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Resolutions and Challenges ’08

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year everyone!  This is also my blog’s one year anniversary. :D  It’s been a great year, and I’ve gotten to ‘meet’ a lot of really cool people who read a lot of really cool books!  I’d like to have a bit of a book giveaway in honour of my one-year mark, so I’m offering Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman and The Collector by John Fowles.  Ex Libris is a book about books, so it seem appropriate here.  And The Collector is the very first book I reviewed last year. ;)  If you want to be in the drawing for one or both, just leave a comment here letting me know! 

Now that a new year is here, I can share my plans!  I have one huge resolution for next year: I will not buy or bookmooch any new books until I’ve read all of the unread books waiting on my shelf.  Why, do you ask?  Well, because while I only bought 37 books this year, I mooched an obscene 116 (10 are still pending).  Yep, I think it’s an addiction.  So, until I’m limiting myself to books already owned or that I can get from my library.  With that in mind, here are the other things I hope to accomplish with my reading this year:
Read more classics.
Read more international works.
Read more short stories.
Keep fiction:nonfiction at 3:1.
Reread more books.
Be more open to YA/children’s lit.

If you see my 2007 review post below, you’ll see that the first two resolutions are to address my concerns in those areas. The short stories issue is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile (and mooching about as well), and the fic:nonfic is a more modest version of last year’s attempt to up my non-fiction reading. I also was a bit concerned that my old favourites were getting short shrift, hence the rereading resolution! Finally, bloggers have reintroduced me to the joy of YA lit, and I want to keep that going. Of course, my top resolution of the year is to have fun reading. I think that sometimes that gets lost amid the lists!

While I withdrew from challenges for awhile, I’m now back and raring to go. Unlike last year, when the idea of a year-long challenge was too much commitment for me, most of the challenges I’m looking at will run the whole year. Additionally, they are fulfilled entirely with books from my shelves or (in some small cases) the library. Basically, it’s my way of providing an incentive to stop buying books, as well as incorporating my resolutions! Without further ado, here is the (admittedly long) list of challenges and books for next year!

The Mythopoeic Award Challenge

Runs all year, the goal is to read seven books from the list of winners/nominees for the Mythopoetic Award. My picks:
Little, Big by John Crowley (I mooched this forever ago), The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (a reread of my favourite Camelot story), The Giver by Lois Lowry (one of my favourite books of all time, and one I try to reread at least every other year), The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt (a short story collection recommended by Nymeth by one of my favourite authors), Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (YA lit from my library-sounds neat), The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (highly recommended by Susan, another YA library pick), A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (a YA library sequel to The Wee Little Men, which I read this year and thoroughly enjoyed)

The Numbers Challenge
Runs through June, participants choose five books with numbers in the title.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (this is going to double as part of my Sci-Fi experience, since he’s the father of sci-fi and part of my last book purchase for the foreseeable future in B&N’s classics sale), Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit (a classic children’s author, also part of the B&N classics sale), Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (a modern classic, which I was halfway through when a move made it disappear long enough for me to forget the whole story), Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger (bookmooched, since I’ve heard he’s a great short story teller), and Pu-239 by Kenneth Kalfur (a short story collection focusing on Russia).

The Sci-Fi Experience
Since I referenced it above, Carl’s hosting a sci-fi experience wherein he invites us all to explore the genre of sci-fi in January and February. Since I tend to avoid it (although I really like fantasy), I thought this was a good chance to explore, so I’m going to try to read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (considered the father of the genre), Orsinian Tales by Ursula leGuin (a short story collection by an author I’ve heard a lot of good things about), Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (not a traditional sci-fi author, but should round out my choices and gives me an international boost), and two by Orson Scott Card: Enchantment and Lost Boys (both recommended by Chris, who gave me a very thoughtful guide to one of his favourite authors).

