RIP IV Challenge from Stainless Steel Droppings!

Generally I don’t do reading challenges- I don’t like to commit to preselected titles. I’m never sure what I’ll have time for and my tastes continuously change. What if I don’t want to read the books I’ve picked out? What if I take on too much and can’t finish? Will the Challenge Police write me a citation?

And my taste in books doesn’t typically run towards the dark, the gloomy, the supernatural. However, creepiness does hold an odd appeal to me, so maybe I could try…

The RIP IV Challenge post lists the following categories for reading selections:

Dark Fantasy.

And, look… look at the button. Beautiful, right? I wanted that button in my sidebar.

So I popped on over to Stainless Steel Droppings and read up on it. You don’t have to pre-select titles (check). There are different levels of participation. You can read as little or as much as you want (check, check). And I’ve already started a book that would fit nicely into the challenge (check, check, check). I’m in!

Some books I will consider, and one I’ve already started:

1. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

3. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

4. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Do you have any reading suggestions for me? Something amazing and dark, something sure to send shivers up my spine?  Please let me know!

Won’t you join me in the RIP IV Challenge? If so, go sign up! The challenge starts today and runs through October 31st.

The Best and the Rest of 2008

What do an Afghani woman in a bhurka, the manager of a Red Lobster restaurant in Connecticut, Queen Juana la Loca of Spain, a stroke victim in Paris who can only communicate by blinking one eye, and a family with a magical apple tree have in common? They’ve all ended up on my “Best Of 2008” list!

I’m about 2 weeks late with this wrap up post, but it was surprisingly difficult to pick favorites! I changed my mind several times. Since I don’t do any sort of rating system, no stars or caterpillars, I couldn’t just list the books that got my highest ratings. Hmm.. maybe I should do that this year to make the 2009 wrap up post easier.

I wrote 44 reviews in 2008-quite a slouch compared to some other book bloggers but not half bad for ME! That number doesn’t include the books that I never finished, or books that I was ambivalent about, or books that for whatever reason I didn’t like as much as I’d hoped and was worried about offending the author. I didn’t keep stats on these but I know there were at least 10 books that I never got around to writing reviews for, and nearly that many that I started but didn’t finish.

So without further ado, here are the books I reviewed in 2008, alphabetically within their categories:

The Best:

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan
The Last Queen by CW Gortner
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Rest:

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
And Sometimes Why by Rebecca Johnson
Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers
Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Fires by Alan Cheuse
The Girls by Lori Lansens
The Heartbreak Diet by Thorina Rose
House and Home by Kathleen McCleary
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Keeper and Kid by Edward Hardy
The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
The Leper Compound by Paula Nangle
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan – Book Club Wrap-Up
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski
One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling
Peony in Love by Lisa See
Shrink Rap by Robin Altman

The Sister by Poppy Adams
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan

Springtime on Mars by Susan Woodring

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Summer People by Brian Groh
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Wishing Year by Noelle Oxenhandler

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

In a category all by itself:

Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon

(I’m driving myself crazy trying to fix the spacing on this post- I’ve finally decided that it’s just going to have to remain wonky. Sorry.)

So here’s to a wonderful new year of reading! I haven’t set any reading goals for 2009 other than to review every book I read. I’ve only joined one reading challenge, and it’s a short one. What are your goals for 2009?

The Well Seasoned Reader Challenge hosted by Book Nut

In the past I haven’t entered many challenges.  Last year I entered two but haven’t completed either one (but you never know.. there are still a few weeks left in the year). Part of the problem, I think, is that they are too long, with too many books to commit to.  I have a bit of Reading ADD and am easily distracted by an interesting cover or title that pulls me away from the books I am “supposed” to read.  

However, Melissa at Book Nut is hosting a challenge that I just can’t pass up!  With only three books to read over the course of three months, I think I can manage to stay on task.  Here is the explanation, taken from her blog:


This year, I give you the Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge.

Here’s how it works:

Rule #1: The challenge runs from January 1 to March 31. (No cheating and starting before!)

Rule #2: You must read three books. After that, it’s up to you how much you want to read.

Rule #3: The books must:

    have a food name in the title


    be about cooking/eating


    have a place name in the title


    be about one (or more) person’s travel experience


    be about a specific culture


    be by an author whose ethnicity is other than your own (see, I squeezed it in!)

I’ll leave it up to you to choose how the three books you read fit the criteria.

Rule #4: They must be middle-grade on up, but can be either fiction or non-fiction.

The purpose, this winter, is to take yourself someplace out of the ordinary, to go on a literary trip, whether that be challenging your expectations, discovering a new place, or enjoying the experience of reading about good food, places, and people.

Thanks, Melissa aka Book Nut!

I have to read Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe for my book club in January anyway, so that will go on my list. Does anyone have suggestions for the other two books I should read?  I’ve been eyeing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver for ages, so I might put that on the list.  I remember reading a good review of Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant a while back, too.  What else should I read for this challenge?  Any suggestions?

Do you enter challenges?  Why or why not?

Let me know if you plan to join this challenge too, so I can pester you about your progress (or lack thereof).  Please feel free to pester me about mine as well!

What’s in a Name Reading Challenge

What’s in a Name?

Annie is hosting a creative reading challenge for 2008. It’s called What’s in a Name? and the six selections for the challenge must contain a specific element in the title:

  • A book with a color in its title
  • A book with an animal in its title
  • A book with a first name in its title
  • A book with a place in its title
  • A book with a weather event in its title
  • A book with a plant in its title

These are my picks:

1. A book with a color in its title.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

2. A book with an animal in its title.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

3. A book with a first name in its title.
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

4. A book with a place in its title.
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

5. A book with a weather event in its title.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

6. A book with a plant in the title
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
A Hatred for Tulips by Richard Lourie
I’m new to challenges.. I wonder if it’s cool to read the same book for 2 different challenges.. can anyone tell me?