Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reading Challenges and The Reading Life

When I began my blog July 7, 2009 I had never heard of Reading Challenges.   I soon saw they are a fairly big part of the book blogger community.   The first challenge I saw that intrigued me was the Japanese Literature 3 Challenge.   I realized I had never read a Japanese novelist.   If asked on a quiz show to name  two Japanese novelists I would have been stopped after Haruki Murakami.   I read the rules of the challenge and saw you had only to read one book.      So far I have read about 45 Japanese literary works and have placed three Japanese authors on my "read everything they have written list".   As I began to read an increasing number of book blogs (maybe 350 or so now) I came upon other challenges involving reading books in translation and books by authors from different countries.   The host of these challenges said any book read in 2009 counted so I completed these two challenges without a strain.   Then I joined a challenge revolving around reading some books on WWII and completed it almost at once.   I have also joined the China Challenge and  have one book to go and the Women Unbound Challenge for which I have read five of eight.   Both of these challenges carry over into 2010.   I also joined two other challenges that I did not complete because I more or less lost interest in them.   If I was doing it now I would not join either of these challenges as I am not drawn to what I now see as gimmick based challenges.  (This is just me-it is not a slam on gimmick based challenges-by which I mean something like "Read a book whose title has the same number of letters in it as your middle name").    I also completed the Rest In Peace Challenge and the November Novella Challenge and the Elizabeth Gaskell Mini Challenge in 2009.

As 2010 approached I knew I wanted to finish the two challenges I have yet to complete that overlap into 2010 and join some new ones.  I have now committed to 32  for 2010.   I only will commit to a challenge that allows overlaps with other challenges as any other course seems over directing to me and most challenge hosts explicitly state they allow it.    One of the Challenges asks you to read 52 books in 52 weeks.   I will if all goes well do this in the first four months or so so it is really not a factor in what I read.   For fun I pondered how many books will I have to read to complete these 20 challenges, setting aside the challenge to read 52 books.  (I will sign up for more I am sure and maybe in spring commit to 100 books).   These  20 challenges can be completed by reading from 25 to 30 books that I want to read anyway.   I remain fully in charge of what I read.   If there are  more challenges that interest me I will join them also.   The biggest to me challenge will be keeping track of them.  I plan to create a challenge tracking post to follow it all.    There are lots of ways to find challenges that will interest you.   A very good place to get information on the various reading challenges going on and future ones also is at A Novel Challenge.   There are really challenges for all sorts of readers.  

My question to myself is why join so many challenges?   My answer is that it is fun for me, I am supporting the book blogging community, I make some new contacts, and I also learn about a lot of new books from reading the posts in the challenges I join.    If it all seems a bit crazy to some that is ok perhaps it is!- 

As to personal reading perpetual challenges I will continue to read the novels of Henry James and Edith Wharton and I hope somehow I can host a read along of Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End if a few others would want to join in.   I will also join the Japanese Literature Challenge 4 when it begins in 2010.   I will post more on my 2010 reading hopes and plans later as the year ends.  My thanks to all who host challenges.   I will continue to join more challenges as the year begins.   I see no reason other than the work involved in keeping track of them (which also will be fun for me) not to join 50 challenges.  
Anyway those are my thoughts on Reading Challenges-

what are your reasons for joining a reading challenge or why do you avoid them-?

Mel u


Suko said...

Mel, you are the King of Reading Challenges!

I was very late to join any reading challenges at all. I didn't join any until I met Amanda from The Zen Leaf. I got to know her because we were interviewing each other for BBAW. I noticed right away that she was very involved with reading challenges, and that's what got me interested. Next, I saw bloggers such as you posting about interesting sounding challenges; before too long I took the plunge and signed up for a few.

Although I have done much less than you challenge-wise, I've thoroughly enjoyed the challenges I've done so far. My first one was The Spice of Life hosted by Rebecca Reid, which was delicious fun! I also loved Dolcebelleza's Japanese Literature Challenge (and continue to read Japanese literature). I've also been a part of other challenges in a less formal manner (WWII). The best part for me has been meeting new book bloggers and the sense of community.

I avoid challenges with too many rules or which I think would be too demanding time-wise (due to my too hectic schedule) but if I could, I'd join more--and read and post night and day!

Ash said...

I've only been blogging for a few months but I'm already obsessed with reading challenges. I think in a way I have always done reading challenges for myself. Like I set out to read all of Jack Kerouac's novels or read more of a certain kind of genre. Doing reading challenges as part of blogging community just helps me to stay on track.

mee said...

Your Japanese literature reading IS very impressive! I have mixed feelings about challenges (especially when we have so many of them around now!), but I guess the trick is to find the right ones. The right ones would push your reading to go above and beyond. That's why I'm trying to be more selective on my next reading challenges now.

Mel u said...

Suko-I agree meeting new bloggers and feeling part of a huge international community is a great feeling

Ash-your mention of Jack Kerouac brought back some memories -I am pretty sure I read nearly all his novels 40 some years ago-I have even driven past the house he lived in with his mother in Florida-

mee-I am really getting into the Japanese novel-

ds said...

I like the way mee expressed her view of challenges. It is similar to mine--and yet I've committed to one fun one hosted by a friend, am thinking about Graphic Novels (under the heading of "pushing oneself in new directions") and have thoroughly enjoyed the Japanese Literature Challenge, Carl's two challenges and Women Unbound--which we have a whole year to complete :) And yes, as much as the books and the learning, it is meeting new people and enjoying their blogs that is an integral part of any challenge. That's really what it's all about: new connections. I would never have met you or Suko among others if not for a challenge.

JoAnn said...

Mee said it for me, too. I have mixed feelings about challenges and was even considering not joining any for 2010. Will be cutting back, for sure, but still have quite a few on my potential list...I really need to compose my challenge-joining post.

You have utterly amazed with the Japanese Lit challenge, and now Woman Unbound, too!

Anonymous said...

I was a bit wary of challenges at first, I tend to have a random, chaotic approach to reading so I thought perhaps I would lack the discipline to complete a set reading list, but I am finding that I want to sign up for more and more, although I have decided to be reasonable about what I can complete. I also love the way it helps link you to fellow readers and creates a sense of community. Mostly the effect of challenges is to lead me to new titles and authors, Mel you are my source for Japanese authors, I am in awe of your reading, previously Murakami was the only Japanese author I was familiar with and you have made me aware of an amazing oversight in my reading, so this coming year I will be looking to experience some new Japanese fiction, sort of a personal challenge, reading more books in translation. Great post.

Michelle (su[shu]) said...

Like you, I didn't know anything about reading challenges. One of my first challenges was Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge.

I somehow prefer to be quite selective about the challenges I participate in. I borrow a lot of the books I read, and I rather enjoy the process of just browsing, and picking books up at random, so sometimes having the thought, "I need to complete so-and-so challenge!" takes some of the fun away.

That said, I join the reading challenges that I think will push me to read books on issues that matter to me, or on particular subjects that I've decided I want to learn more about.

You've joined an amazing amount of challenges (20 is a lot!!), and I wish you happy reading!