Tag Archives: Olympics

Two More Challenges for 2013

I’m trying not to go too challenge crazy in 2013, but I’m already a couple books into the 2016 Olympics Challenge and Translation Challenge meshes pretty well with that.

2013 Translation Challenge


Hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Translated fiction is becoming much more popular these days but there are still lots of readers who ignore it. Reading international fiction is a great way to see different sides of other countries’ culture and every-day life as well as opening up a whole new world of fantastic books to read. So for 2013, I’d like to challenge you to read one translated book per month.

Possible books (a list of suggestions):

  • Leonardo’s Hands by Alois Hotschnig
  • City of God: A Novel by Paulo Lins
  • Embers by Sandor Marai
  • Something from my library by Umberto Eco
  • Something from my library by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson (working through the Poetic Edda currently)
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
  • After Dark After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  • Wouldn’t rule out rereading Beowulf or some Pushkin

Also, I’m not sure if I can read a translated book per month, but I’m shooting to average that by the end of 2013.

The 2016 Summer Olympics Reading Challenge

Hosted by Tanya of Girlxoxo.com

GOAL To read books set in each of the countries that won a GOLD MEDAL in the 2012 Olympics, or written by authors from these countries – all prior to the start of the next Olympics scheduled for August 4, 2016.

Book # 34

Dark Water by Koji Suzuki, Glynne Walley (Translator)

I read the majority of this book on airplanes on the way back from Omaha. My return trip was strangely peppered with unusual events. Delay, further delay caused by an overhead bin that wouldn’t close, rush to make connecting flight in Denver, plane that had to turn around and re-land in Denver because the forward door wouldn’t close, deplane/replane. And as an undercurrent to it all I was reading uneasy stories about one of the things that disturbs me most: water.

The water imagery was one of the things that I found most unsettling about the film The Ring (2002). When I was writing up a Throwback Thursday entry for Suzuki’s Ring, it occurred to me that I had enjoyed the book, but hadn’t sought out any more of his fiction. A visit to PBS solved that with a book that firmly emphasized what I found deliciously creepy about the film and the book.

A thing that I’ve been paying attention to in my reading is how an author defines sense of place, or how the author wants the sense of place to be felt. Glen Hirshberg does a wonderful job of portraying numerous places, but there’s something to be said for the sustained world. Through out the stories in Dark Water the world, Suzuki’s Japan, is bright and clean and polished, but only on the surface. Below is rust and decay and ghosts of various sorts.

The collection has a wrap-around story of a woman and her granddaughter finding things at the beach. It is a foreboding set up. What things will be found? Generally, we’re led to believe that the things, the tales that follow, will be horrible. The first, “Floating Water,” is pretty grim and possibly the most traditional ghost story. Not all the ghosts in this book are the spirits of the undead. “Solitary Isle” is about ghosts of the past that manifest in real ways, as a child and a deserted artificial island. “Watercolors” uses the ghosts of past events to add depth to strange theatrical production.

Throughout there is a juxtaposition of the man made and the natural that begets a weird tension. I don’t know if that’s a particularly Japanese/Tokyo thing or if it’s something I feel being the product of sprawling, mostly land-locked cities. It feels to me that there is some worry that technology and progress have cheated nature, but nature will take her angry revenge in due time.  This is me talking from a place of little knowledge of Japanese literature. This is an observation and a hypothesis, not a full-blown theory.

Dark Water concludes in a gentle way, returning to Kayo and her granddaughter and the revelation of what Kayo considers to be the greatest treasure she’s found on the beach. It’s a comforting ending. A good woman lives a good life among all strangeness in this world.

Format: Trade Paperback
Procurement: PaperbackSwap
Bookmark: CVS coupon from its previous owner.

Book # 32*

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ebba Segerberg (Translator)

I don’t quite remember why I decided to read this book. I had watched both the Swedish movie and the US remake. I liked both and, if you know the movie, you know there’s some ambiguity surrounding the Eli/Abby character. Maybe I was interested in how Lindqvist drew the character in the novel versus his screen adaptation. But, I don’t really remember. Regardless of what my picking rational was, it was a good choice.

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

The book Let the Right One In has a few more threads than the movie and therefore some of the plot takes a while to get going. The payoff is that we know the characters better and that makes some of the ending events all the more horrifying. We also get to know Eli more, including some history.

It’s always tough to judge writing when translation is involved. Occasionally, the way something was expressed felt a little awkward. More plot means more characters and sometimes keeping everyone straight was a challenge. On the other hand, as a writer, it was nice to read a story that had more than one thing going on.

I’m also appreciative of how the young characters are handled. My biggest beef with much of YA fiction is that, as an adult, it doesn’t mean much to me. The angst and heartbreaks of growing up seem to be handled pretty superficially. Non-“YA” fiction with young characters project these things in a way that still resonates with me as an adult. Off the top of my head, the other example of this that I can think of is Stephen King’s “The Body.”  I’m fully open to the notion that not all YA is like this, but my opinion is reflective of my experience of it this far. As always, I’m feeling out the reasons that some things catch with me and some thing don’t.

Lindqvist wrote the screenplay for the original movie and I find the adaptation very good. All the dramatic beats remained intact. The story still told well, but in a more compact form. The US version of the film shorted the title to Let Me In, which is okay, I guess. For the book though, Let the Right One In fits so much better. All these characters, every single one, makes the choice of whom to let in.

Format: Trade Paperback
Procurement: PaperbackSwap
Bookmark: Calling Card, mine, not filled out

* My numbering is out of order because I wanted to get my impression of Every House Is Haunted out closer to its release date.

Blogging Triple Play!

Friday Free-for-All (08/24/12)

In the wake of a Bout of Books, I haven’t been in the mood to read on the internet. My Google reader has been pretty much ignored most of this week with occasional fits of  marked-as-read.

From this week, Girl XOXO is doing a reading challenge. And I’m going to do it too:

GOALTo read books set in each of the countries that won a GOLD MEDAL in the 2012 Olympics, or written by authors from these countries – all prior to the start of the next Olympics scheduled for August 4, 2016. (Girl XOXO)

That ends up being 50 countries. 50 books in four years? I can do that, right?


  • Algeria
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda


  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America
  • Venezuela


  • People’s Republic of China
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • Uzbekistan

  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine


  • Australia
  • New Zealand

From a couple of weeks back: The Wall Street Journal had an article on the metrics being gathered by connected ereaders. On one hand, I love this concept. That your ereader could keep track of how much you read (both in words/pages and time spent), how fast you read, what books are “easy” reads, etc. appeals to the part of me that loves to know, in numbers, how things are. As a writer, my feelings are mixed. Yes, I’d love to know, especially in the draft process, where a reader might lose interest in what I’ve written, but I also see the potential for publishers to be a little too concerned about formula that creativity might be stifled.

From the beginning of the month: Jeff O’Neal on prequels, sequels, and extended universes. Which kind of asks, is fandom a bad thing? What might we miss out on by spending time on more Star War or more Star Trek or more Sherlock Holmes? Some of fandom is habit. It’s saying, “I’ll go see the next X-Men movie because it’s an X-Men movie, even though the last one wasn’t worth $7 or two hours.” That’s very much like finishing a terrible book just because you always finish books. There should be a moment of re-evaluation every-so-often. I’ve put books down. Just because a TV show might have held my interest for five seasons doesn’t mean I owe it my time if the sixth if awful. And I’ve also rewatched episodes of Doctor Who when my Netflix queue had 200+ other thing in it. Spend time on the things that are good and enjoyable, don’t worry about the rest.