Category: Completed Challenges

New York Times (NYT) Most Notable Fiction Challenge

WRAP UP for this Challenge:


I am almost embarrassed, as the host of this challenge, to admit that I didn’t complete it! That said, however, I think I was probably a bit over zealous in thinking I could read 20 books from the list given all the other challenges and group reads I also committed to!

The books I read for this challenge (links to reviews below):
1. Half Of A Yellow Sun, by Chimanada Ngozi Adichie
2. Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky
3. The Translator, by Leila Aboulela
4. Arthur and George, by Julian Barnes
5. Only Revolutions, by Mark Z. Danielewski (DNF)
6. The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai
7. Old Filth, by Jane Gardam
8. Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala
9. The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud
10.The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers
11.Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell
12.The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
13.Eat the Document, by Dana Spiotta

Several of these books will make my list for top ten of 2007. I would not have read most of these without this challenge – and I discovered that the NYT Most Notable List is something I need to pay more attention to if I want to read great literature. I plan on reading more books (unofficially) from this list into 2008.

Thank you to all participants who helped make this challenge stimulating and fun! For those of you interested in reading notable books from the NYT Most Notable List, and other lists of notable books, the challenge for 2008 has been moved to here. Hope to see you there!!

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**UPDATE for those doing this challenge: 
Sycorax Pine (Ariel) has graciously set up a “team blog” for all participants here.  Please join us in posting and cross posting our reviews of the books we are reading for this challenge. We are linking directly to Library Thing and Amazon, as well as individual blogs!!!

This year (2007) I am challenging myself to read 20 books from the NYT Most Notable Fiction of 2006 list. I’ve decided so simply pick them “as I go” and as the mood strikes! Anyone who would like to join me is welcome…please leave me a comment and a link to your site so we can encourage each other.

This is the list from which I will select my books:

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (completed January 7, 2007. Rated 5/5. Read my review here.)
Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky (Completed February 17, 2007. Rated 5/5. Read my review here.)
The Translator, by Leila Aboulela (Completed March 23, 2007. Rated 4.5/5. Read my review here.)
Alentjo Blue, by Monica Ali
One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson
Arthur and George, by Julian Barnes (Completed April 30, 2007. Rated 4/5. Read my review here).
Brookland, by Emily Barton
Last Evenings on Earth, by Roberto Bolano
Only Revolutions, by Mark Z. Danielewski (DNF)
The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai (Completed March 16,  2007. Rated 4.25/5. Read my review here.)
The Dead Fish Museum, by Charles D’Ambrosio
The Keep, by Jennifer Eagan
Twilight of the Superheroes, by Deborah Eisenberg
The Lay of the Land, by Richard Ford
The Dissident, by Nell Freudenberger
Skinner’s Drift, by Lisa Fugard
Old Filth, by Jane Gardam (Completed May 29,  2007. Rated 3.75/5. Read my review here.)
Golden Country, by Jennifer Gilmore
Intuition, by Allegra Goodman
The Stories of Mary Gordon, by Mary Gordon
The Dream Life of Sukhanov, by Olga Grushin
The Possibility of an Island, by Michel Houellebecq
Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala (Completed March 5, 2007. Rated 3.75/5. Read my review here.)
All Aunt Hagar’s Children, by Edward P. Jones
The Uses of Enchantment, by Heidi Julavits
Forgetfulness, by Ward Just
Gate of the Sun, by Elias Khoury
Lisey’s Story, by Stephen King
The Inhabited World, by David Long
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (Completed May 17, 2007. Rated 5/5. Read my review here.)
After This, by Alice McDermott
Gallatin Canyon: Stories, by Thomas McGuane
The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud (Completed December 12, 2007; Rated 4/5; Read my review here)
Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell (Completed March 26, 2007. Rated 5/5. Read my review here)
High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories, by Joyce Carol Oates
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers (Completed September 6, 2007. Rated 4.5/5. Read my review here)
Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon
Everyman, by Phillip Roth
Absurditan, by Gary Shteyngart
Eat the Document, by Dana Spiotta (Completed May 22, 2007. Rated 3.5/5. Read my review here)
Digging to America, by Anne Tyler
Terrorist, by John Updike
Apex Hides the Hurt, by Colson Whitehead
A Woman in Jerusalem, by A.B. Yehoshua

Non Fiction Challenge

I’m taking up another reading challenge…this one is sponsored by Joy at Thoughts of Joy.  It is a nonfiction challenge held from May through September and the goal is to read five non fiction books over the five months. I’ve received a couple of new non-fiction books lately (a gift from my good friend, Katy, and an Easter gift from my mother), so I’ve revamped and completely changed my book choices for this challenge!!

Here are my updated selections in no particular order:

1. The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren (completed June 17, 2007; read a review here.)
2. The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, A Death, and American’s Dilemma, by Alex Kotlowitz (completed June 20, 2007; read a review here.)
3. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson (completed September 12, 2007; read a review here)
4. Lucky, by Alice Sebold (completed June 10, 2007; read a review here.)
5. Coronary: A True Story of Medicine Gone Awry, by Stephen Klaidman (completed August 6, 2007; read a review here.)

UPDATE and RECAP of Challenge:

I completed this challenge on September 12, 2007. My least favorite book was The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. My favorite was Coronary, by Stephen Klaidman, closely followed by The Devil in the White City and The Other Side of the River.  I appreciated that this challenge got me to read some of the great non fiction books I have had collecting dust on my TBR shelf! Thank you, Joy, for hosting such a great challenge!

The Reading Across Borders Challenge

December 17, 2007 – Throwing in the Towel

With the days of 2007 winding down, it has become obvious to me that I will not complete this challenge. I read 8 of 13 books on my original list – not bad! I will eventually read the remaining 5 books, but it won’t be in 2007! My favorite read of the group was (hands down) The Book Thief, followed closely by Suite Francaise and Purple Hibiscus.

Thank you, Kate, for motivating me to read outside my boundaries. It is a habit I will keep as I move into 2008!

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I’ve decided to take up
Kate’s Book Blog challenge: Reading Across Borders.

The idea is to determine which countries or regions tend to dominate your reading and to commit to reading a number of books over the course of 2007 which take you beyond those countries or regions.

I realized that I already had many books on my shelf waiting to be read which fit nicely into this challenge; and also there are a few on my list of books I want to read this year that I have yet to acquire. Here they are in no particular order:

The Translator, by Leila Aboulela (Khartoum, Sudan) – Finished 3/23/2007 and reviewed here.
Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky (France) – Finished 2/17/2007 and reviewed here.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (Australia) -Finished 1/28/2007 and reviewed here.
Old Filth, by Jane Gardam (England)
Finished 5/29/2007 and reviewed here.
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spain) Finished 7/7/2007 and reviewed here.
Silver Wedding, by Maeve Binchy (Ireland)
Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts (Bombay, India)
The Alchemist, by Paula Coelho (Brazil) – Finished 6/15/2007 and reviewed here.
A Woman in Jerusalem, by A.B. Yehoshua (Jerusalem)
The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai (New Delhi, India) – Finished 3/16/2007 and reviewed here.
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Aichie (Africa) – Finished 1/24/2007 and reviewed here.
The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink (Germany)
Hanna’s Daughters: A Novel of Three Generations, by Marianne Fredriksson (Sweden)

TBR (To Be Read) Challenge – 2007

December 3, 2007: CHALLENGE COMPLETED!!!

Challenge Wrap Up and Thoughts:

The goal of the challenge was to read 12 books off of my TBR pile – and I did that. I had originally targeted 12 primary reads and 5 alternates, and had wanted to read them all. Instead, I managed to knock 10 of the primary reads off the list, along with 2 alternates. I won’t be able to get to the rest of the books by the end of the year, but don’t be surprised if you see them on my TBR 2008 Challenge list!

I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. It gave me a good feeling to know I was finally getting to some books that had sat on my shelves for far too long. My favorite read from this challenge was a tie between Terms of Endearment and Fatal Voyage – I loved them for very different reasons and they are completely different genres! My least favorite read was  The Maze.

Thanks for hosting the challenge, Jenn! See you in 2008!!

