TSS: Challenges

sunsalon1First, congratulations to everyone who participated the Read-a-thon! I imagine things will be quiet in blogland today…everybody’s asleep!

This past week, I’ve been thinking about the challenges I signed up for earlier in the year, and I decided that with the exception of the two books I already have out of the library (one is for book club), I will dedicate the rest of the year to reading challenge books, and see if I can finish at least one (challenge, that is). I know some people work full time and participate in, like, ninety-six challenges a year. I only signed up for four, mostly because they sounded fun but also, I’ll admit, because I was unemployed and I needed to feel productive. I needed some goals. And, well, I still need goals. Who doesn’t? I am not a terribly disciplined reader, but one must try, no? So here’s what’s on my plate:

9 for ’09

This is the challenge I think I am most likely to be able to complete, mainly because I’ve already read three of the books on the list. My 9 for ’09 Challenge reading list:

  • Long. A book that’s longer than the books you usually read: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke – Completed and reviewed
  • Free. A book recieved as a gift or through a swap or mooch: Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by ZZ Packer
  • Dusty. A book that’s been on your shelf for three years or more: The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
  • Used. A book you bought used: The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon (purchased from Powell’s)
  • Letter. A letter from your name, matched to a letter in a book’s title (first letter of my first name, which is “P”): Postcards from The Edge, by Carrie Fisher
  • Strange. A book from an unfamiliar genre: Haunted Ground, by Erin Hart – Completed, needs review
  • Distance. A book by an author whose birthplace is more than 1000 miles away from where you live: Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami. He was born in Kyoto, and I live in Atlanta.
  • Alive or Not. A book by any living author who has won or been nominated for a literary prize, or something by a dead author: Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize – Completed, needs review
  • Cover. Pick a book based on its cover–ugliest or prettiest–and explain how the book does or does not live up to its cover: Summer at Tiffany, by Marjorie Hart

Orbis Terrarum

If I finish 9 for ’09, then I’ll move to this challenge next. It’s long, but I think I have a chance of finishing these books. The 1% Well-Read challenge has several longer books. I think The Magic Mountain alone would hang me up not to mention The Ambassadors. My picks for the Orbis Terrarum challenge, where I must read ten books from ten different countries by December 2009:

1. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (Australia) – Completed, needs review
2. 100 Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Columbia)
3. The Savage Detective – Roberto Bolano (Chile)
4. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (Dominica) – Completed and reviewed
5. One of three choices for Canada: Kamouraska - Anne Hébert; The Road Past Altamont – by Gabrielle Roy; or The Little Country – Charles DeLint
6. Red Mandarin Dress: An Inspector Chen Novel - Qiu Xiaolong (China)
7. Snow - Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
8. Out Stealing Horses – Per Petterson (Norway). My backup: The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (Sweden).
9. Something by Kenzaburo Oe (Japan)
10. Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh (India)

1% Well-Read

This challenge actually continues until March 31, 2010, so I’ll keep going after the New Year with this one. Several of these overlap with the Orbis Terrarum challenge, so hopefully I will be in good shape. My 1% Well Read challenge picks are listed below. I’m doing thirteen books from the combined lists, A star (*) indicates a book I already own, and I’ve noted where they overlap with other challenges:

1. *Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro (9 for ’09; dropped from original list) – Completed, needs review
2. *The Plot Against America – Philip Roth (Started, but never finished)
3. *Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon (9 for ’09)
4. *Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood (Dropped from original list)

5. The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolano (Orbis Terrarum)
6. 100 Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Orbis Terrarum)

7. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys (Orbis Terrarum) – Completed and reviewed
8. *The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann (Started, but never finished. Note to self: this is not a beach read.)
9. *If on A Winter’s Night A Traveler – Italo Calvino
10. *Suite Francaise – Irene Nemerovsky
11. *The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

12. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver - Currently reading
13. The Ambassadors – Henry James

World Citizen

I’m afraid this is the challenge I may not complete…although it is somewhat short, and I might be able to get through it. However, given how long Marie Antoinette: The Journey took me (about a month), I imagine Mary, Queen of Scots might hold me up. I don’t read biography as fast as I read fiction.

Major level: read five books from three different categories. The categories are: politics, economics, history, culture/anthropology/sociology, world issues, and memoir/autobiography. I’ve settled on the following books from my shelves:

History - Mary Queen of Scots, by Antonia Fraser
World IssuesThe World Is Flat, by Thomas Friedman
Memoir - Falling Leaves, by Adeline Yen Mah – Completed and reviewed
Culture/Sociology/AnthroA History of God, by Karen Armstrong; A Perfect Summer, by Juliet Nicholson; How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill

I think I can complete at least those three by March, even if it means shunning all those other wonderful books out there until I am finished! Must….be…..strong…….

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6 comments

  1. You are doing a great job on these challenges. For some reason the World Citizen challenge bogged down for me, I think the books I choose were too dry, but I love Orbis Terrarum!

  2. I’m also lagging behind in the World Citizen Challenge, but thought maybe I should read books that, although nonfiction, should at least feel a little like fiction?

    I’ve been stressing myself with challenge books before the year ends, so won’t be joining any next year! Good luck!

  3. Mom, thanks!

    Gavin, I really like all the challenges I chose, but I must be honest with myself: the World Citizen challenge would be the most difficult to finish because they might be a bit…well, not dry, but let’s say scholarly, which I don’t have a problem with, except under duress. I had planned to space them out, which would have helped. I may at least try to get through How the Irish Saved Civilization (I hear it’s really good) and A Perfect Summer, at least.

    Claire, don’t we always say we won’t join, and then we do? ;) Iactaully planned a challenge for myself, which was a re-reading challenge, but I think Aarti at Booklust is planning to do one officially. How will I resist? And I agree about finding books that are written in a narrative style for WC. And actually, Antonia Fraser writes that way, but I just know that book will take me a month, alone. I’m slooooww.

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