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Challenges and Read-a-Longs, Oh My!

November 21, 2009

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:
Moby Dick
Woolf in the Winter
The Lord of the Rings
Christy Awards
GLBT 2010
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!


Nonfiction (for most of these, the subtitle speak for themselves):

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!







Comparative Religion

37 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2009 12:59 pm

    I adore your organizational skills. maybe, admire is a better word.

  2. November 21, 2009 1:19 pm

    Ooh, I love your GLBT list!

  3. November 21, 2009 1:31 pm

    Wow thats a huge amount of reading for 2010 and it hasnt even started hahahaha. I am so far joining in only with the Woolf challenge as my big challenge next year maybe to by no books and raise money for charity if all goes well.

  4. November 21, 2009 1:59 pm

    So glad you’re revisiting Woolf with us! I’m going for Moby Dick as well, but will start next year, not this year. Would love love love to join the LOTR reread, but not sure if I can fit it in. :( Will maybe try to catch up the last two months (if I can). It would be nice to reread The Silmarillion as well.

    As always, I’m amazed by your lists, which I know you pretty much accomplish. Go girl!

  5. November 21, 2009 2:00 pm

    I don’t have After the Prophet on my list, but I REALLY want to read it after I heard the author on NPR a month ago.

    I also have History of God on my list. Maybe we should do a read-a-long?

    All of your lists sound fantastic! It sounds like there’s going to be some awesome reviews on A Striped Armchair in 2010. :)

  6. November 21, 2009 2:52 pm

    Wow, I’m impressed and a little awestruck! I have such a horrible track record with challenges that I am thinking about doing something extreme in 2010 and not signing up for any. But we’ll see – I have quite an addiction as well!

  7. November 21, 2009 4:04 pm

    Holy cow, what ambition! And I know you’ll just be adding more as you go along in 2010 too!

  8. November 21, 2009 5:04 pm

    I’m joining the World Religion challenge too (working on my post). One book that I really want to read next year is Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks. Great lists like always Eva!

  9. November 21, 2009 5:16 pm

    I’m loving your lists. I have Passing by Nella Larsen down for my Unbound challenge. I totally forgot about Abraham J Heschel so I’m going to add his God In Search of Man book. Happy reading and good luck next year with the challenges.

  10. November 21, 2009 6:01 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not the only person who must not be in the middle of a book at midnight on Dec. 31!

    Am thinking about doing the Woolf read-a-long (loved Mrs. Dalloway and have never read the others), and am considering the LGBT challenge too.

    Good luck with your challenges!

  11. November 21, 2009 8:42 pm

    Wow!! I am in awe of you. Just keeping track of all of this amazes me. I am so glad you are joining us for Moby Dick!

  12. November 21, 2009 8:45 pm

    What a fun post to read! Gosh, Eva you are my hero! I don’t see how you do it. You must read really, really fast.

    I have to have my book finished by December 31st too…glad I’m not the only one!

    Right now I’m participating in Woolf in Winter and the Christy Award challenge. For choices for the Christy Awards are great. I didn’t make a reading list up yet.

    And now that I’ve read about the LOTR read a long, I’ll try to add it too since I own but have never read them.

  13. November 21, 2009 9:41 pm

    Yay for challenges! I suck at them in general, but that doens’t stop me from joining. I’ll definitely be participating in the Woolf read along for at least one book, and I’m eyeing the World Religion Challenge seriously.

  14. November 21, 2009 11:02 pm

    Aww, I thought you were participating in the Flashback Challenge, too! No worries, you clearly have a lot on your plate :-) Enjoy crossing those books off your lists!

  15. November 22, 2009 5:07 am

    I am loving your lists. I’m working on my own lists for some of these challenges. I would love to take part in the LOTR read-a-long but I also need to be realistic, I just don’t think I will have the time :(

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you have chosen for the other challenges. I do so love a good book list.

  16. November 22, 2009 5:52 am

    That is one huge list! I’m bookmarking it for future reference; you’ve got a lot of great-sounding books!

