Saturday, 28 February 2015

Reading England 2015

I'm signing up for another reading challenge. That's right, you heard me. But why Jason? You already have so much to read already and can barely get through the pile of books stacked precariously on your floor that is bound to fall over at any moment and crush you to death! Well, for starters, I'm not exactly right in the head and in case you haven't noticed, the name of this blog is Literature Frenzy, baby! My goal is to push myself to read anything and everything to the point of exhaustion. It's my masochistic tendencies, I can't help it. So, once again, I'm late to the party: all the other guests have already arrived, mingled, drank all the best wine and eaten the expensive appetizers. So now here I am, Mr. socially awkward, with a plain tonic water in my hand, eating stale pretzels, failing miserably to make small talk with a pretty girl who tells me she is waiting for her boyfriend to come back from the washroom. Anyways, I digress. I've clearly had too much coffee today.

A round of applause for O at Behold the Stars for organizing this challenge, which to my mind, is too enticing to pass up. My knowledge of England geography is non-existent and considering my fondness towards English writers, this is a great opportunity to learn about the various places and settings in which these stories take place. Plus it gives me an excuse to read more Graham Greene and Muriel Spark, woot woot!

The Rules:
  • This challenge begins on the 1st January 2015 and ends on 31st December 2015, but of course if you really get into it then keep it going :)
  • You can sign up any time between now and the end of 2015. Only books read after 1st January 2015 count, though.
  • Choose a level (below), but do not feel obliged to pick your books or even your counties beforehand. 
  • Because this is a classics blog, I'd encourage people to read classic novels, but how you define classics is up to you.
  • You are not limited to English authors. Henry James, for example, is American but his novel The Turn of the Screw is set in Essex, and so he counts for the challenge.
  • It would be grand if you blogged about the books you read for each county but you don't have to. If you do, you don't have to feel obliged to give any information about the county in general other than, maybe, "This is my review of x which is set in the county of x". You could also include a description of the landscape in your posts, but again you don't have to.
  • You do not have to read the books in their original language, translations are accepted (I only read in English so I would never dream of making other people read in their second language!)
  • Audio books, Kindles, and whatnot are accepted too.
  • Poetry, plays, biographies, and autobiographies count as well as novels. 

The Levels: 
  • Level one: 1-3 counties
  • Level two: 4-6 counties
  • Level three: 7-12 counties
  • Level four: 12+ counties

My list: I have chosen Level Three
  1. Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (London)
  2. Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham (Kent)
  3. The Collector by John Fowles (Sussex)
  4. Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene (Brighton)
  5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Lancashire)
  6. Persuasion by Jane Austen (Somerset)
  7. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Wiltshire)
  8. Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (London?)
  9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Derbyshire?)
  10. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence (Midlands)
My top 7 seems reasonable to finish before the end of the year, whereas the rest are my back-up choices. Thanks again O for compiling a list of books along with their designated counties, very helpful indeed. 


  1. Yay, England! North and South and Jane Eyre are two of my favourites. I'll be interested to hear what you think of Persuasion. I was the odd one out in the read-along because I didn't enjoy it as much as Austen's other works. I was pleased though to see that people grew so attached to such a quiet, steadfast character as Anne .... it gave me some hope for humanity. ;-) In any case, Gaskell is awesome ...... I'm not sure if you've read any other of her works but anything I've read of hers has been just excellent!

    1. I'm pretty excited to read North and South, Jane Eyre not so much. I've never read anything by Gaskell before and have no idea what to expect but your unabashed enthusiasm towards her work has increased my curiosity. I have tried reading the Bronte novel a few years ago but gave up on it. We'll see if there is a change of heart this time.

      Your ambivalence towards Persuasion is what compelled me to put it on the list. I've always heard great things about it but I value your opinion and if you didn't think it was that good...well, I must find out why!

    2. Re: Persuasion ..... aw, I'm just picky. I'm looking for a story, but I'm also looking for the mechanics that make a good story. If I see Swiss Cheese I just can't be overly enthusiastic. ;-) (Mind you, Persuasion is only a little Swiss Cheesy) Interestingly enough, I found an essay on-line that confirmed some of my issues with it ---- and they were exactly the same ---- so at least one other person sees it the way I do. I'm not alone! ...... What a comfort! ;-)

  2. I'm so glad you're joining! I haven't read Muriel Spark for years (and even then it was just The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie) so I'll look forward to seeing your posts.

    1. Glad to be on board, O! I believe Spark is severely underrated and well-worth reading. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is indeed her most recognizable title but she wrote so many better works that have been overlooked or forgotten completely. You just gave me an idea for a possible reading challenge...

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