 

The women simply lowered their heads silently.

 

When Niu'er [the girl with whom Xinran was staying] noticed that I was puzzled about the question of these leaves, she said: 'You'd best ask my granny, she'll tell you.'  Niu'er's grandmother was not so very old, but early marriage and childbearing had made her part of the village's senior generation.

 

Her grandmother slowly explained that the leaves were used by women during their periods.  When a girl in Shouting Hill had her first period, or a woman had just married into the village, she would be presented with ten of these leaves by her mother or another woman of the older generation.  These leaves were gathered from trees very far away.  The older women would teach the girls what to do with the leaves.  First, each leaf had to be cut to the right size, so that it could be worn inside trousers.  Then small holes had to be pricked into the leaves with an awl, to make them more absorbent.  The leaves were relatively elastic and their fibres very thick, so they would thicken and swell as they absorbed the blood.  In a region where water was so precious, there was no alternative but to press and dry the leaves after each use.  A woman would use her ten leaves for her period month after month, even after childbirth.  Her leaves would be her only burial goods.

 

I exchanged some sanitary towels I had with me for a leaf from Niu'er's grandmother.  My eyes filled with tears as I touched it: how could this coarse leaf, hard even to the hand's touch, be put in a woman's tenderest place?  It was only then that I realised why the women of Shouting Hill walked with their legs splayed: their thighs had been repeatedly rubbed raw and scarred by the leaves.

 

There was another reason for the strange gait of the women in Shouting Hill, which shocked me even more. [...]

 

The doctor who had come with us told me that one of the villagers had asked him to examine his wife, as she had been pregnant many times but never managed to carry a child to full term.  With the villager's special permission, the doctor examined the woman, and was dumbfounded that she had a prolapsed womb.  The friction and infection of many years had hardened the part of the womb that was hanging outside to cutin, tough as a callus.  The doctor simply could not imagine what had caused this.  Surprised by his reaction, the woman told him disapprovingly that all the women in Shouting Hill were like this.  The doctor asked me to help him confirm this; several days later I confirmed the truth of that woman's words after much surreptitious observation of the village women as they relieved themselves.  Prolapsed wombs were another reason why the women walked with their legs spreadeagled.

 

In Shouting Hill, the course of nature is not resisted, and family planning an alien concept.  Women are treated as breeding machines, and produce one child a year or as many as three every two years.  [...]

 

I saw many pregnant women in Shouting Hill, but there was no sense of eager anticipation of a child among them or their men.  Even while heavily pregnant, they had to labour as before and be 'used' by their men, who reasoned that 'only children who resist being squashed are strong enough'.  I was appalled by all this, especially at the thought of shared wives being 'used' by several men throughout their pregnancy.  [...]

 

The evening after I had established that prolapsed wombs were an everyday phenomenon in Shouting Hill, I was unable to sleep for a very long time.  I lay on the earthen kang weeping for these women, who were of my generation and of my time.  That the women of Shouting Hill had no concept of modern society, let alone any awareness of the rights of women, was a small comfort; their happiness lay in their ignorance, their customs and the satisfaction of believing that all women in the world lived as they did. [...]

 

On the day I left Shouting Hill, I found that the sanitary towels I had given to Niu'er's grandmother as a souvenir were stuck in her sons' belts; they were using them as towels to wipe away sweat or protect their hands."

Atwood's Handmaid's Tale come alive, and then some ...

 

Obviously Shouting Hill is an extreme example even within China, distinguished from other parts of the country, as Xinran highlights, in part by its extreme remoteness, which prevents the women living there from learning anything that might induce them to question, ever so tacitly, their own living conditions.  (Or prevented them -- I have no idea whether the practices described by Xinran are still going on today; shocking though they are even for the late 1990s.)  And I'm sure that at least some of the hundreds of millions of women in China, even some of those of Xinran's and her mother's generations, lead less traumatic or even happy lives.  But from Xinran's account, there is no question that the lives she describes are not rare exceptions; and given the severe reticence drummed into any Chinese woman from long before she can even walk and talk, it is anybody's guess how many there are who simply have not and never will speak out -- or who may look happy and successful but in reality are far from that (and Xinran provides examples of such women as well).

 

In the book's prologue, she talks about a mugging attempt in London, with the mugger trying to take away her handbag, which contained the only manuscript copy of this book then in existence.  She fought her assailant tooth and nail, even at the risk of being killed, and comments on a policeman's later question whether her book was more important than her life:

"Of course, life is more important than a book.  But in so many ways my book was my life.  It was my testimony to the lives of Chinese women, the result of many years' work as a journalist. [...] I wasn't sure that I could put myself through the extremes of feeling provoked by writing the book again.  Reliving the stories of the women I had met had been painful, and it had been harder still to order my memories and find language adequate to express them.  In fighting for that bag, I was defending my feelings, and the feelings of Chinese women.  The book was the result of so many things which, once lost, could never be found again.  When you walk into your memories, you are opening a door to the past; the road within has many branches, and the route is different every time."

