March Madness Nerd Style! Readathons, Challenges and more!

Yes, this is a very long post. Thankfully, it is mostly book lists!

Last month I completed the challenge of reading a book from each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico and D.C.  You can read that post here. This month I’m starting two challenges, Read Ireland Month and the Welsh Readathon. Meanwhile, I’m finished with the Fitzcarraldo Editions Fortnight challenge and will end March by wrapping up the Irish, Welsh, and Japanese challenges!

The Welsh Readathon

Welsh flag texture crumpled up


Readathon link

I accidentally returned the read-along book, the English translation of Un Nos Ola Leuad (One Moonlit Night) by Caradog Prichard (1904-1980). So, that leaves me scrambling. I own, and have not read, How Green Was My Valley. I’ve tried it before and didn’t get very far, so I may be a failure at this readathon. As for Welsh literature/Welsh authors I’ve read, it’s a short list: Going Solo by Roald Dahl.

Reading Ireland Month


Readathon Link

#begorrathon20  #readingirelandmonth20  #readingirelandmonth

Because I’m at the mercy of our regional library for most of my reading, I had to read two of my Irish books in February but will be posting my reviews during March. If I read another Irish book this month it is likely to be one of two McCarthy books that I already own.

What I’ve Already Read from the 100 Irish Novels List on 746 Books

or from the list 100 Books By Irish Women Writers also on 746 Books

This list includes both books set in Ireland and books written by Irish authors.

  1. Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
  2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  3. Magician’s Nephew and Lion Witch & Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  4. Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy [and many, many others]
  5. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  6. PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern Read instead:  Love, Rosie and the Book of Tomorrow both by Cecelia Ahern
  7. Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  8. Room by Emma Donghue  Read instead: Akin by Emma Donghue My Review Link
  9. Light in Amsterdam by David Park
  10. Aren’t You Somebody? Accidental Memoir of A Dublin Woman by Nuala O’Faolain
  11. The Group by Mary McCarthy and Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood by her
  12. Damage by Josephine Hart –well, ok, I haven’t read it but I’ve seen Jeremy Irons in the starring role in the movie! Jeremy Irons!
  13. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney TRIED to read instead: Normal People by her, but DNF couldn’t stand it
  14. ONE OTHER to be reviewed this month
  15. ONE OTHER to be reviewed this month

Others Not On Those Lists

  1. An Irish Country Doctor [series] by Patrick Taylor (Which I loved until he started cranking them out and lowering the quality. I quit after #9). Set in Northern Ireland.
  2. Ballroom on Magnolia Street; Teahouse on Mulberry Street; and The Tavern on Maple Street all by Sharon Owens
  3. Trinity by Leon Uris


Japanese Literature Challenge 13

at dolcebellezza.net

Readathon Link 


Unlike the other challenges, which run for a month or less, the Japanese Literature Challenge runs the whole of the first quarter of the year.  I’ve already posted my first review–of Strange Weather in Tokyo (aka The Briefcase). I’m behind on my second book, but will finish it along the way. My big feat will be completing the read-along of The Makioka Sisters, a dear friend’s favorite book. I want to succeed at reading it this time!

Books by Japanese authors regardless of the setting or novels set in Japan

links are to my reviews

When the Emperor Was Devine by Julie Otsuka

Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Strange Weather In Tokyo [aka The Briefcase] by Hiromi Kawakami

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro [Japanese author]

Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa

The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Buried Giant by Kazu Ishiguro [Japanese author]

Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

 Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Do you like readathons or reading challenges? Are you doing any this year? Leave me a comment, or link to your own post.


Review: Strange Weather in Tokyo [aka The Briefcase] by Hiromi Kawakami


My Interest

As you’ve learned if you have read my blog for a while, I love a good older man–younger woman romance. No Sugardaddies! No gold-diggers! No pervs! Just a sincere older man, younger woman pairing.


Map Source

The Story

Tsukiko is an office worker in early midlife. One evening at a bar she encounters a teacher from her high school. They develop a close, loving relationship. “Sensei” as she continues to call him is much older, but they find they order the same foods, like drinking together, and enjoy each other’s take on the world.

“Would you consider a relationship with me, based on a premise of love?” he asks a few years later.

My Thoughts

Hopefully, no spoilers. I hate them. Sorry if I give something away without realizing it First, let me say that I loved the sound of the food–I want to try ALL the food in this book!

I’ve only read a handful of Japanese books, so I probably missed miles of symbolism in this one. For example, Sensei always carries a briefcase and in the end, we find something out about it, but I’m still unsure what it means. Some of his pronouncements, some of her acts–surely there was supposed to be more meaning than I understood in them?

This is one of the few older man/younger woman relationships that I accepted and liked but found “off.” Not pervy, not desperate, not cringe-y, just “off” somehow. I found myself hoping Tsukiko would take off for America or move-in with her high school classmate or just adopt a pet. I did not “feel” the relationship between her and Sensei in the way I believe the author intended. I found Tsukiko’s only true-to-life emotion was in the cringy last part where she wonders if a physical relationship even matters.

My Verdict

3 Stars

Read all of the reviews of Japanese Literature Challenge 13 here



Review: The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa


Oh my! Where do I begin to tell you how beautiful this book is? How do I convey that I was sitting there desperate to be at home with my kitties when this book ended [No spoilers].

The Story

“How could I ever leave him, having experienced that kind of love? I will never, ever, leave him.”


Saturo, having lost his beloved cat at the same time he lost his parents, is now grown up and has had his van adopted by a stray cat who enjoys sleeping on it. When the cat is in an accident he calls upon the kindness of Saturo to help him get better. Thus begins a deep and authentic friendship between a young man and his cat.

“At that moment, we were without doubt the greatest travellers in the world. And I was the world’s greatest traveling cat.”

The story is told both in Saturo’s words and in the words of the cat, Nana, as they embark on a great journey together [to say more would be a spoiler]. The journey is poignant, but never precious, sweet, but never cloying. It is balanced so nicely between those qualities that I never wanted to stop the audiobook and get out of the car. The reader was perfect for his role as well.

“As we count up the memories from one journey, we head off on another.”

I will be buying myself a copy of this one to keep–it is now that dear to me.

My Verdict


The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa