Category Archives: Challenges

Notable Books Challenge 2013

Although a perpetual challenge, The Notable Books Challenge asks that participants set yearly goals. This year I hope to read at least 6 books from the lists.

Visit the dedicated blog to see reviews of Notable Books or to join the challenge.

Here is what I read in 2013:

Here are some of the books I either own, or would like to read in 2013:

  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff (from 2012 NYT Most Notable AND Christian Science Monitor Best Books 2012)
  • Canada by Richard Ford (from 2012 NYT Most Notable AND Christian Science Monitor Best Books 2012)
  • The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli (from 2012 NYT Most Notable)
  • In One Person by John Irving (from 2012 NYT Most Notable)
  • A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash (from 2012 NYT Most Notable)
  • The Round House by Louise Erdrich (from 2012 NYT Most Notable AND Christian Science Monitor Best Books 2012)
  • The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (from 2012 NYT Most Notable AND Christian Science Monitor Best Books 2012)
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (from 2012 NYT Most Notable)
  • Silent House by Orhan Pamuk (from 2012 NYT Most Notable)
  • Bound, by Antonya Nelson (from 2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • Foreign Bodies, by Cynthia Ozick (from 2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • How to Read the Air, by Dinaw Mengestu (from 2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes (from 2011 ALA Notable AND 2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • Sourland: Stories, by Joyce Carol Oates (from 2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • The Surrendered, by Chang-rae Lee (from 2011 ALA Notable AND 2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell (from 2011 ALA Notable AND 2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • The Book Of Night Women, by Marion James (from 2010 Tournament of Books)
  • Under the Dome, by Stephen King (from 2010 Tournament of Books)
  • The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver (from 2009 NYT Most Notable, AND 2010 Tournament of Books)
  • Burnt Shadows, by Kamila Shamsie (from 2010 Tournament of Books)
  • Woodsburner, by John Pipkin (from Christian Science Monitor Best Books 2009)
  • The Thing Around Your Neck, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (from Christian Science Monitor Best Books 2009)
  • The Lost City of Z, by David Grann (from 2009 NYT Most Notable, 2009 PW Best Books, 2010 ALA Notable, AND Christian Science Monitor Best Books 2009)
  • The Hakawati, by Rabih Alameddine (from 2009 ALA Notable Books)
  • American Rust, by Philipp Meyer (from 2009 NYT Most Notable)
  • A Mercy, by Toni Morrison (from 2010 ALA Notable, AND 2008 NYT Most Notable)
  • Heyday, by Kurt Anderson (from Christian Science Monitor Bests – 2007)
  • The Septembers of Shiraz, by Dalia Sofer (from 2007 Christian Science Monitor Best Books AND NYT Most Notable-2007)
  • The Likeness, by Tana French (from 2008 PW Best Books)
  • Day, by A.L. Kennedy (from 2008 PW Best Books)
  • The Boat, by Nam Le (from 2008 PW Best Books and 2008 NYT Most Notable)
  • Away, by Amy Bloom (from 2008 ALA Notable Books)
  • The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig (from 2007 ALA Notable Books)
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007 NYT Most Notable)
  • The Art of Fielding by by Chad Harbach (2011 NYT Most Notable)
  • The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes (2011 NYT Most Notable)
  • A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France, by Caroline Moorehead (2011 NYT Most Notable)
  • Great House by Nicole Krauss (2010 NYT Most Notable)
  • Every Man Dies Alone, By Hans Fallada; translated by Michael Hoffman (2009 NYT Most Notable)
  • The Other by David Gutterson (2008 NYT Most Notable)
  • There But For The by Ali Smith (2011 PW Best Books)

 


2013 European Reading Challenge

2013.ERC

January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2014

It has been a long time since I have jumped into the reading challenge fervor, but I’m feeling like Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge will be just the thing to prompt me to read from my stacks this year.

The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it’s supposed to be a tour.

The challenge requires readers to choose from  the list of 50 sovereign states that fall (at least partially) within the geographic territory of the continent of Europe and/or enjoy membership in international European organizations such as the Council of Europe: These include: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

Read more about the challenge and sign up here.

Links to book reviews may be found here.

I’m committing to the top level for this challenge which is the Five Star (Deluxe Entourage): Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries. I’ll be listing my books below as I read them, and I will also highlight the country in red in the list above.

  1. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (United Kingdom) – Completed January 8, 2013; rated 4/5; read my review.
  2. All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky (France) – Completed January 12, 2013; rated 4/5; read my review.
  3. The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch (Germany) – Completed February 23, 2013; rated 4.5/5; read my review.
  4. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Russia) – Completed May 1, 2013; rated 5/5; read my review.
  5. The Dinner by Herman Koch (Netherlands) – Completed June 21, 2013; rated 4/5; read my review.
  6. Mr. Darwin’s Gardener by Kristina Carlson (Finland) – Completed June 29, 2013; rated 5/5; read my review.

 

 


Chunkster Challenge 2013

Chunkster2013

January 1 – December 31, 2013

I am once again hosting this challenge over on the Chunkster Challenge blog – go to THIS POST to sign up. This year I am hoping to accomplish the Mor-book-ly Obese level which means I will be committing to EIGHT or more Chunksters of which three tomes MUST be 750 pages or more.

I’ll be listing the books below with links to my reviews as I finish them.

NOTE: We are also going to host the Chunky Book Club again this year. You do NOT need to join the challenge to join the book club, and any format of book is acceptable in the book club. Hope to see you for our first discussion in March!

  1. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – 484 pages (completed January 8, 2013; rated 4/5; read my review)
  2. The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma – 609 pages (completed February 13, 2013; rated 4/5; read my review)
  3. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – 530 pages (completed July 31, 2013; rated 5/5; read my review)

 

 


Chunkster Challenge 2012

January 1 – December 31, 2012

January 1, 2013 UPDATE: I not only met my goal for this challenge, I exceeded it! My longest read was Fall of Giants by Ken Follett at nearly 1000 pages. I will be joining this challenge in 2013 as well!!

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I am not only co-hosting this challenge – I’m joining it! Sign ups may be found on this post.

Last year I did not reach my goal for this challenge, so I’ve chosen a different level this year:

The Plump Primer level challenges the reader to read SIX chunksters. As I read them, I’ll be listing them below with links to reviews.

  1. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (624 pages) – COMPLETED January 8, 2012; rated 5/5; read my review.
  2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (824 pages) – COMPLETED March 12, 2012; rated 4.5/5; read my review.
  3. Overseas by Beatriz Williams (464 pages) – COMPLETED May 20, 2012; rated 4/5; read my review.
  4. The Memory of Love by Aminata Forna (450 pages) – COMPLETED June 17, 2012; rated 5/5; read my review.
  5. With My Body by Nikki Gemmell (462 pages) – COMPLETED June 23, 2012; rated 3/5; read my review.
  6. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani (470 pages) – COMPLETED July 2, 2012; rated 3/5; read my review.
  7. The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg (664 pages) – COMPLETED July 26, 2012; rated 5/5; read my review.
  8. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (985 pages) – COMPLETED September 23, 2012; rated 4/5; read my review.
  9. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (602 pages) – COMPLETED December 16, 2012; rated 5/5; read my review.

 


The Truth 365: Shedding Light On Childhood Cancer

You may remember Melinda Marchiano – a childhood cancer survivor who wrote a nationally recognized and award winning memoir about her journey through cancer. In 2010, I dedicated myself to raising money and awareness for a cure for childhood cancer…and I read Marchiano’s book (read my review). Melinda is now a freshman at Pepperdine University studying to one day be a doctor, but she has not stopped fighting cancer. This time she is fighting for other kids. Her current project is The Truth 365, “a ground-breaking, grass-roots documentary film and social media campaign that gives a voice to children fighting cancer.” It is a collaborative effort led by Dena Sherwood, founder of Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation (AWOCCF) and mother to five-year old Neuroblastoma Warrior, Billy Jr., and Emmy-winning producer, Mike Gillette, with the support of the Band of Parents.

The campaign officially began last week, September 13th , National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, with the release of the first of 10 short videos at 9:00 PM EST. A different video vignette will be posted each subsequent evening at 9:00 PM EST, culminating on September 23rd with the release of the full The Truth 365 documentary, hosted by 18-year-old  Melinda Marchiano. To learn more about The Truth, visit www.thetruth365.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/thetruth365film.

Dena Sherwood, founder of Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation, says:

By combining the powerful medium of documentary with the viral nature of Social Media, we aim to shine a light on the state of childhood cancer research funding by uniting the childhood cancer community, members of Congress, the nation’s top pediatric oncologists and several influential celebrities. In this election-year we need for our politicians to hear the cries of these children and their parents, who are desperate for funding, less toxic treatments, and ultimately a cure.

YOU CAN HELP.

Sign this petition to increase federal funding for childhood cancer. It is a small thing that only takes a couple of seconds…but it can have a huge impact on the lives of children with cancer.


The Stephen King Project

Have you seen this project? I am a huge Stephen King fan – I’ve read almost every early book he’s written…but I admit, I have missed quite a few of his later efforts (although I have the books in my stacks!).

Kathleen at Boarding In My Forties and Natalie at Coffee and a Book Chick are hosting this year long project to read King books and I’ve decided to join them at the “A Lil Bit of King” level which is three books (there are multiple levels to choose from). I have Under the Dome to read and I just finished 11/22/63 (read my review)…so that leaves only one more book to choose.

Natalie and Kathleen are giving away prizes all year for this one and you can learn more about the project by visiting this post. Sign ups are here.

If you’ve read 11/22/63 – don’t forget that it is the Chunky Book Club pick for this month – discussion is open to everyone (not just Chunkster Challenge participants) and questions are posted here. Hope to see you there!

 


Notable Books Challenge 2011

Although a perpetual challenge, The Notable Books Challenge asks that participants set yearly goals. This year I attempted to read 15 books from the lists. I fell short, but I am still happy with what I accomplished.

Books Read:

  1. The Three Weismanns of Westport by Cathleen Shine (from 2010 NYT Most Notable) – COMPLETED January 28, 2011; rated 4.5/5; read my review.
  2. Shadow Tag, by Louise Erdrich (from 2010 NYT Most Notable) – COMPLETED February 23, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review.
  3. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin (from 2011 ALA Notable) – COMPLETED March 2, 2011;  rated 4.5/5; read my review.
  4. That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo (from 2010 Tournament of Books) – COMPLETED April 1, 2011; rated 4.5/5; read my review.
  5. Unbound, by Laura Hillenbrand (from 2010 PW Best Books) – COMPLETED June 6, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review.
  6. The Long Song, by Andrea Levy (from 2010 NYT Most Notable) – COMPLETED July 31, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review.
  7. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Euginides (from 2011 PW Best Books) – COMPLETED November 26, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review.
  8. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (from 2011 PW Best Books) – COMPLETED October 16, 2011; rated 4/5; read my review.
  9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (from 2011 PW Best Books) – COMPLETED December 13, 2011; rated 4.5/5; read my review.
  10. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (from 2011 PW Best Books) – COMPLETED July 8, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review.
  11. The Convert by Deborah Baker (from 2011 PW Best Books) – COMPLETED May 17, 2011; rated 3.5/5; read my review.
  12. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (from 2010 PW Best Books) – COMPLETED May 6, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review.

Visit the dedicated blog to see reviews of Notable Books or to join the challenge.


Chunkster Challenge 2011

February 1, 2011 – January 31, 2012

I joined this challenge in 2011 at the Does the Book Make My Butt Look Big level (read six chunksters in 12 months as follows: 2 books which are between 450 – 550 pages in length; 2 books which are 551 – 750 pages in length; 2 books which are GREATER than 750 pages in length).

The 2012 Challenge began on January 1st this year…and because I think it is unlikely that I will complete the 2011 challenge, I’m throwing in the towel on that one, and starting fresh for 2012.

Here is what I read in 2011:

(2) Books between 450-550 pages:

  1. Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult – COMPLETED March 5, 2011; rated 4/5; read my review (480 pages)
  2. The Raising, by Laura Kasischke – COMPLETED April 9, 2011; rated 4/5; read my review (461 pages)

(2) Books between 551-750 pages:

  1. Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann – COMPLETED June 30, 2011, rated 2.5/5; read my review (597 pages)

(2) Books greater than 750 pages:

  1. Steinbeck: A Life in Letters edited by  Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten- COMPLETED August 16, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review (898 pages)


2011 Memorable Memoirs Challenge – COMPLETED!

January 1 – December 31, 2011

December 16, 2011: I have completed this challenge! Many thanks to Melissa for hosting. Follow the links below to read my reviews of the books I read for the challenge.

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Once again Melissa at The Betty and Boo Chronicles is hosting The Memorable Memoir Challenge – a challenge that introduced me to looks of awesome books in 2010. So, it was a no brainer to do this one again. Melissa writes:

About the Challenge: If you enjoy reading memoirs or really haven’t explored them as much as you’d like to, then this is the challenge for you.  Anything that in your mind qualifies as a memoir will meet the challenge requirements. Letters, diaries, autobiographies, books on writing memoirs … in my book, they all count as Memorable Memoirs.  Books, e-books, audiobooks are all fine.

Requirements:  It’s up to you!  I want this to be a fun and low-key challenge, yet one that will be worthwhile of your valuable reading time. If that means reading one memoir, that’s great.  If that means reading three dozen, even better.  You decide what works for you.  Overlaps with other challenges are more than fine … even encouraged.

Sign ups are here.

Review link ups coming soon.

I’ve learned from past experience that I should not overextend on challenges. So I’m planning to read SIX books for this challenge. I’ll list them as I go…

  1. The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure – COMPLETED April 22, 2011; rated 4/5; read my review.
  2. The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown – COMPLETED June 18, 2011; rated 5/5; read my review.
  3. The River of Forgetting by Jane Rowan – COMPLETED September 1, 2011; rated 4/5; read my review.
  4. Love at First Bark by Julie Klam – COMPLETED October 22, 2011; rated 4/5; read my review.
  5. Maman’s Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan – COMPLETED December 8, 2011; rated 4/5; read my review.
  6. The Puppy That Came for Christmas by Megan Rix – COMPLETED December 16, 2011; rated 3.5/5; read my review.


The 2012 Chunkster Challenge and Chunky Book Club

January 1 – December 31, 2012

2012 will be here before we know it – and The Chunkster Challenge is back. This year Vasilly from 1330V has joined me in hosting this popular challenge…and we’ve made a couple of changes (including moving the start date up to January 1st) which you can read about on the sign up post. We have also decided to spruce up the blog and make it more whimsical, so I hope you’ll check out our new look too.

The other exciting news is that we are planning on hosting the first ever Chunky Book Club. It will have its own page on the Chunkster Blog and participants do not have to join the challenge, although they are welcome to do both, of course! We currently have a poll going to choose the four books we will be reading and discussing in 2012…that poll will be open through January 10th with the results and schedule being announced on the blog on January 11th.

There may be more changes happening over there, and we hope to have some fun commentary and highlight some chunky books throughout the year…so I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog and keep up to date as we go forward.

I am still working on the 2011 challenge – and have two more books to read before the end of January. I’ll be signing up for the 2012 Challenge once I figure out the level I hope to do.

What about you? Are you planning to read some chunky books in 2012? Why not join us either in the Chunkster Challenge or the Chunky Book Club (or both) – we’d love to have you there!!!