Challenges and Read-a-Longs, Oh My!
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably realised that I’m a complete challenge addict. I adore them: from the time spent making the perfect reading list to adding them to my Current Challenge Page to reading the books and using the strike tag to reading the reviews of other participants, I think they’re marvelous. And they push me to read outside of my comfort zone! Anyway, this is the season when 2010 challenge begin surfacing, so I’ll probably be doing several of these style of posts until the end of the year. If you’re planning on hosting a challenge you think I should check out, definitely leave me a comment! And if you haven’t posted about yours yet, don’t panic-I’m leaving space for challenges that will be announced later. Oh, and this is just the first batch of challenges I’m joining, so if you don’t see yours here, that doesn’t mean I’m not in love with it-it just means I haven’t put my reading list together yet. ;) Anyway, this is going to be a super-long post…I had thought about doing a separate post for each challenge and read-a-long, but that seemed excessive for one day. So, if you’re interested in a particular challenge or read-a-long, take advantage of the internal links:
Woolf in the Winter
The Lord of the Rings
World Religion 2010
The Moby Dick Read-a-Long
A group of bloggers led by Ti of Book Chatter have just begun reading Moby Dick together this past Monday. Since I recently acquired a copy, I was very tempted, and Jason convinced me on Twitter. After he and I finish Moby Dick, we’ll be reading Ahab’s Wife together as well-hurrah for seafaring adventures! I’m really excited, since I haven’t been able to participate in a read-a-long before because I get most of my books from the library, which doesn’t lend itself to leisurely reading. I don’t think there’s a hard deadline, so we’ll see how long it takes me to read…but I do have this quirk about finishing all books before midnight on the 31st. Will I manage that while also finishing up my other challenges and reading for pleasure? Turn in next month to find out… (Ok, obviously I’ve been spending too much time on the computer, since I’m getting kind of silly, lol.)
Woolf in Winter
Emily, Frances, Sarah, and Claire are co-hosting a Woolf extravaganza in January and February. Every two weeks they’ll be discussing a different Woolf novel: Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and The Waves. I happen to love Woolf, and I’ve read and loved all four of these novels. But I want to get back into rereading, and she’s certainly an author whose books lend themselves to it. I’ll probably join in every discussion except To the Lighthouse, since I just read that one this year, so it feels a bit soon for a reread. If you want more information, each of the names are linked to their posts about it. And I highly recommend you try Woolf if you’ve never read her before; as long as you give in to her narrative flow, and don’t worry about focusing on every single word or even every single page, I think she’s simply delightful.
Lord of the Rings Read-a-Long
This one grew out of a Twitter conversation, as most things do. :) Myself, Teresa, and Maree were talking about much we wanted to reread Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and pretty soon we had to decided to do a read-a-long at the beginning of the year. Then Clare volunteered to be the fourth host, made the lovely button, and we were in business! We’ll be reading one book a month, beginning with The Hobbit in January, then The Fellowship of the Ring in February, The Two Towers in March, and The Return of the King in April. That’s simply when the discussions will be held, though, so don’t feel obligated to follow that schedule if it doesn’t work for you. (I know myself, and I know there’s no way I keep myself from tearing through LOTR, because I love it so much.) Even though we’re all rereading it, feel free to join if it this is your first time! Teresa’s hosting the sign-up post if you’re interested.
Now on to the challenges, which is when the post is going to get ridiculously long.
Christy Awards Challenge
Amy, Shauna, and Deborah are hosting the Christy Awards Challenge, which asks participants to read Christian fiction books that have won a Christy award. It began November 1st (I’m silly and just assumed it would start in January, so sorry about the delayed post) and finishes on December 1st of next year. I’ve never read Christian fiction before, so I’m participating in the 2nd Tier, one of the Baby Steps options. That means I can mix 3-4 winners from any category:
- Passing by Samaria by Sharon Ewell Foster: this is set in 1919. Alena is sent from Alabama to Chicago after a lynching leaves her parents worried that she’ll speak out and bring trouble to herself. I picked it because I love that time period, and Chicago, and Foster the only POC author to win a Christy.
