Saturday, January 8, 2011

State of the Blog, Part Three: The Challenges


It is a new year, and time to assess my reading progress for the year just closed and make plans for 2011.

This is the third of my quarterly blog assessment posts, this one focusing on the challenges I participated in last year and joined (or plan to) this year. The first part addressed the book lists. Part Two looked at my author lists.

2010 CHALLENGES


I hosted two "Battle of the Prizes" challenges in 2010.  Both started on February 1, 2010 and don't end until January 31, 2011.  Good thing, because I still have two books to read -- one for each challenge.  What a lazy host I was!

I also participated in several other challenges, to varying degrees of success.

CHALLENGES HOSTED BY ROSE CITY READER

2010 Battle of the Prizes: American Version


National Book Award winners v. Pulitzer Prize winners, rules here. There are two ways to participate -- either read one book that won the Pulitzer Prize, one that won the National Book Award, and one that won both; or read two Pulizer winners and two National winners.

The deadline for reading the books is January 31, 2011, but wrap-up posts are welcome whenever participants post them.

Several people have completed the challenge already: chaotic compendiums, 100 Books. 100 Journeys, J.G. at Hotchpot Cafe, and Musings These links are also listed on the main post. 

I've finished three of my four books:

  1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Pulitzer)
  2. Olive Kitteridge is Elizabeth Strout (reviewed here) (Pulitzer)
  3. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (reviewed here) (National)

I had planned to read three books, with The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter for my double dipper choice. Then I realized that I do not have that book on my TBR shelf and the point of challenges, for me, is to read the books I already own.

So I made a last-minute switcheroo and will be reading Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon for my second National winner.  I am quite excited about it because it looks great.

That meant I had to add a second Pulitzer winner, so I am counting Oscar Wao, even though I didn't review it.  Apparently, the lawyer in me planned ahead for just such a situation by including this loophole in the official rules: "Reviews are not necessary, but encouraged."


    2010 Battle of the Prizes: British Version


    Man Booker Prize v. James Tait Black Memorial Prize, rules here.  This has the same set up -- either read one winner of each prize and a double-dipper, or read two of each.

    The deadline for reading the books is January 31, 2011, but wrap-up posts are welcome whenever participants post them.

    I have read two of my three:
    1. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (reviewed here) (James Tait Black)
    2. The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (reviewed here) (Booker)
    I still have to read G by John Berger for my double dipper choice. 

      2010 CHALLENGES I PARTICIPATED IN

      Bibliophilic Books Challenge



      A challenge to read books about books. The home page is here.

      I signed up for the "Bibliomaniac" level, which means I did not succeed in the challenge.  My plan was to read 12 qualifying books by the end of the year and I only read seven.

      Had my goal been suitably modest, I would have successfully achieved "Litlover" status.  Lesson learned.

      I read:
      1. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (reviewed here);
      2. The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White (reviewed here);
      3. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (reviewed here);
      4. A Year in the World by Frances Mayes (reviewed here); 
      5. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt by Nick Hornby (not reviewed); 
      6. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte (not reviewed); and 
      7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (reviewed here).
      Unfortunately, Lesley isn't going to host another Bibliophilic Books Challenge in 2011.  I hope someone takes up her offer to pass the baton, because I would like to participate again.

      Birth Year Reading Challenge 



      This challenge was to read one or more books published in the year you were born, hosted by Hotchpot Cafe. My main post for this challenge is here.

      Luckily, there was no set number of books to read for this challenge.  I read two books, which means I earned two candles.
      1. Indian Summer by John Knowles (reviewed here),
      2. The Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susann (reviewed here)
      Unfortunately, I didn't care much for either book.  I don't know if that reflects generally on 1966 publications, or just on my poor judgment.

      Book Awards Challenge


      The challenge involved reading ten books that won ten different prizes.  The home page is here.

      Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the challenge ended on November 1, 2010.  I didn't come close to finishing, and got through only five by the deadline:
      1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (National Book Critics Circle winner);
      2. The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips (Discover Award winner; reviewed here);
      3. Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (Edgar winner; reviewed here);
      4. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (Costa winner; reviewed here); and
      5. Small Island by Andrea Levy (Orange winner, reviewed here). 



      Again, I bit off more than I could read with this challenge.  I signed up for the "Mor-book-ly Obese" level, meaning I planned to read six 450+-page books (or three 750+-pagers). Caribousmom hosts this challenge.

