Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Know I Said No Challenges This Year . . .

In years past, my excitement and eagerness for challenges usually struck in late November, early December. This year, I felt nothing.  None of the challenges appealed to me.  The idea of signing up and obligating myself to read a certain type or number of books sounded more like work than fun.  As January rolled out, however, I found myself wondering if I was too hasty in my decision to write off all challenges.  I could still sign up for one or two challenges, after all.  I can change my mind, and none of you would hold it against me. Having participated in many challenges in the past, I know for a fact that nothing--absolutely nothing--happens when I don't quite meet my goal.  I may feel a little bad, but I get over it so quickly that it really doesn't matter.  What matters is the fun I have along the way; I enjoy the community aspect more of blogging; and I read wonderful books.  I think, too, participating in a few reading challenges this year will help spice up my blogging life.

As I had these thoughts and wrestled with the idea of signing up for challenges this year, I came across C.B. James's post, in which he says:
One of my long-time blogging friends Gautami Tripathy pointed me towards a reading challenge in a comment yesterday.  I was whining about how few people seem to participate in reading challenges these days, usually complaining that they never finish them as though we will all be graded on this and no one wants to risk lowering their overall G.P.A.
I say signing up for challenges and making your reading list is not just half the fun, it can sometimes be all the fun you need at the moment. [I had to ask myself: isn't that, in part, why I created the One Night Stand feature on my blog all those years ago?]   
He's right.  And I really want to join a couple of challenges.  Okay, more than a couple.  From the look of the sign up lists, James and I aren't the only ones who still like participating in challenges.   

As late into the month as it is, I hope no one will mind my late entries:


My favorite challenge is back this year with a new host, Charlie from The Worm Hole.  What I love about the What's In A Name Challenge is how random it can be.  The only requirement is that one book be read from each of the following categories (no overlap):


(Titles listed or possibilities, not guaranteed reads)

~ A reference to time in the title 
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

~ A position of royalty in the title
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Little Princes by Conor Grennan

~ A number written in letters in the title
Six Years by Harlan Coben
Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

~ A forename or names in the title
Stella Bain by Anita Shreve
Delia's Shadow by Jamie Lee Moyer

~ A type or element of weather in the title
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Snow Child by Ivey Eowyn

 *                    *                    *


I am also going to participate in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge this year, tackling the Victorian Reader level in which I commit to read at least 5 historical fiction novels.  One of my favorite aspects of this challenge is that books can be chosen from just about any genre, just as long as they have a historical element in them.  This challenge is hosted by the ladies over at Historical Tapestry.

2. The Final Solution: A Story of Detective by Michael Chabon ~ review pending

A handful of possibilities:
Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen
Stella Bain by Anita Shreve
Changeless by Gail Carriger
A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris


 *                    *                    *


Since there are a long list of movies coming out this year I want to see (after I rush to read the books), I thought I would go ahead and join Doing Dewey's Book to Movie Challenge hosted by Katie of Doing Dewey and Sergio of Tipping my Fedora. The rules are pretty relaxed for this particular challenge, depending on how difficult I want to make it for myself.  I am going to go with the idea that as long as I read the book and watch the movie in 2014, it counts, regardless of whether the movie is on television, DVD, streamed in, or in the theater.  I am committing to read 6 books and watch their corresponding movies for this challenge, aiming for the Movie Devotee category.

A handful of possibilities:
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (I'm just a movie away from having this one done!)
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard  (I'm just a movie away from having this one done!)
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (I doubt I'll be able to see the movie this year, but you never know, so it's on the list.)


 *                    *                    *


I was not going to do this one, but I might as well.  I seem to have already read a few bigger books at the start of the year and plan to read a few more.  Why not make it official and join the Chunkster Challenge? Vasilly at 1330V is hosting this year.  Chunksters are defined as being 450 pages or more.  While graphic novels do not count, audiobooks and young adult novels do, along with the usual adult fiction, nonfiction, and short story or essay collections (as long as they are read in their entirety). There are no levels this year, and participants are free to set their own numeric goal.  I am going to be conservative and commit to reading 5 chunksters this year.

Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie - 496 pgs ~ review pending
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - 577 pgs ~ review pending

A handful of possibilities:
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (which I'm listening to now)
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
A Prayer for Own Meany by John Irving
Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Divergent by Veronica Roth

 *                    *                    *

And just to make it official, although I mentioned it in passing in my year end wrap up for 2013, I am also participating, in part, in Carrie of Books and Movies' "I've Always Meant to Read That Book!" Challenge.  I will not be participating every month, but I would like to participate in at least five, maybe six of the discussions.  I have highlighted the ones I want to join Carrie in reading.