And in the epilogue, she concludes:

"I recalled what Old Chen had once said to me: 'Xinran, you should write this down.  Writing is a kind of repository and can help create a space for the accommodation of new thoughts and feelings.  If you don't write these stories down, your heart will be filled up and broken by them'.  At that time in China, I might have gone to prison for writing a book like this.  I couldn't risk abandoning my son, or the women who received help and encouragement through my radio programme.  In England, the book became possible.  It was as if a pen had grown in my heart."

24 Festive Tasks: It's Giving Time (Part 2)

... or rather, giving back time -- giving back to all of you for the enthusiasm and creativity you brought to the 2018 version of 24 Festive Tasks!

 

As MbD said, there are many deserving charities with many deserving individual projects out there, and a heartening number of them are book-related.  My choice this year, again, was a charity that not only fosters reading and education but, more specifically, girls' education:

 

I chose Bookfriends International, NFP, a U.S.-based, registered (501(c)3 tax status), volunteer-run nonprofit committed to helping educate children in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi by providing secondary schools (equivalent to American grades 5 to 12) and teachers in these African countries with books, supporting educational materials and services donated by schools, libraries, used book stores, book clubs, educators, and private individuals.  They work on a grassroots level, in direct contact with school administrators and village leaders in their African partner areas.

 

 

From their website:

"To understand what Bookfriends International is about is to understand our belief that education can generate the real, long-term solutions for many of our world’s problems. Strong democracies, vibrant economies, healthy societies and responsible birth control can only progress on the foundation of an educated population.  We center our efforts around supporting the African education system.

 

Bookfriends International was founded on the belief that every child deserves a chance to learn and to develop his or her individual abilities. [...]


Our founders envisioned that the surplus and used books in America could be put to efficient use to bolster educational opportunities in Africa. After years of working with many school teachers and administrators in Africa, we know even more fully that good books, properly placed, create individual growth and bring personal victories of dynamic proportions.

 

We know that when hearts and minds become hopeful, helpful and forward-looking, communities and whole societies benefit. Education is basic to tackling poverty, corruption and social injustice and to keep those problems from passing to the next generation.

 

An important element of our philosophy is to provide the right books to a school at the right time. We work closely with African schools to satisfy their individual needs."

 

"Bookfriends provides children and their educators and librarians in Africa hope for the future. Education is the key for African youth to become self-sustaining and contributing citizens of a better world.  Each book we donate is very much like casting pebbles into a still pond: the ripples created by each book received, creates the awakening of a young mind!

 

The schools’ needs are pre-determined prior to gathering books for a shipment through direct contact with our established and growing network of school and village leaders in Africa. [...]

 

Each school receives a well-chosen library of approximately 1,000 books.  To date, more than 100,000 students have found a productive direction for their lives, thanks to volunteers and donors of Bookfriends."

 

A donation of USD 100 will provide for 200 books -- or one fifth of the library provided to one particular school.

 

The types of books being shipped include scholastic material for all major subjects, including STEM, English, world history and geography, economics / business, health, music, and fine arts; as well as library resources and reference material (dictionaries / encyclopedias, thesauruses, and copies of National Geographic), and also fiction books.  A detailed list can be found here.

 

 

In addition, Bookfriends International has initiated a Girls' Project to assist African girls to stay in school longer.  They explain:

"In many cultures around the world, including Africa, girls are often not valued very highly.  It is just the way it is, and has been for centuries.

 

How can this change?

 

There ARE solutions, and Bookfriends is working on an initiative to encourage the girls to remain in their classrooms consistently simply by having monthly hygiene supplies. By staying in school, they are able to continue receiving an education.  Education can change their lives dramatically.

 

The educated female students, in turn, are more valued by their families and communities.  As the young women display their capabilities, they are appreciated more than ever by their peers as well.  Additionally, the great increase in their self-esteem as educated young ladies gives the girls aspiration and visions for a healthy and productive future.

 

If a girl can remain in school all month, she won’t fall behind in her classes. If she stays home for a week per month, she may not be allowed by her family to return. She will have less risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking if she can remain in school. [...]

 

Each container of books that we ship serves 10 schools, in which there are approximately 4,000 female students."