The Short Story Challenge
I’m going with Option Four, which gives me the whole year to read five-ten short story collections by new-to-me authors. I’ve been mooching a ton of ss collections that sounded good. Here’s the pool I’ll select from: The Lost Stories of Louisa May Alcott (classic), Bliss and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield (int’l-New Zealand), Miguel Street by V.S. Naipul (int’l-Caribbean, and mooched on Nymeth’s recommendation), Dressing Up for the Carnival by Carol Shields (int’l-Canada), The Red Passport by Katherine Shonk (int’l-Russia), Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom, Get Down by Asali Solomon, Stained Glass Elegies by Shusaku Endo(int’l-Japan), Pack of Cards by Penelope Lively, and The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

In Their Shoes Challenge
In this all-year challenge, participants choose how many books to read that are memoirs, biographies, or autobiographies. I’m not sure how many of the following I’ll get to: Black Elk Speaks by Black Elk with the aid of John Neihardt (a Native American memoir), The Spy Wore Red by Aline Romanos (an international memoir of WWII intrigue by a duchess), Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters by William and Arthur Austen-Leigh, Simone de Beauvoir by Deirdre Bair, Che Guevara by Jon Lee Anderson, Joan of Arc by Prenoud and Clin (a French biography), Wild Swans by Jung Chang (intl-China), Unbowed by Wangari Maathai (a memoir by the famous Kenyan activist), and Confessions of an Economic Hitman John Perkins.

What’s in A Name? Challenge
Another all-year challenge hosted by Annie, this one has participants choosing six books with specific requirements. My choices are From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe (colour-and int’l), The Pope’s Rhinoceros by Lawrence Norfolk (animal), Evelina by Frances Burney (name-and a classic), Train to Pakistan Kushwant Singh (place-and int’l), In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Soueif (weather-and int’l), and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (plant-and an int’l reread).

My Year of Reading Dangerously
This one is a year-long book club, with the people over at Estella’s Revenge choosing a book from a different ‘scary’ category every month. For the most part, I’m going to read the same ones they’ve chosen. However, I’ll be making four changes:
January: Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (since I’ve already read Great Expectations twice and this one is on my shelf), June: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy for ‘Russian’ (I’ll be reading a different translation, although I’ve already read the book…I’ve read Lolita quite often, so I’ll probably still join in on the discussion), July: Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye by Lois Lowry for ‘Adolescent’ (I just read The Chocolate War this year), and October: The Plot Against America by Philip Roth for ‘Jewish’ (because I have this Roth on my shelf already).

and finally, last but certainly not least, The Russian Reading Challenge
Another all year challenge, participants are supposed to read four books either by Russians, set in or about Russia. I originally had a huge, long post typed up on this that listed about fifty books I’d love to read. However, I decided that that was silly, so I pared it down to what I already own. Here’s the list: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, trans. Larissa Polokhonsky and Richard Pevear (very, very excited…see Christmas post), The Brothers Karamoazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, trans. Polokhonsky and Pevear (I very much enjoyed their translation of Crime and Punishment, so I’m looking forward to this), Dreams of My Russian Summer by Andre Makine (you have to have some emigre lit somewhere!), and A History of Russia by Nicolas Raisanovsky and Mark Steinberg (a gift from my Russian professor, a slightly less than 800 page account of Russia from ancient to presentday).

So, I’m committed to reading at least forty-seven books already (if I read all of my pools for the Short Story and In Their Shoes challenges, that’ll be fifty-six). Actually, considering the carry-overs from the Outmoded Authors, Unread Authors and Seafaring Challenges, add six more! Still, that’s not too bad, and it should be a lot of fun! Of course, this many challenges, lasting all year, means that I won’t be listing books in my sidebar, just the pretty buttons with links. A list of books will be found in a new page. ;)

51 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2008 3:26 pm

    Yay! It’s great to have you with us! I’m looking forward to your participation in the Year of Reading Dangerously!

  2. January 1, 2008 3:29 pm

    Wow! That’s crazy: I just read Ex Libris last week. I liked it, but I do agree with your previous review—Anne Fadiman’s intellectual upbringing really does show through in her writing and it may make some readers roll their eyes. She does write beautifully though.

  3. January 1, 2008 3:56 pm

    Great post! There are some interesting challenges here that I hadn’t seen before. The Russian one sounds very intriguing, and unfortunately I’ve stopped taking new challenges or I’d join in on that one. I haven’t read *any* Russian literature and I’ve always been keen to. I guess it just seems a little daunting so I’ve put it off, lol.

  4. January 1, 2008 4:55 pm

    Welcome to the What’s in a Name Challenge! I’m so happy you decided to join in–thanks! Hope you have fun!

