Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Challenge: The Crooked House Challenge


Inspirational blogger and book fan Hannah Braime encourages people to read by hosting a 26-book and 52-book reading challenge every year. Her challenges don't have a particular theme, but each book fits a particular category or requirement -- like a scavenger hunt.

My friend Rachelle, who owns the delightful Crooked House Books here in Portland (and on-line) organized a group of people to undertake the 26-book version of Hannah's challenge. That's why I call this my Crooked House Challenge. She created a Facebook page for the group, for anyone interested in playing along, so feel free to join in.

The rules are simple. To complete the challenge, you have to read 26 different books. Each has to be completed in 2017. One book cannot be applied to more than one category, but books can overlap with other challenges. We are just trying to read 26 books in 2017, not necessarily one book every two weeks, although that is what it will average out to be.

  • A book you read in school
  • A book from your childhood
  • A book published more than 100 years ago
  • A book published in the last year
  • A nonfiction book
  • A book by a male author
  • A book by a female author
  • A book by someone who isn’t a writer 
  • A book that became a film
  • A book written in the 20th century
  • A book set in your hometown/region
  • A book with someone’s name in the title
  • A book with a number in the title
  • A book with a character with your first name*
  • A book recommended to you by someone else
  • A book with more than 500 pages
  • A book you can finish in a day
  • A book previously banned
  • A book with a one word title
  • A book translated from another language
  • A book to improve a certain area of your life
  • A memoir or journal
  • A book written by someone younger than you
  • A book set somewhere you’ll be visiting this year
  • An award winner
  • A self-published book

* Our group agreed to change this one a little because there are several people, including me, who have unusual first names. I could spend a lifetime looking for a book with a Gilion in it (pronounced with a hard G by the way, so it's not a funny spelling of Gillian). We agreed to change this one to a book with a character with your first or last name, or a book written by someone with your first or last name. I think I can find a book written by an author named Dumas.


  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (read in school)

  • Slay Ride by Dick Francis (from childhood)

  • The Little Nugget by P. G. Wodehouse (more than 100 years ago)

  • The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking (published in the last year)

  • The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison (nonfiction)

  • The Biographer's Moustache by Kingsley Amis (male author)

  • A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie (female author)

  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (by someone not a writer)

  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (became a film)

  • No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley (20th Century)

  • The Nix by Nathan Hill (set in hometown or region)

  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacs (name in title)

  • Remembrance of Things Paris: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet, edited by Ruth Reichl (number in title)

  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (recommended by someone)

  • Any Human Heart by William Boyd (more than 500 pages)

  • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (finish in a day)

  • Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (one-word title)

  • Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe (translated)

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do by Sarah Knight (change area of your life)

  • Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl (memoir) 

  • In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (younger author)

  • Any Woman's Blues by Erica Jong (area visited)

  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flannigan (prize winner)

  • Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered by Tod Davies (self-published)

  • NOTES:

    Updated January 1, 2018. The only two I didn't get to were a book with my name in it and a banned book. I just couldn't figure out if any of the books I read had ever been banned. I suspect the Erica Jong book was banned somewhere! And maybe some other books I read. But I've already read all the "classics" that show up on lists of banned books.

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