The monthly hygiene kits provided by Bookfriends and its volunteer contributors contain the basic items that women in North America and Europe have come to take for granted, but which are still in woefully short supply in parts of Africa and elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, such as pads and clean underwear; as well as information brochures.  Obviously, menstrual hygiene is only one of the hurdles that girls in Africa have to overcome on their path to education, but it's one of the most jaw-droppingly basic ones, and I love seeing a charity that understands and addresses the fact that education -- especially women's education -- is not an issue separate and apart, but can only be truly successful if it is seen in conjunction with the students' lives outside school (or at least those aspects of their lives that have the very real power of negatively impacting their learning and school attendance).

 


(All images in this post from the Bookfriends International website)

 


 

ETA: I've had not one but two very nice, personal emails from one of the co-founders of the project thanking us for our donation and expressing appreciation for the BookLikes community.  From her emails I take it that our donation will go towards funding books, but it will also make a significant contribution to the girls' project.  W00t!

24 Festive Tasks: Wrap and Final Results

 

A big Thank You to everybody who joined the game and participated so actively: Collectively, we achieved a total score of

 

1105 POINTS

 

-- that's more than double last year's result!  Go us!!

 

Based on this score, each of your three hosts will make a donation of USD 100 to charity (we'll reveal which ones separately, but we've agreed that this year, again, our donations will go to reading programs).

 

It's been great fun watching the truly amazing things that everybody came up with to complete to the various tasks and the creativity that went into everybody's update posts, and we're truly happy this year's "Advent Calendar" format seems to have worked so well.


A special thank you, too, to everybody for reporting in and tallying up posts and for using the "24 festive tasks" tag; particular those of you who put together "final count / wrap-up" posts -- all of this was a great help in keeping track of the running score and compiling the final count.

 

And a general meaow / purr / woof / cluck / bzzz / [insert assorted other animal noises] to everybody's pets and, um, pet plants who helped making their humans' posts even more fun, lovable and creative!

 

 
The Figures:

Number of active participants: 29
("Active" = completed at least one book or other task for the game)
Average number of points collected: 38.10
Number of card blackouts: 9
("Blackout" = completed at least one book or other task per square)

 

Results by Squares / Holidays:

... or put differently:


(Because there has to be at least one bona fide pie chart in here, right?)

 

On a whopping total of 19 squares, one or more participants completed all five tasks (book and other tasks). Of these, the square with the highest number of participants (6) completing all five tasks was Penance Day, closely followed by Mawlid and Thanksgiving (5 participants each), with Melbourne Cup Day, Diwali and Festivus jointly coming in third (3 participants each).

Biggest overall point-earning square: Melbourne Cup Day -- 71 points total (including 14 bonus points)
Runners-up: Día de los Muertos and Penance Day -- 61 points each

Third Place: Guy Fawkes Night -- 58 points total

 

Excluding bonus points, Melbourne Cup Day comes in third at 57 points, on equal footing with Mawlid.


Least point-earning square: Advent -- 29 points total

 

Average points per square (including bonus points): 46.04

Average points per square (excluding bonus points): 45.17

 

 

Breakdown of Books and Tasks per Square

(right-click on the images for a larger view):

 

 

The Books


Square for which the highest number of participants read a book: Día de los Muertos -- 18 participants

Runner-up: Guy Fawkes Night -- 16 participants

Third Place: Solstice / Yuletide -- 15 participants

Fewest books read for: St. Lucia's Day -- 7 participants

Average number of book points accrued per square: 10.92

 

 

 The Tasks

 

Square with the overall highest number of points collected for all non-book tasks: Melbourne Cup Day -- 62 points (including 14 bonus points)

Runner-up: Penance Day -- 50 points

Third place: Thanksgiving -- 48 points

 

Excluding bonus points, Melbourne Cup Day comes in second, equal with Thanksgiving.  Third then are Diwali and Mawlid (44 points each). 

 

Least number of points: Advent -- 21 points


Most popular individual task: Melbourne Cup Day, Task 1 ("Pick your ponies") --  22 participants / 36 points

Runner-up, by points: St. Lucia's Day, Task 4 ("Gävle Goat") -- 20 points (including 7 bonus points)

Runner-up, by participants (= excluding bonus points): Día de los Muertos, Task 2 ("Favorite epitaph") -- 18 points

Third place: On equal footing: Guy Fawkes Day, Tasks 1 and 2 ("Burn a book in effigy" and "3 treasonous crimes against books"), Diwali, Task 4 ("Girls holding flowers / book covers"), and Winter Solstice / Yuletide, Task 1 ("Bibliomancy") -- 16 points each

Least popular: Advent, Task 4 ("Make your own Advent wreath"), St. Lucia's Day, Task 2 ("lussebulle / saffron dish"), and New Year's Eve, Task 4 ("Krapfen") -- all 0 points (sniff)


Bonus points collected -- total: 21

* Melbourne Cup Day, Task 1 ("Pick your ponies"): 14

* St. Lucia's Day, Task 4 ("Gävle Goat"): 7

 

Average number of points accrued for non-book tasks per square, including bonus points: 35.13

Average number of points accrued for non-book tasks per square, excluding bonus points: 34.25

 

Average number of points accrued for individual non-book tasks, including bonus points: 8.78

Average number of points accrued for individual non-book tasks, excluding bonus points: 8.56

 

 

 

Congratulations, everybody, and thank you all so much again for making this such a fun and successful game!

