Reading Bingo 2017


I’ve come across Reading Bingo several times over the years since I started this blog but never joined in because it seemed the idea was to commit to reading books that fitted the squares. I know from experience I am hopeless at reading to order. But this year I’ve seen a few bloggers  Marina at Finding Time to Write , Cleo at CleopatraLovesBooks   and Susan at ALifeinBooks fill in the squares in retrospect first. Since I am too stuffed with Christmas pudding to move too far from the sofa it seemed a fun way to look back on the year and see how well I could match my books read with the 2017 bingo card. I’ve done way better than I expected with just two blank squares…

Book bingo 2017

A Book with More Than 500 Pages –  weighing in with more than 600 pages is the Booker-award winning Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth

A Forgotten Classic  – Gerard Reve’s The Evenings has been called a masterpiece of Dutch literature (I’m not convinced about that). Published in Amsterdam in 1946 it took 60 years before an English language version became available. 

A Book That Became a Movie –   You may not have heard of the book Vertigo by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac  but I’m confident you’ve heard, and may have watched the version by Alfred Hitchcock.

A Book Published This Year – Larkinland by Jonathan Tulloch brilliantly captures the atmosphere of Hull in UK at the time when the poet Phillip Larkin was head of its university library. 

Reservoir 13A Book with a Number in the Title – one of the best two novels I have read all year is Jon McGregor’s superbly constructed Reservoir 13, A contender for the Booker Prize in 2017, it sadly lost out in the final round. 

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty –   I don’t know Alys Conran’s exact age (it would have been impertinent to ask her when I met her at the Wales Book Awards) but I’m confident she is younger than I am so that’s enough for me to justify including her hear with her multi award-winning debut novel  Pigeon.

A Book with Non-Human Characters –  Limited options here since I dislike books of this kind. The nearest I can get is Strangers by Taichi Yamada which features ghosts. 

A Funny Book –   HagSeed by Margaret Atwood is a touching and imaginative retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. There are some genuinely funny scenes set in a prison where the inmates become the cast members and have to decide what swear words will be acceptable.

A Book By A Female Author:  The most extraordinary novel I read all year was  The Vegetarian by the South Korean author Han Kang. It’s a short novel but deals with some big issues such as the clash between personal desire and society’s expectations.

A Book with a Mystery –   an easy one this since the word mystery appears in the title.  The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts, comes from the Golden Age of Crime and is part of the British Library Classic Crime series. A meticulously plotted murder mystery that will test your powers of memory and logic.

A Book with a One-word title –  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi won multiple awards and a six figure advance from a publisher (good going for a debut author). I enjoyed many elements but overall felt it could have been an even better novel.

A Book of Short Stories – Failed on this one. I have several collections of short stories but seldom get around to reading them. I did start one collection but only read three stories. 

Free square –   My Antonia by Willa Cather, a classic of a farming community set in Nebraska. It was so beautifully written I’m keen to read more by Cather. 

A Book Set on a Different Continent – Even though I haven’t read as many novels in translation as I would have liked this year, I did read a few set in Australasia. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey was one I highly enjoyed. 

A Non-fiction Book – The Good Women of China by Xinran relates the real life stories of women who live within the constraints of a society that doesn’t value women. All the stories were featured on her radio programme.

The First Book by a Favourite Author – Fail again. Although there were a number of authors I read this year whose work I have enjoyed in the past (John Banville, Anthony Trollope, Margaret Atwood for example) none of the books were their first published works.  

A Book You Heard About Online – I can’t believe it took me so long to discover We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson but it was only through other bloggers that this came to my attention. 

A Bestselling Book –   Published in 1930, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, may well pre-date best seller lists so I can’t tell you how many copies of this have been purchased. But it’s never been out of print and has spawned many tv and screen adaptations including one in 2016 so on the basis of its enduring popularity I’m classing it as a best-seller.

A Book Based on a True Story – Off to Philadelphia in the Morning by Jack Jones is a fictionalised account of the life of Joseph Parry, one of the most famous composers to hail from Wales. Born into the extreme poverty of the iron and coal-mining town of Merthyr Tydfil he moved to Philadelphia with his parents at a young age. On his return to Wales he became the first person from Wales to gain a Doctorate in Music from Cambridge University. 

A Book at the Bottom of Your TBR Pile – as a literature student I dipped into A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf regularly but never read the whole essay. I corrected that ommission this year. You could say I left it a bit late after 37 years but at least I got to it …

A Book your Friend Loves –  I read By the Pricking of my Thumbs by Agatha Christie as part of the #1968club hosted by Simon of Stuck in a Book and Karen at kaggsysbookishramblings. My sister, who is a Christie fan, loved it more than I did. 

A Book that Scares You – Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel isn’t a scary book in station eleventhe sense it is populated by aliens or things that hide in the woodshed. But it did send shivers down my spine with its premise that the world is hit by flu pandemic so virulent its victims die within 48 hours. In a few short weeks it claims the lives of 99.99 per cent of the world’s population. What made me nervous was that the survivors find a lot of the objects and technologies they had felt essential to their lives (like mobile phones) prove useless in this new world. I started to worry that I don’t have any of the skills that would help me survive.  

