Completed 2008 Reading Challenges

There’s only about two weeks left in the month of December, and I’ve finally finished the last of the reading challenges I signed up for in 2008. Here’s what I read:


Once Upon a Time Challenge II (3/21/08-6/20/08) – Finished 6/15/08

Beast – Donna Jo Napoli – finished 3/26/08
Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman – finished 4/8/08
The Line Between – Peter Beagle – finished 4/21/08
The Naming – Alison Croggon – finished 5/2/08
The Sorceress and the Cygnet – Patricia A. McKillip – finished 5/31/08
Howl’s Moving Castle – Dianne Wynne Jones – finished 6/15/08


R.I.P III Reading Challenge 9/1/08 – 10/31/08 – Finished 10/26/08


Mythopoeic Award Challenge 1/1/08-12/31/08 – Finished 9/9/08


YA Challange 2008 (1/1/08-12/31/08) – Finished 12/9/08

 


TBR 2008 Challenge 1/1/08-12/31/08 – Finished 12/19/08

American Gods – Neil Gaiman – finished 7/9/08
Cordelia Underwood – Van Reid – finished 8/6/08
Coyote Blue – Christopher Moore – finished 8/28/08
The Stolen Child – Keith Donohue – Finished 1/31/08
Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny – finished 10/2/08
Idylls of the King – Alfred, Lord Tennyson – finished 6/23/08
Herodotus – The Histories – finished 12/19/08

Alternates:
Tam Lin – Pamela Dean – finished 9/9/08
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield – Finished 3/21/08
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – finished 7/26/08
Austenland – Shannon Hale – finished 8/21/08
On Writing – Stephen King – finished 11/29/08

I also started and abandoned the Graphic Novels Challenge and the Soup’s On Challenge. Soup’s On doesn’t actually end until next March, but I haven’t been in much of a cooking phase this year, so I’m just going to be honest with myself and give that one up now, and start 2009 with a clean slate.

One thing I did learn was to be careful with the number of 12 month/12 books challenges I did. While I won’t completely rule out 12 month challenges for next year, I’m going to try to do ones that don’t involve quite so many books, in order to preserve my sanity. I think I like the smaller theme challenges that I can do in a short burst of time better than the longer ones.

I already have a number of interesting looking 2009 challenges bookmarked for consideration, so I’m sure once I get back from the Christmas festivities, those will be showing up here in the sidebar.

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TBR 2008 Reading Challenge


I’ve completed my final reading challenge of 2008! The TBR challenge was a challenge to read 12 books I’d had hanging around for some period of time. We were allowed a main list, and a list of alternates. My main list was of books I actually had at home, and my alternate list was books I had on my Amazon wishlist that I hadn’t bought yet because they were available at the library.

Here’s what I read:

American Gods – Neil Gaiman – finished 7/9/08
Cordelia Underwood – Van Reid – finished 8/6/08
Coyote Blue – Christopher Moore – finished 8/28/08
The Stolen Child – Keith Donohue – Finished 1/31/08
Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny – finished 10/2/08
Idylls of the King – Alfred, Lord Tennyson – finished 6/23/08
Herodotus – The Histories – finished 12/19/08

Alternates:
Tam Lin – Pamela Dean – finished 9/9/08
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield – Finished 3/21/08
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – finished 7/26/08
Austenland – Shannon Hale – finished 8/21/08
On Writing – Stephen King – finished 11/29/08

I had one book I tried to start and just couldn’t get into (The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson). This was actually the only book I started and failed to finish this year.

At times, I had a hard time actually making myself read these books, especially the ones that were sitting around the house. I realized I operate on a surprisingly emotional level with my books, and I’m very wont to go seek something out to fit my mood, and the reason some of these books have sat around for so long is that they don’t easily fit into my reading cycles.

I also found this to be the most pressure of any of the challenges I did this year. I think it was the wide ranging nature of the books, and the fact that a couple of the ones I did read were rather weighty, and took some time to get through (Herodotus and Idylls of the King). When I wasn’t hitting my one book a month target, I got a little antsy.

For this reason, I’ve decided to sit out the 2009 challenge. I think if I do this more than once, it can’t be a regular yearly thing.

Herodotus – The Histories

bf60ca231c5976059357a555277434f414f4141Read of the TBR 2008 Reading Challenge.

I don’t read classic texts in translation very often anymore, and I could really feel that while reading through The Histories. I feel like I’ve been reading this book forever, but it’s really only been since some time in November.

