Since I obliterated my book goal for 2011, I’ve decided to add an extra bit of pizzazz to my reading list by participating in a few reading challenges. It’s a little scary because I’ve seen these suckers on almost every book blog I follow and I’m just finally getting on the band wagon of awards, and book blogging, and challenges, and all of those things that are terrifying to a small, curly-haired Alice like me. So, in an effort to branch out and make reading into a contact sport (where I actually communicate with other people) I’m challenging myself – with others. What else is new? I’m always ridiculously competitive. It’s kind of disgusting. So, without further adieu, here are the challenges I have chosen for myself and how I plan to complete them:
(I’m so scared)
The first is the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge. I think this is the one that especially daunts me because my pile is almost a whole book case huge. In this challenge, the reader only has to read one book a month from the TBR pile, hoping for 12 of those books to be finished by the beginning of 2013. I look at them everyday, they smile and wave from their dusty corners and I go on reading books that I excessively buy new. It’s like I refuse to help my grandma books cross the street that have been sitting, patient and stout for me to crack open their spine. Well, not anymore sister! I’m going to read 12 of those books. Consider it done.
I think one of the reasons I chose this over other challenges is because I truly do have a pile of books that haven’t even been opened after I got them from the bookstore. For instance, I begged my mother to buy me Where Men Win Glory from the airport in Puerto Rico and then I spent two hours crippling my eyes trying to finish Alice I Have Been in order to start it. Of course, after getting to page 30, I threw it aside for a work of exciting fiction and let Pat Tillman and his (extremely good looking) book jacket face die a second grueling death. I’m disappointed in that one. It’s time I gave Pat Tillman what he deserves. Seriously though, google him if you don’t know what he looks like – he’s gorgeous.
Unlike other bloggers, I won’t be posting a list of books for each challenge – I’m just going to go ahead and write in my “Books This Year” page which challenge each book I read belongs too. Hopefully it will be easy to decipher and I won’t miss any goals in the process due to organization. I’m the kind of person that thrives in an organized chaos so this could be interesting.
The next reading challenge that I’m especially excited about is the Australian Women Authors Challenge. We’re not against the boys here or anything (just so I feel like I’m not being gender bias, let me recommend Anthony Eaton as an Australian male author or Markus Zusak for everyone’s reading pleasure). This challenge is so I can read all of Sonya Hartnett’s young adult novels in one year. God, I love her. The best part, NO FAILURES. Basically, everyone who signs up for this challenge is a winner as long as they read one Australian women writer. There’s a whole page on gender bias that I just discovered on the host blog which can be found here.
If you’ve been following for a while then you already know that I have lived in Australia for a short period of my life and am guilty-as-charged obsessed with it. I lived in Canberra (the Capital) mostly, working in a tea shop and writing MFA applications, but I spent a lot of time in Sydney as well and was allowed to dip into the oceans of Cairns and pet sea cucumbers, along with visiting the cows drawl in Kiama. So, Australia holds a special place in my heart. While I was there I was really focused on reading Australian poetry, rarely discovering new fiction authors. This challenge is going to take me back to a place that I love; the desert in the middle, and the kangaroos – I hope. Plus, it gives me inspiration to finish the Tomorrow series by John Marsden even though his young adult novels won’t count in this challenge.
And then, unfortunately, I have few plans to travel outside of the US for the next year so I figured – why not do that in a reading challenge. The “Where are You Reading Challenge” to be exact. I’m going to make this one my own and go ahead and do 50 different places – not states. Plus, for some reason I have a grudge against what would come out of Montana or Delaware. Just personal weirdness against those two states because I’m a strange-o. I figured I would travel the world and escape into the pages and empty white spaces of the letter “o” in books from around the world. I’ll be broadening horizons to places I’ve never heard of, probably reading translations, and trying my hardest to get interested in Japanese culture. My best friend Seth is in South Korea and I’ve been gathering the money to go there in July (fingers crossed – no definite plans yet as I said above) so I feel like I should purposefully read some books from and about the Korean culture. This would be just to see what South Korea is like and how the country has developed historically, and maybe some translations so I can get a feel for the writing style of the community. As you can see, this is kind of a more personal reading challenge for me and probably the one I’m going to have the most trouble with. A lot of times I get really sucked into books of the same genre or culture and I fly through them endlessly, forgetting that their are all kinds of cultures, ideas and books around the world. So here’s one of my chances to explore.
And as per usual, I’m doing the 100+ Books in a Year Challenge brought to you by Book Chick City. I participated in the challenge last year, but in-secret because I really only thought I could read 60 or less books. I had signed up and put into goodreads.com my goal of 60 and then all of a sudden in July I was surpassing my goodreads.com goal and onto my 100+ goal with Book City Chick. I was really excited to say the least and cheered silently in bed; fists pumping, legs kicking, covers sprawling, when I finally finished that 100th book for the year. I think this is the challenge that I’ll be most proud to finish because who knows what could happen next year? I could have dry spells, or something could happen to put me into mourning, or angst and cause me to take a hiatus. There are so many factors, and creations that tend to lead us away from books (facebook, television shows – teen mom for me, text messaging) and so this really is a CHALLENGE. Reading 100 books should make someone proud because you have to constantly run at your goal, you have to constantly be thinking about it and conquering that pile of books next to your bed.
But there’s one more…because we can’t forget the little guys. Not many people read short stories, it’s just a fact and so short story authors have a really hard time making money if they aren’t anthologized. Excuse me while I rant, if you’re out there and you believe literary magazines make oodles of money and are drowning in their own cash, throwing it into leaf piles and jumping with only George’s green face to catch them – you’re wrong. Yes, there are literary magazines out there who are sitting on a wad of cash and sometimes they are given more money to create (not better magazines) but magazines that may have the appearance of superiority. Most literary magazines run on a volunteer passion and are publishing only the best work they receive and doing their best to not solicit (some not at all, cough cough, wink wink). That being said, literary magazines (most of them) do not have money to shell out to the writer’s they publish. Now, The New Yorker does because they are billions of years old and they have a full staff, and a wonderful upbringing in the Ivy Leagues. (Don’t get me wrong, I read those things from cover to cover) but short story writers and poets aren’t “hitting it big,” the way we assume novel writers and non-fiction writers are. So in my support of the little guy, literally the guy writing shorter fiction, I’m participating in my favorite challenge to date (and I encourage anyone reading this to do so as well…) the 100 “Shots of Short” Challenge.
It’s a challenge to read 100 short stories in the next year. If you read a few short story collections (10 maybe) you can probably reach this goal. I’m going to try to find some on the internet on different literary magazines websites and read through those and count those as my short stories. I will probably have to make this a separate section of my “Books Read This Year” page, but it will be worth it because I will be dabbling all year in the sensual and intimate souls that only short stories carry.
And that’s it, folks. How did your challenges go this year? What are you thinking of doing this year to challenge yourself as a book lover and who else is participating in any of the above challenges?