The 2022 AW Reading Challenge! Turning the page on a new year.

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
20,216
Reaction score
3,888
Location
Wash., D.C. area
We have an exciting new crop of AW regulars, and many long-timers either resurfaced or still going strong. The key piece of advice to all writers (and readers, for that matter) is to read as widely and deeply as we can. Well, that’s what this Challenge is all about: reading something you might not have otherwise.

Seen or heard about a book you are itching to read but need a reason to get started? Know of a book but keep putting it off for some or no reason? Looking for something totally out of the blue and unexpected? (Those are my favorite!) If so, review the categories below, pick 12 (Or more. Or less. Up to you) and select one book for each of your 12. Then read them. Then tell us about it.


HOW IT WORKS: Each us chooses 12 categories from the list below, then we find one book per category to read and comment on and discuss. We each read our own 12, unless you have titles in common with another reader and want to discuss; that’s cool when that happens.


WINNING: No matter if you finish all 12, finish 12 and add extra credit later, or don’t quite finish your 12, it’s all good. You’re a winner at this if you declare yourself so.


RULES: Have fun. That is all.


SPOILERS: Please read the sticky in this forum regarding spoilers. It’s short. In fact, here it is:

“MacAllister posted: Discussions of books in this forum will include spoilers. This forum is designed for a frank discussion of specific books by people who have read the books. In order not to spoil the flow of conversation it will not be considered essential to note spoilers in posts or thread titles, nor rude to post un-warned spoiler comments.”

That said, the new AW format does have a spoilers button that allows you to mask a spoiler until the reader clicks to reveal the text, but it’s completely up to you to use it or not.


THE LIST (the part you were waiting for):


1. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read.
2. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1).
3. Just the facts, Ma’am: Nonfiction on any subject.
4. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma’am: An alternate history.
5. Girls chase boys chase girls (or any combination thereof): A book with a love triangle.
6. Out of Africa: A book taking place in Africa (including North Africa).
7. Takin’ care o’ business: A book taking place in a corporate setting, about a business, or about a business leader.
8. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center.
9. Coming to a theater near you: A book made into a major motion picture.
10. Verboten: A banned book.
11. Best friend: A book with a dog on the cover.
12. What everyone else was reading: Any book from a significant year in your life on the New York Times Best Seller List (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_The_New_York_Times_Fiction_Best_Sellers)
13. Out of Time: A book involving time travel.
14. New horizons: A book in a new-to-you genre.
15. Halcyon days: A book published the year you turned 21 (or age 12 if you aren’t yet 21 :)).
16. Lol random: Go to Gutenberg.org, click “Book Search,” click “Random” and pick any of the books that show up.
17. Out of this world: A book taking place in space or on another planet.
18. Better known for . . .: A book by someone who’s more famous for something other than writing.
19. So that’s what they think of us: A book about your country by someone from another country.
20. Family drama: A book following three or more generations of a family.
21. Three-color mythology: A graphic novel or comic book.
22. Gramma would have loved this: A book you think a passed-on loved one would have enjoyed.
23. Getting started: Read the first book of a series.
24. Continuing on: A book from any point in a series that is NOT the first or the final.
25. Holiday cheer: A book focusing on a holiday.
26. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance.
27. Upstaged: A play.
28. Alma mater matters: A book about or taking place on a college or university campus.
29. Eyes to the skies: A book connected to weather, or with a weather-themed title.
30. Succinct: A book with a one-word title.
31. Mail call!: An epistolary novel.
32. Old world charm: A book taking place in or about Europe.
33. By its cover: A book you know nothing about, chosen solely by the FRONT cover (no reading the jacket flap, back cover blurb, or reviews).
34. Tag team: A book by more than one author.
35. Namesakes: A book by an author who shares your first or last name (maiden name counts).
36. Ye olde booke shoppe: A book written before 1800.
37. I spy: A book featuring spies or espionage.
38. Howdy, stranger: A book about immigrants or immigration, or with an immigrant main character.
39. Pages on pages: Any book where books play a significant role in the plot.
40. Seasons in the Sun: A book with one of the four seasons in the title.
41. Armchair voyages: A book taking place somewhere you have always wanted to go, but have never been.
42. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer.
43. One more try: A book from a genre you have given up on.
44. Let’s go clubbing!: A book in a celebrity’s book club.
45. Face your fears: A book that intimidates you, for any reason.
46. Be the narrator: Have someone choose a book to have you read aloud to them. Then read it aloud to them. Bonus if you do the funny voices.
47. Backlist delight: Read a lesser-known book from the back catalog of a best-selling author.
48. Dearly Departed: A book by an author who died within the past four years.
49. Be your own boss: A self-published novel.
50. Loose ends: A book you started last year and haven’t yet finished.
 