  17. November 22, 2009 6:54 am

    Eva, you are a bad influence! :) Now I want to join more challenges right this moment! (I had thought to join only two, but the World Religion challenge intrigues me (your list is wonderful!) and I simply adore Woolf, so I guess, I just have to participate in the winter read-a-long.:) By the way, if your library has it, you might also want to include The Great Transformation: the world in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah by Karen Armstrong into your WR challenge reading list.

    And, a great, big yay :), for you including Sinisalo’s Troll: a Love Story into your GLBT reading list. Do read it! It’s a brilliant, innovative and touching book. It was Sinisalo’s first novel and she won our biggest literary prize with it in 2000. I’ve read it twice in Finnish and plan to read the English translation for the GLBT challenge.


  18. tuulenhaiven permalink
    November 22, 2009 7:44 am

    As always, I love reading your lists and finding new challenges. I’m super glad that you’re joining us for Woolf in Winter! I would love to do the LOTR readalong, and I feel oddly compelled to read Moby Dick – I like the format, but I think it’ll have to wait until later. Might join the World Religions challenge – your list is wonderfully intriguing.

  19. November 22, 2009 9:04 am

    I really need to sit down and come up with a list for the GLBT challenge. That is going to be a tough one for me!

  20. November 22, 2009 9:58 am

    Found a new challenge. Have you heard of this one?

  21. November 22, 2009 10:12 am

    You amaze me, really and truly!

  22. November 22, 2009 12:00 pm

    Thanks for joining the Christy challenge! I haven’t read any of the books you picked, though River Rising is staring at me from my bookshelf. :)

    And so is Care of the Soul….I also am really wanting to read Moore. I hope you enjoy all your challenges and thanks for making me lust after about a million more books with this post!

  23. November 22, 2009 2:19 pm

    Your super power is reading, right? Tempting lists! And thanks so much for the Woolf in Winter mention and link. We are thrilled to have you joining us.

  24. November 22, 2009 9:31 pm

    What an excellent overview of some upcoming challenges! I really enjoy perusing all your reading lists. You give me lots of ideas.

    As for me – the Woolf in Winter read along is looking very interesting right now :)

  25. November 22, 2009 10:03 pm

    Whew! What an amazing list! Or should I say, lists, plural? So many wonderful books on here. I would totally do the LOTR read-along challenge but I’ve seriously re-read it about a million times already. But I’ll be looking forward to your posts about it! Great GLBT list too. The library down the street from me has a huge collection of queer lit, I should read more of it…

  26. November 23, 2009 1:04 am

    i am quite interested in the world religions challenge. i might try the GLBT challenge as well since i missed it the first time around.

  27. justabookreader permalink
    November 23, 2009 6:13 am

    That’s an amazing list! I haven’t read LOTR in years. May have to add that to the list…

  28. November 23, 2009 7:45 am

    The Lord of the Rings read-a-long sounds great. May have to join in on it, at least with Two Towers and Return of the King which will fit nicely with the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Now if my ol’ mind will just help me remember! ;)

  29. November 23, 2009 9:15 am

    Wow, that was a long post, but chock full of some interesting challenges. If you are interested, the War Through The Generations blog will be hosting a Viet Nam War reading challenge beginning Jan. 2010. I’ll be posting the announcement on the blog on Dec. 1

  30. November 23, 2009 8:54 pm

    Care, aww-thanks!

    Amanda, I’m excited about the challenge! :)

    SavidgeReads, I don’t intend to read them all! lol I think in this post I’ve committed myself to around 20 books. I’ve been on a book buying ban for awhile, and it works for me, but I’m also unemployed and have a great library. ;) Love the idea of raising money for charity!

    Claire, I’m so glad you guys are hosting it. :) I love The Silmarillion-maybe we’ll do a read-a-long of that one too at some point!

    JT, I’m all for read-a-longs! :)

    Lesly, lol-thank you! I’m not going to read them all though. ;)

    Rhapsody, oh yes-there are plenty more challenges waiting in the wings!

    Mee, awesome-I’m looking forward to your reviews!

