January 5th, 2011

A couple reading challenges

So my main reading challenge this year will be Steven W. Beattie’s from That Shakespearian Rag, which boils down to:

“…why don’t we all try to read better: to be more sensitive, expansive readers, to enter more deeply into the text, to actively engage with books on an intellectual, aesthetic, and linguistic level. Let’s try to focus less on the quantity of our reading and more on the quality. Who knows? By slowing down a bit, you might even find you’re enjoying yourself more.”

Which is absolutely right, and something we should all be doing all the time. Except for those who get paid to read (academics and reviewers, I guess), there is no other reason to read except for the joy of the story, of the new information, new ideas. And I for one tend to lose those things when I read too quickly, ending up being able to say of the book, “Well, I read it.” Much as I do tend to be seduced by the pleasure of making tidy entries in my book journal and on Goodreads, no one cares *at all* how many books I read. So I’m going to follow Steven’s pledge to read in the now, with no goal in mind other than the text itself.

*However,* the real reason I’ve never done a book challenge is that I’m not organized enough, and I get sad when I have to read things I don’t like or am not interested in. However, there’s a challenge this year for something I’ve been wanting to do anyway–so by entering the challenge, I can follow my own path but still have company–yay!!

I found the To Be Read Challenge on Nathalie Foy’s lovely blog, and it seems ideal for me.


All you have to do is “To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile, within 12 months.” I’m superstoked to read these books that I’ve long looked forward to and somehow never managed to read, and I’ve already started reading the first one. If you are interested in joining me, the deadline’s been extended until January 15, and full details are at the link above. Here’s my list:

*The Mysteries of Pittsburgh* by Michael Chabon
*Jenny and the Jaws of Life* by Jincy Willett
*The Anxiety of Everyday Objects* by Aurelie Sheehan
*An Abundance of Katherines*by John Green
*Inventory* by Dionne Brand
*Real Life* by Sharon Butala
*A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius* by David Eggers
*Snow Crash* by Neal Stephenson
*Away from Her* Alice Munro (yeah, yeah, I got the movie paperback)
*London Fields* by Martin Amis
*Tell Your Sister* by Andrew Daley
*Songs for the Missing* by Stewart O’Nan

Two alternates–in case I wind up hating one of the above enough not to finish it:
*Little Eurekas* by Robyn Sarah
*Subways are for Sleeping* by Edmund G. Love

6 Responses to “A couple reading challenges”

  • Erin T says:

    I stopped by to comment here, in case you didn’t see my reply to your registering comment at Roof Beam Reader. I’ve wanted to tell you for a while how much I enjoyed “Once” and the occasional blog post I’ve caught (Watching the Giller, The Social Network review, etc.)

    I’m going to do the TBR challenge, too. Both marvelous and terrifying is the number of books I have to choose from in the apartment. I love your list: the only one I’ve read is “London Fields”, which is excellent, but only paragraph by paragraph. (I like Martin Amis’ writing, without actually liking his books, if you know what I mean. The plots are always herky-jerky affairs.) I keep meaning to read the Eggers, so I’m eager for your review. I always thought he was a self-involved, circular, po-mo so-and-so, but somebody convinced me to read “What is the What” and it was fabulous.

  • Rebecca says:

    Erin!! Good to hear from you! I do like Amis, but I have to be feeling strong to read him. I actually read *The Information* in grade 11, on the flight back from the art trip (with Paul Davies and Erin Troughbridge!!!) and I thought my brain was going to explode. I read *Money* more recently and loved it, in a horrified sort of way.

    I’m looking forward to your list–where is it posted?

  • Scott Watson says:

    No Non-fiction? :)

  • Rebecca says:

    Non-fic is allowed in the challenge; it’s just that there’s not much on my shelf!

  • Erin T says:

    Paul Davies! There’s a blast from the past. Remind me to tell you on the phone some day the story of how I fell out with one of our mutual high school friends over Paul, if I haven’t bored you with that already.

    My list is here: http://emergencybackpack.blogspot.com/. Somehow I ended up with all fiction, too, though I had considered several non-fiction books I’ve had on my shelf for ages.

  • Adam @ Roof Beam Reader says:

    Just checking-in on your progress for the 2011 TBR Pile Challenge – looks like you’re doing GREAT so far!

    Also… BIG Giveaways are happening on my blog this week, and TBR Pile Challenge participants earn extra entries for linking to their lists, so be sure to visit my Giveaways section soon! ;)

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