  • January – The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor 
  • February – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon 
  • March – State of Wonder by Ann Patchett 
  • April – The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 
  • May – The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • June – A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving 
  • July – American Gods by Neil Gaiman 
  • August – The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver 
  • September – Watership Down by Richard Adams 
  • October – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 
  • November – A Passage to India by E.M. Forster 
  • December – Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Three of the titles (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, American Gods, and Catcher in the Rye) I read in the past, and, after much thought, do not want to re-read them at the this time.  I am still undecided about whether I want to tackle The Poisonwood Bible again.  I have tried twice already and could not get into it.  Watership Down has never really appealed to me, but it comes highly recommended, so maybe.  I might read A Passage to India with Carrie.  I haven't quite decided.  With this challenge, I am really more interested in reading books I have been wanting to read for what seems like forever and haven't yet, just like the challenge title implies.

I think that will do.  Five challenges seem like a good place to stop.  I am sure there will be crossovers.  I am not that prolific a reader as to think there will not be.  I am not putting any pressure on myself in terms of absolutely having to complete any of the above challenges. I will still read what I want, when I want.  And I will have lots of fun reading the books I do read.

Are you participating in any challenges this year?  If so, which ones?


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

34 comments:

  1. Wow! You've got some great challenges and great books in there! I gave up most of the challenges years ago because I never even got close to finishing them. But the one I always do is CB James' Triple Dog Dare. It is good for the soul. If someone held a gun to my head, I'd do the book to movie (there are so many!) and What's in a Name.

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    1. Sandy - I probably should do his challenge, but I never seem to think of it in time to sign up. :-(

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  2. I always feel overwhelmed with the books already in my TBR que, so I know longer take on challenges. But I do use other readers' lists and reviews, adding more titles to my list.

    Helprin's Winter's Tale remains one of my favorite chunksters ever. I've read several of the books on your list and enjoyed them. Looks like you have a full year of good books ahead of you!

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    1. Jenclair - I usually pull my challenge lists straight from my TBR piles in the hopes it will help clear some space on my shelf. Most of the time it works. :-)

      I am glad you liked Winter's Tale. I haven't heard too much about it and it's nice to know someone whose taste is similar to my own enjoyed it so much. Whew!

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  3. Hope you have fun with these Wendy. I've been challenge-free for 2 years except for Carl's RIP which I can't resist.

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    1. Diane - Thanks, Diane! I always mean to participate in Carl's challenges, but they sneak up on me and I forget. Besides, I do much better with the year long challenges, I think. I feel like there's less need to rush and I can read more at my leisure.

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  4. Wendy, I had given up on challenges in the past two years. I said to myself I will read at my own pace and those books I want to. The result was: my reading went haywire. I read good books but I turned to trash to pull up my numbers. Not that it helped. In 2012, I read 72 books and in 2013, I came down to 64. The numbers fell down drastically. I read 150+ in 2010 and 3 short of 100 (97) in 2011. Most of what I read prior to 2012 were selected books. NOT TRASH. This year I had planned to join three challenges but ended up joining ten. Like James, I too am a teacher. I know the world won't fall apart if I do not complete all of the challenges. But I will tax my brain and select good books.

    I have not made any lists except for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge hosted by Serena. I plan to read at least 12 poetry books, if not more. I am already on a "poetry book requesting" spree!!

    You can check my left side bar to see the challenges I have joined. Those links will take you to the hosts...

    All I will say, have fun and enjoy! No is grading you. Except perhaps, you!

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    1. Gautami - I think for me, it was initially burn out from not having enough leeway in my reading (always reading off a challenge list) and then later it was more a matter of not wanting to commit because of all the other commitments I had going on in my life (work, baby, etc). I am a mood reader, and I embrace that. I may not have read as much in the last few years as I used to, and I maybe haven't read as many substantial books, but the books I have read were still good and they filled a spot in my heart and soul that I needed at the time I read them. And to me, that is what is most important.

      I think being a part of a challenge (or two or five) right now is a good way for me to feel connected to the book blogging community again. For me, right now at least, it's less about the types of books I read and more about the community.

      That's one thing I love though about having so many options. Everyone can find something to meet whatever reading need they are trying to fill, whether it be to educate and improve oneself, simply to read more, to try something new and different, to have an excuse to make reading lists, or what have you.

      I am sorry you read so many bad books when you weren't taking part in challenges. :-( I can see how that can happen. Good luck with your challenges too, Gautami! Enjoy!

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  5. Yay on What's in a Name!! I'm soooooo happy it is still alive and running. I too have mixed feelings about challenges -- some years I'm all in, others I'm a total fail.

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    1. Beth F - I am glad What's in a Name is still alive too. It looks like a lot of others are too from the sign up list! I was 107.