  5. January 1, 2008 7:51 pm

    wow – that’s a whole lotta challenges! how do you keep up with them all?i have always wanted to read ex-libris so count me in. :)

  6. January 1, 2008 9:11 pm

    Happy New Year and Happy Bloggiversary! I’m still in awe of the number of books you read last year – that’s fantastic. Here’s hoping you’ll have lots of great reads this year.
    Oh and like you, I was hesitant about those year long challenges but I got over that and have joined several. Now I’m contemplating the Short Story one… I definitely need to read more short stories.

  7. January 1, 2008 9:19 pm

    Andi, I’m excited for the group discussions! And how could I resist that button?

    TY, glad I’m not the only one doing a little covert eye rolling. ;)

    Lenneth, I can understand why Russian lit can seem daunting, but so far I’ve loved every Russian novel I’ve read. Maybe you can start with some short stories? Chekhov and Gogol are both masters of the genre! And Dostoevsky isn’t bad either. ;) (P.S.-I don’t recall seeing you comment here before, so welcome!)

    Mellymel, I use my nice little ‘current challenges’ page to cross books off the list. The good thing is, I already own just about all of these books so I don’t have to worry about having to find them!

    Iliana, thanks! Challenges are addictive, aren’t they? Although I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks a year is a very long time.

  8. January 2, 2008 5:58 am

    Wow! Truly a year of challenges. You read such an extraordinary amount, I’m so jealous! Happy reading (and everything else) in 2008.

  9. January 2, 2008 6:44 am

    You truly astound me in your reading goals, AND accomplishments. wow. I’ve signed up for ONE challenge and am already having second thoughts. BUt, I keep telling myself, THAT IS THE POINT! read more, grow…

  10. January 2, 2008 7:20 am

    Congrats on your blog anniversary! And have a wonderful time with those challenges in 2008! Enter me in the drawing please!

  11. Swapna Krishna permalink
    January 2, 2008 7:34 am

    I’d love to be entered in the Ex Libris drawing! Thanks!! Congrats on the one year anniversary!

  12. January 2, 2008 7:38 am

    I’d like to be entered for Ex Libris. Happy Blogiversary–mine is on the 4th! I think many of us started blogging at the same time.

  13. January 2, 2008 8:05 am

    Happy new year!

    I’ve been wanting to do book giveaways, but I live in Maryland. I’m told we have some of the most ridiculously strict laws on giveaways and contests in the nation, and that without spending probably $200 to get some decent contest rules drawn up, I’d risk getting in trouble. :(

  14. January 2, 2008 10:59 am

    Hi! I’m new to the Book Reading Challenges, and saw your blog..just love all you’ve written, and will be coming back. I’d love to enter your Ex Libris draw. I’ll be reading “War and Peace”with you. Also participating in the Russian Reading group… It’s going to be a great year for reading.

  15. January 2, 2008 11:08 am

    P.S. I saw that you’re fascinated with India (further down on your entries!), and have this fabulous book to recommend to you. “The Temple Dancer,” by John Speed, is an absolute must read! Wonderfully written with rich detail, and also a storyline somewhat reminiscient of “The Far Pavillions,” which, if you haven’t ever read is one that you should never die without having read, as well! There’s much in this book about the eunuchs of India and their hierarchy, the state of women, use of belladonna, detail of clothing and interiors…love and intrigue. India in all its strange glory!

  16. January 2, 2008 11:24 am

    Happy new year AND Happy anniversary! Good luck with all those challenges, I have decided enough is enough now but I do the ones I’m not in vicariously through your reviews!

  17. Tiffany permalink
    January 2, 2008 11:52 am

    Congratulations on your blogiversary! I just recently discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed reading it. Your resolution to not buy or mooch any new books is an admirable one, I’m not sure I could do that. Buying books is one of my favorite things to do, and sadly my shelves are full of unread volumes as I constantly buy more. In fact, I spent some gift cards over the weekend for a new stack. One of which was the new War and Peace translation. So I’ll be reading that along with you this year as well. I’m hoping to get my blog up and running again this week so that I can join in on the book blog fun I recently discovered :)

    P.S. I’ve been wanting to read Ex Libris for a while now, so count me in on that drawing! Thanks!

