Reading Bingo

You may have seen this Reading Bingo card on a few other sites as several other bloggers posted their choices in November. Emma’s post caught my eye, and following a conversation on her blog, I decided to have a bash. So, better late than never, here we go. Like Emma, I decided to focus on books read and reviewed in 2014:

Reading-Bingo-small

  1. Book with more than 500 pages: A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard. My edition clocked in at 528 pages, and I found it pretty compelling stuff. This is the second in the series – I still need to read book one, A Death in the Family. Next year, hopefully.
  2. Forgotten classic: Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker, one of my favourite books of the year. First published in 1962 and reissued by NYRB Classics in 2012, it deserves to be better known.
  3. Book that became a movie: Double Indemnity by James M. Cain. Billy Wilder’s film would make my all-time top ten and the book didn’t disappoint.
  4. Published this year: Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk, published in July 2014. A heartfelt and personal read for me, it’ll make my end-of-year list.
  5. Book with a number in the title: I’ll have to cheat a little here by going for My Brilliant Friend, book 1 in Elena Ferrante’s epic story of the relationship between two women set in 1950s/1960s Naples. Book 2 makes an appearance in category number 24.
  6. Written by someone under thirty: Carmen Laforet was twenty-three when Nada, her debut novel, was published. It’s an amazing book, dark and twisted with a distinctive first-person narrative. A portrayal of a family bruised by bitterness and suspicion, struggling to survive in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
  7. Book with non-human characters: Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus features the mercurial Fevvers, a creature who claims to be part woman, part bird.
  8. A funny book: Where’s There’s Love, There’s Hate by Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo, a playful take on the country-house murder mystery. Tremendous fun.
  9. Book by a female author: Plenty to choose from here, but a recent favourite is Transit by Anna Seghers. Another for my books-of-the-year list.
  10. Book with a mystery: The Art of Killing Well by Marco Malvaldi. In a similar vein to the Casares/Ocampo, this is another delightfully witty novella with a mystery at its heart.
  11. Novel with a one-word title: Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa, I loved the mysterious, elusive tone of this novella.
  12. Book of short stories: The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman. These stories come in a variety of styles and moods. A great introduction to Neuman’s work.
  13. Free Square: I’ve chosen a favourite book from earlier this year. Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton, an author I’ve been meaning to read for some time. I’d like to read another Hamilton next year.
  14. Book set on a different continent: Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. A subtle and delicate story of an unusual relationship between a woman and her former teacher, a beautiful story,
  15. Non-fiction: Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli. A short collection of essays, many of which focus on locations, cities and spaces. Highly recommended.
  16. First book by a favourite author: The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante. I’m cheating a bit as this was the first of Ferrante’s books to be translated into English (there’s an earlier novel, Troubling Love, which I hope to read next year).
  17. Book I heard about online: Several candidates here, but I’ve chosen Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas – I found this one through Stu’s blog. Another hugely enjoyable book, smart and engaging.
  18. A best-selling book: I don’t seem to read many best sellers, but Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is pretty big and thought-provoking.
  19. Book based on a true story: Nagasaki by Eric Faye. A quick read and a rather disquieting one, all the more so considering it’s based on a true story reported in Japan in 2008.
  20. At the bottom of the tbr pile: I’m going to skip this one as I’d prefer not to single anything out.
  21. Book that a friend loves: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Recommended by a couple of friends and rightly so.
  22. Book that scares me: Maybe This Time by Alois Hotschnig, an unsettling, dreamlike collection of stories with a touch of David Lynch. This eerie collection might appeal to fans of Yoko Ogawa.
  23. Book more than ten years old: Quite a few contenders in this category, but I’ll pick The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald, published in 1988. I plan to read more by Fitzgerald next year
  24. Second book in a series: The Story of a New Name, the second instalment in Elena Ferrante’s epic story of the relationship between two women set in 1960s Naples.
  25. Book with a blue cover: this one has ‘blue’ in the title too, The Blue Room by Hanne Ørstavik. Probably the most unnerving, slippery book I read this year – open to different readings/interpretations.

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I hope you enjoyed scrolling through my Reading Bingo choices. Have you read (or are you thinking if reading) any of these books?

46 thoughts on “Reading Bingo

  1. poppypeacockpens

    Oh… This has got me thinking. Got Americanah on my TBR pile, read & loved NATC, really fancy Cassandra at the Wedding & House of Mirth & try Ferrante too. So many ‘new’ authors to me here Jacqui… Great post!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Poppy. I’m glad to hear it’s got you thinking! Hope you enjoy Americanah, so many people seem to found it thought-provoking but engaging, too. Well, I can’t recommend Cassandra and Mirth highly enough, and Ferrante is definitely worth a try. The Neapolitan novels are quite different to the stand-alone Ferrante novel I read this year (The Days of Abandonment) so it depends on which style/tone you might prefer.

      Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          The Days of Abandonment is the only stand-alone Ferrante I’ve read so far, but I believe the others are similar in style (and different to the Neapolitans).

          So, Days is short, visceral, shocking in places – an intense but unforgettable read about a woman’s descent into the depths following her husband’s departure.

          The Neapolitan novels are much broader in scope with a large cast of characters. They follow the dynamics of a relationship between two women through their school days and teenage years (My Brilliant Friend) and adult lives (books 2 and 3 with a 4th on the way). You get a real feel for Naples, the passion and violence that can erupt between families in the Neighbourhood. There’s more info in the reviews should you need it, but I hope that’s a useful summary.

          It depends on which style you think you might prefer. If you like the sound of the Neapolitans, then My Brilliant Friend is the place to start, but these novels are effectively instalments in one extended story. Once you start, you’ll be in for the long haul (unless of course you hate the first one). If you like the sound of the stand-alones, then I can recommend Days, but equally you could start with Troubling Love as it was Ferrante’s debut novel.

          Reply
  2. Brian Joseph

    This is a neat and a fun idea. I should spend a couple of minutes and see of I can fill in all the squares for myself.

    I think that the Book with a number in the title might trip me up.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Yes, have a go, Brian! I’d like to see your choices. I had to cheat a bit with the number-in-the-title one so I’m sure you can flex the rules a little!

      Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Marina. I think you might have started something here as I know Emma picked it up from your post!

      Ferrante: yes, she’s definitely a writer to try, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oddly enough, I wasn’t my intention to mention her so many times but I couldn’t think of any other options for those three categories! Not from my 2014 reads, anyway.

      Reply
      1. MarinaSofia

        Do you know, the publicist from Europa offered to send me the Ferrante and I turned her down, saying I don’t like family sagas. Shows you how prejudiced and narrow-minded I can be (any one of us can be) at times!

        Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          Get back in touch with her! My Brilliant Friend is amazing. I know what you mean about having your own in-built prejudices, though. I’m especially guilty of this when it comes to wine although I’m trying to experiment a bit more with grape varieties/regions I tend to avoid. We all have our blind spots – Muscadet and Zinfandel are two of mine.

          Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Like you, I enjoyed putting my list together, and it’s just a bit of fun before Christmas. Oh, I hope you enjoy Cassandra – you’ll have to let me know what you think!

      Reply
  3. gertloveday

    ‘The Beginning of Spring’ is on my best reads of 2014 list. What an amazing book by someone who’d never even been to Russia. Also loved ‘Never Any End to Paris’ (and Dublinesque by the same author)

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      So glad to hear you enjoyed The Beginning of Spring, and yes, Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Russia felt very authentic. A real achievement to have captured that atmosphere and level of detail without ever having visited the country. I’m trying to decide whether it’ll make my end-of-year list – it’s a contender, certainly. Have you read any others by Fitzgerald? Spring was my first, but I have The Bookshop, The Gate of Angels and The Blue Flower in my TBR. Offshore sounds great, too.

      Never Any End to Paris is fab, isn’t it. I think Vila-Matas might become one of my favourite writers as I also loved Dublinesque when I read it last year.

      Reply
      1. gertloveday

        Offshore is a favourite. The Bookshop mildly interesting, but I don’t much care for The Blue Flower though it’s so much admired.. I really like “At Freddie’s” The last scene is perfection.

        Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          There’s a lot of love for Fitzgerald, but opinions vary on the individual books. Everyone seems to have a different set of favourites. At Freddie’s sounds wonderful – I just looked it up!

          Reply
  4. kaggsysbookishramblings

    I too am very keen to read “The Beginning of Spring” – I might just have to treat myself in the new year…. :)

    Reply
  5. realthog

    An enthralling collection! I confess the only book there that I’ve read is Double Indemnity. I have, however, bought Nights at the Circus twice, once on each continent. I must get round to reading it one day . . .

    Book with a number in the title: I’ll have to cheat a little here by going for My Brilliant Friend, book 1 in Elena Ferrante’s epic story of

    That’s not “cheating a little”! That’s cheating lots.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thank you. Well, Double Indemnity is a cracker! Angela Carter’s ghost might hunt you down until you read one of those copies of Circus…If only we had enough time to read all the books.

      Okay, guilty as charged – I did cheat a lot!

      Reply
  6. My Book Strings

    I’ve read The House of Mirth, Americanah, and Nights at the Circus. All of them good, though Nights at the Circus would be my favorite. I’m thinking that I definitely have to try Elena Ferrante. I see her praised in so many different places.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Glad to hear that you rate those three. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two sections of Circus but got a bit lost in the Siberian wilderness with part three. There’s a lot of love for that book, though.

      Elena Ferrante is definitely worth a try. It’s been quite a year for her, and it’s interesting to see the breadth of support for her books. She seems loved by critics, bloggers and readers alike.

