2011 Completed Reading Challenges

It was actually a couple weeks ago that I technically completed my reading challenges, but I’m just now getting around to recording them.

I did cut back a little bit this year, and stuck to mostly broad stroke challenges that covered multiple genres within a more specific subject. This did go pretty well, and let me work from my slightly ridiculous TBR bookcase (it outgrew the tote this year). But, I still found it a bit restrictive.

Next year, I’m going to cut back to just the Once Upon a Time and RIP challenges, unless I see one that just captures my fancy (I really did enjoy the Foodie Challenge this year, even though it took me a while to get going). I’m hoping to blew through a good chunk of the TBR pile way.

But, any way, this year for challenges, I read:

2011 TBR Lite Reading Challenge 1/1/11 – 12/31/11 – finished 10/16/11

RIP VI Reading Challenge – 9/1/11 – 10/31/11 – finished 10/23/11

Once Upon a Time V 3/21/11 – 6/20/11- finished 5/27

Foodie’s Reading Challenge 1/1/11 – 12/31/11 – finished 11/29/11

2011 YA Reading Challenge 1/1/11 – 12/31/11 – finished 11/26/11

Foodie’s Reading Challenge – 1/1/11 – 12/31/11

Based on what I have available in my reading pile, I think I can safely say I’m done with the Foodie’s Reading Challenge for the year. I read:

This put me into the Bon Vivant category, which was reading 4 to 6 books for the year. Not bad, considering I started knowing that I could definitely read one book, but wasn’t so sure about any others. But, I lucked into a few great food related books at the end of the year (Melissa Clark’s book is one of my favorite cookbooks ever – I’ve asked for her new one for Christmas). It was definitely fun, and outside of my regular fantasy reading zone, which was nice.

The Book Lover’s Cookbook – Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen

Read for the Foodie Reading Challenge.

This cookbook is filled with book passages that celebrate food – some very specific examples, some a bit more broad. It’s a really great read, just for the passages. Some are incredibly short (several snippets from Poor Richard’s Almanack come to mind), and some much longer. There are also quote from various authors about book and reading in general.

I confess to being a bit disappointed by the recipes – most are pretty normal, generic items (like pancakes, and chocolate cake – basic, regular food – well to an American at least). There’s nothing wrong with that, but I already have recipes for those kinds of things, so I confess this will probably not be a book that hangs around in my collection. But it’s still a great read (and you can read it cover to cover), so I’m not sorry I picked it up at the Borders liquidation sale.

2011 YA Reading Challenge 1/1/11 – 12/31/11

I’ve now completed the 2011 YA Reading Challenge, which was to read 12 YA books within 2011. I’ve read:

This year, I skewed very heavily fantasy. There was one mystery, and one dystopian/sci fi book, but the other ten all had at least some fantastical elements. I can definitely tell what kind of books I prefer to read from the list above…

The Two Princesses of Bamarre – Gail Carson Levine

Read for the 2011 YA Reading Challenge.

There are two princesses in Bamarre – the elder, Meryl, is the brave one, who wants nothing more than to fight Bamarre’s battles, while her younger sister Addie is much more timid, and depends on Meryl’s strength and protection.

Naturally, something terrible happens to Meryl, and it’s Addie who must set out alone, and barely prepared, to fight for her sister’s life. What she doesn’t know is that she is fighting for the lives of everyone in the kingdom.

This is fairly standard fairy tale trope with slightly different twists. It’s enjoyable, though I like the author’s Ella Enchanted better.

I, Coriander – Sally Gardner

Read for the 2011 YA Reading Challenge.

One day, a parcel containing a pair of gorgeous silver shoes is left outside Coriander’s home. She knows that they’re for her, but her mother is adamant that she cannot wear them. Still, the shoes call her name, and when Coriander gives in to that call, it starts a chain of events that will test her severely, but ultimately give her a better understanding of her fantastic heritage.

The story is set in the time of the Commonwealth in England, in the 17th century. Coriander’s father became wealthy because of his commissions from the king, and when Cromwell’s forces take over, he is suddenly in danger from that relationship. When Coriander’s mother suddenly dies, he is persuaded to marry a Puritan woman, to keep the eyes of Cromwell’s men from him. What he cannot know is that this woman is in league with darker powers. Not much later, he is forced to flee England, leaving Coriander at the mercy of her stepmother. When one day she is locked in a trunk, an unexpected journey opens before her.

It is because Coriander’s mother was a fairy, and the silver shoes were commissioned by her father, the fairy king. A darkness has come over the fairy kingdom, one that only Coriander can save them from.

This is a lovely little tale, with great historical detail, and a lovely fairy story beside it. I read it in two days, only putting it down in the middle of the book because of this little thing called Thanksgiving dinner. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant – edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Read for the Foodie Reading Challenge.

This book is a compilation of essays by writers and chefs about either cooking for one, or dining alone. There is an interesting mix of stories, most including some sort of signature recipe.

Many of the stories lean more to the philosophical than being strictly related to the food. In “Instant Noodles”, the author, who is from Thailand, is temporarily brought back to home when he’s a student at Cornell, when he’s able to find Thai instant noodles at a local store. In “Protective Measures”, the author talks about dining alone in the periods of her life when she used it to remind herself that she was important enough to deserve such a thing, even when she was alone.

There are other essays that are more food related. In “The Legend of Salsa Rosa”, the author finds the perfect pasta recipe while studying in Florence, and then finds how hard it is to recreate back in America. “Wild Chili” is about the author’s indulgence for this dish, something that he often must experiment with alone, in order to not kill his loved ones with over-peppery goodness.

All in all, it’s an interesting mix of stories that will definitely make you think about your relationship to food.