2010 Complete Booker Challenge

As of last night, I’ve finished the 2010 Complete Booker Challenge.

I decided to read six books that were long-listed for the prize. I started with a list of eight, and read the following:

I had started a book called The Mulberry Empire, which I’ll be addressing in a separate post closer to the end of the year about the books I’ve started and not been able to complete this year.

Of the books I was able to finish, I’m glad I read them. Many were outside of what I normally seek out to read, and it was nice to get a bit outside of my comfort zone.


2010 Completed Reading Challenges

With the completion of my Booker Challenge Reading, I can now safely say that I am done with my 2010 challenge reading.

It’s been a good year. I used the Booker and Historical Fiction challenges to read a bit outside of my fantasy/scifi comfort zone, and feel all the better for it.

I’m tempted to cut back on some challenges next year, as I had a lot more fun when I wasn’t trying to fit my reading into predetermined boxes, but I haven’t quite decided what form that will take. I guess we’ll see when we hit 2011.


Really Old Classics Challenge 11/1/2009 – 2/28/2010 – Finished 2/3/10

2010 YA Reading Challenge – 1/1/10 – 12/31/10 – finished 11/8/10

RIP V Reading Challenge 9/1/10 – 10/31/10 – Finished 10/12/10
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2010 1/1/10-12/31/2010 – finished 8/27/10
The 2010 Complete Booker Challenge 1/1/2010 – 12/31/2010 – finished 12/21/10
Graphic Novels Reading Challenge 2010 1/1/2010 – 12/31/2010 – finished 11/26/10
Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge IV 3/21/10-6/20/10 – finished 6/8/10


2010 TBR Lite Challenge 1/1/10 – 12/31/10 -finished 12/6/10

The Stone Carvers – Jane Urquhart

Read for the 2010 Complete Booker Challenge.

The Stone Carvers tells of the lives of a number of residents of the Canadian village of Shoneval – most especially a brother and sister, Tilman and Klara Becker.

The books shifts about in time a bit, and I’ll admit to some trepidation going in, when Klara is labeled at the onset as the village spinster, before we flash back to when she was courted by one of the village boys. That this courtship takes place just before WWI makes it clear what Eamon’s fate will be, and I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to where the story was heading, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I read.

The Beckers are wood carvers, and both Klara and Tilman (who lost a leg in the war) are ultimately able to use that skill by helping to build the memorial at Vimy Ridge in France. Their journey to France and the satisfying conclusion of their story there was ultimately uplifting, and I ended reading this book feeling very good last night.

I also really enjoyed that I was able to appreciate this book on a level that many Americans may not. I often think that we overlook WWI – we were so much more involved in WWII that that’s our war. But, for my 30th birthday, the BF and I took a trip to Quebec City, and that happened to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. There was a lot of talk about that on TV and at some of the museums I visited, so I actually had a much better flavor for the context of what that battle would mean to a Canadian, and was able to enjoy this book on a much better level because of it.

Havoc in its Third Year – Ronan Bennett

Read for the 2010 Complete Booker Reading Challenge.

I think I need to be more mindful of my planned reading for reading challenges. I’m right now up against a challenge to read two more Booker Long List books before the end of the month in order to finish the challenge, so this book found its way into my hands. And it’s perhaps not the best book to be reading in the dark depths of December.

The book is set in the 17th century, in England, and tells the story of John Brigge, coroner, who helped overthrow the lord of a fictional town, and now finds himself one of the governors, a group of men charged with maintaining order in a changing time.

It’s a fascinating slice of life in a paranoid time, when there seem to be multiple enemies at the gate, and you can’t trust who your friends really are. Brigge simply wishes to be left alone to work his farm with his wife and newborn son, but his actions in overthrowing the old lord have given him a prominence he cannot escape, and thrust him into the middle of events he cannot control.

This is a great book, but not one I recommend reading in the dying days of the year, in its darkest hour. I’m looking for something light and fluffy as a reward for finishing this.

2010 TBR Lite Reading Challenge

My 2010 TBR Reading is done! The challenge was to read six books that had been hanging around for at least six months. I read:

The Lost Gardens – Anthony Eglin

Read for the 2010 TBR Lite Reading Challenge.

Jamie Gibson, a young California winemaker, inherits a English manor, and decides to move to England. Wickersham Priory once had grand gardens, and she hires garden expert Lawrence Kingston to help her rebuild them.

Lawrence begins to investigate the history of Wickersham, as well as the former owner, Major Ryder, curious as to why he would leave the property to a seemingly random American girl. Before long, as he turns up information about the priory and Major Ryder, strange things start to happen.

This is a perfectly serviceable mystery, but has quite a bit of too much gardening detail thrown in. It’s like a big garden fan wrote a mystery to try to lure non-gardeners in, and then threw in as many English garden details as he possibly could. I can’t say the book’s bad exactly, but it gets a bit old after a while.

Perchance to Dream – ed. Denise Little

Read for the 2010 TBR Reading Lite Reading Challenge.

This short story collection centers around dreams – either real or figurative. It’s made up of mostly fantasy stories, with a few scifi stories thrown in for good measure.

My favorites included “Dreamfisher” – an interesting idea born from a throwaway comment in Herodotus’ Histories; “Marty Plot’s Rule for Success” – an absurdly funny look at the great success of a man whose greatest skill is napping; and “Shelter” – a fascinating look at the consequences of tapping the human collective subconscious.

There’s some interesting variety in the stories ranging from high fantasy to borderline horror. Definitely a fun read across an interesting subject.