Reading England

reading england 1

o at Behold the Stars always has such lovely ideas and this was one I just couldn’t resist

The Goal:

To travel England by reading, and read at least one book per however many counties of England you decide to read.

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 πŸ™‚
  • 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.
Β The Levels:
  • Level one: 1 – 3 counties
  • Level two: 4 – 6 counties
  • Level three: 7 – 12 counties
  • Level four: 12 + counties

I thought that making a list would be easy, but it was actually quite tricky. I knew that I’d added a few more books in translation to my Classics Club list, but I discovered that I had more books than I realised set in the wider world, books from Scotland Wales and Ireland, books set in fictional places, books where I couldn’t quite determine the setting with reading too much …..

But I did find enough books to create an itinerary:

Buckinghamshire
Dusty Answer by Rosamund Lehman

Cumbria
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Devon
Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope

Dorset
Return I Dare Not! by Margaret Kennedy

Lancashire
Crusoe’s Daughter by Jane Gardem

Leicestershire
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Oxfordshire
Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym

Norfolk
Armadale by Wilkie Collins

Shropshire
Gone to Earth by Mary Webb

Somerset
Lise Lillywhite by Margaret Kennedy

Staffordshire
Mr and Mrs Pennington by Francis Brett-Young

Suffolk
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Worcestershire
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

Yorkshire
The Beth Book by Sarah Grand

My real route may be a little different, but I like to have a list of possibilities.

There’s just one more thing I must mention.

If you’re looking for a book for my county – Cornwall – do take a look at Wilkie Collins’ wonderful travelogue ‘Rambles Beyond Railways.’ It’s as readable as anything he wrote, and I could happily read it over and over again …..

40 responses

    • I’m really trying not to take on too much but I couldn’t resist this and it does fit well with book I’d have read anyway. I’ve had The Well of Loneliness in mind for a while, and hopefully next year will be the year I’ll finally read it.

  1. This seems like such an enjoyable challenge, that I’m definitely signing up. I tend to read more English literature than American, but I think most of the stories I’ve read lately have been set in London or the metropolitan area (except for Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Wuthering Heights).

  2. oh!!! no!!no!!…thou shall not tempt me Jane…I already upto my head in challenges and TBRs…but this is England and English Classics…oh!! How much I grapple with the temptations and GIVE IN!!! πŸ˜‰

    • Well, I’m not going to argue with you, because I still have the Barsetshire books to read. What I’m going to so is see how many other counties Trollope might cover. I have Rachel Ray for Devon. The Way We Live Now might come in for London ….

  3. I’m trying not to sign up for any challenges for next year, but this one is very tempting. I’m looking forward to reading Rambles Beyond Railways even if I don’t take part in the challenge!

  4. I like to have some sort of a plan too – even if I do end up doing the opposite. One thing I want to try and do is read the books I have here on my shelves so at present I’m making a list of titles and what county they belong to.
    Thanks for the Wilkie Collins recommendation and I shall make a point of visiting Cornwall during the year.

    • I may end up reading different books, but I like to have a list of possibilities. You’ll love the Collins I’m sure, and I am still so pleased that he stayed in a pub I know just five minutes walk from home.

  5. Boy, you’re going for it with gusto! Good for you! I hope my list looks like yours at the end, but I’m too chicken to commit up front. Fear of failure! :-0 In any case, best of luck with your challenge! I’m liking Ivanhoe best but I’ve seen so many people reading Francis Brett-Young lately that I’m curious as to his popularity.

    • I didn’t mean my list to be quite this long, but when I added up the books on O’s list that I’d been wanted to read, other possibilites from my Classics Club list and some of my favourite authors from the 20th century, there it was. A list of possibilities rather that promises!

  6. What an original and clever post!Some bloggers do not put half as much effort into their blogs these days.No names mentioned.Also my library has ordered the 4 Frances Vernon books i have requested,so thanks for alerting me to these.

    • O must have the credit, for this idea and for having a wonderful blog – I just ran with the idea a little.

      Very jealous of the Frances Vernons – my library only has one and its in the last copy reserve so I can’t borrow it.

  7. What a super idea! I might do a Liz version of this, and just “see how it falls out” like I am with my Reading The Century project. I will certainly make a note to record where books are set through 2015 and see where they take me. I wonder if I read more books set in the Midlands than anywhere else …

    • Sounds like a plan. I have a few possibilities on the Virago shelves – notably from Mollie Panter-Downes and Rebecca West – but I can’t tie down the location, so they may well get added in too if I can pin them down.

    • O – who started this thing – has the full list of counties and many more book ideas, Audrey, so do go and see her. You’ll find the link just under the image at the top of this post and you’ll find a link to her lovely blog – Behold The Stars- in my sidebar.

      I’ll just add that – if you want to come to Cornwall – ‘The Feast’ by Margaret Kennedy is set here ….

  8. I’ve signed up for this challenge also, it sounds like a fun way to read more books set in England! And I highly recommend Rachel Ray, one of my favorites reads of this year.

  9. Pingback: An A to Z while the year is still quite new …. | Fleur in her World

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