About the Reading Project

We started the Reading Project at the beginning of 2017. bikerbuddy was interested to learn website design and has had a lifelong passion for books, so he encouraged it. We told friends we would be starting a website and invited anyone interested to contribute. Naturally, a stack of people opted in, knowing that none of us knew anything about websites, I suspect, and assuming that we would lose interest in a short time. When we didn't lose interest and started to get a few pages together, we found there was actually only three of us willing to review regularly.

We had read about reading challenges on social media that tried to encourage reading a wide variety of books in a year. We wanted this site to be more encouraging than competitive, so we called it a project, rather than a challenge. While most of our friends haven't written for the site, we still encourage them to look at it and engage in discussions about books, which was the site's original intention.

We all live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in a town called Springwood. The pictures scrolling below try to give a sense of where we live. We'll add some more as time goes on.

We will happily accept reviews from anyone interested enough to write one. For more information on how to submit reviews to us, click here.

The Turning Page Bookstore, Springwood

A Street Library, Springwood

Dr Baxter Gates, Springwood War Memorial

Springwood Presbyterian Church and main street of Springwood shops

Springwood Train Station

Braemar Gallery, home to Springwood art exhibitions and library, and The Hub, used for live entertainment

Main Reviewers

bikerbuddy

bikerbuddy

I had the idea to start this website because I wanted to learn a bit about website design. I suggested reviews because I've been an avid reader all my life and I knew that reviewing would give us an endless source of new material to post.

I studied English literature and Communications many years ago, now. I worked as an English teacher for 25 years.

I prefer 'literature' rather than genre fiction, and I enjoy reading non-fiction, too. However, I try to read a variety of books. My reviews tend to be favourable since I choose which books I wish to read and review, unlike a professional reviewer.

My site tag is taken from my love of mountain biking. The Blue Mountains west of Sydney is a great place to do this. Unfortunately, as I get older, I've become unfit. I tend to work on this site and read books more these days.

I once received an email addressed to the "staff of the Reading Project". That amused me, since there is really only three of us and we make no money from this site. It's just a hobby.

REAL NAME: Mark

Toriaz

Toriaz

I enjoy reading and thought that reviewing for this website would encourage me to read more often. Bikerbuddy and I came up with the idea while we discussed reading challenges we were seeing on social media.

I studied physics and have taught physics at university. I have worked as a scientist, but in my later career I now work for the government.

I like a range of fiction and non-fiction books, and I think this shows in the books I have reviewed for this site so far.

However, my favourite genre is Crime Fiction. I have read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Agatha Christie novels. I prefer the cosy detective branch of Crime Fiction most.

My site tag is based upon my real name.

REAL NAME: Victoria

WaywardWoman

WaywardWoman

I am a retired teacher who taught Social Sciences in high school, with a focus on Geography and Asian Studies, initially, but Legal Studies and Business Studies later on. I still work a day a week in a Blue Mountains school.

Now, I like spending my time with family, friends and Lucy, our wonder dog, watching movies and TV series, traveling as much as possible and getting out geocaching (a worldwide treasure hunt using a GPS to find things).

When I get time (though I’m mostly retired, there often isn’t a lot of it) I like to read books that are funny, especially those aimed at women. I also like crime thrillers and more recently, biographies. I also keep my brain active with my daily dose of word games.

My site tag is abased on a joke name I was given years ago. It is based on my love of chocolate rather than anything nefarious.

REAL NAME: Jenny

Occasional Reviewers

Hasty

Hasty

I am an entity who enjoys reading and writing words, occasionally pictures. I used to pay a big organization to read and write words for four years. Later, I was paid to write words by a smaller organization. Now I have a strictly sexual relationship with words and the writing of them, no organizations allowed.

I was originally born as a Ford 3910 Tractor but thanks to hard work, the socioeconomic status of my family, and the gift of a multi-directional energy stone from a mysterious stranger who simply addressed himself as "M. Jordan," I was able to transmogrify into a mostly human looking male, though my features are distinctly more abstract and "alarming" than the current pinnacle of human male desirability, one Mr. John Stamos.

I'm hoping that reviewing books for this webterzone will be my ticket to strike it rich. I've packed up all my belongings into my wagon and set my compass westward, with nothing else but the dream of gold in my eyes and a song in my heart. Surely a book review at no more than one per month is a fool-proof way to become rich and famous, right?


Hasty is the designer and author of Strange Crust another website hosted here on Neocities. It includes essays and opinions, podcasts and fiction.


REAL NAME: Mike

incessantpain

incessantpain

I'm a former child from California living in Yokohama, Japan. I mainly read historical non-fiction and post-war Japanese novels. Sewing and taking photos on a film camera take up most of my free time. My username is from a sound clip of a friend saying "exceptional pain" later used as a ringtone.

incessantpain is the creator of the Neocities site incessantpain, chock full of personal writing and thoughts.

