We all know how I come up with or join challenges and then promptly forget about them. I am slightly better at following reading resolutions, but this year I am in the mood to do some crazy resolutions that are more like challenges that I will never finish. If I had any doubt about doing some stupid stuff, WildmooBooks pushed me over the edge. Here are some of my contenders with the easier ones towards the top.
Read Civil to Strangers by Barbara Pym
I love Pym to death and I believe Civil to Strangers is the only book of hers I have yet to read. (I told you I was starting with the easy ones.)
Read 104 books
I squeaked in just under the wire with 104 books this year. I thought the equivalent of two a week was a good challenge. It was, and will be again in 2017.
Re-read one Brookner novel each quarter
I think I am up to 11 in my chronological re-read of Anita Brookner’s 24 novels. (I still have one to review from the end of 2016.) In general I love re-reading her books, but I am keen to finish my gazetteer of London place names that appear in her work. At this proposed rate I could finish it in just over three years.
Read at least one unread book from each of my fiction shelves
Sometime during 2017 I will finish chronicling my 35 shelves of books in by ‘shelf by shelf’ feature. Of those shelves, about 28 of them are fiction. My goal is to read one unread book from each of those fiction shelves. This might turn out to be the most fun of all my goals for the year.
Read all of Willa Cather’s 12 novels over 12 months
She wrote 12, there are 12 months in the year. Easy as a damn peach. I’ve read most of her novels, but her magnum opi (opuses?) O, Pioneers, My Antonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop, were read a long time ago and I’ve been wanting to revisit them for some time now.
Read at least one short story collection on my shelves
I have several worthy contenders on my shelves, but I never seem to make the time for them. Maybe some of them are too big.
Carol Shields (the one I most want to get to)
Pair a novel with a biographical work about a different author each month
This could get trickier for me as I can get bogged down when I dip into non-fiction. I think I would prefer memoir over bios, but we will see what we can see. I’m not going to assign months just yet, but I think I know who my twelve authors are going to be. Pay close attention to some of the
cheating overlapping with other challenges. Note that none of these authors is new to me, and I actually have bios/memoirs/letters for each one of them already on my shelves.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Follow Nonsuch Book down a Clarissa rabbit hole
Nonsuch Book and some others are going to be reading Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa “throughout the year, each letter from this epistolary behemoth on its noted date.” I’ve seen others do this online previously and I like the idea of it without knowing anything more about the book itself. Happily I own a copy, but I won’t be reunited with it until mid-month, so I will already be behind.
You are entirely mad to have so many challenges, but who am I to discourage you? I will be watching with interest and bated breath.
I don’t expect a very good success rate.
Wow! Those are a lot of challenges, but they all sound like fun. Good luck with them!!
‘Fun’ is the thing I have to remember.
Are you hoping to find a mad hatter down the Clarissa rabbit hole?
I will probably become one.
Some great plans Thomas I have the Waugh story collection a wonderful collection
The Waugh collection I have is enormous, but I listened to some on audio and loved them.
[J] I was beginning to wonder if the shelf-by-shelf was one thing you’d resolved on but given up! I look forward to the next instalment: you introduced me to Pym, so there could yet be something else! Short stories: Katherine Mansfield. The book of short stories of hers that I first read started with ‘The Crossing’, which was for me an epiphany moment in my literary consciousness. If I could write, I would wish to write such a piece.
Shelf by Shelf is coming back. I don’t like to do too many in close succession. I’ve never read one word by Katherine Mansfield but I have her giant collection of short stories.
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Thomas, I love your free-spirited approach to challenges and that if you don’t meet them, you don’t beat yourself up about it! I’m excited to watch your progress.
I have never read Anita Brookner but you speak so highly of her that I’m convinced I must read at least one of her books this year. Which one would you suggest that I start with?
As much as I love Brookner, I do realize she may be an acquired taste. Recently I have come to the conclusion that Lewis Percy is a good one to start with. It has a little more plot than some of her others and that might entice the wary.
” Easy as a damn peach” – I have never heard/read that before. Love it!
I think your goals seem pretty doable. I read Cather’s My Antonia last year and just fell in love with her writing. I am hoping to get to The Professor’s House this year (on your recommendation too).
I find myself these days coming up with phrases that don’t make much sense. Easy as a damn peach for some reason popped into my head and somehow felt like it embodied the enthusiasm I felt at that moment. Similar for Crazy as fudge.
Some of the concepts for these challenges are so great – I can see why it’s hard to resist them. I signed up for the Classics Challenge back in 2012, with the intention of reading 50 books from my list by September 2017. Well now it’s the beginning of 2017 and I’ve read only 21 books from the list, and so I’ve set an ambitious schedule of classics reading for the next nine months. If I don’t achieve it, I won’t be heartbroken, but I like a little artificial self-imposed stakes to push me to read books I’ve been meaning to read.
I supposed the classics challenge list isn’t exactly a stack of easy-to-read bon-bons. You might have a tough 9 months ahead of you.
I love your enthusiasm. I like to make myself a list of reading “challenges” — not necessarily to complete them all, but as a way to help me track what I’m reading. And, again, not for any sort of number to reach, but for my own curiosity. Until someone came up with the hashtag for diverse books, I had never thought about the nationality of the authors I was reading (although, there have always been a high number of Brits among them). Now that I’m paying attention to that a little more, I’ve found a lot of new authors that I might not otherwise have picked up that I’m really enjoying. Just keep it FUN.