      I did really well with challenges in my earlier blogging years, but struggled more later on. I think it had more to do with life than the challenges themselves. Shifting priorities and all that.

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  6. I should do the Book to Movie challenge. The What's in a Name challenge is lots of fun. Good luck!

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    1. Kathy - It seems like such an easy challenge to do this year with all the books that have been made into movies. There are even a few children's books that have been turned into movies--think of how easy those would be to read. :-)

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  7. Seeing your comment on the sign up post just now made my day :D Glad you've joined, Wendy, and The Snow Child would make an excellent choice for sure.

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    1. Charlie - I really wanted to sign up. I decided I would just to that one challenge like last year, and then I thought why not do more.

      I had wanted to read Snow Child last year, so am excited that I I will finally get to it this year.

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  8. Last year I didn't do any challenges at all, but this year I decided to just bite the bullet and get back in the swing of things.

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    1. Kelly - I finally came to that conclusion too, and it feels good. I'm excited. :-)

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  9. I'm doing What's in a Name, too - that one is always fun. And I'm glad you're going to join us for some of the read-alongs!

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    1. Carrie - I am looking forward to our discussions!

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  10. It's so hard to say no to challenges isn't it? I went a couple of years without participating in challenges (well, except for the R.I.P. Challenge) but this year I'm back! I'm also joining the chunkster challenge. Have tons of fun and can't wait to hear about all the books you'll read!

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    1. Iliana - It is hard to resist challenges, I agree! I am excited about this year's reading and look forward to seeing what you read as well.

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  11. Awesome. I know you have Divergent as a chunkster but I bet it will read really fast for you. I love to see Watership Down on your list! I am still so very glad I read that one eve if it wasn't a top favorite. And I really enjoyed The Blind Assassin! Have fun.
    Just thinking up titles for challenges can be the best part.

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    1. Care - I'm hoping Divergent will be a fast read. I have so much going on next month and in March, and I want to be sure I'm ready for the movie when it comes out. :-)

      I agree. I love making book lists for the challenges. What I actually read may turn out different, but that's okay.

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  12. I've participated in the What's In A Name challenge for a few years now and have always enjoyed it. In fact I've posted my first review for the Reference To Time category today.

    Anyway, great list of possibilities, I look forward to reading of your progress.

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    1. Tracy - It's a fun challenge! I like trying to find titles to fit the categories. At the time I wrote my post, I only had access to my e-reader so it will be interesting what books on my actual physical shelves I find that fit into the categories.

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  13. Last year I just quietly made a couple of challenges disappear from my blog. It all works out wonderfully at the beginning of the year, doesn't it? And then all of those shiny new books pop up and distract me. Good luck!

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    1. Lisa - I think I did that the year before last. :-) Thank you!

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  14. Hahahaha! I was just thinking about doing the exact same thing. I used to LOVE joining challenges but over the years I kind of have stepped back from them. I know that it is getting late into January but I am still considering joining a few. Have fun!

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    1. Samantha - Thank you! Just a week later and I'm still excited about the challenges. I hope it lasts. :-)

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  15. I have a really hard time saying no to challenges too! Thanks for joining the book to movie challenge. I hope you have a lot of fun and read many great books :)

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    1. Katie - Thank you for hosting the challenge! I am looking forward to pairing two of my favorite interests together this year. :-)

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  16. I stayed away from challenges for a few yearsbut I am getting back to them slowly this year.. we're doing a series of mini challenges in my bookclub this year and i think that'll be a perfect start for me.. 2 or 3 books per challenge definitely do-able.:)

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    1. Ramya - The mini challenges in your book club sound like fun. I almost went bigger with my numbers for the challenges I signed up for, but decided to be more realistic. I hope to read more for each category, but at least I won't feel heavy pressure to do so. I need to start out slowly if I'm going to start joining in challenges again.

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  17. I spotted Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin on your possible chunkster reads. Oh fit it in somewhere, please! I read it many many years ago and it remains on my best ever reads list.
    We have challenges here in the UK too..... One that I set for myself and the members of ReadItSwapIt is going well: Reading books from the old end of your TBR, so my challenge to me was one a month from the oldest 100 on that pile. That's just one a month. How hard can that be?!!! (I've done January's, and it felt good!)

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    1. Susan - I am read reading Winter's Tale right this moment. Well, not this specific moment--but it's my current read. :-)

      Reading older books from your TBR stacks sounds like a great idea. I have so many TBR books . . . I used to have a list with the dates I brought them into the home, but it was lost when my computer was stolen years ago. I could probably guess though. Anyway, one a month sounds reasonable for your goal and I wish you luck with the challenge!

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