Thursday, January 3, 2008

2007 Challenges

2007 Challenge Review

Blogging brought a whole new element to my reading--challenges. What I really like about challenges is the themes, which in a way reminds me of grad classes--like little mini classes that I don't have to write papers for. Also, challenges helped me with getting some of those OLD TBR books off the shelf as well as helping me determine what books to read next. On the other hand, though, I didn't leave myself enough room for whimsical choices, so I often felt burned out with books I had picked months in advance.

Non-Fiction Five Challenge (5 books)

Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich (Economics)

His Excellency: George Washington - Joseph J. Ellis (Biography)

The City of Falling Angels - John Berendt (Travelogue)

What I really liked about the Non-Fiction Five Challenge was that it nudged me into reading a genre I normally wouldn't touch unless assigned for school (and even then...?). The toughest book to slog through was definitely His Excellency; I honestly can't choose one that I liked the most--and not because I loved them all. Oh well!

By the Decades Challenge (13 books)

What I really liked about this challenge is that I was able to read pieces of fiction from a timespan of about 115 years. The differences between the earlier pieces to the later pieces is remarkable, really highlighting how the novel has developed. My favorites would have to be Fall On Your Knees and The Blind Assassin; my least favorites were Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and Howards End.

RIP Challenge (12 short stories)

I've been wanting to read this collection for a while, but I ended up really struggling with getting it read! My favorite stories were "Pit and Pendulum" and "Tell-Tale Heart"; there were several other stories (e.g. The Gold-Bug) that didn't strike my particular fancy.

Something About Me Challenge (5 books)

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquirel

High Fidelity - Nick Hornby

Sea Glass - Anita Shreve

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

This was a fun challenge because it was so different and the books I chose were from a pool of selections from other bloggers. The only book on this list I didn't really like was Like Water for Chocolate. All the rest were books that I enjoyed a lot--The Thirteenth Tale and High Fidelity being two of my favorite reads for the year.

Classics Challenge (3 books)

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Once I started paying more attention to my reading habits, I was surprised at how many classics I read throughout the year. This challenge was easy to fulfill and I liked Frankenstein and The Scarlet Pimpernel a lot; Little Women did not live up to my re-reading expectations.

Armchair Traveler Challenge (6 books)

Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck (America)

The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien (Vietnam)

Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert (Italy, India, Indonesia)

The City of Falling Angels - John Berendt (Venice)

One of the goals I have is to really reach outside of my boundary comfort zone. Most of the authors that I read are North American or British and while the locales differ from story to story, I haven't exposed myself a lot to writers from different countries. While I didn't do this except for maybe Snow, this challenge certainly raised my awareness. A Thousand Splendid Suns was my favorite of the bunch; Snow was my least favorite.

2nds Read Challenge (3 books)

Thirteen Moons - Charles Frazier

Flesh and Blood - Michael Cunningham

Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

Overall I enjoyed my second helping of these three authors, but none of them were as good as the first I read by the authors (Cold Mountain, The Hours, and Pride and Prejudice). But all three authors I would devour for a third helping!

Total Challenges: 7 (one challenge not listed: 07-08 Book Awards Reading Challenge)

Total Challenge Books: 35 (one cross-posted in two 2007 challenges)
New Authors: 22


Literary Feline said...

I love how you put together your challenge summary for 2007. I too found the challenges to be a great way to reach far into my TBR stacks and read some of the older books that had been there awhile. And it was nice not having to spend a lot of time trying to decide what to read next. As you indicated though, there were moments I wish I had more freedom to choose spontaneously.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Lit Feline - It was fun looking back at what I've done in the past year and how all of those challenges have enhanced my reading. At the end of the year I felt too bogged down, but to fix that I think I'll just choose a few challenges leaving me some wiggle room. But--its the best motivation I can find to reading some of my dustier books. :)

Ana S. said...

I wish I'd done a post like this too! It looks like you took part in some great challenges last years, some of which I wish I'd joined. I hope there's a Non-Fiction challenge again this year!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Nymeth - I'm getting my non-fiction fix this year through "In Their Shoes." Different types of non-fiction, but still a genre that I tend to "forget" about. :) I've already lined up many of my 2008 challenges, but I'm going to try and do them without the pressure! Ha!