Verboten

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
131
Reaction score
32
Location
Midwest
Here we go!

1. Halcyon days: A book published the year you turned 21 (or age 12 if you aren’t yet 21) - The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich
2. Eyes to the skies: A book connected to weather, or with a weather-themed title. - Weather by Jenny Offill
3. Howdy, stranger: A book about immigrants or immigration, or with an immigrant main character. - Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
4. Let’s go clubbing!: A book in a celebrity’s book club. - Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Reese Witherspoon's Book Club)
5. Tag team: A book by more than one author. - Cemetery Dance by Preston & Child
6. Armchair voyages: A book taking place somewhere you have always wanted to go, but have never been. - Silent House by Orhan Pamuk
7. Continuing on: A book from any point in a series that is NOT the first or the final. - Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
8. Holiday cheer: A book focusing on a holiday. - Yule Log Murder by Leslie Meier
9. What everyone else was reading: Any book from a significant year in your life on the New York Times Best Seller List - Intensity by Dean Koontz
10. Out of this world: A book taking place in space or on another planet. - Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
11. Pages on pages: Any book where books play a significant role in the plot. - The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
12. Getting started: Read the first book of a series. - Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
20,216
Reaction score
3,888
Location
Wash., D.C. area
Ooooh! I look forward to seeing what you think of Silent House. Snow blew me away, and I've liked all the Pamuk that I've read so far. I also considered Midnight Library (Pages on Pages came up for me too) but it was narrowly beat out by The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Verboten

Verboten

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
131
Reaction score
32
Location
Midwest
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Pamuk and I’ve had this book on my shelf forever, so I’m excited. Ohhh! Let me know what you think of that one. It’s on my TBR list.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
10,033
Reaction score
748
Location
Spain
This is the best thing about New Year's Day: selecting my books for the AW Reading Challenge! Thanks for a great list, Chris. I'll post my list once I'm ready.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P and Tocotin

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
20,216
Reaction score
3,888
Location
Wash., D.C. area
1. Just the facts, Ma’am: Nonfiction on any subject. The Pioneers – David McCullough
2. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma’am: An alternate history. A Nation Interrupted – Kevin McDonald
3. Girls chase boys chase girls (or any combination thereof): A book with a love triangle. An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
4. Out of Africa: A book taking place in Africa (including North Africa). Weep Not, Child – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
5. Let’s go clubbing!: A book in a celebrity’s book club. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides (Oprah’s Book Club)
6. Three-color mythology: A graphic novel or comic book. Home After Dark – David Small
7. Face your fears: A book that intimidates you, for any reason. Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco
8. Namesakes: A book by an author who shares your first or last name (maiden name counts). Hour of the Witch – Chris Bojhalian
9. Holiday cheer: A book focusing on a holiday. In Five Years – Rebecca Serle (New Years)
10. Pages on pages: Any book where books play a significant role in the plot. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson
11. Howdy, stranger: A book about immigrants or immigration, or with an immigrant main character. American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins
12. Dearly Departed: A book by an author who died within the past four years. Tales from the Ant World – E.O. Wilson
 

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
10,033
Reaction score
748
Location
Spain
Chris, good luck with Foucalt's Pendulum! I gave up, as I found it too confusing and dense. On the other hand, I loved Middlesex. It really made me think, and I wouldn't mind rereading it, now that things have evolved since then.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
20,216
Reaction score
3,888
Location
Wash., D.C. area
Chris, good luck with Foucalt's Pendulum! I gave up, as I found it too confusing and dense. On the other hand, I loved Middlesex. It really made me think, and I wouldn't mind rereading it, now that things have evolved since then.
Thanks! When the random number generator matched to the "intimidate" category, Foucault's was the first thing to come to mind. We might have discussed this last year, but I liked The Prague Cemetery but gave up on The Mysterious Flame of Queen Ioana. So I'm not sure what to expect, except that people mention it in the same breath as Ulysses for tough books to get through.
 