NickoHeap

NickoHeap

I'm 21 years old and like reading, although music and video games take up most of my free time.

I'm a student at the University of Sydney. I am studying speech therapy.

I plan to write more, but other interests usually take up my time.

My site tag is based upon a character in a book I liked when I was a kid.

NickoHeap is the designer and author of Latest Spin, a music review website.

REAL NAME: Layton

One-time Reviewers

Gigzymandias

Gigzymandias

I'm 23 years old with a degree in Graphic Arts. I spend most of my free time on the Net playing video games.

I've taken my reviewer name from the username I use on gaming sites.

‘Gigzymandias’ is a combination of computer terminology (eg ‘gigabytes’) and ‘Ozymandias’, the title of the poem by Percy Shelley, which was a large inspiration for my final year art major work in high school.

REAL NAME: Lachlan

Raven

Raven

I live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and attend high school.

My passion is dancing. I have been attending a dance school since I was little, learning both contemporary and classical dance, including ballet. I have only recently gone en pointe.

I have only written one short review for this website. I might write more sometime in the future.

REAL NAME: Niamh (pronounced Neev (an Irish name))

Seppy

Seppy

No one has seen the mysterious Seppy since he posted his one review and then went into hiding from the government.

REAL NAME: Seppy

Blog

27 July 2021

Booker Prize Longlist Announced

This year Booker Prize Longlist is finally out:

  • A Passage North, Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta Books, Granta Publications)
  • Second Place, Rachel Cusk, (Faber)
  • The Promise, Damon Galgut, (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
  • The Sweetness of Water, Nathan Harris (Tinder Press, Headline, Hachette Book Group)
  • Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
  • An Island, Karen Jennings (Holland House Books)
  • A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
  • No One is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Fortune Men, Nadifa Mohamed (Viking, Penguin General, PRH)
  • Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Hutchinson Heinemann, PRH)
  • China Room, Sunjeev Sahota (Harvill Secker, Vintage, PRH)
  • Great Circle, Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, PRH)
  • Light Perpetual, Francis Spufford (Faber)

We have a long-term goal for this website that we will eventually review all the Booker Prize winners. You can view the list of Booker Prize winners with links to our reviews by clicking here.

The 2021 shortlist will be announced 14 September. The winner will be announced 3 November. To visit the Booker Prizes website, click here.

- bikerbuddy

26 July 2021

Latest Spin Magazine

NickoHeap, who occasionally writes a review for this website, has been running his own website, latestspin.com, to review music. He’s been working on a magazine format of his website and has just released PDF version today which can be downloaded directly by following this link.

- bikerbuddy

21 July 2021

I won a book!!!

And I normally never win anything!

A few weeks ago I entered a competition on facebook to win a pre-release copy of a new book from Hachette Publishing. A week later I was happy to find that I'd won!

My book arrived today, and I am really looking forward to reading it. The book is The Turnout by Megan Abbott, a thriller set around two sisters who run a ballet school. I like a good thriller and I've spent way too much time over the past 15 years waiting around dance school and performances, so I'm looking forward to reading this one.

The picture on the left shows my pre-release copy of the book, which looks a little different to the cover shown on internet sites, on the right. The book is due for release on 3 August 2021.

- Toriaz

15 July 2021

My Plans to Read all of Dickens

I recently finished our Special Reading Project for The Count of Monte Cristo. I was planning on starting another project based around Boccaccio’s The Decameron. It seemed a fitting choice since the work was based on the premise of ten people telling stories to each other as they try to avoid the plague in Italy during the Renaissance. But I’ve long had the idea that I wanted to read all of Charles Dickens. I came to Dickens early, as a child, and my reading has been incomplete. I’d looked at David Copperfield, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, Hard Times and A Christmas Carol, and I read an abridged version of Oliver Twist when I was younger. I have always remembered my experience of Dickens fondly. But I read them many years (in the last ten years or so I’ve reread Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities) and I wanted to immerse myself in Dickens.

I had recently bought The Pickwick Papers and I started reading it over the weekend. I also acquired a copy of Oliver Twist recently, too. I decided to replace my editions of books I already had (excepting Bleak House) with new paperbacks I would feel comfortable making notes in, as well as completing my collection. So I ordered all the novels online (as much as I prefer to buy them from a shop, but we’re in lockdown at the moment), as well as a short story and Dickens’s essays, Sketches by Boz. This morning the first delivery came – some books are on backorder – so I decided to take a picture of them for this blog, along with the three I already had. I’m starting to work on a webpage for this new reading project as I start to make my way through The Pickwick Papers. I intend to read the books in order (in between other books I want to read).