 

24 Festive Tasks: Wrap-Up Post

 

My personal wrap-up -- I'll post a wrap-up post for the game as such separately (probably tomorrow), as soon as the hosts have conferred on the charity donation(s).

 

 

 

MARKERS:

Books: Falling Star / Meteor

Tasks: Bows

 

 

 

DOOR 1: DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

Book:  Agatha Christie: Miss Marple - The Complete Short Stories (audio version, narrated by Joan Hickson, Isla Blair and Anna Massey)

Task 1:

Task 2: Favorite Epitaph (William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon)

Task 3: Sherlock Holmes Altar

Task 4: Mexican Food

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 2: GUY FAWKES NIGHT

Book: Georgette Heyer: Behold, Here's Poison

Task 1: Book Burned in Effigy

Task 2: Book-Related Crimes

Task 3: Favorite Food "Flambé" (Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Cherries)

Task 4: "Non-Explosive" "Gunpowder" Titles

 

Points:  5

 

 

DOOR 3: MELBOURNE CUP DAY

Book: Dick Francis: Field of Thirteen

Task 1: Pick your ponies: A Prince of Arran, The Cliffsofmoher, Sound Check  (=> 1 point for participation + 1 point for getting 1 horse right)

Task 2: Hats

Task 3:

Task 4: Hamburg Derby & CHIO

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 4: DIWALI

Book: Terry Pratchett: The Light Fantastic

Task 1: Bonn Leuchtet / Bonn Shines (Favorite Light Display)

Task 2: Shelf Organization / Tea Shelves

Task 3:

Task 4: Book Covers (Girls Holding Flowers)

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 5: VETERANS' / ARMISTICE DAY

Book: Colin Dexter: The Riddle of the Third Mile

Task 1: Book Cover Flag of Germany

Task 2:

Task 3: "Veteran" Readership / Personal Literary Canon

Task 4: Poppy Seedcake

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 6: INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR TOLERANCE

Book: Various Authors: A Very French Christmas (anthology)

Task 1: Redeeming Element of Low-Rated Book

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 2

 

 

DOOR 7: MAWLID

Book: Joanne Fluke / Laura Levine / Leslie Meier: Candy Cane Murder

Task 1: Book-related prophecies

Task 2: Book Rescue & Book-Related Travel / Pilgrimages

Task 3:

Task 4: Characters Who Made a Career Change

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 8: PENANCE DAY

Book: Barbara Vine: The Brimstone Wedding

Task 1: Comfort reads

Task 2: Favorite Sports Teams and Their Pennants

Task 3: Bad Hair Day

Task 4: In the Desert (Egypt)

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 9: THANKSGIVING

Book: Donna Andrews: Six Geese A-Slaying

Task 1: Books I am "most thankful" for / Favorite Books of 2018

Task 2: Christmas Dinner with Mark Twain

Task 3: A Book Full of Stuffing

Task 4: Book Harvest

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 10: BON OM TOUK

Book: Simon Brett & Certain Members of the Detection Club: The Sinking Admiral

Task 1: Paper Boat (and Cats)

Task 2: Rhein in Flammen / The Rhine on Fire (festive boat procession)

Task 3: Rainy Day Books

Task 4: "Moonlighting" Book Characters

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 11: RUSSIAN MOTHER'S DAY

Book: Michael Connelly: Dark Sacred Night

Task 1: The Mother of All Writerly Sins

Task 2: Mother's Day Memory

Task 3: Favorite Shoes

Task 4:

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 12: ST. ANDREW'S DAY

Book: Michael Connelly: The Late Show

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3: Cloud Formations

Task 4: Books Featuring Golf

 

Points: 3

 

 

DOOR 13: ADVENT

Book: Neil Gaiman: A Study in Emerald

Task 1:

Task 2: Holiday Traditions

Task 3: Wassail Bowl

Task 4:

 

Points: 3

 

 

DOOR 14: HANUKKAH

Book: Michael Connelly: Two Kinds of Truth

Task 1: A Miracle? Maybe.