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
10,033
Reaction score
748
Location
Spain
Ok, here's my list of challenge books for this year:

1. Armchair voyages: The Yangtse Valley and beyond by Isabella Bird Bishop
2. By its cover: The King David report by Stefan Heym
3. Old world charm: A Traitor’s Kiss
by Fintan O’Toole
4. Dearly departed: Inés y la alegría [ Inés and joy] by Almudena Grandes
5. Just the facts, Ma’am: Doves of war; four women of Spain by Paul Preston
6. Getting started: Bone rattler (Duncan McCallum series, No 1) by Eliot Pattison
7. Continuing on: El Prisionero del Cielo [The Prisoner of Heaven], (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, book Nº 3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
8. I Spy: The thirty-nine steps by John Buchan
9. Succinct: Burr by Gore Vidal
10. Still time for more chapters: Cuadernos de Lanzarote I by Antonio Lobo Antunes
11. Out of Africa: North of South by Shiva Naipaul
12. Read it again, Sam: Down the Snow Stairs (or from Goodnight to Good Morning) by Alice Corkran
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tocotin and Chris P

Cobalt Jade

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,444
Reaction score
415
Location
Seattle
Well I am going to try this again, this time making a New Years resolution to do so, and this time, carving out a space and time TO read. Mostly it's heavy on the fantasy.
===========================================================

1. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read.
At The Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft
(An old favorite that I haven't re-read in a long time.)


2. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1).
Wonderful Tonight, Patti Boyd
(The Beatle bride of Mr. George Harrison.)


3. Just the facts, Ma’am: Nonfiction on any subject.
You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, Janelle Shane
(A carry-over from last year that I still want to read.)


6. Out of Africa: A book taking place in Africa (including North Africa).
We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, Philip Gourevitch
(The genocide that happened in Rwanda in the 1990s.)


9. Coming to a theater near you: A book made into a major motion picture.
Blood of Elves, Andrzej Sapkowski
(I may be cheating a little here as it's for a blockbuster TV series -- The Witcher -- that I watched and enjoyed. But really, with COVID, there aren't blockbuster movies anymore in the sense that we knew them.)


21. Three-color mythology: A graphic novel or comic book.
Locke & Key, Vol. I, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
(More Lovecraft!)


23. Getting started: Read the first book of a series.
The Book of Three,
Lloyd Alexander
(This series had been praised to high heaven by fans of YA and MG fantasy so I want to see what all the fuss was about.)


24. Continuing on: A book from any point in a series that is NOT the first or the final.
Kushiel’s Avatar, Jacqueline Carey
(I forgot where I picked this up from, but it's the third in the Kushiel series. As a writer, it's always been my opinion that any book in a series should be readable and engaging on its own, so I want to put that to the test.)


32. Old world charm: A book taking place in or about Europe.
The World of the Castrati, Patrick Barbier
(Life was tough in Italy if you wanted to be an opera singer.)


34. Tag team: A book by more than one author.
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
(The Russian authors of banned SF novels)


36. Ye olde booke shoppe: A book written before 1800.
Saga of the Volsungs
(Vikings! Germans! Rings!)


50. Loose ends: A book you started last year and haven’t yet finished.
The Dragon Quartet, ed. Marvin Kaye
(I just have a little bit to go on this one.)
 

Gatteau

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
288
Reaction score
298
Location
Lake Tahoe
Woo, time to pick more books!

1. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. The Eyre Affair Jasper Fforde (I ended up thinking about this one a lot in the last year, for whatever reason, and I want to be re-inspired by the absurdity of it.)
2. Just the facts, Ma’am: Nonfiction on any subject. Colonel Roosevelt Edmund Morris (I read the first two volumes of this Teddy Roosevelt bio years ago and thought they were really good, just hadn't gotten around to the finale.)
3. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma’am: An alternate history. The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington Charles Rosenberg (Picked this up as a galley proof at an ALA convention a few years ago, just been sitting around making me wonder occasionally.)
4. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that changed America Erik Larson (Stretching the definition of the category, but H.H. Holmes sure locked people up in his murder castle, right?)
5. Out of Time: A book involving time travel. 11/22/63 Stephen King (This has been on my list a long time, and I found it sitting on someone's Free Stuff pile in front of their house a few months back.)
6. Out of this world: A book taking place in space or on another planet. Project Hail Mary Andy Weir (I've really liked his other books, and my mom said this one was her favorite so far, she's usually spot on.)
7. Better known for . . .: A book by someone who’s more famous for something other than writing. Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside Nick Offerman (They took "Parks and Rec" off Hulu for some stupid reason, and I miss Ron Swanson.)
8. Getting started: Read the first book of a series. Scythe Neal Shusterman (A friend and I were both supposed to read this a while ago - she did and I didn't - I'm behind.)
9. Pages on pages: Any book where books play a significant role in the plot. The Invisible Library Genevieve Cogman (Looking at this keeps making me think of "The Librarians" TV show, which is just fun.)
10. Seasons in the Sun: A book with one of the four seasons in the title. The Fifth Season N.K. Jemisin (Ok, not one of our seasons in the title, but it's right there...)
11. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer. The Cold Between Elizabeth Bonesteel (On my list last year and other things just got in the way.)
12. Loose ends: A book you started last year and haven’t yet finished. The Way of Shadows Brent Weeks (Another I have read before but not in a really long time, and the first few chapters I started rereading last year already felt very different from my memory.)
 

Verboten

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
131
Reaction score
32
Location
Midwest
5 stars:

I just finished "Weather" by Jenny Offill. This book was sent to me by my mother and highly recommended by her and my sister who is a bookstagrammer. The story starts out with Lizzie who's a librarian. She has a lot of history knowledge. Her brother is an addict who has some problems with his life and ends up sleeping on her couch for awhile. Needless to say, her husband and son aren't too kean on it after it's been going on for some time and they leave to go visit his family (but they come back). Lizzie gets an offer from a friend who's running a podcast to answer her mail, so she ends up doing this and all the questions daily are about climate change and the decline of Western civilization. This book was hilarious. Every problem came with a snarky or witty paragraph from the author.
 

mrsmig

Write. Write. Writey Write Write.
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
7,260
Reaction score
2,101
Location
Virginia
Finally had a chance to put my 2022 list together. Chris P, thanks once again for helming this thread!

I'm making a concentrated effort to read more fiction this year, and to get away from all the "failed polar expedition" books I read in the last half of 2021 (much as I enjoyed them).

3. Just the facts, ma'am. Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape, by Cal Flyn

8. Locked up. The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse

12. What everyone else was reading. The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller

18. Better known for. Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park with George, by James Lapine

23. Getting started. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

24. Continuing on. Wolves Eat Dogs, by Martin Cruz Smith

27. Upstaged. Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief, by Paula Vogel

41. Armchair Voyages. The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland, by Nan Shepherd

44. Let's go clubbing. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles

45. Face your fears. Chimpanzee Politics, by Frans de Waal

48. Dearly departed. The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk

50. Loose ends. A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor CURRENTLY READING
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gatteau and Chris P

kaejomul

Registered
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
43
Reaction score
62
Apparently finding 12 books for this list from your stack of 22 unread books on your shelf isn't too difficult!

3. Just the facts, Ma’am: Nonfiction on any subject.

Hell’s Angels by Hunter S Thompson. I don’t know how FACTUAL this is actually going to be, but it’s about his time spent with the motorcycle club so I feel that at least some of it will be true.

8. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby. He had a stroke and ended up with locked-in syndrome (couldn’t move or talk) and he dictated this story using his only functioning muscle….one eye lid blinking morse code.

9. Coming to a theater near you:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. LOVE the show, finally getting around to reading the book.

10. Verboten: A banned book.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Not banned currently where I live but I know it’s been banned in various places and times before)

14. New horizons: A book in a new-to-you genre.

The Crooked Path: An Introduction to Traiditional Witchcraft by Kelden. I know nothing about this kind of stuff but I’m interested in learning about it.

