Monday 2 December 2013

2014 Challenges

It's that time of year - when the New Year challenge call goes out to those of us in blogger land.

Will we, or won't we join up? How many challenges? Will I keep to my plan? Or is simply something else to fail at?

So far I've avoided yearly challenges in my 5 years of blogging.
I love a read-along or a special event, like Austen in August or Pym reading week.

I adore The Classics Club with it's five year, open-ended plan to read 50 classics (or in my case 75). It's something I would have done anyway, but the CC actually gives me a purpose and reason  for those times I might feel a little unmotivated.

Given how much I've enjoyed the CC, I decided it was time to join in a few of the 2014 challenges on offer that might help me stay focused and give me a structure to fall back on.

Firstly, Adam @Roof Beam Reader is hosting The Official 2014 TBR Pile Challenge. His challenge is simple and goes like this...

This  challenge was started after I realized I had such an issue buying books but never reading them (not because I don’t read – but because I have such a book buying problem!). So, year after year, books would sit on my shelf, untouched, and I would end up reading newer ones first. I realized I was missing out on a lot of great books because I let them sit there gathering dust instead of reading them as I bought them.
The Goal: To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months).
Obviously, to anyone who has seen the pile of unread books by my bed, this challenge and I are a match made in heaven.
But because I like to make simple things difficult, I've decided to combine more than one challenge!
Onto Shelley Rae @Book'd Out and her Eclectic Reader Challenge. 
The idea is to read 12 books, one from each category listed below. I figured I had enough books in my TBR pile to cover the first 11 categories easily!
*  You can read your chosen titles in any order, at any pace, just complete the challenge by December 31st 2014 to be eligible for the prize drawing.


1. Award Winning  - The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (New Zealand)
2. True Crime (Non Fiction) 
3. Romantic Comedy 
4. Alternate History Fiction 
5. Graphic Novel 
6. Cosy Mystery Fiction 
7. Gothic Fiction 
8. War/Military Fiction 
9. Anthology 
10. Medical Thriller Fiction 
11. Travel (Non Fiction) 
12. Published in 2014 - The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

But to make life REALLY interesting, I discovered that Shannon @Giraffe Days is hosting an Around the World Challenge for 2014.
The idea is to read books set in "a specific country or region with a noticeable attention to location of environment."
She has allowed for different participation levels by creating 4 levels - the happy camper (min of 2 books), the wayfarer (min of 4 books), casual tourist (min of 6 books) & the seasoned traveller (12 book challenge).

The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata (Japan)
Parisians by Graham Robb (France)
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee (India)
The list below makes me a Wayfarer, but I'm sure I will read more books from around the world as the year progresses.
My list is beginning to look a little something like this...
1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Award Winning, TBR & North America)
2. Jerilderee Letter by Ned Kelly (True Crime, TBR & Australia)
4. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (Alt History & TBR)
5. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman (Graphic Novel & TBR)
7. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (Gothic, TBR & Classics Club)
8. Parade's End by Ford Maddox Ford (War, TBR & Classics Club)
9. The Philosophy of Food edited by David Kaplan (Anthology, TBR)
10. Next by Michael Crichton (this is the tricky one - Medical Thriller - my least favourite genre! This book is officially on Mr Books TBR pile and not mine, but it's in the house, unread by me, and as close as I'll  probably get !)
11. Thin Paths by Julia Blackburn (Travel, TBR & Italy)
12. TBA in 2014!
Adam wisely suggested having a couple of back up titles in case one or two of the above turn out to be duds or not do-able. 
1. The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov (War, TBR, Russia & Classics Club)
2. Sherlock Holmes (Cosy Mystery, TBR, Britain)
3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Award Winning, TBR, France)
4. Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk (Award, TBR, Turkey)

All the books in the challenges below are also titles from my TBR piles! I'm hoping to really put a dint in it this year (as long as I resist the urge to keep adding to it!!)

What's in a Name? is being hosted by The Worm Hole.
The idea is to read a book that fits into the categories creatively designed by the host.

