Back to the Classics Challenge 2021: Classic by a New-to-Me Author

The one thing I love about joining reading challenges is that I get to discover new authors. More than once, it has lead to new favorite books (plural because there is no such thing as THE favorite book). This year Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen on her Books and Chocolate blog has a special category dedicated to New-to-the-Reader (me) authors. I picked out Winston Graham’s novel Marnie that had been waiting in my TBR pile for more than a year or two. I remember that Marnie was an impulse buy back in the day when taking your time to browse around in a bookstore was still a thing. I love reading a good thriller once in a while, and I figured that Alfred Hitchcock wouldn’t have based his movie on any old boring book. It’s my first read by Winston Graham despite his long list of novels. The name Poldark, however, rings a bell, so I might not be all that hopeless.

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Back to the Classics Challenge 2021: Classic by a Favorite Author

I discovered Nevil Shute’s books by accident a couple of years ago. I just randomly picked up his book A Town Like Alice in a bookstore for a light summer read. Little did I know that I’ve unearthed a master storyteller that will instantly become one of my favorite classic authors. Since then, I keep one or two of Shute’s books on my shopping wish list; therefore, it was an easy choice for this year’s Back to the Classics Challenge. After some deliberation, I picked out Shute’s novel No Highway. As always, I didn’t really know what type of story I will get because Shute can pretty much write anything.

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My Year in Books: 2020

What a year! I bet many people around the world are happy to see it come to an end. For me personally, it hasn’t been all that bad. Of course, I miss traveling and seeing my friends and family or going to movies and concerts but we’re going to get back to some form of normality soon enough (hopefully!). Interestingly (or maybe predictably), I’ve been taking my escape in books. I’ve read 37 books which is, I’m sure, my all-time record. According to Goodreads stats, it has amounted to 12 561 pages – way over my annual objective of 10 000 pages! I tried to diversify my geographical reading footprint through European Book Challenge and it has led me to discover some new favorites. I’m also starting to enjoy fiction and non-fiction adventure stories which is something quite new to me. Moreover, I seem to be reading a lot more in my native language – 17 of all the books I’ve read in 2020 were in Latvian. My TBR pile has also been constantly growing and I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t need more books. Alas, it only works sometimes!

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Back to the Classics Challenge 2021

The end of the so-called terrible year is almost here and it’s time to start making plans for the next one. I skipped the Back to the Classics Challenge 2020 but I feel it’s something I want to pick up again for the next year. So, this is my sign-up post for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2021 hosted by Karen K. on her Books and Chocolate blog. It’s a year-long challenge in which I will try to read at least six classics that are already sitting on my shelf or will be in the near future (the ultimate goal is 12 but that usually doesn’t happen). I like to put together a preliminary list of reading material for this challenge to make it more fun.

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European Book Challenge: Round I

It’s been an interesting and challenging year so far. I know that many have struggled with their reading in times of COVID-19 but I’ve had the opposite experience. I’ve managed to read more even when many of my workdays have been filled with scientific reading. As a result, I’m way ahead with all my reading challenges (not that there’s many of those this year). So I’m happy to report 6 months early that I’m done with my first round of the European Book Challenge. I’ve read books from all 5 countries (Spain, Portugal, Greece, Estonia, and Lithuania) and I’m looking forward to continuing my literary journey.


My literary map of Europe on 20.06.2020 (source of the base map)


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Reading Nobel Laureates in Literature

For the last couple of years, I have been deliberately choosing to read something from Nobel Laureates in Literature. Not in bulk, but one or two books a year. I don’t really know how it started. As a researcher, I follow the annual award of Nobel Prizes for scientific achievements. And let’s face it, the choice of the nominees and winners is more or less straightforward in that context. In literature, it’s a bit more complicated. And I got curious. Now, I’m not an expert on what is good literature. I’m only an expert on what I like or dislike. However, I wanted to know what’s all the fuss about. Continue reading “Reading Nobel Laureates in Literature”

European Book Challenge

For the last two years, I participated in the ‘Back to the Classics Challenge’ that gave me an extra incentive to catch up with some good old classics and discover new favorites. This year I wanted to do something different. I have been wondering what is my geographical reading footprint for a while now. So, I decided to analyze my ‘read books’ list on Goodreads and see what comes out. As I mostly read in English or Latvian (my native language), it was unsurprising that I’ve generally focused on English, American or Australian authors as well as Latvian and Russian literature. My Goodreads record starts in 2012 and it’s only really accurate from 2016 but it still draws a pretty good picture of my current geographical preferences. According to the UN, there are 44 countries in Europe but I have read books only from 12 countries. So, I figured it’s time to make some changes. For the next 5 years, I’ll try to cover as many European countries as I can and post an update at the end of each year. I hope to add at least 5 new countries to my European reading map every year (even the difficult ones) and I’m really looking forward to my literary journey!

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My year in books: 2019

I’m quite happy that 2019 is officially over. It wasn’t exactly an easy year for me in many ways, mostly personally (but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger… right). However, I seem to have outdone myself with my reading goals. I’ve finished 30 books although I planned to tackle only 25. I hit the 10 000 read pages target (with the help of a couple hefty tomes). I participated in the ‘Back to the Classics Challenge 2019‘ and read 6 classics. I tried out new formats: 2 non-fiction books, 2 short story collections, a novella, and a poetry book (those who know me, know that I’m not a fan of poetry… but turns out there are exceptions). Finally, I kept up a good balance between books in English (22 books) and books in Latvian (I read 8 books in my mother tongue).


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Back to the Classics Challenge 2019: Final Wrap-Up

The year is coming to an end, so it’s time to look back at how I did with the Classics Challenge organized by I have to admit that it wasn’t a smooth reading experience. I managed to finish 6 books. However, I constantly changed my reading plans and almost ended up reading everything but the books I mentioned in my sign-up post. Anyhow, I’m glad that I managed to complete the challenge with some dignity (6 categories are the bare minimum to make it count). And considering that I read 25 to 30 books a year, 6 classics seems reasonable (they are usually slow reads, you know). Continue reading “Back to the Classics Challenge 2019: Final Wrap-Up”

Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

I don’t like to stress myself too much when it comes to reading but I enjoyed catching up and discovering new classics throughout 2018; therefore, I’ve decided to sign up for another round.  So, I’m joining the ‘Back to the Classics Challenge 2019’ organized by

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