Task 2: 9 Candles

Task 3: Donut

Task 4:

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 15: ST. NICHOLAS' DAY

Book: J.A. Jance: Desert Heat

Task 1: Book Wishlist

Task 2: Three Wishes

Task 3: Holiday Treats

Task 4: Books Featuring Children Rescued from Peril

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 16: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

Book: Anne Perry: A Christmas Guest

Task 1: Human Rights Keywords in Bok Titles

Task 2: 70+ Year Old Book Characters

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 3

 

 

DOOR 17: ST. LUCIA'S DAY

Book: Various Authors: Skandinavische Weihnachten

Task 1: Book Flood

Task 2:

Task 3: Book Cover Crown of Light

Task 4: Gävle Goat guess (=> 1 point for participation + 1 point for correct guess)

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 18: WINTER SOLSTICE / YULETIDE

Book: Diane Setterfield: The Thirteenth Tale

Task 1: Bibliomancy

Task 2: Neverending Book

Task 3: Book Cover Herd of Reindeer

Task 4:

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 19: FESTIVUS

Book: Oscar Wilde: A Woman of No Importance, and Model Millionnaire

Task 1: Airing of Grievances (Least Favorite Books of 2018)

Task 2: CatFestivus Pole

Task 3: Book Stack / Scales Feat of Strength

Task 4: "Festivus" Google Search Screenshot

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 20: CHRISTMAS

Book: Martin Edwards (ed.), Various Authors: The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories

Task 1: Christmas Decorations

Task 2: Christmas Dinner with Mark Twain

Task 3: Favorite Christmas Movie: A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart, 1999)

Task 4:

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 21: KWANZAA

Book: Ken Bruen: The Guards

Task 1: Favorite Book Heroes and their Nemeses

Task 2: Misdirection in Books

Task 3: Visiting Africa

Task 4: Kwanzaa / Vegetable Dinner

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 22: NEW YEAR'S EVE

Book: Stephen Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

Task 1: 2019 Book Goals

Task 2: 2018 Reading in Review

Task 3: Book Lottery

Task 4:

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 23: HOGSWATCH

Book: Terry Pratchett: Hogfather

Task 1: Glingleglingleglingle: Cologne Heinzelmännchen / Household God(dess)

Task 2: Holiday Book Joker

Task 3: Pumuckl's Footprints, or, "Do you believe in Santa Claus?"

Task 4:

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 24: EPIPHANY

Book: Patricia Wentworth: The Clock Strikes Twelve

Task 1: Favorite Trilogy

Task 2: Holiday Book Joker

Task 3: The Twelve Days of Christmas / Images

Task 4: Favorite Spicy Drink

 

Points: 5

 

 

 

BOOK JOKER

Used for:

Hogswatch, Task 2 (Various Authors: Murder for Christmas - anthology)

Epiphany, Task 2 (Various Authors; John Julius Norwich (ed.): An English Christmas - anthology)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Score:

 

 100 points

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 87 out of 240 pages.

The Good Women of China - Xinran

Wow.  What a New Year's Eve book lottery pick to start the year with.   I started this this morning, thinking I might just read a chapter or so.  Two hours later I had read well over a third of the book and only managed to tear myself away because I had to.

Welcome 2019!

My Personal Literary Canon, Part 2 -- also: 24 Festive Tasks, Door 5, Task 3 ("Veteran" Readership)

The authors by whom I've read the most books don't coincide exactly, but substantially with those that I'd also consider part of my personal canon; i.e., the books that have most impacted my thinking and / or to which I find myself returning again and again, be it for inspiration, comfort, or whatever other reasons.  So, since I've always wanted to follow up with a post of my own on Moonlight's original "personal literary canon" post, somewhat late in the game I've decided to use this "24 Festive Tasks" entry (and Mawlid, Task 2 -- literary pilgrimages) to finally get around to it.  At the risk of some serious rambling and long lists of name-dropping:

 

The Classics

William Shakespeare: I wasn't a fan of his in high school, though I did very much like Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet (the latter, actually quite a bit better than I like it right now); but once I'd been bitten there was no stopping me.  I've seen many (though not yet all) of Shakespeare's plays performed live, some repeatedly, I own the BBC "Complete Shakespeare" set featuring all plays attributed to him at the time of production in the late 1970s / early 1908s, and no other single author (not even the much more prolific Agatha Christie; see below) is taking up as much space on my bookshelves and DVD racks.  For a few years before there was such a thing as Wordpress and Blogger, I actually owned a website called "Project Hamlet" -- chiefly dedicated to my personal take on the Prince of Denmark's story, but also featuring information on Shakespeare himself.  Hosting and renewing the domain got too expensive after a while, so I let the domain expire, but I'm still hoping to resurrect it some day as a Wordpress blog.