This year, the categories are (with some of my possibilities in brackets):
1.  A Reference to Time (11/22/63, Parade's End and Next)
2.  A Position of Royalty (Winter King, The Sun King, Children of the King)
3.  A Number Written in Letters (Ninety-Three, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness)
5.  A Type or Element of Weather (Cold Spring Harbor, Summer Lies, Winter Journal)

Karen at Books and Chocolate is now hosting Back to the Classics.

Books must be at least 50 years old and fit the categories below:
  1. A 20th Century Classic ( To the Lighthouse, Olive Kitteridge )
  2. A 19th Century Classic (The Jerilderee Letters, Eugenie Grandet, Sherlock Holmes, No Name)
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author (Villette)
  4. A Classic in Translation  If English is not your primary language, then books originally published in English are acceptable.  You could also read the book in its original language if you are willing and able to do so. (something by Dostoyevski, Balzac (Eugenie Grandet) Proust, Emil├ę Zola (Nanaor Mikhail Bulgakov)
  5. A Wartime Classic  2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.  Any book relating to a war is fine -- WWI, WWII, the French Revolution, the War of the Worlds -- your choice. (Parade's End, Ninety-Three, Regeneration)
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You This can be any author whose works you have not read before.  It doesn't necessarily have to be an author you've never heard of.  (The Chateau by William Maxwell, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath)
There are a number of other 2014 challenges around that my reading list above (& remaining TBR piles around the house) could also apply to. 

Such as:

Fanda @Classiclit who is hosting the History Reading Challenge (London by Peter Ackroyd, Culture & Imperialism by Edward W Said, The Boy: A Holocaust Story by Dan Porat, 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski, Marie Curie).

Michael +Literary Exploration who is hosting his annual Literary Exploration Challenge (it should be easy for me to complete the easy challenge, but a little more effort will be required to get through the next two levels - Click here for my Goodreads page for this challenge.

Joy's Book Blog and her New Years Resolution Reading Challenge (maybe I will finally tackle my 2013 What Colour is Your Parachute? book)

There's always the Chunkster Reading Challenge (The Luminaries, The Brothers Karamazov, No Name by Wilkie Collins, A Place of Greater Safety, Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee, The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee) 

Words and Peace's Books on France Reading Challenge (Father Gariot, Eugenie Grandet, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, Paris at the End of the World, The Chateau, Chronicles of Old Paris, The Flaneur, The Devil's Pool, Indiana, The Reef, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Louise de la Valliere, Swann's Way, Parisians by Graham Robb).

The Foodie's Read (The Omnivore's Dilemma, Cooked & Season to Taste) 

Or the Colour Coded Reading Challenge (The White Earth, Olive Kitteridge, The Colour Purple, The Red Necklace, The Silver Blade, The Blue Castle) to keep me going!
Am I crazy? Have I been too ambitious? Or will it be a fun way to get through some of the books on my TBR pile in 2014?
Wish me luck !


  1. Anonymous2/12/13

    Good luck Brona! That's a fantastic list of books to read. So pleased you decided to take up the challenge. :)

  2. Anonymous2/12/13

    Thanks for joining the Eclectic Reader Challenge - I look forward to seeing your reviews!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  3. If you're crazy, then I'm there right along with you. I have three challenges/projects so far and I'll probably add another two. They are hard to resist especially when you know they are going to help you read books from your shelves, and when you know that one book can count for 1, 2, 3 or 4 challenges. Have fun meeting your goals, Brona! I'll be looking for your updates!

  4. Anonymous2/12/13

    What an interesting list! Good luck with it. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews.