- The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro: this is set in the author’s native South Africa, this focuses on two women who strike up an unlikely friendship in a hospital. I picked it, because I’m a sucker for international authors. ;)
- River Rising by Athol Dickson: this is set in small-town Louisiana in 1927 and is about a stranger who shakes up the town. I picked it for the time period and because I love the South!
- Madman by Tracy Groot: this is set in ancient Palestine and is about alchemy and Greek scholars and other such craziness. I picked it because who can resist a good alchemy story?
GLBT Challenge 2010
Amanda is back for the second round of the GLBT Challenge, now with its own dedicated blog and running from January 1st, 2010 to December 31st. I really enjoyed the first round, so I’m joining in at the Pink Triangle level, which has me reading eight books. I went a little overboard making the list, though. A note on it: as usual, my challenge lists are largely constrained by which books my library carries. There were a bunch of wonderful-sounding books I found that weren’t in my library’s catalogue, so they didn’t get included here. If you’re looking for POC or international authors, I highly recommend this encyclopedia, which has an incredible number of articles on various GLBT books and authors, sorted by nationality, genre, etc. Speaking of genre, I made an effort to make sure my list was diverse, so you’ll see historical, fantasy, mystery, YA (yes, I know it’s not really a genre), a couple classics, even a sci-fi book and a Wstern (genres I usually read) here. I think it’s pretty clear what falls into what category, but if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. :) And as always, all titles are linked to Powell’s, so you can find out more about the books that interest you. I ended up with precisely 50 books, which wasn’t planned but which does amuse me! :) ETA: I don’t intend to read every book on this list. I just like having options!
- Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole: this was on my list last year, and I’ve carried it over. It’s a YA novel about a Cuban American girl who gets kicked out of Catholic school for being a lesbian.
- Dawn by Octavia Butler: I read Fledgling (a definite gender bending book) and loved it, so I want to read more by Butler and this first in a sci-fi trilogy has transgendered secondary characters according to GLBT Fantasy Fiction Resources.
- Edinburgh by Alexander Chee: a book about a young Korean American man who, upon realising he is gay, worries that it stems from a childhood trauma.
- Another Country by James Baldwin: I read Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain earlier this year and loved it. This one deals more explicitly with non-heterosexual sexuality.
- The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon by Tom Spanbauer : the narrator is a half-Native American bisexual teenage boy living in the turn-of-the-century Midwest.
- The Last of the Menu Girls by Denise Chavez: about a girl in southern New Mexico who finds herself attracted to women.
- Passing by Nella Larsen: this features two light-skinned African American women in the 20s, one of whom has lesbian urgings.
- The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor: looks at seven strong African American women, and I read somewhere that at lest one of them is attracted to other women.
- Wounded: a Novel by Percival Everett: about an African American horse trainer in Wyoming who gets involved when the corpse of a gay man shows up.
- The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith: a crime classic about sociopathic bisexual young American.
- The Jolly Corner by Henry James: a novel by an author widely considered to be a repressed homosexual, featuring a narrator with similar issues.
- While England Sleeps by David Leavitt: a historical novel set in 30s England featuring gay men.
- Melusine by Sarah Monette: a fantasy novel featuring a gay male protragonist.
- Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai: a 14-year-old boy in Sri Lanka finds himself falling in love with a Candian boy visitor during the monsoons.
- Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson: a Caribbean short story collection, with some stories feauturing lesbians.
- Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz: apparently this third in a trilogy (I’ve already read the first two, beginning with Palace Walk) has some bisexuality tossed in.
- Leaving Tangier by Tahar Ben Jelloun: one of the main characters in this novel is a Moroccon boy who becomes a prostitute to an older Spanish man.
- Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman: a book by an Egyptian about a young man falling in love for the first time-with another man.
- Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni: a Japanese couple are in a marriage of convenience, to hide the wife’s alcoholism and the husband’s homosexuality.
- Dearest Anne by Judith Katzir: this Israeli author has written a story of a school girl, her love affair with her older female teacher, and the consquences.
- Claudine Novels by Colette: I read the first in this quartet (Claudine at School) about a bisexual French girl for the ’09 challenge, and it charmed me. So I’d love to read the other ones!