22. Gramma would have loved this: A book you think a passed-on loved one would have enjoyed.

Baba’s Kitchen Medicine by Michael Mucz. This book about the knowledge brought by the Ukranian population who immigrated to Western Canada. My grandma is a Ukranian who immigrated to Western Canada.

32. Old world charm: A book taking place in or about Europe.

Another Life and The House on the Embankment by Yuri Trifonov . I’ve been eyeing this one on my dad’s bookshelf for a while now.

34. Tag team : Philosopher Queens by Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting

33. By its cover: A book you know nothing about, chosen solely by the FRONT cover (no reading the jacket flap, back cover blurb, or reviews).

Immortal Sister, Secrets of Taoist Women translated by Thomas Cleary. Was at a used bookstore in my city last summer when I stumbled across this. Looked at the cover and immediately bought. Still have never cracked the cover.

45. Face your fears: A book that intimidates you, for any reason.

A treatise of Human Nature by David Hume. Solely because it is an absolute beast of a read and has been sitting on my bookshelf unopened for 3 years.

50. Loose ends: A book you started last year and haven’t yet finished.

Successful Aging by Daniel J Levitin. Another beast of a book that I started in 2021 and I am determined to finish.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsmig and Chris P

kaejomul

Registered
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
43
Reaction score
62
1. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read.
At The Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft
(An old favorite that I haven't re-read in a long time.)
I love At The Mountains of Madness, I think it's probably my favourite Lovecraft story.
 

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
10,033
Reaction score
748
Location
Spain
Mrsmig, I hope you enjoy A History of the World in 100 Objects as much as I did!
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsmig

Siri Kirpal

Swan in Process
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 20, 2011
Messages
8,856
Reaction score
2,988
Location
In God I dwell, especially in Eugene OR
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Thanks for continuing these challenges, Chris. I've been reading more and (mostly) more deeply since I started making a list each year. I've discovered, though, that I do best with a book challenge if I list more books than I can read in a year and allow myself to add and/or subtract books at will. That's what I've done here. Due to the (hopefully) upcoming cataract surgeries, I scrapped most of the books I'd hoped to read with fonts that are hard on the eyes (i.e. small italics, etc.). Had to scrap several such last year.

Last year I said I'd try to cram all this year's books into five categories, but I'd also promised myself that I'd read my specially picked By Its Cover book the next time that category ended up on the Challenge, so I've listed it at the end as an extra credit.

Here's the List:

Pages on Pages:

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel (also Just the Facts, Ma'am)

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer (also Out of Africa)

Paris by the Book by Liam Callahan (also Old World Charm)

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (also Old World Charm)

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Crossings by Alex Landragin (also Succinct)


Thy Titles Are Numbered (Books with Numbers in the Title):

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (also Gramma Would Have Loved This)

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung (also Namesakes—my given name is a K variant of Catherine)

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (also Let's Go Clubbing!—Oprah)


Get On With It Already!:

The Discourtesy of Death by William Brodrick (also Loose Ends) Ongoing

The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich (also Backlist Delights)

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleeve

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The Annotated Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard (also Learn the Quadrille)

Blessings by Anna Quindlen (also Succinct)

Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse (also Succinct)


Authors Corner (Two or More Books by and/or about the Same Author):

C.S. Lewis:


Surprised by Joy (Backlist Delights: Gramma Would Have Loved This)

Till We Have Faces (Backlist Delights: Gramma Would Have Loved This)

Paul Adam:

The Rainaldi Quartet (also Armchair Voyages—Italy: Getting Started; Gramma Would Have Loved This; Old World Charm)

Paganini's Ghost (Armchair Voyages (Italy): Continuing On; Gramma Would Have Loved This; Old World Charm)


Be the Narrator: Loose Ends:

The Gift, Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master, Translated by Daniel Ladinsky Ongoing

Extra Credit: By Its Cover:


The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chris P

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
20,216
Reaction score
3,888
Location
Wash., D.C. area
I finished the first of my challenge books, In Five Years by Rebecca Serle.

