Jan 3, 2008

A Rambly Post about Birthdays, Holidays, Book giveaways, and 3 More Challenges

It's my birthday today! Birthdays normally mean new books, but I only got one new book, actually - my boyfriend gave me a lovely trade paperback edition of Zadie Smith's On Beauty, a book I've been meaning to read for ages (and it's on my list for the Book Awards Reading Challenge).

My other gifts were CDs and DVDs. I might get a few more later today, but I think they'll be in the same vein. And you know, it is actually a GOOD thing that I am not getting any more new books. With the ones I got for Christmas, plus the two I got with a gift card the other day (The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland), plus all the books I bought in England over the last few months, I now own more unread book than I think I ever have in my life.

And there's another thing. Tomorrow I'm going back to England, and I won't be able to take any of these brand new books that are here begging to be read (I have enough there to bring back as it is), so for the next two months, it will be as if I didn't own them yet. Which is why I spent the past two days reading books for the Graphic Novels Challenged. I managed to finish both Laika and A Contract with God (which I loved and will review later). The others will have to wait. The Nottingham and the Beeston libraries do have both Persepolis and Endless Nights, but they are always out.

Anyway, speaking of books and gifts, there are two great Book giveaways going on right now! Because it is Buy a Friend a Book Week, Rhinoa is giving away 3 books: Spirits in the Wires by Charles de Lint, Magical Tales by RJ Stewart and Anastasia Krupnik Lois Lowry. To be entered, just leave her a comment saying which books you're interested in before the 8th of January.

Secondly, to commemorate the one year anniversary of her blog, Eva at A Stripped Armchair is giving away copies of Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman and The Collector by John Fowles. If you are interested, leave her a comment saying so before the 10th of January.

Although I am happy to be going back to England tomorrow, I'm also feeling a little nostalgic. I guess it's because that will officially mark the end of the holiday season. I know you must be thinking, "But it's already over!", but here in Portugal it is still Christmas until the 6th of January. The Three Kings Day is not as big a deal here as it is in Spain or in Christian Orthodox countries, but it's still celebrated. It is only after the 6th that Christmas decorations are removed, and Christmas foods stop being eaten. Some families gather and have a smaller feast on that day. And of course, King Cake is eaten. To be honest I hate it, but I am definitely in the minority when it comes to that. And even with King Cake, it's still a nice day.

This year I won't be here on the 6th, so the holiday season will end earlier for me. I am always sad to see it go. There are still some cold months ahead before spring, and without Christmas trees and Christmas lights and Christmas warmth they feel so long and dark and bleak. It feels as if we are no longer making light to counterpoint the darkness of winter. But of course, this small fit of nostalgia will be over soon enough. January and February will be good months. They are my last ones in England, so I plan on making the most of them - travelling, spending time with my boyfriend, going to the theatre, having a good time. After I'm done studying for my finals, that is, but that's not something I want to think about today.

And now, at the very end of the post, I will quietly and nonchalantly tell you about my decision to join 3 more challenges. I promise it's not as crazy as it sounds.

The first is Dana's Chunkster Challenge. The goal is to read at least 4 books that are longer than 450 pages regular type or 750 pages large text between the 7th of January and the 20th of December. Dana says we can overlap with other challenges, and that's exactly what I'm doing. I checked, and there is a frightening number of chunksters on my lists for other challenges. I suppose this is cheating, but I get to join the fun and meet new bloggers, and that's what matters, right? Here's my list:

  • The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett (519 pages)
  • The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop (1216 pages)
  • The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory (544 pages)
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (641 pages)
  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (672 pages)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (560 pages)

The second is Kate's Short Story Challenge. There are a lot of options available for this challenge, and I decided to go with the perfectly unobtrusive options 3 & 4. In 2008, I will read 10 short stories by authors I have not read before. This is something I might have done anyway without this challenge, but it's good to have a challenge to give me extra focus. I like short stories, and last year I even did a self-challenge called "Short Story Week".

Depending on when I achieve this goal, and on how my other challenges go, maybe I will do options 1 & 2 later and read 5 short stories collections. I decided not to pick my 10 short stories just now, and wait and see where my reading whims take me. I will probably not review them one at a time, as I never seem to have enough to say to fill up a post, but I will group them in threes or fours and then review them all together.

And finally, there's the Mythopoeic Award Challenge. I tried to resist, I really did, but it's useless. I blame Eva, who made me realize how many of my favourite books had won this award: there's Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, Anansi Boys and Stardust by Neil Gaiman, The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt, Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and plus quite a few books by Diana Wynne Jones. And don't get me started on the finalists. All of this seems to indicate that it's a good idea for me to read more books that have won this award.

Seven books is quite a bit, considering how many challenges I have already joined, but re-reading Anansi Boys has been in my plans for 2008 all along, and plus I have two books on my Book Awards Reading Challenge list that would qualify (one of which I am currently reading - and loving). That only leaves 4 to be added. Here is my list:
  • Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner (Winner 1991)
  • Little, Big by John Crowley (Winner 1982)
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (Winner Adult Literature 2006)
  • Summerland by Michael Chabon (Winner Children's Literature 2003)
  • The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Winner Adult Literature 1997)
  • Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle (Winner Adult Literature 2000)
  • Young Merlin Trilogy by Jane Yolen (Winner Children's Literature 1998)


  1. I must resist. I WILL resist! The Mythopoeic Challenge sounds divine but I cannot join any more challenges. Enjoy it for me.

    How can you possibly leave all your new books? That would be like leaving a child behind. But think of all the fun you'll have when you get back to them. =)

  2. Happy Birthday!!! I hope you enjoy England and find some wonderful books to fall in love with while you are there.

    I'm sad that the holidays are over. In late November/early December I was enjoying that they seemed to be going by at a slow pace, and then 'Bam!', its all over. I find January to be exciting and potentially depressing all at once, so I'm not happy it is over. Ah well.

