For someone who averages a book a day, I did not do well with this reading challenge (though significantly better counting audio books and re-reading, and pretty near complete if I allow one book to cover multiple categories). I've had a higher-than-usual need for escapist reading for a number of reasons, and have tended to go for the Good Stuff on audio because I don't fall asleep or switch to something trashy. So here's where I stand on the challenge.
|Greater than 500 pages||I’d planned on reading Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, but found The Goldfinch so unappealing (on audio book, though I suspect I’d have done no better reading it) that I couldn’t bear trying History. I’ll read it someday ‘cause I bought it and it is supposed to be good. :shrug:
I did re-read the Harry Potter books, several of which make the 500+ cut, as well as Gabaldon’s Outlander, so I think I’m covered. Sorta. I wasn’t going to count re-reading. :sigh: I listened to Great Expectations too, so that’s another possibility.
|Classic romance||Listened to a bunch of Austen. Generally enjoyed them. Pride & Prejudice is still my favorite. The dramatization of Mansfield Park was the only one new to me this year.|
|Became a movie||I’d planned on Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but didn’t get around to it. The Harry Potter books could count, as could Outlander, Pride & Prejudice, Robinson Crusoe, and the Oscar Wilde collection.|
|Published this year||Lots in this category; the newest Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, and Jacqueline Winspear among them. All were good, though Grafton can be predictable, Connelly violent, and Winspear placid. If your taste runs in any of those directions, you’d be fine.|
|Number in the title||I’d planned to read Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, which I’ve never read. Didn’t get around to it. I did read Janet Evanovich’s latest, which was OK if not great. Very… Evanovich: mildly amusing and quite formulaic.|
|Written by someone younger than 30||Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries was on my list. Didn’t read it. Have since read that it's very long, for which I have little appetite these days anyway. Roth’s Divergent books would count here, as would Allie Brosh’s hilarious Hyperbole and a Half.
F’rreelz? Read Brosh if you haven't. Her website is hilarious.
|Nonhuman characters||I wrote about David Weber’s Treecat Wars a few months back.|
|Funny||Oscar Wilde, Mary Roach, Allie Brosh, and Austen all fit the bill. I still want to read Lebowitz though, as I’d planned. I used to love watching her on Letterman, but have never read her books. Shame, shame, shame.|
|Female author||I was aiming for Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America: Stories. I missed. Read lots of female authors though (Austen, Brosh, Evanovich, Gabaldon, Roach, Winspear, et al.). No stretch getting this one. Just wanted to read someone new. Dagnabbit.|
|Mystery or thriller||I wrote about Jonathan Kellerman’s Motive. Lots of others fit the bill as well (Connelly, Winspear, John Sanford, et al.)|
|One-word title||Motive, again. Also Outlander, Quiet (unless you count the subtitle), each of the Divergent books, Stiff, Gulp, Awakenings…|
|Short stories||I read a ton of short stories, some excellent, but none by Flannery O’Conner as I intended. Instead, I mostly read fanfic (primarily Sherlock, Harry Potter, and Firefly).
Yep, fanfic. The candiest of brain candy there is. I’m not terribly proud, but I’m not as ashamed as I could be either. Sometimes y’just need brain candy.
|Set in a different country||I wrote about Pullman’s Lyra's Oxford, Winspear, Kafka, and others earlier. I would have to actively try to avoid settings outside the U.S. Which I don’t.|
|Nonfiction||I listened to a lot of nonfiction this year, and learned a great deal. Hitchens’ Letters to a Young Contrarian (Art of Mentoring) was my official pick in this category, but Cain, Munroe, Roach, Sacks, and others would do equally well. For that matter, various memoirs would suit.|
|Popular author's first book||It’ll have to be Rowling again. Or Gabaldon. I didn’t get to Kundera’s The Joke as planned.|
|Haven't read by an author I love||Sanford's Gathering Prey is one of many mysteries this year that qualify. Good stuff.|
|Pulitzer Prize winner||I still haven’t read Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I tried The Goldfinch. Failed. I tried McCarthy’s The Road. Failed.
I did read Anne Sexton’s Live or Die, so that counts, though I meant to go for a novel rather than poetry.
|Based on a true story||I’m well covered by memoirs here, having listened to Felicia Day, Cary Elwes, & Ellen Degeneres. All pleasant, all funny. Day’s was by far and away the best and most enlightening.|
|Bottom of to-read list||I wrote about Kafka before. I'm pretty sure I posted it here.|
|My mother loved||Reading was a big part of my relationship with my Mum. We shared books constantly. She would have loved the John Sanford, for instance. She had a particular affinity for Anne Sexton’s poetry, so that’s my pick in this category.|
|Scares me||Kafka again.|
|More than 100 years old||Aaaand Kafka! Or Austen or Defoe or Dickens or Wilde. I’d planned on Aeschylus’ Oresteia, but never got past the first 20 pages. Someday.|
|Based entirely on its cover||I bought O'Malley’s Seconds based on the cover, which was kind of a scary experience. I never buy books based on the cover. And I didn’t get around to reading it. It’s a graphic novel, too. Would’ve hit 2 categories with that one. Dang.|
|Supposed to read in school, but didn't||This prompt really doesn’t work for me, as I always read everything that was assigned. Not so much because I was a compliant student as because I was always looking for things to read anyway. I never was assigned Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, but really think I should’ve been, so that was my pick.
