Wednesday, September 29, 2010

State of the Blog, Part Three: The Challenges

It's fall and time for another quarterly blog progress report. This is a three part assessment. Part One looked at my book lists. Part Two had to do with my favorite authors. This Part Three deals with my challenges.

I am hosting two "Battle of the Prizes" challenges this year and working on several others.  All are listed in the right-hand column. I've finished one challenges, added one, and am lagging behind on others. I have to bust a book move to get this task wrapped up by the deadlines.


Battle of the Prizes: American Version

National Book Award winners v. Pulitzer Prize winners, rules here. There is still time to sign up! The challenge doesn't end until January 31, 2011.

I am ashamed to say that I haven't read any of my three books yet. However, chaotic compendiums, 100 Books. 100 Journeys, J.G. at Hotchpot Cafe, and Musings 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!This one doesn't end until January 31, 2011 either.

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

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: 5
  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). 
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. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Nobel winner); and
  6. 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. I've tackled several big books this year, including the monumental Count of Monte Cristo, 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.
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);
  4. Echoes by Maeve Binckey; and
  5. 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 87 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).

Daphne du Maurier Challenge

This Challenge is hosted by Chris at book-a-rama. I was late to this challenge and only signed up for it a few weeks ago. 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; and
  2. My Cousin Rachel.


  1. Oh my. I did look thru and check out the reviews. Interesting. As to the rest I'm a little overwhelmed to see that one person can read so many books. And here I thought I was a big reader. :)

  2. WOW! Your challenges look fantastic and I can't believe how many different ones you're signed up for! Granted, some overlap, but these are...crazy great!

    Thanks for the info and I hope to sign up for at least a fraction of the ones you have listed here.


  3. Oh--I gave you an award today on my blog. It's not a silly thing, really. Stop by!

    Also--'My Cousin Rachel' is a great read. Enjoy!


  4. Troutbirder -- Thanks for reading the reviews! I am often humbled by the bloggers I come across who read WAY more than I do. But I do chew through a fair many. No tv and no kids is my explanation.

    Michele -- I approached the whole challenge thing backwards, I admit. I chose challenges that fit the books I wanted to read, instead of challenges to make me pick books I would not otherwise read. So they are not very challenging challenges. :)

    Thanks for the award! I'll come by.


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