    Vasilly, thanks-I love your lists too. :D

    Melissa, yep-I like to start the new year with a fresh start! And I have a tradition of spending New Year’s Eve quietly reading, rather than partying…in college, classes started on the 3rd & it was a two-day drive, so I always had to be up early on the 1st so partying made no sense.

    Ti, I’m glad you’re hosting it! :)

    Dana, I have lots of free time, remember? lol Yay for LOTR!

    Andi, ’tis better to have joined and failed than never to have joined at all. ;)

    Aarti, I am-this is just the first of many ‘joining challenges’ posts to come!

    Zee, well, it’s good to be realistic about your reading too and not overcommit. :)

    Hazra, thanks!

    Tiina, lol-I’m a total challenge pusher! Thanks for recommending another Armstron book-it sounds great. I’m so glad you’ve read and loved Troll too!

    Tuulenhaiven, thanks! lol-I find my compulsion to read Moby Dick a bit odd too. ;)

    Lola, Amanda’s going to be doing lots of resource stuff on the challenge blog if you need suggestions.

    BookBirdDog, I’ll check it out. :)

    Nan, thank you!

    Amy, I’m very excited to start on the Christy Challnege!

    Frances, lol-I thin kthat’d be a great superpower. :D

    Becca, thank you!

    Daphne, you should read and review more queer lit. :p I’ve reread LOTR probably 8 times, but it’s the kind of book I can always reread!

    Jehara, wonderful!

    Justabookreader, thanks.

    Carl, oh yay-I hope you join in! I’ll harass you into remembering, lol.

    Sagustovox, thanks for letting me know-I’m usually really hesitant to read war books, so I’ll have to see how many would be required.

  31. November 23, 2009 10:56 pm

    I’m really trying hard to resist the challenges this year but we’ll see where I end up. I may try these read-alongs instead! I loved Moby Dick, but not sure I’m ready for it right now. Maybe next year. I haven’t ever made it through LotR, didn’t like Hobbit at all, but maybe I’ll try those come Feb-April. Definitely going to give Woolf a try!

  32. November 24, 2009 4:44 am

    Love your GLBT list! I recommend ‘As Meat Loves Salt’ massively because it is just a fantastic expression of rage and a well researched historical. On ‘Across the Nightingale Floor’ the protaganist does have a brief relationship with another boy, but it’s the most minor of minor episodes in the book, still a fantastic book though.

  33. November 24, 2009 7:30 am

    Oh, I’m going to have to tell Rich about the LOTR read-a-long. He’s never read them, and was hoping to start this month. But his current fiction read (he generally has several non-fictions but just one fiction read going at a time) has been taking him forever to get through. Maybe if I tell him about this, he’ll just want to hold off and read along with you all come January.

  34. November 24, 2009 4:54 pm

    Rebecca, I’ve never done a read-a-long before, so I hope I enjoy them all. lol I don’t think that you’ll be the only one skipping The Hobbit.

    Jodie, thanks, especially for your comments about the books! It’s interesting that the GLBT Fantasy Resources site would review Across the Nightingale Floor when the G part was so minor, lol.

    Debi, that’d be so much fun! Tell him he can skip The Hobbit if he wants to. ;)

  35. November 24, 2009 6:07 pm

    Eva, I’ve just launched The Royal Mistress Reading Challenge, for historical novels about royal mistresses. There’s no time limit, no order to read them in and no-one has to read them all – the idea is to just take your pick! I’m still adding titles so if anyone knows a book which should be on the list, let me know. Link is here:

    Re the Challenge that Dare Not Speak Its Name, I highly recommend Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley. It’s one of my all time favourite books.

  36. December 3, 2009 1:17 pm

    Whoa mama! You got some serious challenge activity. Your lists are great. I’m definitely adding Down to the Bone to my GLBT list. Thanks for the great recs.

  37. December 5, 2009 11:23 pm

    Down To The Bone is a fun read despite the seriousness of the topic. Just a suggestion, read this as a teen not an adult otherwise, you might fail to appreciate the denial and choices.

    Butler is on my tbr should add her to my challenge list. I just joined.

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