  18. January 2, 2008 12:50 pm

    Happy Blogiversary! (I already own both books so don’t put me in the drawing). You’ve got some great goals. And from the looks of the lists of books from the challenges you are doing, some good reading ahead!

  19. January 2, 2008 3:23 pm

    Happy bloigiversary, Eva! Throw my name in the hat for both books, please! I read “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” by Fowles some time ago and loved it, and I’ve been meaning to read more of his stuff ever since.

    The Mythopoeic Award Challenge is calling my name. Resistance is futile. I hadn’t realized that so many books that I absolutely love had won or been finalists for this award. I do hope you enjoy The Djinn In the Nightingale’s Eye!

    Black Elk Speaks is a book I’ve always wanted to read. I look forward to your review.

  20. January 2, 2008 4:31 pm

    Wow, you have some great challenges ahead! I’ll be with you Reading Dangerously, and taking the Short Story Challenge. Alas, I am afraid I can’t do much more than that until my job settles down.

    Looking forward to following your progress in ’08! Happy New Year!

  21. January 2, 2008 6:04 pm

    Thanks for joining my numbers challenge. I look forward to reading your reviews.

  22. January 2, 2008 6:06 pm

    Oops forgot to say I’d love to be entered for both of your drawings.

  23. January 2, 2008 7:06 pm

    I’m all about blogniversaries and book giveaways! Can’t wait to see what you have to say for 2008 since your blog was one of my favourite finds of last year. Your enthusiasm for books is really contagious. :)

  24. January 2, 2008 7:14 pm

    Ted, it helps that I don’t have too many other responsibilites! ;)

    CuriousC, thanks for visiting! This year, I decided not to worry if I don’t complete all of the challenges-it’s the thought that counts. Try looking at it that way instead!

    Dorothy, sounds good! And thanks. :)

    Swapna Krishna, ok.

    3M, I bet so…all of us that like order, lol! I’ll put your name in the drawing. :D

    Heather, that’s so weird! Maybe if you have it be a ‘gift’ instead of a contest?

    Deb, thanks for visiting, and glad to have another W&Per! :) Thos book suggestions sound great-I’ll have to look into them.

    Eloise, thanks!

    Tiffany, thanks for visiting! Go W&P! It’ll help w/ my resolution that I don’t really have much extra money right now. ;)

    Stefanie, thanks!

    Nymeth, I was wondering why you hadn’t signed up for that one. ;) I’m sure I’ll enjoy Djinn, since I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read of Byatt. I was excited to see it in the used bookstore!

    LK, understandable. My job’s pretty relaxed, but I might be getting a second job soon, and then thing’s may get a little crazy. It’ll be fun to read about all sorts of short story collections. :D

    Callista, it’s a neat challenge-thanks for hosting! And I’ll put you in the drawings.

    Imani, aww-thanks so much. It’s always fun to read your blog as well-makes me feel much smarter. ;)

  25. January 3, 2008 8:11 am

    Congratulations on the anniversary of your blog! I’m impressed by your ambitious list of reading challenges. I’ve not been very successful with the challenges I’ve joined in the past. I get too distracted to stick to a plan. However, I’m going to try to do the Year of Reading Dangerously and I’m thinking about the Short Story Reading Challenge, as well. Have a healthy and Happy 2008!!

  26. January 3, 2008 8:54 am

    You should try once you are reday to get some more books for free. Great site for books, cds, dvds, and video games.

  27. taryn permalink
    January 3, 2008 1:28 pm

    I’d love either book in your giveaway!

  28. January 3, 2008 3:41 pm

    It’s hard to believe that we could both be participating in so many challenges, yet not have a single challenge in common. But I think that’s the case! I hope you enjoy yours.

    I would love to be entered in your contest!

    Your resolution about emptying your bookshelf reminds me of mine this fall. I said I would not buy or bookmooch any new books until, and this is the silly part, I only had books filling the TBR bookcase one deep instead of every shelf being double shelved. I failed, though, and it’s still entirely double shelved, but now there are two stacks on TOP of the bookcase, too. I hope yours goes better!

  29. January 3, 2008 8:12 pm

    Congratulations on your blogiversary! I love reading your blog and hope you’ll continue to share with us about the many (many many) books you’re reading! :)

    Oh, and I’d love to be entered in the drawing, too!

