Monday Reads and 2012 Challenges

Happy Monday, and if you’re in the path of Hurricane Sandy, here’s wishing you safety, warmth, and power.  I have an unexpected day off today, which is nice – but it also means sitting by the window watching our one tree blow around and worrying (a little bit) about the increasing water level in the canal behind our house.

But on this Monday, here’s what I’m reading: The Nobodies Album, by Carolyn Parkhurst, a book I’ve been meaning to read for a couple years since it came out.   It’s about a writer who rewrites the ends to all of her novels, and somehow that all gets caught up in the fact that her son has been arrested for murdering his girlfriend.  It sounds like a strange book and I’m looking forward to it.  Parkhurst wrote Dogs of Babel, a book that was also strange and so disturbing I’ve never forgotten it.

I’m also reading Andrew McCarthy’s The Longest Way Home, which is subtitled “One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down”.  It all seems a bit pre-determined to me, in that he’s a travel writer taking one long trip so he can freak out about getting married.  And yet I’m intrigued by the concept — I like the idea of an actor turning travel writer, and I like the introspective nature of the book (travel as exploring the self rather than just seeing stuff).

What I’ve finished recently: This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain; and a very cool science fiction anthology called Diverse Energies, where the stories are written by and about people of different ethnicities (including Paolo Bacigalupi and Ursula LeGuin).

It’s the end of October, and that means I have two months to complete the Challenges I signed up for in January.  I’ve been thinking about these challenges lately — obviously, no one’s counting, except for me.  And maybe no one actually cares if they complete a challenge or not.  But for me, it’s both a strength and a compulsion that when I set myself a task, I finish it.

So here’s what I have left:

On the TBR Challenge, I have two books to read, once I finish The Nobodies Album:

  • Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
  • Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

On the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Challenge, I have:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (which I tried and didn’t finish)

The Classics Challenge: I easily read more than 7 classics.  However, I failed completely to post reviews based on the November’s Autumn monthly question.  I guess I prefer a challenge to be about what I read rather than how I review something.

The New Authors Challenge: I easily read more than 15 new-to-me authors.  I didn’t have to try with this one.

The Classics Club Challenge: I’m supposed to read 10 from this list each year, but I only recently signed up, so I don’t think that counts.  I’ve read 6, but if I complete the books in the above challenges I’ll have read two more.

For the non-bloggers out there, I realize you probably think this idea of “assigned reading” is silly – we’re not in school after all.  But I will say that the TBR Challenge and the Extraordinary Gentlemen Challenge pushed me this year to read books I wouldn’t have otherwise.  It’s so easy to reach for something new and bestselling.  And of the books on those two lists, almost every one is a book I’m really glad I read.

So there you are.  I think if I’m going to finish Daniel Deronda before the end of the year I should start soon.

13 Responses to “Monday Reads and 2012 Challenges”

  1. Shan

    Wow, I didn’t know Andrew McCarthy was a travel writer! I need to spend the next two months working on finishing my challenges. I always start the year excited to take on challenges then find myself rushing at the end of the year or not making them at all.

    • curlygeek04

      McCarthy writes articles for National Geographic’s Traveler Magazine, but I think this is his first book. Should be interesting.

      I’m really curious how many people actually complete challenges. Is it more about participating in something as a group or finishing a list? I just like to finish what I started but I wasn’t so good about the participating part.

  2. Jennifer

    You have been reading some great stuff! I just received This is How You Lose Her in the mail this past week and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t think I’ve heard of The Nobodies Album but it definitely sounds interesting.

    I hope you have a great week of reading 🙂

  3. Laurie@ What She Read

    I’ll be thinking of you as the next few days unfold. (Low canal. Low canal. Low canal.)
    I so admire your dedication to multiple challenges, and to sharing how you’ve benefitted by participating in them. Next year, a TBR challenge will be a necessity for me, so I hope you’ll be participating too!
    I’m wondering what you think about me trying to publicize my “Pay It Sideways” challenge more heavily for 2013, in which we select blogs and/ or websites that we admire or want to share, and then read a book recommended by the site’s host. When we post about the book, we also share our reasons for admiring the site or blogger.
    Do you think other bloggers would benefit from the challenge and enjoy it, if they knew about it in time to incorporate it into their 2013 schedule?

    • curlygeek04

      Thanks for the good thoughts! We weathered the storm just fine — lost a tree but no house or car damage.
      I think your challenge is a great idea! I would definitely put it out there at the beginning of the year, that’s when I signed up for all of mine. After that I had too many to sign up for more. I’d be happy to publicize your challenge on my blog.

  4. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    Challenges are a perfect way to keep yourself falling into a reading rut. I hope you stay safe through the storm enjoying your book.

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

  5. Tanya Patrice

    Good luck finishing up your reading challenges. I have a few left to complete too. And I just got Diverse Energies – I’m so excited to read it.

    • curlygeek04

      Thanks for visiting! I really liked Diverse Energies and will review soon. I find it really hard to write a review of an anthology.

  6. Rachel Maleh

    I so enjoyed meeting you last week and hope you have weathered the storm intact and with no damage. We are fine here and have power! Having time off from work gave me the ability to catch up on reading and I just finished This is How you Lose Her. I didn’t love it, but thought it was ok-the writing was very raw and intense. I’m looking forward to your review. I’m curious about your challenges- especially the new author one and TBR(what does that stand for?). I’d recommend, Faith and Heft if you haven’t read those, as well as The Submission and The Mysterious Life of Esme Lennox.
    Enjoy and so glad I found you online as well!

    • curlygeek04

      Rachel, thanks for visiting the Book Stop! It was great to meet you as well. TBR is “to be read” — fairly common in book-blogging lingo so I forget to explain. I felt the same about How You Lose Her. Esme Lennox is one of my favorites, I recommend other books by O’Farrell if you liked that one. I haven’t heard of Faith and Heft and The Submission but will look them up.


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