Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA 2014 kick off: introductions

Tbook heart armchairbeahis year’s Book Expo America kicks off today but since I can’t make it across the Atlantic for the in person event, I’ll have to content myself with joining in the armchair version.  I’ll be in good company since this virtual form of participation is a really popular idea, giving bloggers around the world a chance to connect and talk about the topic we all have in common − books and reading.

This is the third time I’ll have participated in Armchair BEA. As in past years the organisers have come up with some good topics for us to talk about on each day of the event. Hence you’ll see a lot more activity on BookerTalk this week. I’m also going to make a conscious effort to read more of the posts contributed by other participants.

To kick off, here is the post where we introduce ourselves with the aid of some questions from our hosts.

What genre do you read the most? 

My reading falls into three categories right now: novels that have won the Booker Prize; books that loosely can be called classics and novels written by authors from parts of the world outside my own experience. I do occasionally read non fiction but

What was your favorite book read last year?

I don’t use a star rating system otherwise this would be an easy one to answer, I’d just look up the books I awarded five stars. Looking at the list of what I read in 2013 it would be very difficult to choose just one title so I’m going to bend the rules a bit and select one favourite from each of the three categories of books I tend to read.

In my Booker Prize list, my favourite was John Banville’s The Sea. I know it wasn’t a popular choice for the prize but I loved the lyrical style of his writing.

From my classics club list I’m choosing Grahame Greene’s Heart of the Matter. It was actually a re-read which tells you something about how much I love this book.

From my world literature list I’m selecting Petals of Blood by the Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. It was the hardest book I read all year because of its subject but well worth the effort.

What’s your favorite book so far this year?

It has to be Emile Zola’s  L’Assommoir. This is the third book from his RougonMacquart series I’ve read and I was hoping it would be on a par with the other two (Germinal and La Bete Humaine) and it was.  An absolutely gripping novel about poverty and desperation in nineteenth century Paris. 

What is your favorite blogging resource?

Apart from the many, many other bloggers whose sites give me inspiration, some of the websites I make a point of reading will be familiar to most bloggers I suspect — like Book Riot or Publishing Perspectives. I also enjoy The Bookseller though haven’t taken the plunge to get a regular subscription yet; I just buy an edition if I see something that interests me.

Share your favorite book or reading related quote.

This comes from my favourite book of all time, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, a book which if I were in the undesirable situation of being stuck on a desert island would be my must have companion.

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”



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

36 thoughts on “Armchair BEA 2014 kick off: introductions

  • Pingback: Sunday Salon: Phew what a week | BookerTalk

  • Book Riot is cool, but their Book Fetish column makes me want to spend all the money.

  • I don’t really specifically read prize-winning literature but I really want to. So I’m going to follow your blog and hopefully get some ideas and recommendations along the way!

    I really like Book Riot and Publishing Perspectives too! I really like your quote.

    Have you read The Reluctant Fundamentalist? I thought it was really good!

  • readerbuzz

    So glad to visit your literate and lovely blog! Enjoy Armchair BEA!

    • It’s not the easiest book to read since it’s rather long but well worth it Gillian

  • joyweesemoll

    Love getting to know you better, Karen! That’s a great quote from Middlemarch.

    Have a great week with Armchair BEA!

  • I love that quote! I’ve heard such wonderful things about Middlemarch. I need to pick it up. Your goal of reading books from so many other counties is amazing and I wish you luck with it.

    • Middlemarch is one. Of those books that can be read on so many levels. I find something new in it each time I read it. Some people get frustrated with it because they think its slow. It doesn’t have a lot of dramatic action for sure because it’s really about how individuals connect with each other and about ambition. Hope you do enjoy it Rain if you decide to give it a go.

      • Thank so much!

  • I like that quote from Middlemarch – thanks for sharing. I don’t read what I’d call serious lit, but I like the idea behind your blog. I bet it’s great to be able to look back at what you’ve read and see your thoughts.

    • Having my reactions to a book documented like this will be invaluable in filling in gaps in my memory.

  • Love your blog here! This is my third time too participating. I don’t know how I sat out for two years in between, but I’m glad to be back! I like the books you listed in your favorites – some of them are in my wishlist.

    • Hi Athira, thanks for dropping in. Hope you get to read those books soon since you will be in for a treat.

  • I very nearly put my Zola read this year (Nana) as my favourite too.
    Nice to get to know you better 🙂

    Happy Armchair BEA

    • I started reading Nana some years ago but whether I just wasn’t in the mood, I don’t know. It didn’t grab me at the time. I’m going to give it another go though since I do like everything else I’ve read by Zola

  • Middle grade is gaining popularity as a term used to describe books for children ages 10-14. They are “chapter books” (a term I don’t like much) instead of picture books, but don’t have Young Adult content when it comes to sex, language, etc. I teach in a middle school, which is grades 6-8, so the students are usually ages 11-14. Some middle schools have 5th grade. I will have to check your blog for books set in Wales, and hopefully I can find some that don’t include King Arthur references! I recently watched Gavin and Stacey and saw some glimpses of Welsh neighborhoods and landscapes, which was interesting!

  • I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned but they sound like tremendous reads. It’s fantastic that you are going through books that have been critically acclaimed. And with the resources you mention I only know about Book Riot so I need to check out the others!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

  • I was reading through books that won the Man Booker prize as well as some nominees. I haven’t been following it as of late, but I should. I really should. Reading books that are outside your own experience is a wonderful thing. What a wonderful way to learn about people, places, and different perspectives.

    • It is indeed a great experience Stephanie. It’s introduced me to cultures I wouldn’t really know about – for example I was reading one the other day that was about arranged marriages in nomadic tribes of Somalia. That’s a long way out of my own experience

  • You seem to read more ‘serious’ books, while I read a mix of everything I can get my hands on. Mainly modern literature.

    So, do you read Zola in French? I wish my French was good enough (well, I guess it was when I did my exams, I read L’Etranger and books like that).

    Have fun with ABEA!

    • Oh if only I could read in the original language but I’m afraid it would take me the rest of my life. I can read a newspaper article and get the gist of it but fiction would be much tougher

  • Apologies if I’ve commented twice; my Internet failed me right as I hit post!

    I am excited to have discovered your blog and will definitely be following – I always intend to read more prize winners and international reads each year and will be looking forward to your recommendations!

  • You make me want to read all of your favorite books from last year. I read The Heart of the Matter when I was much younger, and should read it again now that I’m much older!

  • I am not familiar with Book Riot or Publishing Perspectives. Thanks for the recco, will nose around there.

  • Hi. This is my first year participating in the ArmchairBEA event. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

    • hi Allison,i just tried leaving a comment on your site but it didn’t seem to show up so I’m not sure what happened

  • I like that you are stuck on this side of the ocean with me instead of going to BEA. I had wanted to go this year, but things didn’t work out. Maybe next year?

    • It would be ideal if I could synch up the BEA with a trip to our USA headquarters but I just seem to miss it by about two weeks each time. Grrr…
      I do like the armchair idea – wish other events would use the same approach.


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