Reading England 2015

Ah, my first commitment to a challenge for 2015!  O at Behold the Stars is hosting a Reading England Challenge for this coming year and how could I not participate?  Not only should this challenge be particularly easy because of my love for English literature, it will also give me an education in learning the counties of England.  While I’ve had exposure to various English counties through reading, I have no idea on a map where each is located (except I know that Surrey is in the south!) so what a chance to further my knowledge of the country!

The Rules:
  • This challenge begins on the 1st January 2015 and ends on 31st December 2015, but of course if you really get into it then keep it going ๐Ÿ™‚
  • You can sign up any time between now and the end of 2015. Only books read after 1st January 2015 count, though.
  • Choose a level (below), but do not feel obliged to pick your books or even your counties beforehand. 
  • Because this is a classics blog, I’d encourage people to read classic novels, but how you define classics is up to you.
  • You are not limited to English authors. Henry James, for example, is American but his novel The Turn of the Screw is set in Essex, and so he counts for the challenge
  • It would be grand if you blogged about the books you read for each county but you don’t have to. If you do, you don’t have to feel obliged to give any information about the county in general other than, maybe, “This is my review of x which is set in the county of x“. You could also include a description of the landscape in your posts, but again you don’t have to.
  • You do not have to read the books in their original language, translations are accepted (I only read in English so I would never dream of making other people read in their second language!)
  • Audio books, Kindles, and whatnot are accepted too.
  • Poetry, plays, biographies, and autobiographies count as well as novels. 


The Levels:
  • Level one: 1 – 3 counties
  • Level two: 4 – 6 counties
  • Level three: 7 – 12 counties
  • Level four: 12 + counties

The English books I have on my slate for 2015 are:

Orlando โ€“ Virginia Woolf
Framley Parsonage โ€“ Anthony Trollope
The Cantebury Tales โ€“ Geoffrey Chaucer
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners โ€“ John Bunyan

I’m notoriously bad at making lists and sticking to them so while my list is short, I’m certain I’ll be able to add many more books to it.  Level Two is my goal but I’ll probably be able to get to Level Three easily.

O added a wonderful list of English books sorted by county, so I’m planning to do another post just on this excellent reference.  I’m going to need it!

21 thoughts on “Reading England 2015

  1. Those all sound like interesting reads! I think if I were (will be?) participating, I'd also choose Canterbury Tales. Now I'm off to start my own hypothetical list… ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Yes, the Cantebury Tales are definitely a focus for 2015. I'm going to pair it with The Brubury Tales, a book which one of my Goodreads friends wrote and won a few awards for. It should be interesting.

    I can't wait to see your list!

  3. Thanks, Fanda! Trollope is lots of fun and I'll think you'll like him. He's not mentally taxing, yet his writing is very insightful towards human nature.

    I'm glad that you're joining the challenge too! You're always so organized.

  4. Since we read Le Morte d'Arthur together, The Cantebury Tales would be perhaps another giddy read. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Barsetshire is fun! I would say hurry and catch up, but you don't have to hurry. You read too fast and my pace for this series is certainly slow and plodding. Take your time!

  5. Very glad you're joining! I haven't heard of Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners but I shall look out for it. Looked it up, I see it counts for Bedfordshire – good to know, I've only got H E Bates for suggestions for Bedfordshire.

    Really enjoying people's ideas for this ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. I hope you're able to join too, Emma. The more, the merrier! O's made it easy to succeed: you can always aim for level one and then feel chuffed it you make it further. Thanks for the wishes.

  7. Thanks for that information. I'm having a little bit of a problem because, of course, Barsetshire is fictional so I have to figure out if Trollope actually meant to put it anywhere. Orlando will be another toughie, I think, but I haven't really looked into it yet. Thank heavens for your list …… it will be great guidance for this challenge!

  8. Barsetshire is most probably Wiltshire – Trollope talked about being inspired to write The Warden when he was by Salisbury Cathedral ๐Ÿ™‚

    I'm working on expanding the list – got a vast list to check through – it's quite fun, though! I'll let you know when I've finished ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Ah, thanks! I'd forgotten about that :-Z (King Lear is taking most of my attention at the moment).

    I'm going to set your list up here as a post for my reference and I've also started to look at some counties to get my bearings. This is indeed turning out to be exciting!

  10. Before you copy the list: I forgot to include Bristol (sorry, Bristol!), and I'm changing Durham to Tyne and Wear (which would include Newcastle).

    It's actually harder getting the counties in order – I don't know why switch county boundaries all the time and rename them, and invent them, then change them…. It's crazy!

  11. Don't worry ….. if I post your list and it changes, I can just make the changes myself. With the pintrest board and lists from others, I have a feeling it's going to be morphing quite drastically.

    Re: name changes, it is crazy, isn't it? Humans like to change things without noticing the very obvious fact that in many instances, if you keep things the same, it makes life much easier. But it's not very creative, I guess ……

  12. Ah, it's challenge season, isn't it? This one sounds so tempting…I'm trying to not set definite plans for myself next year, but this is so tempting and it's been a while since I've actually read any classic set in England. (I think. My memory could be wrong.) I will be considering it at least… Good luck!

  13. I hope you can join, Amanda. If you went for level one, you should be able to accomplish it. Ah, I love challenges with very relaxed rules! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I know what you mean about leaving a freer year ……. I'd like to participate in some more read-alongs and I have some other bloggers who'd like to do buddy reads, so I don't want to tie myself down too much either.

    Best reading wishes for 2015!

  14. I am about to start a book by Thomas Hardy and thought I might find one on one of your 'books read' list or in this challenge.
    I need some encouragement because I'm not a Hardy fan….
    Oh, well…I shall search further……
    John Buyan: I read the review…..does not sound like a book I would read. You show committment for tackling it!

  15. I am not a Hardy fan either. Too depressing. He is the only author on my "I really need to read his books and WANT to look forward to them, but I am not in the mood to bring out the box of tissues at the moment." ๐Ÿ˜‰ The only one I read of his was Under the Greenwood Tree. I hated it but when I went to answer study questions about it I had ALOT to say, so obviously I got something out of it.

    I think that you may find Bunyan interesting. I was expecting to find someone very rigid in his views but it was much more palatable than expected. I'd even read it again!

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!