A Book that is More Than 10 Years Old –  What a joy it was to read Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. Yes it was sensational and a romp of a story but du Maurier also managed to underpin this with a more thoughtful theme about the female situation. 

snow sisters

The Second Book in a Series –  Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a prequel to his best seller Shadow of the Wind but was actually his second to be published. It’s more patchy in quality than Shadow of the Wind but is still a fast moving adventure story that can be enjoyed just for its setting in Barcelona.

A Book with a Blue Cover –   Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin. The story is complex (multiple narrators and timelines) but is handled well and is strong on atmosphere. The cover is gorgeous. 


If you haven’t come across Reading Bingo before, do give it a go. You might be as surprised as I was. And do take a look at the other bloggers who have participated so far this year:

Marina at Finding Time to Write

Emma at Book Around the Corner

Cleo at CleopatraLovesBooks 


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

23 thoughts on “Reading Bingo 2017

  • Interesting! It can even make readers realize that there are other books they can read aside from one genre they want to stick to all the time.I guess I can even include it on my next projects. Thanks for this clever idea. 🙂

  • I loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Jamaica Inn, and you’re right I’ve never heard of Vertigo by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac but I love the film. 😀

  • I love these posts. You had a very eclectic reading year.

    Thanks for the mention. I also do it retrospectively, it’s a lot more fun to see the result that way.
    It seems that everybody finds something for the blue cover square. It must mean something about the publishing world.

  • Pingback: Reading Bingo 2017 — a just-for-fun post! – Grab the Lapels

  • I’m definitely going with the retrospective Bingo. I don’t want be ‘boxed-in’ when selecting my reads.

    • “Boxed in” Thats a good way to describe my feeling also once I’ve created a ‘to read’ list. I seem to enjoy writing those lists more than I do reading from them

  • We both read We Have Always Lived in the Castle this year! Hooray! Do you know who organized the book bingo and if the card will be different next year?

    • Hm thats a good question – I have asked Cleo if she knows but will also ask on Twitter to see if anyone can track down the original.

  • Well done, Karen! I do it retrospectively too, I don’t want to read to any set agenda but I still like to play these games and see how others got on.

    • It was a good exercise in reviewing what I had read this year – some of the books I saw on my list I had a hard time recalling so that tells me something about them!

  • So glad you got to read We Have Always Lived at the Castle – one of my favourites! Happy New Year x

    • No idea why it has taken me so long to read it Cathy. I’m now reading Susan Hill’s Howard’s End is on the Landing

  • I enjoyed doing this this year too, but only in retrospect also. I have no desire to try to read to something like this, but it is fun to see what falls out serendipitously. I failed on the Second Book in a Series, and sort of fudged a couple of others, but it was fun doing.

    I love that you included Oscar and Lucinda, and you should read more Cather. I’ve read a few and have more to go, but My Antonia is (excluding Jane Austen’s novels) one of the few novels that I’ve reread. As for your Under 30 choice, are you trying to tell us that you are so close to 30 that someone younger than you could very well be under 30. If so, I admire your audacity!! LOL.

    (PS Can I gently ask how long your page is going to snow for? Every time I bring up your blog my laptop fan starts running big time. I reckon it’s the snow that’s doing it.)

    • I think I got rid of the snow – sorry about the effect it had on your system. I don’t even remember ticking the box.

      Um about that age thing — got you going there didn’t I? Me 30? I might adopt my mum’s strategy. She refuses to say what her age is because she says people then treat her according to the age and now how she behaves If only…. What I think I was trying to say is that everyone looks young to me these days 🙂

      • Haha, I knew what you were saying Karen, I was just teasing you about teasing us!! As for your Mum, it’s very hard to not give away a sense of your age if you greyed early and refuse to go down the hairdye path as I do (refuse that path I mean).

  • I could never read to order like this but it’s a lot of fun doing it retrospectively, isn’t it. Always pleased to see more attention for Reservoir 13, too.

    • You and I should form a fan club for Reservoir. We could come up with a catchy name for our club…

  • Fact that you cover so much of this retrospectively is testimony to a pretty varied range of books you clearly read. I’d get nowhere doing something like this retrospectively – like my comfort zone too much and I’m too lazy to use it proactively to shake up my reading tastes!! You’ve got some great books on your list though and some others like ‘Pigeon’ that I’ve got to look forward to.

    • It was probably not as varied a reading year as I experienced in the past because I didn’t read as much fiction in translation as I really wanted to – but there is only so much time available isn’t there Col?

  • Brilliant nearly a full house!
    I can’t read to order so always fill in the squares retrospectively!

    • You read so much it must have been hard to decide what to use for each square. But then again you could probably have done two books for every square…

      • Haha not quite but it didn’t seem quite so difficult this year, perhaps because I’ve read a wider variety of books in 2017.


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