- bikerbuddy

12 July 2021

Lockdown and reading lists

Here in Australia we’ve been fortunate compared to most of the world concerning the pandemic. We’ve been able to lead relatively normal lives, usually with no Covid cases in the community during the last year. That all changed in the last fortnight with a sudden outbreak of cases which has forced Sydney back into lockdown, with no definite date for that to end. It could be weeks. For me, it gave me the excuse to sit down with my latest book over the weekend, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land. Yesterday, I made it halfway through this rather large tome. So far, it’s interesting. Obama also put out a list of books he’s been reading during the northern summer. (Click here to view the list on Obama’s Instagram). I noticed I’d read and reviewed two books on the list: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, this year’s International Booker Prize winner.

The lockdown has also pushed me into a reading pattern that may be difficult to sustain. Apart from Obama’s book, I’m also now three quarters of the way through Marcel Proust’s The Way by Swann’s, the first volume of In Search of Lost Time, and I’ve started reading Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers. I read some Dickens when I was very young and have always wanted to return to his writing. I had this idea that I might read all his works (a reading list of sorts), which is ambitious in so much as I don’t own them all and can’t go buy them at the moment (yes, I know, the internet, but I do like to browse in bookshops). I will have to consider how practical what I am currently doing actually is.

- bikerbuddy

8 July 2021

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge

This is a mid-year update on my Agatha Christie reading challenge (Read Christie 2021). I’m way ahead of target, with eight books read already. (I don’t review books I’m reading for this challenge for Reading Project). This is a list of the books I’ve read and their category for the challenge in brackets):

  • The Sittaford Mystery (a story set in bad weather)
  • Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (a story featuring love)
  • Third Girl (a story set after WWII)
  • Murder at the Vicarage (a story featuring a vicar)
  • Sparkling Cyanide (a story starring a society figure)
  • The Hollow (a story set in a grand house)
  • Evil Under the Sun (a story set by the seaside)
  • Cards on the Table (a story set before WWII)

I’ve also read the short story collection Murder in Paradise but can’t fit it into any of the remaining categories.

I wonder if anyone else reading this is reading Christie this year?

- Toriaz

6 July 2021

The Count of Monte Cristo Special Reading Project Complete

I finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo three days ago. I’ve been summarising it chapter by chapter for months as part of a Special Reading project for this site. Since then I’ve been struggling (as I normally do) to get new site pages designed and not looking too terrible (and hopefully functional) getting a character map drawn, character descriptions written, the summary revised and a review written. On top of that, I had to reshuffle parts of our landing page since The Count of Monte Cristo is no longer an ongoing project. Hopefully, someone will find all this interesting enough to look at. Even better would be for someone to decide to read the book and find out what a great read it is!

Click here for The Count of Monte Cristo navigation page.

- bikerbuddy

3 July 2021

The Count of Monte Cristo

I finally finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo this morning. I can’t remember exactly when I started it, but I’ve been summarising the book, chapter by chapter, as part of a Special Reading Project for this site since I started. I stopped reading it for about 6 months when I became too busy with some home renovations, but the summary helped to return me to it. I’ve been trying to read a chapter a day since the beginning of April, which I’ve mostly kept to. I wrote the last chapter summary this morning.

For those interested in the book but daunted by its length, my summary is detailed enough that you will be able to follow every plot point and character. It’s still 60,000 words long, the length of a short novel, but it’s easy to follow (I hope). That will help support those who wish to read the book themselves, as well as those just interested in the broad outline. Toriaz has been following the summary since I started and has a good grasp of the story. In the next few days I’ll be making a character map and some character outlines, and will try to get a review of the book up sometime next week.

My only regret? That I didn't finish this book on 5th of October!

- bikerbuddy

2 July 2021

Comment Boxes

Yesterday I decided to experiment with placing a comment box at the end of our reviews. We’ve long had a Guestbook for this website, but that really only has a general application. We’ve sometimes had people contact us about specific reviews, including emails from a publisher and others not associated with Neocities. It seemed to make sense to provide a means to make comments directly to the website. After a quick experiment (aided by Neocities’ Let’s Learn Together) I placed comment boxes at the end of all reviews on our Recent Reviews carousel, on our Booker Prize winners, the Moomin Series as well as a few others I chose. Unfortunately, that still leaves most of our website without comment options (we currently have published 412 reviews, not including other projects). I’ll probably add more comment boxes to already-published reviews from time to time, but it will be a feature on all new reviews. Thanks to ‘BioProject’ for being the first to place a comment. That was for our double review of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and H.G.Wells’ The First Men in the Moon.

Below is an example of the comment boxes we’re using. Make a comment if you want.

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- bikerbuddy

1 July 2021

Last year bikerbuddy helped me install my street library. It was the third in our street and I made a geocache for it that advertised this. Then my neighbour across the road took his street library down. It was disappointing because I thought it made our street special. But a new library appeared across the street this weekend. I bumped into my neighbour. He said he removed the old library because he’d used wood not suited to the rain we’ve had in the last few months and it was being damaged. He’s now replaced it with the library pictured below, which has a sliding shutter. It looks better suited to the weather. I’m hoping to see more activity now we have three libraries again.

- Toriaz

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