I have to say I was a little bit sceptical about Reading Challenges. Something didn't feel quite right.
Then again, I set myself challenges in other things, and I do like to have structure to reading, so why not?
It has turned out to be a very good decision indeed. Shortly I will try and deliver on my commitment to the Eastern Europe Challenge (this won't be too hard as I regularly read novels by Eastern Europeans) and the Argentina Challenge (I am going ot go there eventually).
I have been concentrating on Dorte's 2011 'Seven Continents' Global Challenge, three books from each of seven continents, with a couple of extra rules of my own just to spice it up. I am going on author's nationality rather than setting and I am only allowing writers I am reading for the first time. (The nationality criteria wasn't well thought through - I had also decided that science fiction might be the springboard for the seventh continent section so I am nominally committed to read three books written by extra-terrestrials....).
The Global Challenge was worth doing if only for the enjoyment of hunting down possible titles; I must have spent hours combing reviews, following Amazon "Customers who bought..." and checking Wikipedia entries for country of birth etc.
And I have read some splendid books. Thanks Dorte!
The best book I read in April was In the Country of Men, Hisham Matar's insightful and moving story of a boy growing up in post revolutionary Libya. Review to follow, five stars and already a strong contender for my favourite read of 2011.
I was also much impressed by Red April, by Santiago Roncagliolo - not everyone's cup of tea, apparently, but strongly recommended, and a book purchased, rather perversely, by a negative mention on Petrona, Splinter by Sebastian Fitzek (four star review to follow, Maxine!).
I also read Stratton's War, by Laura Wilson (and would probably read more by her if I wasn't so strongly drawn to John Lawton), and Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet, which is a guilty pleasure partly driven by my PR in Fiction project...
I suppose I could include Asa Larsson's Savage Altar in a challenge, but including Sweden would be like including England...