  5. Very creative! I've only read Villette, and some Sherlock Holmes stories. The Eclectic Reader Challenge seems very interesting, I've bookmarked it and maybe I'll choose this as one for the next year, thanks for the information ;)

    1. As you can see I was happy to read something from all 12 categories....except the dreaded medical thriller! But I figure it's good to be pushed outside one's comfort reading zone every now and again :-)

  6. Brona - I wish you well with the challenges! I can't claim to have read many that are on your list BUT - I thought I'd put in a plea for maybe getting Pamuk's The Museum Of Innocence higher up your pecking order. I read it last year and it's just magnificent - as a story of obessive love and almost self-destructive longing it's absolutely wonderful (I'm sure the others on your list are wonderful too but I enjoyed this book so much I feel I owe it a debt of gratitude and so I recommend it whenever I can!!!!)

    1. My back - up list was chosen very deliberately; 4 books I really really want to read, but that didn't fit the model I was using as well as the ones already in it. I figure I'm going to read all 16 anyway :-)

      Thanks for the big rave about TMOI though, it just makes me want to read it even more!

  7. Anonymous5/12/13

    Great list! I look forward to your reviews. I was given The Walking Dead graphic novel recently, so I definitely look forward to hearing your thoughts. Are you a fan of the show?

    1. We're HUGE fans of the show (i've loved Andrew Lincoln ever since Egg in This Life!)
      Although the pre-Christmas madness has meant we've fallen behind in watching our season 4 episodes :-(

  8. I'm participating in this challenge in 2014 too! It's my 3rd year, I actually read An Abundance of Katherines for my 2013 list! Good luck, it's a great challenge and you've picked some great books.

  9. I love reading challenges! Even if I don't complete them all, I like using them as guidelines for my reading and as a reminder to mix things up a bit -- I always join a variety of challenges so I have an "excuse" to read from all the different genres I've been meaning to read.

    Thanks for stopping by & entering my giveaway :)

  10. Anonymous14/12/13

    I initially signed up for the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge but after seeing other reading challenges, I couldn't resist! I plan to do a post of them soon. I'm currently reading (with a readalong) 11/22/63 and I must say it's a page-turner. Have a fantastic 2014! :)

    1. Mr Books has already read 11/22/63 and keeps urging me to read it too - it's one I'm looking forward to :-)

  11. Why not? :) If you think you can do it and it's fun go for it :) Glad you've signed up for What's In A Name, and I like your choice of 11/22/63. I haven't seen a choice that specific yet :)

  12. Thanks for signing up! You have some great books on your list. I hope you get a chance to read some Zola, he's one of my favoirtes.

  13. Looks like some fun challenges! What Color is Your Parachute is a terrific way to start a new year. One of your Foodies Read books could work as well for a resolution to be a better cook or something similar.

    Joy's Book Blog

  14. What an ambitious challenges! 2014 would be an interesting reading year for you, no doubt. Good luck then... :) And thanks for joining the History Reading Challenge.

  15. Thanks for visiting my blog! And thanks for mentioning The Walking Dead for the graphic novel...I had forgotten that one. You have a very nice blog here...I've bookmarked and will be back often!

  16. Anonymous30/12/13

    Good luck with all your challenges! I also have 11/22/63 on my TBR Challenge List! You also had my favorite John Green book Enjoy!

  17. Oh wow. Go hard or go home Brona! You've clearly taken up the challenges in a big way. I have so much structured reading with my own 1001 quest that I don't go in for too many challenges, as I'm already challenged enough. I'll look forward to your progress, lots of great titles there.

  18. Ooh, so many interesting challenges! I love that you combined them, and the list you came up with is wonderful. I've had Parade's End recommended to me quite a few times. I hope you enjoy all the different titles you picked out!

  19. Ahah, I've got an Abundance of Katherines in my shelf. My daughter struggled with it, so she asked me to read it and let her know. I'll be interested to see your take, maybe it will inspire me!

  20. This is so ambitious! I'm excited to see "The Bell Jar" on your BTC list - so much of the subtext (and the actual text) of the book is about finding women role models who don't have to sacrifice their femininity and dreams of having a family to succeed in the workplace. So it has everything that makes a classic truly great - beautiful writing, memorable characters, and incredible relevance beyond its time. Enjoy!


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