Saturday, January 9, 2010

2009 Challenges

In 2009, I signed up for and completed four challenges:

The Sunshine Smackdown: Battle of the Prizes

I had to participate in this one -- I hosted it. 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 11, 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. 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 and Julia by Julie Powell (my memoir/essay choice; reviewed here)

Opening Sentence of the Day: The Polysyllabic Spree

So this is supposed to be about the how, and when, and why, and what of reading -- about the way that, when reading is going well, one book leads to another and to another, a paper trail of theme and meaning; and how when it's going badly, when books don't stick or take, when your mood and the mood of the book are fighting like cats, you'd rather do anything bu attempt the next paragraph, or reread the last one for the tenth time.

-- The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

Now, that's an opening sentence! Part of me (the Junior High English class dork part) wants to diagram it.

This is a collection of essays -- the first of three volumes -- that Hornby wrote for The Believer magazine, described on the cover as, "A hilarious and true account of one man's struggle with the monthly tide is the books he's bought and the books he's been meaning to read."  It's the famous person's version of a book blog.

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