Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Me and Challenges...

... don't seem to get along. I love the idea of joining and to set a goal and then share your experience with others... but when it comes to actually pick a book up, I haven't been much in the mood for any of those books I "should" read. Is it because I should? Or because I'm just too fickle and can't be bothered with following a schedule or a deadline? I don't know. The thing is I don't think I'll manage to finish any of the challenges I joined this year, except for the Once upon a time. And I'm torn because I know that I might love a lot of the books I chose to read, but right now, I'm not pushed to read any of those. So the point of this post is:
1) Looking for sympathy. I know I'm not the only one :D
2) Looking for incentives to read those books. Maybe if I get you to encourage me to read them, I will overcome this impasse and I won't think about ALL those books that I'd rather read first.
So here is the list of the books I should read before the end of the year. Which one should I absolutely read?:

YA challenge:
A swift pure cry by Siobhan Dowd (I had actually started to read this one, but then I saw that the sequel to The Declaration had come out and that HAD to have the priority!)
Epic by Conor Kostick
Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Over Sea,Under Stone by Susan Cooper

What's in a name challenge:

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Non-fiction challenge:

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan
Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy
No Logo by Naomi Klein

(Actually I only need to choose two out of these three. It ends in September so I guess I should give them the priority, but I'm SO not in the mood for them...I can change them though. So I'm thinking of replacing one with "Bury me Standing - the gypsies and their journey", something I'm very interested in at the moment).

tl;dr challenge:

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (I thought I was gonna get a free copy from a rep, that's why it's in the list. But I didn't)
Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye

(This ends at the end of November, but I should only read two more).

The Classics Challenge:

The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (I kinda read this,but I couldn't finish it. I thought I would have gone back to it, but it looks unlikely so I should just cross it off. But I feel guilty cause I think it was probably my fault not the book's.)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
bonus book: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

That's it!

Now, when I sat down and did my usual "What am I gonna read next" list, scrolling down
my TBR tag on Lybrarything, this is what I came up instead:

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
High Fidelity by Nick Horby (challenge book)
In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Poppy by Avi
Come dio Comanda by Niccolò Ammaniti (his latest book which won the most prestigious literary prize in Italy)
A Swift pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd (challenge book)

I decided for the latter, but then, as I said, I abandoned it for The Resistance.
I know what you're thinking. Just stop moaning and go read the two you chose, which are actually part of a challenge! But I know that when I'm finished with the book I'm reading, my mood will have changed already, so I need encouragements!

Yes, I know how to complicate my life with useless problems :D


Nymeth said...

You are definitely not alone, Valentina. I think the problem with me is that if I stick to a challenge list for too long, I get bored with it. I tire of the idea of reading those books, even though I know I'll probably still enjoy the books themselves. So next year, I'm not only joining less challenges, but avoiding year-long ones. Two or three months is my ideal challenge duration. Enough to have fun, not enough to tire of it.

About the books: Middlesex is one of my all-time favourites, but I can't promise you'd be as enthusiastic about's just one of those books. One I do think you'll love is James & the Giant Peach. High Fidelity is great too. Oh, and I think The Handmaid's Tale will blow you away!

Try not to worry too much about it, though. You don't have to stick to those lists. Read what you feel like, and if it fits a challenge, great. If it doesn't, ah well :P

mariel said...

The Time Traveler’s Wife and High Fidelity are must reads and I loved The Secret Garden as a child.

I completely understand how you feel about challenges. I’ve only signed up to five, which is nowhere near as many as some people, but I am already struggling! My problem is that my mood changes so often that I cannot plan my reading ahead of time. My TBR challenge isn’t too bad, as I already wanted to read everything in that list, but I am finding it quite hard to be motivated for the Arthurian and Short Story challenges. I say mix it up! Not just the challenges, but also the genres. And if you aren’t enjoying it, don’t force it, because you’ll end up not enjoying the book at all.

And if you don't complete a challenge because you are reading other things, at least you've been reading books you are enjoying. As nymeth said...if it doesn't fit..ah well!

Trish said...

Don't feel bad--and there are lots of people who love to join and don't really follow through (I don't mean that in a negative way). I have the opposite problem. I get so caught up in my challenge reads (because I feel obligated) that I don't leave enough time for what I really want to read. Of course I want to read the challenge books because I put them on the list--but it doesn't leave a whole lot of room for whimsical choices.

And Huck Finn is difficult--I don't think it is you at all! I love the story, but the language was really tough for me to get through (the dialect particularly).

raidergirl3 said...

It's all about having fun.