  3. GRRRR, everywhere I look there are fantastic and exciting challenges. I love the short story one, but I had a tough time with my Poe collection last year.

    Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I hope you have a spectacular day.

  4. Happy birthday! You sounded so sad about the holidays ending, but keep in mind that the days are getting longer and longer now. Your birthday means we're on our way towards spring. :)

  5. Happy birthday! You can blame me if you want, lol. And I joined the Chunkster Challenge as well! I just haven't posted about it yet.
    I've read the last three on your list, and they're all really, really good.
    We keep our Christmas stuff out until usually the first or second week of January, because it's my mom's favourite holiday. So, it must be difficult to leave now. When I was in college, I had to leave on January 1st to make it back in time. :( Have fun in England, though!

  6. I hope you had a Fabulous Birthday!!!

    I don't join many challenges.. I like to read at my own pace, and read what I feel like reading. When I join those I feel "obligated" even though I do know it's no big deal if one doesn't finish them.. I will do Carl's Fantasy one though.. that's a no brainer since I read fantasy nearly all the time lol

  7. Have a fabulous birthday. But, remember to study hard for your exams too.

    Oh gawd, I'm such a nerd.

    I say, just bring one book to England -- with a big empty suitcase to bring books back.

  8. Happy Birthday, Nymeth. I hope you have a safe trip to England.

    I like how you tacked the three challenges right there at the end. :-) Sneaky!

  9. Happy Birthday Nymeth!! I hope it was a great one. I hope you make the best of your remaining days in England as I'm sure you will :) I can relate to having more books than ever :/ I'm in the same boat after this year...it's ridiculous!...but nice...I really need to look into the mythopoeic challenge! Oh no!

  10. Happy, happy, happy birthday!

    I'm sorry you have to leave your family before your holidays are over :(
    But it sounds like you're ready to make the most out of your last two months in England! When will your finals be finished?

    I already joined the Short Story and Mythopoeic challenges, and have been trying to resist the Chunkster. Though, like you, I bet if I checked my other lists, I'd probably find enough...

    And hey, I just bought The Ladies of Grace Adieu yesterday.

  11. Hope you had a good birthday and enjoy your time over here in the UK xx Shame you have to leave all your books behind!

  12. A very happy birthday to you, Nymeth! Your new challenges sound really interesting. Great list of books to read!

  13. I hope you had a great birthday and welcome back to the UK! You have to come and stay with us and meet the cats for a weekend this time around.

    I am really looking forward to the short story challenge. I am also tempted to so the Chunkster Challenge if we can overlap as I am trying to read some of my bigger books planned for this year now. The The Mythopoeic Challenge also looks really good but I may try and resist it as I have a stupid amount of books to read this year already. I am easily swayed though so you never know ;)

  14. happy birthday! hope it was a really good day. and happy new year!

    it must be so frustrating that you can't take your new books with you... but, as you know, i can fully relate as i still have numerous books waiting on my bookshelf in south africa...

    i hope you have a happy reading year in 2008!

  15. Petunia: You are stronger than I am :P And yes, you're right. It will be nice to get back them.

    Carl V: Thank you :) I completely agree...January is a weird mix of exciting and depressing. But I think that this year it'll be a good month for me.

    Trish: Thank you - I did have a nice day :) Short stories can be tricky to read if you're not in the mood for them. Still, if you pick options 3&4, you have the whole year to read just 10 stories! I will stop tempting you now though :P

    Dewey: Thank you :) It's a bit depressing here, as it gets dark at around 3:30pm! In Portugal, even in December, it never gets dark earlier than 5:30. But you're right, that is already starting to change.

    Eva: Thanks! And don't worry, it's good blaming :P Those 3 books have been on my list for years, so I'm glad to have a proper excuse to finally get to them...I think I'll love them. Leaving on the 1st of January...that must have been hard :(

    Deslily: Thank you. I did have a very nice day :) I'm completely with you on the Once Upon a Time Challenge...it's just an excuse for me to read what I love the most!

    Dark Orpheus: Don't worry, I am a nerd too :P I started studying hard yesterday (yup, I was reading a textbook on the plane..how nerdy is that? :P) and it's going well so far. I did bring one book with me - Thomas the Rhymer - and a brand new little bag that fits 17 books (yes, I tested it at home :P)

    Literary Feline: lol. I was hoping no one'd notice :P And thank you!

    Chris: Thank you! It was a great one indeed :) Sorry to have tempted you with the Mythopoeic challenge :P

    Debi: Thank you! My finals will be finished on the 16th of January, so after that I have over a month to travel around and just relax. The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a beautiful little book, isn't it? I can't wait to read it!

    a book in the life: Thank you! It is a shame, but I do have enough unread ones here to keep me busy for a while!

    Robin: Thank you! I really look forward to reading all of those.

    Rhinoa: Thanks! Once my finals are over I'll definitely go to London again, so we'll have to see about that. I'd love to meet the cats :D
    Good luck trying to resist the Mythopoeic challenge...it's just too good :P

    JP: Thank you! And yeah, I know how well you can relate. If only books weren't so heavy!

  16. First of all....Happy Birthday!! My birthday is next week, but I don't see any books in my future!!

    I've been mulling over some of these challenges myself. Man. I don't think I could possibly squeeze in another challenge. But I guess we will see!!

  17. Happy Birthday! You have a few really good books on your challenges list! Good luck with them.

  18. Sorry I missed wishing you a Happy Birthday! I've been so slow to catch up after our trip. Hope you had a great day! And good luck with all your challenges! :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.