2010 Challenge Wrap-up Post


Well, I haven't finished all three challenges I signed up for in 2010, but given that I'm doing by best to finish Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française (in French) and Naguib Mahfouz's Palace Walk (in English) before Christmas, I doubt I'll have time to sneak in one more book of poetry before year's end. So it seemed like a good time for a wrap-up post. Given that I was sorely lacking in challenge-related motivation this year, I'm surprised I did this well! I've included links and brief descriptions in case you missed any of these along the way. There is some overlap among the three challenges.

Women Unbound Challenge
(Fiction and non-fiction related to women's studies; finished 8 out of 8 books)

  1. Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America, by Elliott Gorn: A biography of the famous labor organizer and self-described "hell-raiser" Mary Harris Jones.
  2. L'amant de la Chine du nord, by Marguerite Duras: Included here for its thought-provoking treatment of young female sexuality.
  3. Ladies and Not-so-Gentle-Women: Elisabeth Marbury, Anne Morgan, Elsie de Wolfe, Anne Vanderbilt, and Their Times, by Alfred Allen Lewis: A gossipy yet interesting history of the rich Republicans' feminism of turn-of-the-century New York City.
  4. Possession: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt: The famous metafictional triumph of Victoriana, which deals with societal expectations of women around marriage, sex, and the desire to make art.
  5. Mémoires d'une jeune fille rangée, by Simone de Beauvoir: The first volume of the famous feminist and existentialist's memoirs were probably my favorite read from 2010.
  6. Adeline Mowbray, by Amelia Opie: An eighteenth-century treatment of experimentation with alternatives to the marriage institution within the Romantic movement.
  7. Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues, by Paul and Beth Garon: A biography-cum-critical-study of the seminal blues performer, written through a feminist/surrealist lens.
  8. The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen, by Nella Larsen: Larsen's novella Passing deals with the interplay of race and gender in 1920s Harlem.

Challenge That Dare Not Speak Its Name
(Fiction and non-fiction related to queer studies; finished 8 out of 8 books)

  1. The Night of the Iguana, by Tennessee Williams: Williams's famous play about the inconvenience of sexual attraction and the onset of age and madness.
  2. The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith: Therese and Carol's love affair and cross-country flight was perhaps the first lesbian novel not to end in abject disaster.
  3. Ladies and Not-so-Gentle-Women: Elisabeth Marbury, Anne Morgan, Elsie de Wolfe, Anne Vanderbilt, and Their Times, by Alfred Allen Lewis: Among the group of progressive socialites Lewis chronicles, there are several same-sex love affairs.
  4. Mémoires d'une jeune fille rangée, by Simone de Beauvoir: Again, this book was just fantastic, and chronicles (among many other things) de Beauvoir's early thoughts and feelings around sexuality.
  5. The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen, by Nella Larsen: A key element of Passing is the ill-fated attraction of Irene for her old friend Clare.
  6. Wish Her Safe at Home, by Stephen Benatar: My somewhat quirky reading of Benatar's novel interpreted protagonist Rachel Waring as a coded gay man.
  7. Notes from the Air, by John Ashbery: Ashbery is less a "gay poet" than a poet who happens to be gay, but this volume was nonetheless a high point of the challenge.
  8. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides: A Modern Family Epic about a Greek-American hermaphrodite growing up in Detroit in the 1960s and 70s.

Clover, Bee, and Reverie Challenge
(Poetry: finished 4 out of 5 books)

  1. The Poetry of Petrarch, by Petrarch: Either the original Romantic, or the inventor of stalker poetry, depending on your perspective.
  2. Notes from the Air, by John Ashbery: Surrealism of the everyday. I enjoyed this volume very much.
  3. Nox, by Anne Carson: A haunting elegy for the author's lost brother, and a meditation on the act of translation as a metaphor for human grief.
  4. An Oresteia: Agamemnon, Elektra, Orestes, by Aiskhylos, Sophokles, and Euripedes, translated by Anne Carson: Stunning translations of these three classic Greek verse plays, arranged to form an alternate telling of the story of the House of Atreus.

I doubt I'll be joining any challenges in 2011, (that whole motivation issue again), but I look forward to some great readalongs, including Richard's Cairo Trilogy Readalong, the Wolves 2011 selections, and a number of the Year of Feminist Classics choices. Onward and upward, reading friends!

Also, a more comprehensive 2010 retrospective post to follow. If I can get my act together, there may even be charts and/or graphs.


  • For not being motivated to do challenges I'd say you still did pretty darn good and read some good books in the process!

  • Charts and graphs! Excellent! I agree with Stefanie -- you did an excellent job. I'm really intrigued by the de Beauvoir. I'll have to get my hands on a copy (in English).

  • Stefanie: Thanks! And yes, I think they did actually motivate me to read some interesting books I might not otherwise have picked up. :-)

    Dorothy: I will try to deliver on the charts and/or graphs. Hopefully they will not exceed my technical ability. :-) Highly recommend the Beauvoir, and I hope that there is a good English translation.

  • Most impressive for one not so inclined! I never did this well so just gave up. It seemed ridiculous when I actually checked my progress.

    Struggling to make time for Palace Walk and Clandestine in Chile but intent on making it through by year's end. I feel a hush coming over the house, a food induced coma, so perhaps now is the time to disappear with a book.

  • I've lost the motivation for challenges too -- I think many people have. I wonder why? we're just so book blogged out these days, I guess!

    Great job on these challenges. I love seeing wrap up lists because sometimes I miss the original posts :)

  • Rebecca: We were just commenting on each others' posts at exactly the same moment - quelle coïncidence! Personally I don't feel blogged out, but I feel kind of challenged out, if that makes sense. I'm still digging the readalongs, and writing about the books I read, but I want to be slightly less structured about my reading, or have individually-defined structure, I suppose.

  • June 2012

    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
              1 2
    3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    10 11 12 13 14 15 16
    17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    24 25 26 27 28 29 30


    link to Wolves 2011 reading list
    link to more disgust bibliography