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Perhaps I’m stepping in over my head, but I’ve joined another reading challenge…to read 12 books in 12 months from my to-be-read stack. The books I’ve picked have lingered in the pile for 6 months or more and they are:

1. Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie

Completed: January 8, 2007
Rated: 3.5/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

2. Zelda by Nancy Milford

Completed: February 8, 2007
Rated: 3.5/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

3. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb

Completed: February 27, 2007
Rated: 4.25/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

4. The Space Between Us, by Thrity Umrigar

Completed: April 21, 2007
Rated 3.5/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

5. Terms of Endearment, by Larry McMurtry

Completed: May 26, 2007
Rated 4.5/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

6. The Evening Star, by Larry McMurtry

Completed: June 30, 2007

Rated 4/5

To see a review of this book, click here.

7. Lost Geography, by Charlotte Bacon

Completed: August 25, 2007

Rated 4/5

To see a review of this book, click here.

8. Range of Light, by Valerie Miner
9. The Maze, by Catherine Coulter

Completed: January 21, 2007
Rated: 2.5/5
Head hopping, information dumping, plot holes I could drive my car through (especially when it came to law enforcement protocols)…this one was not the greatest. On the plus side, the sex scenes were good *laughs* and it was fast paced. The ending was not believeable in the least. Can’t recommend this one.

10. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, by Stephen King

Completed: November 30, 2007
Rated: 3.5/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

11. The Guardian, by Nicolas Sparks
12. Fatal Voyage, by Kathy Reichs

Completed: December 3, 2007
Rated: 4.5/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

Additional Reads if I have time:

1. The Last Time They Met, by Anita Shreve
2. The Last Kingdom, by Bernard Cornwell
3. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards
Completed: February 19, 2007
Rated: 4.5/5
To see a review of this book, click here.
4. The Reading Group, by Elizabeth Noble
5. East of the Mountains, by David Guterson

Completed: October 1, 2007
Rated: 4/5
To see a review of this book, click here.

Winter Classics Challenge

Today I finished the Winter Classics Challenge!  Thanks to A Reader’s Journal, who sponsored this challenge and renewed my interest in the classics.

This challenge encouraged participants to read 5 classics in January and February 2007. I ended up reading seven classic novels from 12/27/2006 through 2/11/2007. My reads included:

1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
I finished reading this one on 12/27/2006. Technically, it was not read in January or February…so I’m adding another classic read below! I just couldn’t wait to read this one until January. I rated it a 4.75/5. Great book about a young man torn between following the conventions of his time or following his heart. Wharton draws the character Ellen perfectly…a woman who is ahead of her time; a free spirit in a time when women were supposed to be pretty things on a man’s arm. The only reason this one didn’t get a 5/5 was because the ending disappointed me.
    
2. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
DNF – Did not finish this one…I hated it. The dialogue is circular and repetitive; the writing is just plain bad (filled with adverbs and adjectives). I know it is satire and supposed to be a ‘must read’ kind of book; but I longed for some action, any action, any plot at all that would pull me in. I’m adding another book to my list for this challenge to substitute for this one.
    
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I finished reading this one on 1/2/2007. A wonderful classic that I can highly recommend. A story about love and marriage…and the barriers to them! Lizzy’s prejudice shadows her regard for Darcy. A sometimes tragic, mostly comic view of what happens when gossip distorts the facts. Rated 5/5.
    
4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Excellent book! Finished reading this on 1/18/2007. Highly recommended…a story about an Oklahoma family who moves West during the Great Dust Bowl Migration of the 1930s. Rated 5/5. To read my review of this book click here.
    
5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Not my favorite Austen novel. The first half of the book is rather slow, a bit dry. Luckily for the reader, the second half picks up and moves along nicely. Catherine, the MC, is a silly girl – a bit of a drama queen with a tendency to let her imagination run wild. Austen pokes fun at the novel in this story, and there are moments of humor that gave me a chuckle. Rated 3.5/5.

6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I finished reading this book on 1/12/2007. A splendid novel which I rated 4.75/5.  To read a review of this book, click here.

7. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I finished reading this book on 2/11/2007. A compelling and tragic novel, rated 5/5. To read a review of this book, click here.

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