- The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett: I really enjoyed The Uncommon Reader and the film version of his play “The History Boys,” so I’d love to read more by him. I don’t think this book has explicit GLBT themes, but Bennett himself is a gay author.
- At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill: a book about two Irish boys who fall in love in 1915.
- Mary, and the Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft: a novel by the famous feminist-I’ve heard that the protagonist is bisexual.
- Life Mask by Emma Donoghue: set in late 18th century England, it centers around an upperclass English widow who feels ‘Sapphic longings.’
- As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann: about a gay man in 17th century England during the Civil War.
- The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault: about two gay youth in ancient Greece.
- Deadline for Murder by Val McDermid: one of a mystery series featuring a lesbian investigator.
- Enduring Love by Ian McEwan: a novel by one of my favourite authors, about a young man who begins stalking another.
- Troll: a Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo: a Finnish book described as a ‘modern day fairy tale’ featuring unconventional sexuality.
- The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh: a Glasgow mystery with a gay protagonist and dark feel to it.
- The Story of the Night by Colm Toibin: set in Argentina during the Falklands War, this novel features a gay man in the closet.
- Making History by Stephen Fry: I love Fry, and I can’t wait to read this novel about two gay men who travel back in time to kill Hitler.
- Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn: the first in a fantasy trilogy set in an alternate medieval Japan, it features a bisexual protagonist.
- Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff: a fantasy novel that according to GLBT Fantasy Fiction Resources has lesbian and bisexual protagonists and a GLBT-friendly world.
Nonfiction (for most of these, the subtitle speak for themselves):
- Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay, and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York by Kai Wright
- Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter to America by Michael Nava
- Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South by E. Patrick Johnson
- Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America by Lillian Faderman
- My Diva: 64 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them ed. by Michael Montlack
- Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods-My Mother’s, My Father’s, and Mine by Noelle Howey: about growing up with a cross-dressing father.
- Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson: I don’t think this is specifically about GLBT themes, but Winterson is a lesbian author.
- Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter
- The Last Closet: the Real Lives of Lesbian and Gay Teachers by Rita Kissen
- Something to Declare: Good Lesbian Travel Writing ed. Gillian Kendall
- Lesbian Widows: Invisible Grief by Vicky Whipple
- The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood by Diana McLellan: about classic Hollywood actresses with inclinations towards women.
- The Red Rose Girls: an Uncommon Story of Art and Love by Alice Carter: about three Bohemian women artists who lived together and probably had intimate relationships.
- Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano: another carry over from my ’09 list.
- A Terrible Splendor by Marshall Jon Fisher: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played: about Wimbledon right before WWII when one of the players in the final was gay.
World Religion 2010
JT Oldfield is hosting the World Religion Challenge 2010, which as the name implies runs throughout next year. The idea is to read books about religion next year, which the name also makes pretty clear. ;) Participants should take a cross-cultural approach, so make sure that you read about more than one religion. While both fiction and nonfiction can count, I’m going with all nonfiction. There are several ways to participate; I’m going with the Unshepherded Path which let’s me do whatever I want. :D Here’s my list divided by religion, in alphabetical order (I don’t want to be considered as playing favourites, lol). Oh, and I know that some religions have more books-it doesn’t mean anything, other than that not as many books in my library’s catalogue appealed to me. And of course, if you have any suggestions for the religions that don’t have many books beneath them, please share. :D Lately, I’ve been trying to become a Christian again (I was raised Catholic), but even if I manage that, I have the kind of Progressive leanings that make me feel that no religion has the monopoly on truth. ETA: I don’t intend to read every book on this list. I just like having options!
- The Heart of the World by Ian Baker: the author went on a pilgrimage to find the heart of Tibetan Buddhism.
- The Monk and the Philosopher by Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard: a dialogue between an agnostic French father and his son, who became a Buddhist monk in Tibet.
- Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh: a retelling of Buddha’s life from a Vietnamese monk.
- No Beginning, No End by Jakusho Kwong: an introduction to Zen Buddhism by a Japanese practitioner.
- Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab: a how-to guide for Christians who want to use the Sabbath to come closer to God.
- Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore: I’ve been wanting to read Moore for years. This is another how-to guide. ;)
- A Jesuit Off-Broadway by James Martin: I really enjoyed another Martin book I read, My Life With the Saints, and this one sounds like just as much fun.
- Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott: I enjoyed my fist Lamott book, Grace (Eventually).
- Saints Behaving Badly by Thomas Craughwell: a book about saints who led naughty lives before becoming saints later in life. ;)
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: a very different style of Christianity than the one I’m used to!
- Open Secrets by Richard Lischer: the memoirs of the first few years of a new minister’s service, when his liberal leanings clashed with his conservative, small Midwestern town congregation.
- The Close by Chloe Breyer: about Breyer’s first year at divinity school.
- Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India by Diana Eck: an explanation of the role vision plays in Hinduism.
- Essential Hinduism by Steven Rosen: a good basic introduction.
- Ganga: a Journey Down the Ganges River by Julian Crandall Hollick: a journalist travels along India’s holy river.
- The Sword and the Flute by David Kinsley: a look at Krishna and Kali.
- The Strides of Vishnu by Ariel Glucklich: another general book about Hinduism.
- My Family and Other Saints by Kirin Narayan: about Narayan’s childhood in Bombay with an older brother whose interest in enlightenment and gurus brings lots of Westerners to their house.
- Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God by Jonah Blank: Blank retraces the root of Rama, hero of a Sanskrit epic.
- No god but God by Reza Aslan: a general overview.
- The Story of the Qur’an by Ingrid Mattson: focuses on Islam’s holy book.
- In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan: a biographical look at Muhammad.
- Price of Honor by Jan Goodwin: I borrowed this from my women’s studies list-it’s about Muslim women’s opinions on the veil.
- The Sufis by Idries Shah: an overview of Sufism, which is a branch of Islam.
- The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf: I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. ;) I’ve always been fascinated by the Crusades and that period of history.
- Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz: Eteraz’s memoir of growing up in Pakistan and later America, including his experiences at a madrassa.
- After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton: a history book about the events that lead to the split between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims.
- An Illusion of Harmony by Taner Edis: Edis looks at the relationship between Islam and science throughout history.
- Journey Into Islam by Akbar Ahmed: a professor, Ahmed travelled with a group of American students throughout the Muslim world after 9/11.
- The Talmud and the Internet by Jonathan Rosen: I’m always curious about the more scholarly, bookish aspects of Judaism, so this book sounds interesting.
- Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers by Stephanie Levine and Carol Gilligan: a look at teenage Hasidic girls.
- Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot by Gertrude Himmelfarb: I read Daniel Deronda last year, and was definitely taken aback by the Jewish mysticism involved. So I’m curious as to where she came across that.
- Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler: a travel book about Feiler following in Moses’ footsteps.
- Daily Kabbalah by Gershon Winkler: this sounds like a good overview of Kabbalah, but of course I’m not sure.
- The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel: a meditation on the importance of the Sabbath to Jewish practice.
- Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail by Jeanne Abrams: this just sounds interesting to me-it’s about Jewish women in the American West.
- Essential Judaism by George Robinson: an overview.
- I and Thou by Martin Buber: I read this in high school and loved it, so I wouldn’t mind a reread.
- Black Elk Speaks by Nicholas Black Elk and John Neihardt: the autiobiography of a Lakota visionary man.
- The Spiral Dance by Starhawk: a book about neopaganism, which I loved in high school and which deserves a good reread.
- Her Voice, Her Faith ed. by Arvind Sharma: a collection of essays by eight women about their different faiths.
- Myths of Light by Joseph Campbell: a look at the Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism.
- A History of God by Karen Armstrong: a look at the three religions centering around Jerusalem: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
- God Needs No Passport by Peggy Levitt: a look at the religions of American immigrants and how they’re affecting our society.
- The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Prsciilla Warner: memoir by three women, one Jewish, one Muslim, one Christian, who met to discuss their faith.
- Encountering God by Diana Eck: a look at religions around the world and how being a religious scholar has affected Eck’s own Christian faith.
- The Search for God at Harvard by Ari Goldman: a look at Harvard Divinity School, and how it affects Goldman’s Jewish faith.
- The Jew in the Lotus by Rodger Kamenetz: a Jewish poet goes to an interfaith dialogue between Jewish and Tibet Buddhist leaders.