January 4, 2009

2009 Book Challenges

You might already have noticed this new addition to the side column, but I've made a few challenges for this year from the 50 Book Challenge on LibraryThing. Typically an LTer will take any amount of books they wish to read and try to read them within a year. A few choose to have a few more challenges as well. This is where my reading challenge for 2008 came from. It was the first year I made a challenge to read a given number of books within a year. I had chosen fifty-two books based on the one book per week ratio.

Since I passed my challenge last year while also having hardly read any books during three months of the year, I increased my book challenge to seventy-five books for this year. I'm not planning on any deaths, major illnesses in the family, or any type of catastrophe to interrupt it. I know that's always a possibility and at least one is likely, but I choose to plan for the positive. Some might argue that having a number of books desired to be read in a year's span is taking the fun out of reading, but when you enjoy reading as much as I do as I think is more than likely for most who visit this blog, then it doesn't really matter because it's still very much enjoyable.

This is one of the challenges I made with thoughts of one of my sisters in mind: To try to balance out my To-Be-Read pile so it remains the same number as it is or shrinks down. How do you read and not have this always happen? Books will always find a way into your home. Do not question it. My TBR pile consists of one-hundred and fifty-two books at present moment. Already I have read one, bought three on PaperBackSwap, and purchased two in a bookstore. Rather than beat myself over my head for those purchases I will try to get a lot of reading done while I have the free time this week. There will be times that I won't be able to keep this up and I know it. That's why my main goal is to have it ideally be balanced out by the end of this year. Let's see how possible or ridiculous this challenge may be, shall we? Perhaps it will cause a great mockery.

In the days before I blogged or discovered any of the book sites I am on now I would challenge myself to read at least one classic per month. As I've majorly decreased the amount of time I spend reading from being online on book sites I dropped this challenge. Now I would like to resume it with an alteration: To read twelve or more classics any time during the year rather than one per month. I'd rather read books when I am in the mood for them, not simply for reading a particular genre. Still, every time I've read a book knowing there is some reference or another to a classic or another book, I've always been the one to desire being in on it versus being on the outside and just not getting it. I might take the opportunity to read Charlotte Bronte's Shirley this year, a book which at some point discusses some marvelous stained glass windows I fell in love with years ago. (If you would like to visit these windows, they are at the Red House Museum.) Two other classics I would like to read this year are Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Shakespeare's Othello, both books I seemed to have not been assigned to read during any of the literature classes I've taken.

My genre challenge does not end there. I would also like to increase how many nonfiction books I read each year and challenge myself to twelve or more. There are plenty all throughout my house some of which I've wanted to read for years so I'm not worried over finding many good books to read. One of the nonfiction books I've wanted to read for years has been The Man Who Tasted Shapes, the copy of which has been MIA. I guess this means I will be organizing and sorting through my fellow book lover's books at home, which she certainly won't mind. Another nonfiction book I plan to read this year is Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. It will be a reread for me, but someone gave it to me as a gift not knowing I've already read it and I'm not going to be the one to say so. A good book may be read more than once and this one is funny. I'm happy it's made it's way to my collection of books the way it has because I'm bad at buying books I've already read.

Two other challenges that tie into classics are a Jane Austen and Banned Book challenge. I've thought over having an Austen challenge in the past because there are so many books in my TBR pile having to do with her works. Some of these are books related to Pride and Prejudice or all of her complete works and some of these are works by Miss Austen herself which I have not yet read. Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Emma are the books I've yet to read by her. I can't quite say how many times I've read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice. It's one of my favorites.

My Banned Book challenge may be something I might try to attempt for the month of September during which Banned Book week falls in. I am still deciding but leaning more toward that as I think about it. I laugh at people who try to ban books. Do they not know it only makes me want to read a book I may not have glanced at before? This isn't just the case for me but my family as well. Someday I would like to own a copy of every book that has ever been banned. I fear this might not be something that can be accomplished if every copy of any book is or has been destroyed. What monstrous creatures who either try to or succeed in banning books. The same for those monsters from somewhere dark who burn books. That's not protecting children. It's increasing nightmares and throwing debris in their clean air. Don't get me started.

Another type of book which is exceedingly high in my TBR pile are collections of short stories. I would like to read and complete three of these at some point during the year. I have a lot of these that are fantasy and mythology-related. Some are twisted and retold fairy tales, something I used to read a lot of. Others are books such as The Coyote Road, a thick collection of short stories about Tricksters. I bought this one after taking my second mythology class which discusses myths from a major range of cultures and regions. The Trickster was one of the things we covered.

Lastly, I have created challenges based on reviewing books. I try to write a blog entry for each book I read here and write something for the 50 Book Challenge in it's proper place as well, but I would like to get to entering my reviews into LT's actual place for book reviews. So far I am on track with one book read and reviewed in all three places to review in. My other reviewing challenge is to be a better Early Reviewer member. I would like to read and review every Early Reviewer book received within a one month span of receiving them. I've been very busy the last couple of months, too busy to do this. The year has hardly begun and I've yet to receive any for this year as of yet, but should I get more, this is a challenge I've made for it.

Cheers to another year of great books!