Thursday, June 24, 2010

State of the Blog, Part Two: The Challenges

Summer is finally here in Portland, so it is time for my quarterly, three-part, progress assessment. The first part addressed the book lists. Part Two, here, deals with the challenges I joined this year. Part Three will take a look at the author lists.

I am hosting two "Battle of the Prizes" challenges this year and working on several others.  All are listed in the right-hand column.


Battle of the Prizes: American Version

National Book Award winners v. Pulitzer Prize winners, rules here. There is still time to sign up! And even though I haven't read any of my three books yet, chaotic compendiums and 100 Books. 100 Journeys. are already finished.

Books read so far: zero (how shameful!)
Books I'm going to read for this challenge: 3
  1. Them by Joyce Carol Oates for my National winner;
  2. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler for my Pulitzer winner; and
  3. The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter for my double dipper choice.

    Battle of the Prizes: British Version

    Man Booker Prize v. James Tait Black Memorial Prize, rules here. Again, there is still time to sign up!  

    Books read so far: one (The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry for my James Tait Black winner; reviewed here

    Books I'm going to read for this challenge: 2 more
    1. The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch for my Booker winner; and
    2. G by John Berger for my double dipper choice. 


      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 have 12 to read by the end of the year. I do not have a final list yet, but I have several in mind.

      Books read so far: 2
      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); and
      4. A Year in the World by Frances Mayes (reviewed here).
        Books I may read for this challenge (so many to chose from):
        1. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt by Nick Hornby;
        2. Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby; 
        3. Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love, edited by Anne Fadiman; 
        4. 99 Novels by Anthony Burgess;
        5. The Well-Educated Mind by Wise S. Bauer;
        6. How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom;
        7. Studies in Classic American Literature by D. H. Lawrence;
        8. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald;
        9. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte; 
        10. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon;
        11. At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries by Estelle Ellis;
        12. The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Guillaume de Laubier;
        13. Literary Essays by Mark Twain;
        14. Speak Memory by Vladimir Nobokov;
        15. Saul Bellow: A Biography of the Imagination by Ruth Miller;
        16. Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius by Barbara Belford;
        17. Capote by Gerald Clarke;
        18. Greene on Capri: A Memoir by Shirley Hazzard; and
        19. Walks in Hemingway's Paris: A Guide To Paris For The Literary Traveler by Noel Fitch

          Birth Year Reading Challenge 

          This challenge is 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.

          Books read so far: one (Indian Summer by John Knowles; reviewed here)

          I really want to read The Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susann (what a great excuse!), but I don't have a copy yet.

          Book Awards Challenge

          The challenge involves reading ten books that won ten different prizes by November 1, 2010. The home page is here. Many of my picks overlap with other challenges, but I better get hopping.

          Books read so far: 4
          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). 
            Books I may read for this challenge:
            1. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (Pulitzer winner);
            2. Them by Joyce Carol Oates (National winner);
            3. The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (Booker winner);
            4. G by John Berger (James Tait Black winner);
            5. Small Island by Andrea Levy (Orange winner);
            6. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Nobel winner); and
            7. Seaview by Toby Olson (PEN/Faulkner winner).

              I signed up for the "Mor-book-ly Obese" level, meaning I will read six 450+-page books (or three 750+-pagers). Caribousmom hosts this challenge.

              Books read so far: one (Three Loves by A. J. Cronin; reviewed here). Again, I better get those pages turning! I am behind on this challenge.
              Books I may read for this challenge: 
              1.  Them by Joyce Carol Oates (which I am reading for my Battle of the Prizes: American Version challenge); 
              2. The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (which I am reading for my Battle of the Prizes: British Version challenge);
              3. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (on the Radcliffe list); and
              4. one more that I haven't come up with yet because I was thinking of using Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell, but then realized it is a book of essays and that does not count.

                100+ Challenge

                I signed up for this because I am pretty sure I'll read more than 100 books this year. But I do not have my own post for it. The challenge home page is here.

                I keep a book cover list of the books I've read this year in the right-hand column of this blog, although books don't show up over there if they are missing a cover picture on my LibraryThing library. I am up to 57 books so far this year if I didn't forget something. That happens.

                Typically British Challenge (FINISHED)

                I signed up at the "Cream Crackered" level to read eight "Typically British" novels. I blew through all eight pretty quickly, since probably half of the books I read qualify. The challenge home page is here.

                So this is the first challenge I have completed this year. Jolly good!

                Books read so far: 8
                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).


                  1. That's a lot of challenges! I feel like a slacker :)

                  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

                  3. Wow! That's great progress. It's making me miss challenges. I'm doing some, but they're all mini!

                  4. Stephanie -- It is 8, but 2 (100 Books and Typically British) don't really count because I would have read the books anyway. The challenges just happened to overlap my regular reading. And the others are pretty close to what I would read anyway. I didn't really stretch myself with any of them. :)

                    Shelley -- Thanks! I am not really a big challenge person, so it is a wonder that I am making progress at all. Like I said above, if the challenges didn't overlap with what I would read anyway, I probably wouldn't finish any of them!

                  5. I am about halfway through the Katherine Ann Porter and it is really good. Took me a while to get going but now it is wow. Just to whet your appetite . . .

                  6. Hi Rose City - Thanks for visiting my blog earlier and saying hello. I'm impressed seeing your lists and challenges... I am definitely enjoying the Booker lists and am now getting into the Orange prize as well.

                    By the way, I am a huge fan of Stumptown and lived there for a little while, and miss it.


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