Here we go with another meta-post; I swear an actual review is coming soon!

A few weeks ago one of the weekly round-ups involved checking in on annual reading challenges now that the year is halfway over (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?). This is the first year I ventured into the realm of dedicated book blogging and group reading challenges, and it's been such a rewarding experience so far. I've learned a lot about what kinds of challenges I'd like to continue doing, which elements really make a challenge worthwhile for me, and what I'd like to get out of writing about books.

The Bolaño read-along hosted by Steph and Claire is turning out to be a highlight of the year, not only because I loved the novel with an unholy passion, but because it's fascinating to see what different people take away from it. It's got me thinking about what spurs my own reactions to literature, and it's also challenged me to analyze and articulate those reactions more clearly than I might have done otherwise. I'm done with the book, but still have three more installments of discussion to look forward to, so it's a win/win!

9 for 2009 Challenge
(9 out of 9 completed)
I wrapped up the 9 for 2009 Challenge a few weeks ago, and it was highly enjoyable. I liked the idea of a flexible challenge that focuses on diminishing (or at least refreshing) one's to-be-read shelf while also incorporating the fun of categories (who doesn't love categories?). I especially liked that there were a few slots that tended to push people out of their comfort zones. Thanks, Isabel! My final list was as follows:

What's in a Name
(5 out of 6 completed)
I'm narrowing in on finishing the What's in a Name Challenge, with only one book left. This is the project that alerted me to the fact that reading challenges are a "thing," so I feel very warmly toward it. It's fun, but hasn't really pushed me much. I'm planning on wrapping it up with Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian: or the Evening Redness in the West in the next month or so.

Dewey Decimal
(6 out of 10 completed)
I'm loving the uniqueness of the Dewey Decimal Challenge! It's really encouraging me to stretch beyond my normal reading habits: more nonfiction on more different subjects can only be a good thing. I've learned a ton from the books I've read as part of this challenge. I can pretty much guarantee that without it, I would never have picked up volumes on the early Shaker movement or the history of the bookshelf, and I'm glad I did! Next year I'm thinking of tweaking it so that instead of one book from each Dewey century, I'll read one book from each decade of a single century. I'm keeping pace pretty predictably with this challenge, reading in order by century. My 600-century book, Anne Mendelson's Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages, is already waiting on my to-be-read shelf.

Orbis Terrarum
(5 out of 10 completed)
I'm loving the Orbis Terrarum Challenge so much! The best thing about it is how proactive everyone is about visiting other peoples' reviews and commenting on them. I've met some great folks through this challenge, and it's also made me conscious of national diversity in my reading list. Awesome props to Bethany for putting it all together. I'm currently in the midst of Thomas Mann's epic The Magic Mountain as my Germanic addition to this list, which is why I haven't been posting as often as usual. This challenge only started in March, so I feel good about my progress thus far, and I have lots of possibilities for the next six months. The list thus far:

(1 out of 9 completed)
I joined the Decades '09 Challenge six months late, so I've only read my first book for it thus far: Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, representing the 1890s. I'm still not sure whether I'll finish this one by the deadline, especially since several of the books on my list are epic tomes. But we'll see what happens! With a few of the earlier challenges completed, I may just swing it. And even if I don't, the journey will be lots of fun.


  • Yay, I love lists - nice work on getting through so many challenges. I can't believe people can do so many at once - I'm barely keeping up with the OT Challenge!

    The Dewey Decimal challenge sounds fun. I did something like that when I was a kid - read my way through the non-fic stacks in the children's room. Glad you're having so much fun reading!

  • I love lists too. Joining you on your decades challenge is on one of my lists! I am so impressed with the breadth of your reading. It's something I aspire to.

  • Sarah, I remember feeling absolutely intoxicated by the library as a kid, and vowing to myself I would read every book in it systematically, from one end to the other. I even checked out the first five or so books from the far right-hand end of shelves, but quickly got bogged down. Still, there's something appealing about the idea, isn't there?

    Cynthia, thanks for the nice words! Lists are so satisfying, aren't they?

  • I am so bad that I haven't even finished my own challenge. Oh, well.

    Congrats on finishing 9 for '09 Challenge.

    I am making up another one for next year.

  • Wow, what great progress you are making! I'm a bit overchallenged, but I keep seeing great one that I'd wish I'd joined. The Orbis Terrarum is one that I need, since I tend to read only British and American works, with few exceptions. It would be nice to go around the world!

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    link to Wolves 2011 reading list
    link to more disgust bibliography