Sunday Salon – Challenge Check-in


It is, unbelievably, the end of June. The Weekly Geek post last week involved questions about challenges and, even though I didn’t get around to answering those questions, I realized it is time to check in on my progress.  I originally found out about reading challenges by visiting this link.

I ended up taking on too many, it being my first time for such things, and now realize there is no way I will complete them all.  I have concentrated on my favorites and am actually quite pleased with the results.

So, here’s the rundown.

1)  War Through The Generations – World War II – 1/1/09 to 12/31/09 – read at least 5 fiction or nonfiction books.

Resistance by Owen Sheers

Berlin Diaries 1940-1945 by Marie Vasseltckikov

How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher

Hiroshima By John Hersey

I have t least two more titles on my TBR pile for this one.

2) Eva’s World Citizen Challenge – 1/1/09 to 12/31/09 – 5 books from at least 3 areas.

King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild – History

City of Oranges by Adam Lebor – History

Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson – Economics

There are several more “world citizen” books on my TBR pile.

3) The Science Book Challenge – read at least 3 non-fiction books related to the theme of “nature’s wonders”.

Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel L. Everett

I can’t believe I’ve only read one!  I love books on nature and science and have stacks sitting around on my bookshelves that I haven’t read.  It must be because I’m having so much fun reading everything else.

4) Orbis Terrarum – Around the World – 10 books in 10 months.

To Siberia by Per Petterson – Norway – March

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh-India – April

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill – Canada – May

Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery – France – June

This has been one of my favorite challenges and I have many more books on my TBR list to combine with…

5) Lost In Translation – 1/1/09 -12/31/09 – Read 6 books in translation.

Monologue of a Dog by Wislawa Szymborska.  Translation from Polish by Clare Cavanaugh.

To Siberia by Per Petterson.  Translated from Norwegian by Anne Born

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  Translated from the French by Alison Anderson

This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun. Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale.

This is another favorite, maybe because I can cross-post to the Orbis Terrarum challenge.  Is that cheating?

I also realized I could add several more titles to both challenges because I have been reading Scandinavian mysteries and crime fiction.  I don’t review them because I’m lazy and there are so many great mystery reviewers out there, like Kerrie and Peter and the person who blogs at Scandianvian Crime Fiction.

6) Once Upon A Time III – 3/21/09 to 6/20/09 -Completed – Read 5 books from a mix of fairy tales, folklore, fantasy and mythology.  I also read some short stories.

The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip

The Language of the Night by Ursula K. Le Guin

Annals of the Western Shore: Gifts, Voices, Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin

Short Story Weekend:

Red As Blood by Tanith Lee

Kupti and Imani adapted by Lenora Alleyne Lang

The Water Poet and the Seasons by David J. Schwartz

I have always enjoyed fantasy but have been away from the genre for a while because I was disappointed by what I was finding out there.  This challenge got me back into it.  I just finished Graceling and loved it.

7) The  Graphic Novels Challenge – Read 12 throughout the year.

Laika by Nick Abadzis

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Aya by Margerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie

Aya of Yop City by Margerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie

Slow Storm by Danika Novgorodoff

Burma Chronicles by Guy DeLisle

Great fun because, ever since I discovered The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, I read at least one or two a month.  This challenge is introducing me to new authors and artists.

8) Hearding Cats II –  Choose books from other bloggers 5 favorites.

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin from Vasilly.

The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac from Vasilly.

Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti from Memoriam.

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson from Nymeth.

The Watermelon King by Daniel Wallace from Nymeth.

Skellig by David Almond from Mariel

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry from Persephone

The Blinding Absence of Light by Be Tahar Jalloun from ridergirl3

Nation by Terry Pratchett from Nymeth

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver from Book Addiction

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki from In Spring It Is The Dawn

Titles with lines through them are the ones I’ve read.  I keep adding books to this list every time I go back to the challenge site!  One problem is not finding all the titles at my library but I love the fact that there is no pressure to review books.

9)  Lu’s  VPR Poetry Challenge –  5/22/09 to 5/55/10 – Read 11 to 15 books.  Valparaiso Poetry Review has a great list of poetry books.

Flight by Linda Bierds

The Veiled Suite by Agha Shadid Ali

I love poetry.  I read it and I try to write it but I have never tried to review it so this one is a real challenge for me.

10) 2666 by Roberta Bolano – A read-along organized by Claire and Steph.  Probably the only way I would have gotten to this book within the next few years.  It is wonderful sharing it with others.

2666 by Roberto Bolano – The Part About the Critics

I will post the next section comments/review by Tuesday.

11) Just when I figured I had it all under control I stumbled upon What An Animal II – 7/1/09 to 2/28/10 – read at least 6 books that fit the requirements.  Am I in trouble, or what?

All these challenges have been exciting and frustrating.  I’m still not confident about reviewing books and can feel rushed to post something I’m not pleased with.  Are my reviews too short? Not detailed enough? I could go on and on.  At the same time I love focusing on books from around the world or books written in a language other than English or books within a certain genre.   I have seen other challenges I would like to join next year including a couple that that would take me beyond my reading “comfort zone”.  I also know I can not take on too many or I’ll never keep up with them.   I have found challenges a great way to expand my reading and meet other book lovers.

How about you?  Do you take part in challenges?  Are you happy with them or overwhelmed?  Do you run a challenge and, if so, how did you get into it and how do you feel about it?

As for what I m reading right now I’ve started rereading  The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco because I know I missed many twists and turns when I read it years ago.  I’m also reading Margarita, How Beautiful The Sea by Sergio Ramirez and Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species by Sean B. Carroll.

