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Anything I should pay special attention to? Anything I should put on the back-burner?

(1/102/10, 3/10, 4/10, 5/10)

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Anything I should pay special attention to? Anything I should put on the back-burner?

(1/102/10, 3/10, 4/10)

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Anything I should pay special attention to? Anything I should put on the back-burner?

(1/102/10, 3/10)

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Anything I should pay special attention to? Anything I should put on the back-burner?

(1/102/10)

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From TTT’s Central: “if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.

For each of these, recommendations are welcome!

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1. Historical Fiction set outside the US, Central Europe and Russia

… as I have the feeling only about 10% of them do. Or at least the ones that cross my path. What a breath of fresh air Dunnett’s Scales of Gold was, set in 15th century Timbuktu.

2. Novels set in Istanbul/Constantinople/Byzantium

I have a fascination with the city. Here’s my Istanbul bookshelf on Goodreads.

3. Novels set in Brussels

When I first moved here I looked for books in English set in the city and didn’t find many. Everyone always recommends the same ones: Brontë’s Villette, Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn and a couple of Poirots.

4. Portuguese Discovery Period seen from the POV of Africans and Asians

The Discovery Period was an interesting time that encapsulated the best and worst of Portuguese history: an ode to human spirit and bravery, but it also marked the beginning of globalized slavery and colonialism (the best of times and the worst of times?).

I’ve only started reading about Portuguese history as seen from foreign eyes in the last 10 years or so. Until then, most of what I knew had the official sugar-coat of history classes.

5. Fiction about the Silk Road

Another source of fascination, especially after last years’ visit to Uzbekistan. I’ve looked around and there’s not much available. Do you know of any books about it? Non-fiction recommendations are also welcome, but a good historical fiction would be amazing!

Ad infinitum

In general, more books about all the stuff I’m curious about, including:

(reading Fables by Andre)

Hi everyone!

I’m back in Brussels after the Holidays. I’ve noticed most blogs were active but I’ve decided to really take a break and just veg-out on the couch, eat, see friends, shop and eat some more. I did manage to get some reading done, but I’ll just make short reviews in the next couple of days to come up to speed.

Meanwhile, I’ll do the classic 2010 round-up.

It’s been a good reading year, but mostly it will go down in History as The Year I Started Book Blogging. I’m already noticing that many of my choices were influenced by you and the trend will increase in 2011 for sure. Exciting times ahead!

I’ve read 88 books and 5 graphic novels. Of the books, 33 were audiobooks (not surprising considering I had laser surgery in April and couldn’t read for weeks), 1 play and only 6 non-fiction (these 6 were probably more than the last couple of years put together). I gave up on 5 books and 1 audiobook.

Top 10 fiction (in no order)

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
    I know the last book of The Hunger Games disappointed a lot of people, but for me Collins was right on target. A great ending to a great trilogy.
  • Gigi by Colette
    Thank you book blogosphere for keep bringing up Colette. I’m in your debt!
  • The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
    After reading Agnes Grey, this one settled Anne as my favorite Brontë. So different from her sisters and in my humble opinion, the most ground-breaking of the three.
  • The Spring of the Ram (The House of Niccolò #2) by Dorothy Dunnett
    I bow my head to the genius of Dunnett.
  • Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernières
    My second de Bernières and he might enter my top 5 authors if Birds Without Wings is as good as I expect it to be. One of those authors that seems to be writing just for you. I only ever got that feeling before with E.M. Foster.
  • Room by Enna Donoghue
    Yep, I also surrendered to Room. The page-turner of the year.
  • Wolf Hall de Hilary Mantel
    Innovative novel of the year. Who said historical novels can’t bring anything new to literature?
  • When you reach me by Rebecca Stead
    Short YA book but full of well-developed characters, intriguing plot, humor, depth, mystery and meaning.

Runners-up
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome; Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; Niccolò Rising (House of Niccolò, #1) by Dorothy Dunnett; Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins; Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini; Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini; Agnes Grey de Anne Brontë; The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett; The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Great new authors
Dorothy Sayers, Anne Brontë, Colette and Rafael Sabatini

Only read one, but suspect they’ll become favorites as well
Brandon Sanderson. P.G. Wodehouse and Sarah Addison Allen

Biggest disappointments
Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey, An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis; City of Bones by Cassandra Claire

Top 3 non-fiction (in no order)

  • The Mitford Girls by Mary Lovell
    It wasn’t a masterpiece of literature, but it got me hooked and it made me want to know more, which is the best compliment I can pay a book.
  • The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel
    The best non-fiction of the year. A gripping account of the men and women who worked to preserve art during WWII and afterwards chased after the stolen masterpieces.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Barbara Skoot
    What’s in a cell? A lot! For instance, meaningful debates on the ethics of science and about how far is your body really yours.

Top 3 graphic novels (in no order)
Again, a big thank you to all the bloggers out there who are great graphic-novels enthusiastics.

  • Les Murailles de Samaris (Les Cités Obscures, 1) by Francois Schuiten, Benoît Peeters
    Straight into my “favorite graphic novel artist” category.
  • Legends in Exile (Fables #1) and Storybook Love (Fables #3) by Bill Willingham
    Fun and incresingly dark. Looking forward to what’s to come!

If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.
Alphonse de Lamartine

We fell in love with the Istanbul from the moment we entered its outskirts on a bus from Bulgaria. The layers of civilizations, the meeting-point of cultures, the insane round-the-clock movement, the salty ayrans, the mystery of the inner rooms of the Topkapi Palace, but most of all, we fell in love with the light. It’s the kind of light I only remember seeing in my Lisbon. Very difficult to describe, but someone told me it has a scientific explanation, something to do with the latitude, longitude and proximity of large bodies of water. On and off we play with the possibility of moving there for a while (unlikely with our jobs), but all the same we’re planning to return in 2011 to explore it further.

From that first visit I started to read fiction set in Istanbul and its previous incarnations as Byzantium and Constantinople, so when Joanna and I decided to create the “One, Two, Theme Challenge” I instantly knew what my top-theme would be.

After some research and going through my TBR I finally decided on a reading list, which turned out to be a liiiitle beyond the needed 6 books. Other books might be added along the way, so please feel free to give me more suggestions, especially on modern history (I know I have a knowledge-gap there) and graphic novels.

(first stab at)
A Reading List for “One, Two, Theme” Challenge
Theme 6: Byzantium/Constantinople/Ottoman Empire/Istanbul

NON-FICTION

  • Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World by Colin Wells (TBR)
  • Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin (TBR)
  • Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin (TBR)
  • Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk

FICTION

  • The Sultan’s Seal (Kamil Pasha, #1) by Jenny White
  • The Abyssinian Proof (Kamil Pasha, #2) by Jenny White (TBR)
  • Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières (TBR)
  • My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk (TBR)
  • Baudolino by Umberto Eco (TBR audiobook)
  • The Flea Palace by Elif Şafak
  • Bliss: A Novel by Zülfü Livaneli

Any further suggestions welcome!

Currently reading

… and

Currently listening

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