 

Jane Austen: I've read all seven of her completed novels, as well as some of her juvenalia (The History of England, which she wrote at [gasp] age 13, is a compete and utter hoot) and letters (well, Selected Letters in the Oxford Classics edition).  I've also read her uncompleted novels (Sanditon and The Watsons) at least once, but probably should refresh my recollection of those at some point. -- It's been said before by more authoritative voices, but unfortunately bears repeating time and again: Whoever dismisses Austen as "only a romance" or "only a chick-lit" writer probably hasn't read a syllable by her in their lives and can get stuffed.  On general principles (there's no such thing as "only romance" or "only chick-lit), but as importantly on Austen's behalf: she was a sharp-eyed social observer and a satirist of the first order, who just happened to make women's stories her focus because she was a woman herself ... and who wrote about love, marriage and the hunt for moneyed gentlemen, because these (especially marriage, and the need to marry well regardless of a love match) were the factors that literally everything in a woman's life depended on in Regency society -- as it had, for the better part of Western history until then.

 

The Brontë Sisters: I fell in love with Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre before I'd ever even heard of Jane Austen, and to this day this book, and Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (and to a somewhat lesser extent, Charlotte Brontë's Shirley) exemplify 19th century women's -- and indeed every woman's -- struggle for self-respect, independence, and the attempt to square the circle and maintain these achievements even in marriage.  Emily's Wuthering Heights is a bit to (melo)dramatically overwrought to be my kind of jam, but I love her poetry ... and the siblings' (including their brother Bramwell) juvenalia are bursts of imagination and simply a complete hoot.

 

Elizabeth von Arnim:  I have by far not yet read all of her books, but enough of them to know that every single one of those that I do read makes me want to break out in a (very uncharacteristical) radiant smile.  Elizabeth's Adventures in Rügen also was one of those books that inspired me to visit a place that a famous author had visited, and trace her steps there.

 

Thomas Mann / the Mann family: I read all of Thomas Mann's novels (yes, including all four novels of the Joseph tetralogy) and short stories eons ago when I was in university -- which is long enough ago for me to have forgotten a lot of details, especially of that part of his literature that I haven't revisited since, but I'm still partial to Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, Doctor Faustus and Felix Krull, as well as some of his better known short stories (including and in particular, Death in Venice and Mario and the Magician).  The Manns -- all of them, but especially Thomas -- were held to be national treasures in my family, so it's just as well I actually did take to their books; in addition to Thomas's books also his brother Heinrich's Man of Straw and Blue Angel, as well as his son Klaus's Mephisto.

 

John Steinbeck: I came to Steinbeck via the James Dean movie adaptation of East of Eden and was an instant fan -- perhaps because I was allowed to discover his books for myself, instead of having them presented to me as "Must Read" / Important literature in school.  Few authors have such an unmatched insight into the human soul, and the ability to present complex situations and emotions precisely and down to the last nuance, with very sparing words (yes, I know East of Eden is a brick, but just take a look at The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men).  Steinbeck, along with that part of my family who used to live in the American Southwest (Texas, but still ...) on and off when I was growing up are also chiefly responsible for my interest in California, long before I'd ever actually visited the Golden State for the very first time.

 

Oscar Wilde: Much more than the master of the witty one-liner and some of the most charming and heartrending fairy tales ever written, Wilde was actually a widely-read and -educated literary and social critic, journalist, conversationalist and focal point of London society long before his plays conquered stages at home and abroad.  He may have espoused the idea of letting each literary work stand for itself and define its own merit ("l'art pour l'art" / "art for its own sake"), but it is impossible to miss the profound underlying humanity of his works -- in his plays as much as in the products of his imprisonment, such as De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Goal.  And while there are many great biographies of Wilde in book form, for a first take you can't do any better than watching the movie Wilde starring (who else?) Stephen Fry (whom Wilde's grandson and editor Mervyn Holland has called "a wonderful Oscarian figure").

 

Robert Louis Stevenson: My first introduction to Scotland (Edinburgh and elsewhere), decades before I ever visited.  I binge-watched the  1970s' TV adaptation of Kidnapped (running under the name The Adventures of David Balfour) as a teenager and was instantly captured, but have since learned in other books, too, just how acute an observer of human nature -- and of Scottish society -- Stevenson was.  When I finally visited Scotland for the first time, even more than a century later I still felt instantly at home, not least thanks to Stevenson (and Ian Rankin -- see below).

 

Greek Mythology: Believe it or not, the heroes and gods of Greek mythology were actually the very first childhood heroes I can recall, and I never stopped regretting we hardly saw any ancient classic literature on our high school curriculum (which instead was crammed with the mandatory 1970s/80s reform agenda).  But seriously, why would have wanted to read about other kids who didn't know anything more about life than I did myself if I could read about deities like Zeus's clever daughter Athena and her equally fiendishly clever protégé Odysseus instead?  I've since revisited the Greek classics in every form I could find and they still hold a special place in my heart.

