East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Announcing the Karavansara Reading Challenge 2016


OK, we discussed this in a few previous posts, but now let’s try and make this official.


The first Karavansara Reading Challenge will start on the 16th of February 2016.
On that day, I’ll start posting about three books, as I read (or re-read) them.
The books are…

. Ella Maillart’s Forbidden Journey, 1935
. Peter Fleming’s News from Tartary, 1936
. Stuart Stevens’ Night Train to Turkistan, 1988

I’ll go slow, cross-referencing the books and in general tracking the progress of Fleming & Maillart, that in 1935, on the 16th of February, started their adventure along the Silk Road, heading from Peking to Kashmir.
I’ll be reading both Fleming & Maillart’s diaries (and Stevens’ book about retracing their steps 50 years later) and I’ll jot down notes, look for details, and try to annotate as best as I can the whole lot. I’ll set up a Google Map to track my progress (and the authors’ progress), a Pinboard to share images and links, etc.

I don’t know what shape the lot will take in the end – a collage, a loose dossier of sorts, or whatever.
I don’t have a schedule or a timetable – the idea is to have fun reading good books, and all things said and done, I’m winging it (and that’s part of the fun).
And incidentally, “winging it” describes quite exactly the attitude of Fleming & Maillart on their trip. The happy-go-lucky tone of their adventure is part of the fun.

pack small

Wanna Join the Challenge?

I originally thought this thing up as a solitary sort of thing – me and my books, and little else, and a post on Karavansara once in a while.
But obviously, anyone’s invited to read and comment on my posts.
Observations, questions, additions, corrections, personal experiences are absolutely welcome – the comments, as ever, will be open.

And if you’d like to take a more active part in the Challenge, why not get one of the books and read it while I do? Copies should be available on the cheap, used, from various online vendors, or you might get them through your local library.
It might be fun.


I’m currently looking into Goodreads to see if setting up a dedicated Group could be useful.
And I’m trying to devise some gadgets, badges and perks for active participants in the Challenge – I’ll post here the details as soon as this part is defined.
As I said, I’m winging it.

So, any other ideas?
Any way you think I could make this better?
Any tool that I’m overlooking and might make the Challenge more fun?
Let me know in the comments.
And thank you!

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Announcing the Karavansara Reading Challenge 2016

  1. I’m in. I’ve traveled around the fringe of Asia, but a long trek through the middle, on and off the Silk Road, is something I’d like to do soon. Reading about others who’ve done it is the next best thing.


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