Herodotus lived in the 5th century BC, in one of the Greek kingdoms of Asia Minor (Turkey). He was fairly widely traveled for his time, having been to Greece itself, Egypt, and other parts of Africa. His book relates the history of these regions, but especially the history of the Persian invasions of Greece under Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes.

Herodotus is called the father of history, but it’s a history you have to take with a grain of salt. He’s sometimes very fair in his methods – for instance, he refuses to believe in the actual existence of the Tin Isles (Britain) because he can’t find anyone that’s ever actually been there to satisfy him of their existence. On the other hand, he often resorts to here say about the various native peoples of lands he’s not actually visited.

Still it’s an engaging, if extremely dense, narrative, and manages to convey a surprising amount of personality, even through the translation. I’m definitely not going to ever need to read this again, but I enjoyed my one run through.

My one criticism of this particular addition (Penguin Classics, first published in 1954), is the introduction. I normally enjoy introductions to historic texts, but this one was a real yawn. I actually ended up skipping most of it. I’d definitely recommend finding a different edition if you’re into good contextual introductions.

Young Adult Reading Challenge 2008


My Young Adult Challenge 2008 reading is done! I ended up reading the following:

For the most part, I enjoyed everyone of these. Even the ones I didn’t like as much as the others weren’t so bad that I wasn’t able to finish them. Several of these were the beginnings of series that I’m now excited to finish. Definitely a good reading run, all around.

The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

Read for the YA 2008 Reading Challenge.

The fairy tale and folklore group I lurk on at Ravelry is currently reading The Dark is Rising as a winter-themed read along, and I was suddenly seized by a fit of nostalgia and decided to read along too. The story is set during the Christmas season, and seemed like a fitting way to end my YA Reading Challenge reading.

I first read this book when I was young (my copy cost me a whopping $2.95 – those were the days), and I have very fond memories of it. It’s the story of Will Stanton, a boy who finds on his 11th birthday that he is in fact one of the Old Ones, fated to battle against the coming of the Dark. The story is set in England, initially in the present day (it was published in the 70s, so this present day would probably seem foreign to today’s kids, but makes me nostalgic for my childhood), but then in a number of different times, as Will discovers his powers and searches for the six signs of the Light.

The book (the whole series, really) is filled with Arthurian and English folk legend, but definitely re-imagined. Cooper’s writing is lovely – I can’t find a good passage to quote here, because I love them all, and would take all night trying to narrow down to one. I just love this book. I loved it as a pre-teen, and I find I love it still. This is one of the books I’m glad I held onto, because I’d definitely want to share it with any child of mine.

On Writing – Stephen King

Read for the TBR 2008 Reading Challenge.

I read somewhere once that Stephen King’ On Writing was the best book about writing available, and while I haven’t read enough in the genre to feel comfortable agreeing with that sentiment, I can definitely say it’s one of the best books about writing I’ve ever read.

The book is part memoir – the afterward section dealing with the author’s serious accident in 1999 was particularly interesting, only because I remember that incident quite vividly, it was after all, very big news up here when it happened.

The other part of the book is full of writing advice, and what I really enjoyed about it was how honest that section was. Full confession here – this is actually only the second Stephen King book I’ve read (the other being The Stand). I’m not a fan of horror, and let’s face it, you don’t exactly think Stephen King when looking to read something in other genres. So what I do know of him is through little snippets of writing like his Entertainment Weekly column, and the fact that he’s really a local celebrity and shows up around here accordingly, so I have the image of him as a pretty low key, no bullshit kind of person. And that’s exactly how his writing tips come across. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone, if for other reason than the number of little things it made me think about that I take for granted in how I write. Like any writing book, it’s certainly not going to make sense to everyone, but it made a great deal of sense to me. Enough sense that I may actually try to seek out some non-horror King sometime when I’m looking for something different to read.

R.I.P III Reading Challenge


My RIP III Reading is done! I was starting to worry that this wasn’t going to happen, as Paperspine has inexplicably been hopping over the first six books in my queue for my last three selection, and this included the final two (of which I only actually need to read one) RIP III books I’d queued up for the challenge. Fortunately, the Big Chicken Barn came through, and I found a copy of Nocturnes by John Connolly (autographed, even), staring out at me from the display at the top of the stairs when we visited there last weekend. Someone was looking out for my challenge reading.

This year, I read:

I was pretty happy with the selection. It was certainly less weighty than the tomes I went through last year. I’ve already moved this year’s alternate (Tamsin by Peter Beagle) down in my queue, ready for next year’s challenge.