 

Mysteries

Arthur Conan Doyle / Sherlock Holmes: Still the grand master -- both the detective and his creator -- that no serious reader of mysteries can or should even try to side-step.  I've read, own, and have reread countless times all 4 novels and 56 short stories constituting the Sherlock Holmes canon, and am now making my way through some of the better-known /-reputed Holmes pastiches (only to find -- not exactly to my surprise -- that none of them can hold a candle to the original), as well as Conan Doyle's "non-Holmes" fiction.  Oh, and for the record, there is and always will be only one Sherlock Holmes on screen, and that is Jeremy Brett.

 

The Golden Age Queens of Crime

Agatha Christie: Like Sherlock Holmes, part of my personal canon from very early on.  I've read and, in many cases, reread more than once and own (largely as part of a series of anniversary omnibus editions published by HarperCollins some 10 years ago) all of Agatha Christie's novels and short stories published under this name, as well as her autobiography, with only those of her books published under other names (e.g., the Mary Westmacott romances) left to read.  As with ACD's Holmes, there is only one defining screen incarnation of both of Christie's major detectives to me: David Suchet as Poirot and Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.  (And I'm happy in the knowledge that in the latter respect, Dame Agatha and I would seem to be in agreement.)

 

Dorothy L. Sayers: My mom turned me onto Sayers when I was in my teens, and I have never looked back.  I've read all of her Lord Peter Wimsey novels and short stories, volume 1 of her collected letters (which covers her correspondence from childhood to the end of her career as a mystery writer), and some of her non-Wimsey short stories and essays.  Gaudy Night and the two addresses jointly published under the title Are Women Human? are among my all-time favorite books; not least because they address women's position in society decades before feminism even became a mass movement to be reckoned with, and with a validity vastly transcending both Sayers's own lifetime and our own. -- Next steps: The remainder of Sayers's non-Wimsey stories and of her essays, as well as her plays.

 

Ngaio Marsh: A somewhat later entry into my personal canon, but definitely a fixture now.  I've read all of her Inspector Alleyn books and short stories and reread many of them.  Still on my TBR: her autobiography (which happily is contained in the last installments of the series of 3-book-each omnibus volumes I own).

 

Patricia Wentworth: Of the Golden Age Queens of Crime, the most recent entry into my personal canon.  I'd read two books by her a few years ago and liked one a lot, the other one considerably less, but Tigus expertly steered the resident mystery fans on Booklikes to all the best entries in the Miss Silver series, which I'm now very much looking forward to completing -- along with some of Wentworth's other fiction.

 

Georgette Heyer: I'm not a romance reader, so I doubt that I'll ever go anywhere near her Regency romances.  But I'm becoming more and more of a fan of her mysteries; if for no other reason than that nobody, not even Agatha Christie, did viciously bickering families as well as her.

 

Margery Allingham: I'm actually more of a fan of Albert Campion as portrayed by Peter Davison in the TV adaptations of some of Allingham's mysteries than of her Campion books as such, but I like at least some of those well enough to eventually want to complete the series -- God knows I've read enough of them at this point for the completist in me to have kicked in long ago.  I've also got Allingham's very first novel, Blackerchief Dick (non-Campion; historical fiction involving pirates) sitting on my audio TBR.

 

Josephine Tey:  I have barely read half of Tey's books so far (if that), but her tone and topics definitely strike a chord with me.  So I have acquired every book of her Inspector Grant series and I am hoping to complete the series soon -- and also, to dive into some other books by / related to Tey.

 

Contemporary Mysteries

P.D. James

 

Ian Rankin

 

Michael Connelly

 

[Text to be supplied -- I'm being called away just when I'm finally getting ready to complete this post!]

 

Historical Mysteries

I'm a history nerd, and with that comes a love of historical fiction; yet, the only two series of historical fiction that I would well and truly consider part of my personal canon are both mystery series as well:

 

The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael: He may be a monk when we meet him, but nobody epitomizes "father figure" to me more than Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael.  Way above and beyond Peters's unfailingly spot-on historical research and her intimate knowledge of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and the Welsh borderland (the Marches), I love this series for Cadfael's humanity, his insight into human nature and acceptance of every person on their own terms, as well as, of course, his warmth, intelligence, and broad-mindedness.  And nobody else could have embodied Cadfael like Derek Jacobi, whom I first encountered in that series (not, like others, in I, Claudius) and became an instant fan.

 

C.J. Sansom / Matthew Shardlake: I binge-read the first three Shardlake books and consider myself an instant fan ever since.  Shardlake and his associates are engaging characters, and nobody does the Tudor court and its manifold machinations like C.J. Sansom.  Can't wait to see where he is going to take the series now that Henry VIII is dead and the reign of his children has been ushered in.

