Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge is one of my favorite reading challenges. Each year Gilion the host encourages participants to read at least one book by a European author or at least one book set in a European country. Because her challenge is a kind of “tour” each book must be by a different author and set in a different country. While the top participation level is the “Deluxe Entourage” of five books, each year she awards a prize to the participant who read the most qualifying books. In past years she’s also awarded honorable mentions to participants. (I’m proud to report that last year for the challenge I read 21 books and was awarded an honorable mention.) I also like this challenge because the host and I live in the same city of Portland, Oregon USA. I’m probably the only book blogger who’s taken part in a reading challenge that’s hosted by a blogger who lives across town! (I keep thinking some day I might bump into her at a literary event.)
While composing this post I did a quick tally and if my records are correct (never a given, trust me), it looks like I read 20 books representing 21 different European countries. Not a bad effort if I say so myself! On top of all that, I read a number of books that were set in, or about multiple European countries. These I didn’t count as part of challenge, but featured them as part of my Pan-European Lives series. (A half-dozen of these happened to be novels by Alan Furst.)
Looking back on what I read, with the exception of two, all are works of fiction. At first I was surprised by this since I’ve always considered myself more of a nonfiction reader. However, over the last couple of years I’ve been reading more fiction. So with that in mind, I really should not have been that surprised. (By the way, one of those two pieces of nonfiction, Ivan’s War: Life and Death in The Red Army 1939-1945 made my year-end list of best nonfiction.) Of that array of fiction, The Expats (Luxembourg) was my favorite English language novel read in 2014 and The Prisoner of Heaven, (Spain) was my favorite piece of translated fiction.
After enjoying the 2014 European Challenge so much I eagerly signed up for the 2015 edition. Not only am I looking forward to taking part in the challenge, but also excited to see how it complements a few of the other reading challenges I’ll be doing in 20015 like the Global Reading Challenge, Around the World Reading Challenge, Where are You Reading Challenge, Full House Reading Challenge, Books in Translation Reading Challenge, British History Reading Challenge, and the Nonfiction Reading Challenge. I can’t wait to get started!