Posts Tagged ‘goals’

This year, I challenged myself to read 60 books. While that does not seem like a lot (and really isn’t much), I remember scrambling to finish my 60th book last year before the clock struck twelve on December 31st. This year, I’ve managed to manage my time better and have made good progress towards my reading goals. Its May and I’ve already read 31 books.

This year, I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone and read books about people, places and things which haven’t featured much on my reading lists thus far. I ventured into Nordic crime fiction, which has been quite enjoyable. Watching the Icelandic movie Jar City, based on Arnaldur Indridason’s book of the same name (in English), kindled my curiosity about his other works of crime fiction that feature the cynical Detective Erlendur Sveinsson. The titles of his books, their covers, and his narrative, all conjure a picture of Icelandic landscape that is frigid, barren, desolate and very intriguing. Since then, I’ve read Silence of the Grave (2001) and, more recently, Hypothermia (2007). My standards for crime fiction are impossibly high – I’ve never met a book I’ve been compelled to rate with even 4.5 stars, and I’m always mildly disappointed by how the stories end. I find Indridason’s works entertaining enough to go back for more of them.

Entertaining enough, despite being distracted by his occasional quirky narrative.

Karen was aware of the mountain Grimannsfell to her right, although she couldn’t see it, and Skalafell to her left. Next she drove past the turning to Vindashlid where she had once spent a two-week summer holiday as a child. She followed the red tail lights at a comfortable speed until they drove down through the Kerlingarhraun lava field, and there their ways parted. The red lights accelerated and disappeared into the darkness. She wondered if they were heading for the pass at Uxahryggir and north over the Kaldidalur mountain road. She had often taken that route herself. It was a beautiful drive down the Lundarreykjadalur valley to Borgarfjordur fjord. The memory of a lovely summer’s day once spent at Lake Sandkluftavatn came back to her.

I urge you to try and actually read these words and not just skim through them.

For centuries the main inland route from Eskifjordur to the Fljotsdalsherad district used to pass across Eskifjordur Moor. There was an old bridleway that ran north of the Eskifjordur River, inland along the Langihryggur ridge, up the near side of the Innri-Steinsa River, through the Vinardalur valley and over the Vinarbrekkur slopes to Mindheidarendi, then up onto Urdarflot and along the Urdarklettur crags until it left the Eskifjordur area. To the north of this is the Theverardalur valley flanked by the mountains Andri and Hardskafi, with Holarfjall and Sedheidi beyond them to the north.

To the best of my knowledge, these sections add nothing to the story. What place do they have in a thriller that aspires to be ‘gripping’?

He and Eva Lind started at Lake Ellidavatn where a new suburb had sprung up, then did a circuit of Raudavatn on a decent road, before continuing to Reynisvatn which had now disappeared behind the new suburb of Grafarholt. From there they drove past Langavatn and had a view of numerous little lakes on Middalsheidi Moor before slowly proceeding to Mosfellsheidi. They inspected Leirvogsvatn beside the road to Thingvellir, followed by Stiflisdalsvatn and Mjoavatn. It was late by the time they descended to Thingvellir, turned north and passed Sandkluftavatn which lay beside the road north of Hofmannaflot on the route over the pass at Uxahryggir and down the Lundarreykjadalur valley. They picnicked beside Litla-Brunnavatn, just off the road to Biskupsbrekka.

A fair amount of searching on the internet reveals that most (all?) of these Icelandic landmarks are real and Indridason’s exact descriptions of them might trigger nostalgia or some such emotion in an Icelander. A non-Icelander like me can either skip these sentences entirely, or take the time to hazard guesses, such as, perhaps fjordur refers to a specific topographical feature (maybe not), dalur refers to a valley, and vatn to a body of water.

My 31st book this year was also Nordic crime fiction, by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo – The Redbreast (2000), part of the Harry Hole series. Hole, Nesbo’s detective, is a brilliant alcoholic, much younger than Detective Erlendur. The Redbreast is a rather long, fast-paced thriller, perfect movie material, and very engaging. Nesbo does not give us blow-by-blow accounts of Hole driving past various Norwegian landmarks, which is just as well. The Redbreast is part of a series, and does leave some loose threads, which should be resolved in its sequel(s). Currently, I am awaiting Headhunters (2008), a standalone novel also by Nesbo.


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On my bookshelf – April 2012

It’s time for quarterly appraisals. Goodreads tells me I’ve made good progress on my reading challenge, and with 18 books under my belt, I am two books ahead (I’ll be the first to admit that my target of 60 books in one year is rather modest).

I just finished Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein. I met Orenstein’s daughter Daisy Tomoko, earlier this year in her intimate and wry memoir, Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman’s Quest to Become a Mother. Whether she is recounting her anguishing journey to motherhood, or chronicling her struggles to help her daughter navigate all the pinkness and prettiness of girlhood, Orenstein does not shy away from admitting her uncertainties and contradictions. While this is sometimes endearing, those of you looking for advice on how to help your own daughters lead more balanced lives, may come away with more questions than answers.

Earlier last month, I read an  Early Reviewers copy of India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India, which I received from  LibraryThing, another thought-provoking study in ambivalence, where author Akash Kapur teeters between elation upon seeing India’s progress, and despair, upon pondering the accompanying disarray.

Currently, I am in the middle of two absorbing, and entirely different books: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and Coming of Age in MississippiPrecisely because workflow management and the civil rights movement share so little in common with each other, they are good to read in parallel.

Up next, I have The Little Red Guard: A Family Memoir, which I also received from LibraryThing and the highly acclaimed Nurtureshock: New Thinking about Children, which I’m shocked to discover has remained on my TBR pile from nearly half a year before I became a parent. A book on Search Engine Optimization balances my plate.

I’ve taken on one another reading challenge this year, the What’s in a Name 5 challenge, and I’ve read three out of six books required to complete it.

As always, I am utterly thankful to my local public library for making my book-ish life so exciting.

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