 

Fantasy

I'm not a major reader of fantasy (and even less so, science fiction), but three authors are most definitely part of my personal canon, because their books vastly transcend the boundaries of that (or any) genre:

 

J.R.R. Tolkien: I first read The Lord of the Rings when I had barely turned 13, and The Hobbit a year or two later.  Frodo and Gollum between them may have taken The Ring back to Mount Doom, but it has never lost its pull on me and never will.  The Peter Jackson movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings are not perfect, but I've become a big fan of theirs, too, and wouldn't want to miss them from my personal movie library now, either. (The adaptations of The Hobbit are a different matter, Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield notwithstanding.)

 

Terry Pratchett: I'm a relatively late Discworld devotee, but I'm seriously wondering what took me so long.  Pratchett's literary genius, sense of humor, and fiendish way of mixing social commentary, send-ups of iconic topics, genres, characters and other literary conventions, and clever, surprising plotlines into a creation all of its own is unmatched -- and though I have a fair way to go yet to finish the Discworld novels, I already know that I'll regret that moment when it comes at last.

 

J.K. Rowling / Harry Potter: I'm instinctively turned off by hype of any kind, so you can probably imagine my initial reaction to Harry Potter, quite probably the most hyped literary series of the past 20+ years.  But Harry and his friends won me over on their own merits ... well, and those of J.K. Rowling's writing.  I revisited the entire series earlier this year and was enchanted all over again -- so much so that I splurged and invested in the recently-published hard cover boxed set, as well as the boxed set of "Hogwarts Library" books (Phantastic Beasts, Quidditch Through the Ages, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard), as well as starting the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw "collectors' editions" series of the Harry Potter books.

 

Children's / YA Literature

Astrid Lindgren: When I was barely old enough to read, Pippi Longstocking taught me that girls don't have to be afraid of anybody and they can go everywhere they set their minds to.  I still believe that to this day. -- Some of my childhood friends and I also loved her Noisy Village (Bullerbyn, or in German, Bullerbü) series well enough to emulate the characters and stories in our games.

 

The Three Investigators: The series I blame like practically no other for turning me into a mystery fan.  For my money still one of the best-ever conceived mystery series ... and an honest-to-God crime hunt with input from Alfred Hitchcock himself; what's not to like?  (The German incarnation was called "The Three ???" [or "The Three Question Marks"], incidentally, and featured a red, white and blue question mark on each book cover.)

 

Enid Blyton: I didn't read anywhere near all of her books and series, but her Five Friends series satisfied basically the same youthful reading desires as did The Three Investigators ... and I was also a dedicated reader of her St. Clare's / O'Sullivan Twins series, even after I started attending a school that offered both full and half board in addition to "ordinary" class attendance, and from personal experience concluded that her version of a boarding school was wildly fictitious -- which didn't stop me from wishing, however, that just a few of the things from her books were actually happening in my school, too.  (We did make good on the "secret nighttime parties" thing on some school trips at least.)

 

Ellis Kaut / Pumuckl: Like Pippi Longstocking and the Bullerbyn children, Ellis Kaut's creation, the kobold / gnome Pumuckl who some day suddenly decides to take residence in a Munich master carpenter's workshop, was a very early companion of my childhood -- and I would dearly have loved to meet him and to believe that the footsteps that one day showed up on the beach where we were vacationing were really his.  Alas, they were only a Pumuckl-style prank that my cousins played on me ...

 

Max Kruse / Urmel: The last, but by no means least literary companion of my early childhood was the dinosaur baby Urmel, who hatches on an island "right under the equator" where a Dr. Dolittle-like professor is living with his merry band of tallking animals, all of which have a particular (and very funny) phonetic quirk associated with the sounds they ordinarily make as animals.  A childhood friend first turned me onto the Urmel stories as they were presented in a TV program by Germany's most famous puppet theatre company (they're still in existence and in business) -- I instantly had to have the books as well.

 

Guilty Pleasures

Karl May: Another writer whose books I swallowed hide and hair as a child -- and whose protagonists were among my very first childhood heroes -- was German Western / travel adventure writer Karl May.  Never mind that he only ever visited the places he wrote about later in life (if at all), and never mind that his writing is replete with the facile clichés of his time, his novels were / are gripping enough to have spawned an enormous fan base in Germany to this day, complete with annual productions of stage adaptations of his most famous books in several outdoor theatres dedicated entirely to his works; and the 1960s and 1970s screen adaptations of his Westerns propelled his two major heroes (the Apache chief Winnetou and his white "blood brother", a German-born trapper / mountain man known as Old Shatterhand) to even greater iconic stature.