Only I didn’t read it. By the same reasoning, I did read or listen to other books that weren’t assigned but should have been: Great Expectations. Pride & Prejudice. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Robinson Crusoe.
|Memoir||I’d planned to finally read Kerouac’s On the Road. Didn’t. But celebrity memoirs count, right? Done!|
|Can finish in a day||I easily got through Faye Kellerman’s Murder 101 in a day (ooh! And a number in the title, too!). Pretty good.
|Antonyms in the title||Strayed’s Wild (lost and found is in the subtitle) was on my list. Didn’t even watch the movie. So DeGeneres’ Seriously… I’m Kidding will have to suffice. Or Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, which is hilarious (as one expects from the Bloggess).|
Set someplace I always wanted to visit
Pamela Beason’s Undercurrents is still on my list. The Galapagos are very high on my list of places I want to visit. But for this year, it’ll have to be Alaska (Dana Stabenow) or Gibraltar (Winspear).
|Came out the year I was born||I’ve read some before, planned to read something new. Or even re-read something I'd already read. Failed.|
|Got bad reviews||I could count any number of romance novels in this category. For whatever reason, reviewers seem to feel compelled to trash romances in a way they don’t for, say, mysteries or sci-fi. Coulter, Deveraux, Gabaldon, and McNaught have all been panned by one reviewer or another.
I don’t recall having read anything that got consistently bad reviews from appropriate reviewers, however. Nor would I seek any out. Life’s too short for crappy books.
|Trilogy||Roth’s Divergent series will have to do. I re-read Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, but I started that last year.|
|From childhood||Catherine Blanton’s Hold Fast to Your Dreams was one of my favorites as a kid. I dug it out of one of the boxes in Teddy's closet (you know I had to keep my old favorites for him, right?) and re-read it recently. Still a good story with an early, domestic civil rights theme. And dance!|
|Love triangle||A whole lot of fanfic. Whether it’s Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and Mary Morstan; Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, and Ron Weasley (no really… sadly, I can’t recommend any I’ve read); or Cap’n Mal, Jayne, and Inara, fanfic is replete with love triangles.
Les Misérables would have been better, certainly, but some of the fanfic stories were quite good.
|Set in the future||Wrote about Weber’s Treecat Wars already.|
|Set in high school||Hold Fast to Your Dreams, I suppose. Or Harry Potter. Or Divergent. Or fanfic.|
|Color in the title||Connelly’s The Black Box, from the Harry Bosch series. Pretty good stuff.|
|Made me cry||I thought I’d blogged about Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, but it turns out I really only wrote that I’d bought it. Terrific book. Hard to listen to (thank goodness I heard it before Mum died, though Stiff was an intermittently fascinating and upsetting post-mortem listen). Important to listen to though. Really important.|
|With magic||Harry Potter. Duh. Both the original and the fanfic. The Sherlock/Harry Potter mashups are generally either really, really awful or pretty terrific.|
|Graphic novel||I meant to read Persepolis (plus Seconds). Didn’t. I did read a couple of Firefly graphic novels, but I don’t remember titles or anything, so I don’t think I can count those.|
|Author I've not read||Plenty of these. Hesse and Hitchens spring to mind, though I’m confident there were many others.|
|Own but haven't read||Hadn’t read all of the Wilde or that particular Sexton collection.|
|Takes place in my hometown||I’ve read tons of books that are based in Boston (and definitely re-read several of Robert Parker’s Spenser series this year), but I’m not sure that counts. I bought William Landay’s Defending Jacob, which takes place in Newton (where I grew up), but haven’t read it. I haven’t found anything that takes place in Longmeadow.|
|Originally written in another language||I’m still working on Hrabal’s Rambling On (true to its title, it does ramble – and involves very few paragraph breaks, so it’s tiring to read). So it’ll have to be Kafka. Again.|
|Set during Christmas||Wrote about Gene Doucette’s Yuletide Immortal.|
|Written by author with my initials||Wrote about Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust.|
|Play||I listened to Oscar Wilde, of course, but am not sure listening should count in this instance. Reading a play is so very different from watching or listening to one. I still plan to read Wit. And I’ll be re-reading As You Like It with Teddy before we see it at the National.|
|Banned book||Wrote about Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia.|
|Based on/turned into TV show||At last! A book challenge justification for reading Sherlock fanfic. I also read some A.C. Doyle, so I’m covered for this one.|
|Started but never finished||I did finally finish How to Think Like Sherlock, which was a very thoughtful gift from Teddy that I just couldn’t get into. Too many quizzy things (brain benders, I guess). But, y’know, gift.|