Reading Challenges.. Do you do them?

A new year brings a brand new crop of Reading Challenges.  There are so many and they all sound so enticing.  Except I haven’t had the greatest success in completing challenges in the past.  It’s always really fun to pick out titles but then when it comes time to read all those books I’ve lined up, I’m distracted by other shiny objects- reviews of new books, books in my TBR stack, books on display at Borders, books people are talking about on Twitter or at book club; and I think, why did I sign up for this??

Last year I completed the RIP IV Challenge but only with 2 books read.  The year before I completed the What’s In a Name Challenge.  I won’t list the many many challenges I didn’t bother to stick with.

So I got to thinking, why do so many bloggers do challenges?  What appeals to them about reading from a list?  I knew my blogging friends would have good reasons for this, and they did not disappoint.

I posed three questions to a somewhat random sampling of popular bloggers:

1.  Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

2.  Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

3.  Do you host any challenges yourself?

Here are the answers:

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From Toni at A Circle of Books

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I participate in the challenges.  I think it provides motivation, stimulates book discussion and it is fun.  It is kind of like a big big book club.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

E-book challenge, From my Shelves Project, Audio Challenge

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I have yet to host a challenge, but I’d really like to some day.

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From Ti at Book Chatter

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I have participated in a few in the past but have not been successful.  I find that it turns my reading into work and I want my reading to be for pure enjoyment.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

The only challenge that I am doing is J. Kaye’s 100+ Reading Challenge because all books count AND it’s a good way to keep track of what I’ve read.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I haven’t hosted a challenge, for same reason I noted above. I much prefer read-alongs which you can sort of consider a challenge depending on the book. I am hosting a read-along for Moby Dick right now and let me tell you, it’s a challenge!

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From Jill at Fizzy Thoughts

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Yes, I participate in challenges. But only a few each year. Otherwise, they start to feel like chores. I chose a few each year that I think will encourage and motivate me expand my reading horizons. I’m doing Women Unbound because I believe in the topic, and it’s also a way to challenge myself to read more non-fiction this year. The South Asian Authors Challenge will encourage me to read more non-US authors, which is always something I’m striving to do. I also like the community aspect of challenges, and seeing what other people choose to read…there’s such diversity in the challenges!

I’m also doing a few read-alongs, but I think of those as entirely separate from challenges.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

This year, I’m doing Women Unbound (which rocks!) and the South Asian Authors Challenge. And maybe Trish’s OATES, since I have most of the authors already on my shelves. And I might join RIP again, if Carl offers it, but that’s later in the year.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

Nope. Although I’d love to do something similar to the Armchair Traveler reading challenge that was the first challenge I ever joined. I just haven’t thought hard enough yet to make it a reality.

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From Care at Care’s Online Book Club:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

YES, I participate in reading challenges.   I like the shared discussion about books – when it happens and I like to be included in activities.    I like to experience books that I may not have chosen otherwise.     I also like to un-officially participate so I don’t have added stress of HAVING to read something so I do attempt to limit myself.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

That limiting concept gets harder every year!   I love making the lists but then hate the stress of actually reading what I have committed to.     I am participating in Women Unbound, What’s In a Name 3, Woolf in Winter, A Wrinkle in Time (not real name of challenge – I’ll have to go look that up…) LOTR readalong, Flashback, John Cusack, and unofficially Book to Movie, the Well Read Challenge, Global Challenge,  Twenty in 2010 (maybe – I might have signed and forgot), GLBT and…     This is one of my tasks this weekend – to clean up my challenges so I know what I’m doing this year.   I love read-alongs and have a few of these in line, too, with a few other bloggers.   Citizen Reader’s Book Menages are wonderful.   I prefer casual challenges that allow books from other challenges to count.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m co-hosting the Women Unbound Challenge.  This is a 13 month long challenge focussing on Women’s Issues in fiction AND in nonfiction.  This is my first challenge hosting attempt and it’s been nice to share duties and to share the discussion of duties, actually.  🙂

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From Florinda at 3R’s Blog:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I didn’t get involved in challenges until I’d been blogging for almost two years, and I still don’t sign on for very many of them. The challenges that have appealed to me address goals I already have in mind or are focused on a topic or genre I would have wanted to read anyway – they just help give me direction. I try to stay away from challenges that would require me to add much to my already exploding TBR collection!