      I have until January 31, 2011 to finish the challenge, but I don't know that I will get any more read besides these four:
      1. Three Loves by A. J. Cronin (reviewed here); 
      2. The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (reviewed here); 
      3. Echoes by Maeve Binchy (reviewed here);
      4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (reviewed here
      I tackled several big books in 2010, including the monumental The Count of Monte Cristo and the last two volumes of The Lord of the Rings, but I listened to the audiobooks. Those count in terms of a reading "life list" but not for this challenge, which specifically excludes audio books.
      I am definitely going to sign up for the 2011 version of this challenge, but at a less-ambitious level. 

      100+ Challenge


      I signed up for this because I was pretty sure I'd read more than 100 books in 2010. I usually read around 110 books each year, and I did again in 2010.  The challenge home page is here, but I didn't do a challenge post myself.

      The list of the 144 books I read in 2010 is here.

      I am not going to sign up for this one again in 2011.  Although I will more than likely read 100 books this year, I am trying to read more lackadaisically.  This is one "goal" I don't need to set for myself.  Hopefully, this will encourage me to read some of the big chunksters that have been weighing down my TBR shelves for too long.


      Typically British Challenge



      I signed up at the "Cream Crackered" level to read eight "Typically British" novels. I blew through all eight pretty quickly, and could have done it another three times at least, since over a third of the books I read in 2010 were by British authors. The challenge home page is here.


      Books I read:
      1. One Fat Englishman by Kingsley Amis (reviewed here);
      2. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (finished, not reviewed);
      3. The New Confessions by William Boyd (reviewed here);
      4. Three Loves by A. J. Cronin (reviewed here);
      5. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (reviewed here);
      6. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (reviewed here);
      7. Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis by Kinglsey Amis (reviewed here); and
      8. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (reviewed here).

      2011 CHALLENGES

      CHALLENGES HOSTED BY ROSE CITY READER

      I am hosting the two Battle of the Prizes Challenges again in 2011. I don't have the official posts up yet, because the challenges will run from February 1, 2011 to January 31, 2012.  But if you want to sign up early, leave a comment here and I'll come back and remind you when the official posts go up.

      2011 Battle of the Prizes: American Version


      Like in past years, this challenge pits National Book Award winners against Pulitzer Prize winners.  See the 2010 challenge page for the rules. There are two ways to participate -- either read one book that won the Pulitzer Prize, one that won the National Book Award, and one that won both; or read two Pulizer winners and two National winners.

      I don't know yet whether I will do the 3-book or the 4-book option, or which books I'll pick, but I have the following in mind:
      Possible National Award winners:
      1. The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck
      2. Them by Joyce Carol Oates
      3. Morte d'Urban by J.F. Powers
      Possible Pulitzer winners:

      1. One of Ours by Willa Cather
      2. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

      2011 Battle of the Prizes: British Version


      Just as in 2010, this challenge is to read books that won the Man Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.  See the rules on the 2010 post, here.  This has the same set up -- either read one winner of each prize and a double-dipper, or read two of each.

      I will have to go with the 4-book option, because, after I finish G for the 2010 challenge, I will have read all three of the double-dippers. 

      Possible Booker picks are:

      1. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
      2. How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman 
      3. Shindler's List by Thomas Keneally
      Possible James Tait Black picks are:

      1. Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
      2. White Teeth by Zadie Smith


      2011 CHALLENGES I AM PARTICIPATING IN

      The challenge titles link to my main challenge posts.

      Daphne du Maurier Challenge


      This Challenge is hosted by Chris at book-a-rama and bridges 2010/2011. I was late to this challenge and only signed up for in the fall of 2010. But it goes through April 19, 2011, so I have plenty of time.


      I signing up for the "Dreaming of Manderley" category, to read three novels. Since I am still new to du Maurier, I'll am starting with the greatest hits.

      Books read so far: one: Rebecca (reviewed here)

      Books I plan to read:
      1. The Flight of the Falcon;
      2. My Cousin Rachel

      Foodie's Reading Challenge


      Margot at Joyfully Retired is hosting a challenge for 2011 that I am very excited about: The Foodie's Reading Challenge!
      I signed up at the "Bon Vivant" level to read four to six books.  My plan is to read books that are already on my TBR shelves.  Some of those in the running include (in no particular order):
      And it might be a good idea to include this one:

      French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano


      Chunkster Reading Challenge (no official post yet)


      Wendy at caribousmom is hosting this fun challenge again this year.  The challenge sign-up post is here.

      Since I didn't reach my chunkster goal in 2010, I am scaling down a bit in 2011 and signing up for the "Chubby Chunkster" level this year.  That means reading four books over 450 pages long.

      The only one I am currently planning on is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  That's my "big book" for 2011.  I don't know which others will strike my fancy.


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