Not quite taking place on New Years, as many blog posts and reviews about the book said, in the deeps of December, Dannie Kohan is asked at the interview for her dream job, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" That night, to celebrate her acing the interview, her dream boyfriend David asks "Will you marry me?" Elated, the couple returns home to their Manhattan apartment and Dannie lays down to rest her eyes . . . and wakes up somewhere in Brooklyn in a strange bedroom, with a strange yet appealing man cooking pasta in the kitchen, a strange ring on her finger, and the TV indicating it's five years later. After the mysterious cook and her, um, "get cooking," the time transport returns her to the present day and her old life. This was no dream, and Dannie is dumbfounded at her her carefully laid five-year plans can be so thoroughly derailed. Following such a strong set-up the book settles into a linear and lackluster (boring, actually) story of urban life leading up to the five-year vision, made interesting only by occasional glimpses into the in-five-years vision she had, such as her best friend Bella dating the strange man in the kitchen and the acquiring of certain objects she saw in the flash-forward.


1. Just the facts, Ma’am: Nonfiction on any subject. The Pioneers – David McCullough
2. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma’am: An alternate history. A Nation Interrupted – Kevin McDonald
3. Girls chase boys chase girls (or any combination thereof): A book with a love triangle. An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
4. Out of Africa: A book taking place in Africa (including North Africa). Weep Not, Child – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
5. Let’s go clubbing!: A book in a celebrity’s book club. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides (Oprah’s Book Club)
6. Three-color mythology: A graphic novel or comic book. Home After Dark – David Small
7. Face your fears: A book that intimidates you, for any reason. Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco
8. Namesakes: A book by an author who shares your first or last name (maiden name counts). Hour of the Witch – Chris Bojhalian
9. Holiday cheer: A book focusing on a holiday. In Five Years – Rebecca Serle (New Years) DONE
10. Pages on pages:
Any book where books play a significant role in the plot. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson
11. Howdy, stranger: A book about immigrants or immigration, or with an immigrant main character. American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins
12. Dearly Departed: A book by an author who died within the past four years. Tales from the Ant World – E.O. Wilson
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsmig

Tocotin

deceives
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 3, 2008
Messages
1,666
Reaction score
713
Location
Tokyo, waiting for typhoons
Hello! Thank you for hosting this, Chris!

This year, I’m going a bit easy on myself with everything, so the books I chose are mostly the ones I’m excited about.

1. Still time for more chapters: My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft by Bonnie A. Nardi
2. Girls chase boys chase girls: Tangier Love Story by Carol Ardman
3. Out of Africa: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
4. Out of this world: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
5. Three-color mythology: Under the Lamps (らんぷの下) by Kei Ichinoseki
6. Getting Started: Death of A Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong
7. Upstaged: Rokumeikan (鹿鳴館) by Mishima Yukio
8. Old world charm: Wacława’s Memoirs (Pamiętnik Wacławy) by Eliza Orzeszkowa STARTED
9. Howdy, stranger: You, Me, U.S. by Brigitte Bautista
10. Seasons in the Sun: The Winter Station by Jody Shields
11. Armchair voyages: Smile As They Bow by Nu Nu Yi
12. Backlist delight: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

I started reading Wacława’s Memoirs, and I love it so far, but then Madam Eliza is one of my most favorite writers ever. It’s one of those huge books (this one is over 700 pages long) that don’t feel long at all.

:troll
 

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
10,033
Reaction score
748
Location
Spain
Tocotin, I hope you enjoy The Red Heroine as much as I did. I read it before visiting Shanghai in 2011, and it helped me understand what I saw. it's a great series.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tocotin

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
10,033
Reaction score
748
Location
Spain
I finished my first book in the challenge: By it’s cover: The King David Report by Stefan Heym.

In this often hilarious historical novel satirizing totalitarian states and the writing of history, Ethan the scribe is coerced by King Solomon to write the “One and Only True and Authoritative, Historically Correct and Officially Approved Report on the Amazing Rise, God-fearing Life, Heroic Deeds and Wonderful Achievements of [Solomon’s father] David, Son of Jesse" henceforward to be known as "the King David Report".

Yet as Ethan researches the facts in his search for the truth, he finds that behind the official story of a revered hero is a despicable man who attained the throne through deceit, seduction, and plunder. After interviewing key witnesses in secret and at considerable risk to his own life, Ethan realizes that the truth behind the rumors is even worse than he feared, and he agonizes over how to write a sanitized biography that will pass Solomon’s scrutiny yet somehow reveal David’s crimes between the lines. This dilemma is repeated on a different level by Heym himself, one of Germany's best-known dissident authors, in his depicting the terrible power wielded by the Communist state. The forced confessions, trumped-up charges, removal or incarceration of those deemed inconvenient, and the gangs of thugs described in ancient Israel clearly mirror twentieth-century Communism, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see that David is Lenin, and Solomon is Stalin.

