Thursday, January 14, 2010

State of the Blog, Part Two: The Challenges



I am not a big challenge person, although I appreciate the effort and hard work that bloggers go to to host so many enticing projects. I am too compulsive to sign up for a challenge and not complete it, so I do not sign up for many.

In 2009, I joined and completed four challenges. There are more I want to sign up for in 2010, but I am sticking with challenges focusing on the types of books I like to read.

2009 WRAP UP

The Sunshine Smackdown: Battle of the Prizes



I had to participate in this one -- I hosted it. The idea was to read one book that won the National Book Award, one that won the Pilutzer Prize, and one that won both. I am going to host it again in 2010, but it will start earlier, so not be a summer challenge.

My wrap-up post is here. I read and reviewed three books:
  1. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (winner of both the National and the Pulitzer; reviewed here)
  2. Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth (National winner; reviewed here)
  3. Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (Pulitzer winner; reviewed here)


The 100+ Challenge



My book total for 2009 was 111, so I completed the challenge. But I was pretty lame about posting my reviews. I did for a month or so, then stopped, went back in the summer and added several, then tapered off completely. Here is my completed list of books read in 2009, with links to reviews. I am signing up again for 2010, but I probably won't be any better about active participation.


The Colorful Reading Challenge



This was fun in that it got me to read several books I probably would not have gotten around to if I hadn't been looking for colors in titles. I completed the challenge on December 31 and didn't do a final wrap-up post -- this post is the closest I got. I read and reviewed nine books:
  1. RED: Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith (review) 
  2. BLACK: Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke (mini-review) 
  3. GOLD: Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California by Dinkelspiel, Frances (review) 
  4. GREEN: Blue Planet in Green Shackles: What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? by Vaclav Klaus (review) 
  5. YELLOW: A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris (review)
  6. SILVER: The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso (review) 
  7. RUST: American Rust by Philipp Meyer (review)
  8. BLUE: Blue River by Ethan Canin (review)
  9. WHITE: American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (review)


The Spice of Life Challenge

This one was super fun because I love books about food, and I liked that there were several different categories of books. I hope Rebecca hosts it again, because I want to sign up for a higher level. In 2009, I signed up for the "Sampler" level and read and reviewed four books
  1. Au Revoir to All That by Michael Steinberger (my non-fiction choice; reviewed here)
  2. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (my fiction choice; reviewed here)
  3. The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso (my cookbook choice; reviewed here)
  4. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell (my memoir/essay choice; reviewed here)

2010 CHALLENGES

Battle of the Prizes: American Version




I am going to host this challenge again this year, but instead of just taking place in the summer, it is going to start February 1 and run to the end of the year. Otherwise, the same rules as last year will apply. I'll get the sign up page posted soon.



Battle of the Prizes: British Version

I am going to add a new challenge this year -- a British version of the Battle of the Prizes. This one will pit Man Booker Prize winners against the James Tait Black Memorial Prize winners.  I hope too get it up by February 1, but I have to make a challenge button first and I am having trouble finding a good picture.




I am kicking myself for not signing up for this last year because I read enough books to meet the requirements. So I am going to sign up in 2010 for the "Mor-book-ly Obese" level. I am not sure which six 450+-page books (or three 750+-pagers) I will read, but there are several biggies on my TBR shelf that are vying for my attention.


Bibliophilic Books Challenge



I am excited about this one, because I thought I had imagined it, but it turns out it really exists. The point is to read books about books. They can be fiction or non-fiction, so there are plenty to chose from. There are many qualifying books on my TBR shelves right now, and I have really been in the mood for them.

I am signing up for the "Bibliomaniac" level, which means I have 12 to read by the end of the year. I do not have a final list yet, but I have several in mind, starting with Nick Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree.


100+ Challenge



Even with my anticipated mediocre participation (see above), I am signing up because I am pretty sure I'll read more than 100 books this year.





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