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Reading Bingo | Nounours36 : Lectures d'un épicurien

  8. litlove

    I love this and may have to do it myself. Several books listed I have loved – The House of Mirth, The Beginning of Spring, Slaves of Solitude, and several that I have on my current tbr, including Sidewalks and A Death in the Family. I also want to read Elena Ferrante – next year, for sure.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, do have a go, Victoria – I’d like to see your selection. Glad to hear you loved Mirth, Spring and Slaves. I’m planning on reading at least one other novel by each of these authors next year.

      I hope you enjoy Sidewalks – I think Valeria Luiselli’s a very talented writer, and it’s an interesting collection. I’ll be interested to hear how you find Knausgaard as he does divide opinion. Ferrante’s definitely worth exploring.

      Reply
  9. Guy Savage

    I loved Transit–it is a fantastic book. I read The House of Mirth a long time ago when I was on a Wharton binge. Several on the list are in the TBR stack: most notably Cassandra at the Wedding. I have a hit and miss relationship w/Fitzgerald.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Yes, Transit is definite end-of-year material and Wharton’s hard to beat. I’m planning on reading The Age of Innocence in February as a readalong with a fellow blogger and it’s good to know we have a great book to look forward to. I can’t wait to hear what you make of Cassandra at the Wedding – I hope you enjoy it.

      Fitzgerald – yes, I think I may have seen something from you on your thoughts on Fitzgerald. Possibly on Max’s review of Offshore? You weren’t so keen on it if I recall correctly? Offshore isn’t one of the three Fitzgeralds I have in my TBR (The Bookshop, Gate of Angels and Blue Flower). I’ll probably try The Bookshop next as it was one of her earlier novels. Have you read that one?

      Reply
  10. Scott W.

    I’m envious of your choices this year. I’ve read five. That’s not quite enough to shout “Bingo!” but I look forward to reading others next year. After spending time recently in Naples, I’m especially curious to read the Ferrante trilogy.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Five is good! And I know you liked Severina (out of interest, which others have you read?). I hope you enjoy the Ferrante Neapolitan novels – now a tetralogy as there’s a fourth book on the way! It’s already available in Italian with an English translation due next year. I’ll be interested to hear how you find Ferrante’s portrayal of Naples given that you’ve just spent some time there.

      I’m hoping some of your recommendations might make it into next year’s list. I’m keen to read the Fraile and Eric Ambler’s Topkai: The Light of Day. Oh, and Madame de, too.

      Reply
      1. Scott W.

        Oh shoot, there’s a fourth volume coming? I’d better get started. These multi-volume sagas are a commitment. Let’s see – the others I read were the earlier Ferrante (The Days of Abandonment, Double Indemnity, My Struggle 2: A Man in Love, and Never Any End to Paris.

        Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          A fourth, I know! Yes, it is a big commitment and each book feels like an instalment in one extended story. The first book, My Brilliant Friend, remains my favourite of the three with book two a fairly close second (it’s a little baggy, but gets back on track by the end). I found the third a little disappointing to be honest, and I wonder if the final part of the story has been stretched a little too far. It’s still a good book. The politics of the time are interesting, and Elena enters a different phase of her life which brings new challenges, but (for me) it lacks some of the fire and spark of the first two. I could see clear links between the third book and The Days of Abandonment, which I now recall discussing with you. The Neapolitan novels are broader in scope, less claustrophobic than Days, but the third book touches on a similar theme.

          Ah, Double Indemnity and Never Any End to Paris: I loved both. And you’ve read Knausgaard – I’ll take a look at yours for any reviews. I had to jump on board at book 2 when reading the IFFP longlist earlier this year, so I still need to go back and read the first one.

          Reply
          1. Scott W.

            Talk about a commitment – and there are four more My Struggle books! The Knausgaard work I really liked, though, is A Time for Everything, his “strange angel” story.

            Reply
            1. JacquiWine Post author

              I know! I’ll see how I fare with A Death in the Family. Thanks for recommending A Time for Everything. I hadn’t even looked at anything else by Knausgaard, but it sounds amazing. Having read your review, I’m sorely tempted…

              Reply
  11. Emma

    Finally, I have time to read and discover your bingo.

    Fascinating list. I haven’t read any of them but have some on the TBR. (which must decrease, so I might read them soon) I’m curious about Andrés Neuman and Ferrante, I’ve seen a lot of good reviews about them.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Emma. It’s interesting to compare lists, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy the ones you have in your TBR. I’m going all out to reduce my stash at the moment, so I’m with you there.

      I’m a big fan of Andrés Neuman, and the short stories would be a good intro although there’s a good chance you’d love Traveller of the Century. It’s been quite a year for Ferrante – she’s definitely worth exploring sometime. But for now, the TBR…

      Reply

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