I make a list, and then try, but if another book comes along that looks more interesting right now, then I read it. Often, I can find a new one that fits a challenge already. Most of the challenges are pretty loose like that.
What book do you want to read? Maybe it'll match a challenge, like YA or What's in a Name.
Dont' feel like you have to stick to the list.

Laura said...

Hi!It's Laura, your (ex)colleague from the bookshop.This is to send you a bit of encouragement (don't worry, tomorrow you'll start reading like a mad as usual :)and to recommend you to choose "Bury Me Standing" for the Non Fiction challenge.I read it last year and loved it (and ordered a copy for the shop)If you are interested in Roma culture and Eastern Europe this is a must read. And check as well Tony Gatlif's film "Gadjo Dilo" about a Frenchman living in a Romenian gypsy village. It's one of my favourite films -I think I've seen it 4 or 5 times...- Music and photography are really great.
Whatever you choose to read...enjoy it!See you soon.

valentina said...

Nymeth, that's a great idea, I think I'll do the same. Year-long challenges seem like a good idea because you think you'll have plenty of time to read them and they don't put too much pressure on you. But the result is that you might loose interest. I'll probably follow your advice and we'll see how it goes.

Thanks for the books recommendations, I think I'll try them soon:)
But if I don't I won't feel horribly guilty:P

Mariel,thank you for your un-pressuring words:) I feel much better now, and I'm actually ready to read some of those now. If they are must reads I must read them!!

Trish, I feel that's the main problem with challenges. It's great on one hand because you makes you read books that you might have had there for ages, or that you wouldn't have picked otherwise, but then it binds you and it takes away the pleasure of choosing the next read freely.
It's good to know i wasn't the only one struggling with Finn. I couldn't concentrate properly during the time I was reading it so I think it's partly my fault, but it is objectively hard to read.

raidergirl, I've changed the books in the lists a lot, believe me:)
Maybe the fundamental "problem" are not the challenges but my pile of unread books. I thought joining a challenge would help me read those books that had been sitting there for too long. It works sometimes, but not all the time.
As you said, I should just think about the pleasure of reading and not feel stressed about the books I'm not reading!!

Laura!!! ciao!
thanks for your encouragement:)
I want to read bury me standing, but maybe not right now. But I'be bought it so I will definitely read it soon. I feel so ignorant about gypsy's culture, I really want to know more. I never heard of that film, I must look out for it!
hope to see you soon:)

Library Mice said...

I would definitely read A Swift Pure Cry, especially as you are based in Ireland. It is one of my all-time favourites. But I know how you feel: I am in the middle of reading a proof copy of Winter Song by Jean-Claude Mourlevat but the new Gemma Malley is hard to resist. I haven't bought it yet but I know I will soon!
I only gave myself one challenge this year ,an ABC one so 26 books and I have only read 13! Too many other good books get in the way!

Darla D said...

Valentina - I know exactly how you feel! I tend to get very uppity about what I read and when I read it. Mostly because reading is something I do for my own pleasure, and it's a piece of my very busy life that I like to keep just for me (work, school, kids, husband, volunteering, etc. all competing for time). It's my respite from the world, and I refuse to turn it into a chore when the rest of my life at times seems like one long series of (not entirely unpleasant) chores.

So read what you feel like, enjoy it, and if it fits in with a fun challenge, fine! If not, whatever.

I was hesitant to participate in challenges for that very reason, but the ones I've chosen are ones that are in the areas of books that I most enjoy. That way I don't feel pressured into reading something I don't feel like, plus I get lots of other inspiring titles from other people.

As far as your book lists, if you haven't read anything by Patricia McKillip, I'd try that one. Her writing is so lyrical and evocative - I think you'd enjoy it. Over Sea Under Stone is the first book in a series I adored as a child, although it wasn't my favorite book in the series. I think you'd enjoy that whole series, too.

valentina said...

Library Mice, I will definitely read A swift pure cry, but it sounds like a fairly depressing book which I'mnot ready to handle now. Instead, I've already finished James and the Giant Peach which I adored, and I'm laughing my socks off with Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. I knew I only needed some encouragement:)

Darla, that's probably it, when reading feels like a job too, it means I'm doing something wrong!

I've read this one by McKillip as a teenager, in Italian and I remember I enjoyed it, so now that I can read it in its original language I want to try it again. But maybe it's the small print that's scaring me....american paperbacks can have really small prints sometimes!!
I've wanted to read Susan Cooper for ever and never got around it. You'd think a challenge would be the best way to actually do it!

Anyway, I feel I'm out of my block and ready to tackle those not-so-challenging books now, thanks for all your comments!