I hope you have a wonderful week filled with great books!  Information on Sunday Salon can be found here.



Filed under Sunday Salon

22 responses to “Sunday Salon – Challenge Check-in

  1. I just started with a few challenges this year, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed – they all look so good! There are a couple on your list that I wish I’d signed up for. You’re doing great.

    • JoAnn – Thanks for your comments. I keep getting seduced by new challenges. It is hard not to jump in with both feet! I will reevaluate before the end of the year and focus in on the challenges that are most interesting.

  2. I finished two. The 2nd Canadian Challenge and Southern Reading Challenge 3!

    TSS: A World I never Made

  3. Gavin,

    It is simply too dangerous for me to come here. So many books sound good! I used to participate in a monthly challenge at one forum. Loved it. Then I got serious about blogging and reading blogs and I don’t participate as much as I’d like. There is no shortage of places to find good books.

    Thanks for another great post. Oh, I obsess about the quality of my reviews which is why I write so few.

    • Susan – Your blog is dangerous for me! You keep introducing me to authors I don’t know and want to read.

      I think challenges have been an introduction to the community for me. When I started blogging last fall I wasn’t sure how to connect with folks and challenges helped. I’m not worrying about the ones I’m letting go of but can feel pressured to post reviews I’m not happy with.

      Be well and have a great week!

  4. lena

    Goodness gracious! You’re a brave person. That is a lot of challenges! You’ve been making tons of progress though (proud of you!).

    And for the record, it is NOT cheating to use books for more than one challenge unless the challenge specifies. Which is really cruel and unusual.

    • Thanks for you comments! I feel good about my progress and have let go of some challenges that I wasn’t keeping up with.

      Have a great week.

  5. Cross-post, cross-post! Not cheating at all. I can’t believe you took all of this on. As for me, I am terrible with the whole challenge thing (especially embarrassing since I am hosting one). I am completely comfortable with random and a bit of chaos and last minute change ups. And I stink at lists and plans. All of the new read-alongs are much more my speed. And I am really enjoying the more personal aspects of them as we form a community of readers and share ideas about the same text rather than just working generally towards large goals in all directions.

    Today I am reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace for one of those shared reads. Happy reading this week!

    • Thanks for the “cross-posting, not cheating” comment. I think challenges have helped me join the blogging community and in some ways help me sort through the chaos. I can get overwhelmed by everything that’s out there.

      I am really enjoying the read-along and the sharing of ideas. I haven’t read Infinite Jest and will check in on you comments! Hav a great week.

  6. I need to check my challenge progress sometime soon too. I know I’m not doing as well as I’d like. Like you, I took on a few too many. I think I enjoy thinking up lists a little too much. :-)

    It does sound like you are doing well for the most part though. I hope you have a great week, Gavin!

  7. Gavin, I think my challenge days are almost over. In fact, I’ve even been debating whether or not to drop the few I’ve signed up for this year. Challenges can be a good way to discover other blogs/bloggers, of course, but I’m finding it much more enjoyable just to post about what I want when I want rather than trying to fit in challenge reads that might have lost their interest for me along the way. I agree that the Orbis Terrarum and Lost in Translation challenges are great, though, and I’ve enjoyed the community aspects of the Bolaño read-along, which has been way more interactive than any challenge I’ve ever joined. That being said, I hope you continue to have fun with your own set of challenges! It’s just not for me anymore, I guess.

    • Richard – I can understand wanting to drop your challenges. I think I started joining them because they helped me connect with the blogging community and they keep me on track with writing reviews.

      As I become more comfortable with my blog I will probably do fewer challenges. Orbis Terrarum and Lost In Translation make me stretch my reading, something that I think is important, at least for me.

      The Bolano (how do you get that tilda over the N?) read-along is great. I like the idea of sharing thoughts about 2666 amongst a group of people really focusing on the book. I’m still mulling over part two. Very different..have a great week.

      • Gavin, alt-0241 = ñ . Unfortunately, it took me a couple years of language classes to figure out there were all these Windows alt commands online (I used to just scribble them in by hand whenever I wrote a paper in another language!).

  8. I agree with Frances, cross-post as many book as you can. I was the master of cross-posting but still signed up for too many challenges.

    Didn’t you read an anthology of poetry this year that was in translation? I can’t remember the name of the book but you can use it for Orbis Terrarum and Lost in Translation challenges.

    I remember what it’s called, Language for a New Century.

    • Vasilly – Thanks for you comments about cross posting. You’re right about “Language for a New Century” but it’s an anthology, with poets from all over.

      I read your post about challenges and I agree with your points both pro and con. I think I started joining challenges as a way to connect with the blogging community. As a new blogger I wasn’t sure what to write or what to focus on and challenges helped. As I become more comfortable I will probably drop some but Orbis Terrarum and Lost In Translation are great, they make me stretch my reading. I do think the group read-alongs are really fun.

      Be well and have a good week.

    • Vasilly – Thanks for the cross posting comment. I did read most of “Language for a New Century”. It is so big I had to send it back to the library and am searching for a used copy. It’s an anthology, with poets and translations from all over so I’m not sure how to list it!

      I read your Weekly Geek “challenge” post and agree with your comments. As a new blogger I started joining challenges to connect with the book blogging community. As I become more comfortable I’ll probably sign up for fewer challenges Orbis T. and Lost in Translation stretch my reading, something that I find invaluable.

      The Bolano 2666 read-along is lots of fun. I really like exchanging ideas with a group of folks who are focused on a specific book. Have a great week.

  9. Su

    Nice article. It is appreciated.

  10. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Part Two. I hope to get mine up soon too, though I’m having a hard time coalescing everything!

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