Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Challenge Update

In 2014 I took on four reading challenges:
  • the Literary Exploration challenge where the goal was to sample thirty-six different genres;
  • Mount TBR where the goal was to read books I already owned and make the mountain a little smaller;
  • the What's in a Name? Challenge, a whimsical challenge where one reads books with titles that meet certain random criteria; and
  • a general Goodreads challenge to read 65 to 70 books within a year.

What's in a Name? was the shortest and easiest challenge to complete.  I took on this challenge because it was unusual and random.

A Reference to Time
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Robin Sloan
A Position of Royalty
The Emperor’s Children
Claire Messud
A Number Written in Letters
Just One Day
Gayle Forman
A Forename or Names
Roald Dahl
A Type or Element of Weather
Richelle Mead

This is the second year in a row that I participated in the Literary Exploration challenge.  What I like about this challenge is that it gets me to read genres that if not for challenge I would be unlikely to read.  For example, I rarely read poetry or drama but thanks to this challenge I am slowing working my way through Shakespeare's plays and have found some poetry that I enjoy.  I'm still not loving horror and could do without true crime, but feel this challenge is helping me grow as a reader.  Below is a chart showing the books read for this challenge, with the ones I especially enjoyed highlighted.

Adventure – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Magical Realism – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Auto-Biography/Biography – Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland
Mystery – Wicked Autumn by G. M. Malliet
Chick-Lit – Your Roots Are Showing by Elise Chidley
Non Fiction – Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
Children’s Book – Matilda by Roald Dahl
·         - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
·         - What’s a Witch to Do? By Jennifer Harlow
Classics – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Philosophical – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy, edited by Eric Bronson
·         - A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
·         - As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Poetry – The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours by Jill Scott
Cyberpunk or Steampunk – Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead by George Mann
Pulp (Hard-Boiled or Noir) – Odds On by Michael Crichton writing as John Lange
Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic – Divergent by Veronica Roth
Romance – Finding It by Cora Carmack
Epic – A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
Science Fiction – Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Erotica – Best of Best Women’s Erotica 2 edited by Violet Blue
Self Help/Educational
·         - The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life by Tony Horton
·         - Assessing Student Learning by Linda Suskie
Espionage – Solo: A James Bond Novel by William Boyd
Short Stories – One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
Fantasy – The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Thriller – Dare Me by Megan Abbott
Graphic Novels – Arrow Vol. 1 by Marc Guggenheim
Travel – All Over the Map by Laura Fraser
Gothic – Night Film by Marisha Pessl
True Crime – The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal
Historical Fiction – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Urban Fantasy – Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Horror – The Shining by Stephen King
Victorian – Middlemarch by George Eliot (pen name of Mary Ann Evans)
Humor – Sex Criminals: One Weird Trip (Vol. 1) by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Western – The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson
Literary Fiction – The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Young Adult – Just One Day by Gayle Forman

The general challenge I took on was to read 65 to 70 books during the year.  I ended up raising my goal twice and still surpassed it.  As of this writing I've read 89 books and still have a month to go before the year ends.  This is more books than I read last year or in 2012.  Part of the increase is due to reading several graphic novels which are typically not all that long and have lots of pictures, making it possible to finish one in a day or two.

The hardest challenge turned out to be Mount TBR.  I was hoping to reduce my TBR pile by at least thirty-six books.  As of December 2, I've only read twenty-three.  This means that most of the books I read this year I either bought this year or borrowed from the library.  Next year my main reading challenge will be to focus on my TBR pile.  I like having a small pile of unread books to look forward to but the pile has gotten a little too big.

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