  30. January 3, 2008 11:11 pm

    Lisa, thanks! I think I do challenges mainly because all the buttons are so pretty, lol. I can’t resist putting them on my blog!
    Taryn, sounds good!

    Dew, that’s so weird! I really wanted to do your Printz Challenge (and the Booker for that matter), but I only let myself pick challenges that I already had books on my shelf that qualified. And I didn’t have any. :( I hope my resolution goes better than yours as well! I have one thing on my side: my student loans kicked in, so there goes quite a bit of spending money.

    Megan, thanks so much!

  31. Myrthe permalink
    January 4, 2008 4:18 am

    I am impressed by your reading plans and amount of challenges. I have committed myself to three or four which fit in with books on my TBR-pile (or rather the other way around: the books already on my TBR-pile fit with these challenges ;-) ) and which allow cross-reading.

    The main reason for my limited challenge-participation is my living in a country where getting good books requires a bit of planning. The (mostly hardcover) books in English that are sold here are fairly few and more expensive than in Europe or the US and I don’t trust the Armenian postal services too much yet, though I have heard that by now Amazon deliveries arrive okay, but after about three weeks. I will have to give that a try, I guess. But next week I am going to visit my parents in Holland for ten days and I will come back with tons of books. I already know there are some waiting for me!

    I almost forgot: the reason I wanted to leave a comment is because I’d love to be in the draw for Ex Libris!

  32. January 4, 2008 1:20 pm

    Unfortunately giveaways are just as tricksy as contests. We have weird laws here. =/

  33. January 4, 2008 5:31 pm

    Happy blogiversary, please enter me in your drawing, it sounds great!

    I feel your pain on the student loans thing. I have more than I really want to think about to pay back.

    I think I need to copy your idea here and just list all of the challenges I want to take on in one post.

  34. January 4, 2008 6:38 pm

    Myrthe, completely understandable. When I was in Russia, I just reread the same books over and over. Have fun in Holland!

    Heather, that is weird. I went to school in the Midwest (Illinois), and I noticed that they had waaay more laws than Texas (where I was living then) I think Colorado is also more laissez-faire, lol.

    Kim, sounds good! Student loans are pretty evil, and I’m about to take on in even more for grad school. *sigh* Sometimes I wish I lived in a socialist country!

  35. January 5, 2008 12:58 am

    Great goals for 2008 Eva! I’m trying to do something along the same lines and read what I have instead of buying more books…it really is ludicrous how many books I’ve bought this year! I think I’m buying just to buy now, which yes books are nice to look at but they’re meant to be READ. Great challenges that you’ve joined! And count me in for the two book drawings if I’m not too late :)

  36. teenbookreview permalink
    January 5, 2008 8:35 pm

    Wow, that’s a lot of challenges! I’d love to be entered in your drawings.

  37. January 5, 2008 10:49 pm

    Chris, it’s not too late! I was pretty good about buying books-ony 34. But I mooched *gulp* 116. And I didn’t even join the site until June. Isn’t it obscene?

    TeenBookReview, sounds good! Do you have a blog? Your name isn’t linking to it, and I enjoy reading new blogs. :)

  38. January 6, 2008 9:11 am

    I love Find a Stranger Say Goodbye. I reread every now and then. :)

  39. teenbookreview permalink
    January 6, 2008 10:42 am

    That’s weird, it should be linking. Hmm. It’s–hope you enjoy it!

  40. January 6, 2008 10:46 am

    Great challenges! I have joined some too. Hope I complete those.

    Count me in for your book drawings. I can read either. Here is my link to your giveaway post!

  41. January 6, 2008 10:47 am

    My wordpress blog is not my reviewing blog. This is!

  42. Cindi Hoppes permalink
    January 6, 2008 3:00 pm

    Hello! I am very happy that I have found your blog site. You have made some interesting resolutions/goals. I wish you the best with all of them! I am an avid reader and would appreciate being included in your giveaway contests. Thanks very much…..Cindi

  43. January 10, 2008 7:41 pm

    I would love a copy of Ex Libris!

  44. September 2, 2008 2:29 pm

    hey :)
    its very reasonable point of view.
    Good post.
    realy gj

    thank you ;)


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