I struggled initially with the confusing names, biblical language and background (not being very au fait with the Old Testament), but gradually the story grew on me, and I think it’s a very clever book.

1. Armchair voyages: The Yangtse Valley and beyond by Isabella Bird Bishop

2. By its cover: The King David report by Stefan Heym DONE

3. Old world charm: A Traitor’s Kiss
by Fintan O’Toole

4. Dearly departed: Inés y la alegría [ Inés and joy] by Almudena Grandes

5. Just the facts, Ma’am: Doves of war; four women of Spain by Paul Preston

6. Getting started: Bone rattler (Duncan McCallum series, No 1) by Eliot Pattison

7. Continuing on: El Prisionero del Cielo [The Prisoner of Heaven], (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, book Nº 3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

8. I Spy: The thirty-nine steps by John Buchan

9. Succinct: Burr
by Gore Vidal

10. Still time for more chapters: Cuadernos de Lanzarote I by Antonio Lobo Antunes

11. Out of Africa: North of South by Shiva Naipaul

12. Read it again, Sam: Down the Snow Stairs (or from Goodnight to Good Morning) by Alice Corkran
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tocotin and Chris P

mrsmig

Write. Write. Writey Write Write.
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
7,260
Reaction score
2,101
Location
Virginia
I, too, have finished my first book of 2021: my Loose ends selection, A History of the World in 100 Objects. I thought it was terrific - written in an accessible but concise manner, with great photographs to accompany each section and interesting commentary on the objects from some surprising people (in other words, not just scientists and historians). A great read.

I've begun book #2, Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair. Thus far, I confess I'm not liking it much.

3. Just the facts, ma'am. Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape, by Cal Flyn

8. Locked up. The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse

12. What everyone else was reading. The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller

18. Better known for. Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park with George, by James Lapine

23. Getting started. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde CURRENTLY READING

24. Continuing on. Wolves Eat Dogs, by Martin Cruz Smith

27. Upstaged. Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief, by Paula Vogel

41. Armchair Voyages. The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland, by Nan Shepherd

44. Let's go clubbing. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles

45. Face your fears. Chimpanzee Politics, by Frans de Waal

48. Dearly departed. The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk

50. Loose ends. A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor FINISHED
 

oneblindmouse

The new me
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
10,033
Reaction score
748
Location
Spain
I, too, have finished my first book of 2021: my Loose ends selection, A History of the World in 100 Objects. I thought it was terrific - written in an accessible but concise manner, with great photographs to accompany each section and interesting commentary on the objects from some surprising people (in other words, not just scientists and historians). A great read.

I've begun book #2, Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair. Thus far, I confess I'm not liking it much.
I'm gald you enjoyed History of the World in 100 objects. I found it fascinating.
Is The Eyre Affair your first Fforde book? I enjoyed it, and read several in the series, but then rather went off him.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mrsmig

mrsmig

Write. Write. Writey Write Write.
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
7,260
Reaction score
2,101
Location
Virginia
I'm gald you enjoyed History of the World in 100 objects. I found it fascinating.
Is The Eyre Affair your first Fforde book? I enjoyed it, and read several in the series, but then rather went off him.
It is. I've had him recommended to me a couple of times, but thus far I'm finding his world building a bit sloppy and his writing style irritating. He's not only used the "have your protag look in a mirror to describe themselves" trope, he's also committed the cardinal sin of cutting away just as a huge, important confrontation with the Big Bad is beginning, then having the next chapter begin with the protag regaining consciousness in a hospital bed and recounting that battle. It's clunky as hell, particularly given that when describing the battle, the protag isn't talking like a human being would talk - she's essentially speaking narrative. It's as if he wrote the confrontation scene, then decided to have her tell it afterward instead, but didn't bother to rewrite it so it sounded real.

Maybe this kind of thing is acceptable to the average reader, but as a writer, I was really put off by it.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away