At the start of the year I decided to tackle four reading challenges. I had enjoyed discovering new countries with the 2011 Global Reading Challenge, so decided to give it another go, and was also committed to trying to sutrvive until April 1 without buying a book.
I also came up with two ideas of my own, to read 19 books from 1972 and to read a book written by an author born in every country I would pass through were I to walk from my then home in Northumberland to Zoo City, Lauren Beukes' vison of near-future Johannesburg.
Of these, only one was an unequivocal success. I did avoid buying a new book untilApril 1, but in the remaining nine months of 2012 I built up a formidable backlog, which I will again tackle as Challenge One.
I made the Global Challenge harder by trying to avoid countries I had visited before, and by only allowing one author per country, and also not including a book counted against another Challenge. Against these criteria, I managed 17 countries out of 21, missing out two from Africa, one from Australasia (though I did read two Australian novelists and a New Zealander), and read eight African novels as part of Read the Walk).
Surprisingly, the one real miss was South America, a favourite reading destination, but this was largely because I chose to try to stick to some big reads policy, too, but haven't yet completed Roberto Bolano's 2666 - it's a great book, but my hardback copy isn't made for trains and planes.
I did, however, give up on 19 from 1972. The idea seemed fun a year ago, but I soon discovered that the many of the Seventies novelists I wanted to read didn't actually publish anything in 1972 and those that did, for reasons I should have anticipated, didn't set the books in 1972.
None of the Class of 72 made my 10 strong Five Star Reads list - in fact, all six were three stars.
But three Global Challenge reads did merit five stars - Palace Walk (Egypt), An Easy Thing (Mexico), and Three Sisters (China) - as did two Read the Walkers, Lyric Alley (Sudan) andWhat the Day Owes the Night (Algeria).