Resolutions and Challenges ’08
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. ;)