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I’m participating in the Read Your Own Books Challenge this year for the second time – it helps keep me from getting too caught up in review books. It will also overlap with most of the other challenges I’m doing.

I joined two challenges in the fall that are continuing into this year:

Women Unbound Challenge (women’s studies, requires both fiction and nonfiction – I have a surprising amount in TBR that qualifies)
Shelf Discovery Challenge (an excuse to re-read some YA favorites from my own YA days)

I joined the Memorable Memoirs Challenge since that’s my preferred nonfiction genre

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m on the verge of announcing my first hosted challenge, but I’m going to call it a “reading project” since so many people have sworn they’re not joining any more challenges this year :-)! I’ll also be co-hosting a read-along in March and April with two other bloggers. However, since I haven’t officially posted about either of these activities yet, I can’t say any more about them now.

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From Stephanie at Stephanie’s Written Word:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Reading challenges are a lot of fun. Even though some people feel pressure to finish the challenge, I just enjoy giving myself a list and seeing if I can do it. No pressure – if I don’t finish it’s really no big deal. I don’t think there are reading challenge police out there! 🙂 In fact, last year I only finished two challenges – Carl’s RIP and my own Everything Austen.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I’m currently participating in The Vampire Diaries challenge hosted by My Friend Amy, The Shelf Discovery Challenge by Booking Mama and All About the Brontes hosted by Laura’s Reviews. I am super excited about the Bronte challenge as I’ve never read any Bronte before!

Lastly, I ALWAYS participate in Carl’s two big reading challenges each year and will do so again in 2010. I love his Once Upon a Time challenge in the spring and RIP challenge in the fall. They are both great!!

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I hosted the Everything Austen challenge that ran from July 1st to December 31st, 2009. You can read my wrap up post here.   I had over 200 participants and almost 600 reviews were credited to Everything Austen. Overall I gave away 17 different Austen-ish books and had numerous guest posts by authors. It was a lot of work but a ton of fun! It was my first reading challenge that I hosted but probably won’t be my last!

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From Lenore at Presenting Lenore:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I have participated in a couple over the past few years, but for 2010 I am only participating in one official challenge (so far).  I have a hard time keeping up with all the requirements and getting the books read in time if I join too many.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I am participating in the YA debut author challenge hosted by The Story Siren because I love to support debut authors and it looks like Kristi is going to be a active host who has the support of the debut author community.  I may also join in to some mini-challenges like the Kidlitosphere comment more challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I do not host any official challenges, but I have some personal ones such as reading more books in the German language and more classics.

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From Nicole at Linus’s Blanket:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I do! Though I am far from the ideal challenge participant.  I love making lists and thinking about books with the same authors or the same themes, and researching titles that will fit into my challenges, and I just love reading other lists and meeting new bloggers in the same challenges as me.  Challenges are like mixers or bars where you can meet new people!  They really appeal to both the curious and organizer aspects of my personality as well as the social part.  I love perusing the linkies and reading reviews.  I am good at joining challenges, but not so good at posting my own reviews and horrid at wrap-up posts.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

Which challenges aren’t I doing this year might be more easily answered.  So far I have signed up for:

The African Diaspora Challenge, Our Mutual Read, The TBR Challenge, South Asian Author Challenge, 451 Fridays Challenge, Audio Book Challenge, Read The Book See The Movie Challenge, Shelf Discovery Challenge, The Chunkster Challenge, The Debutante Ball Challenge, The What’s In A Name Challenge, The Winter Reading Challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m hosting That’s How I Blog’s Twenty Minute Book Club Challenge. I host a Blog Talk Radio Show on Tuesday nights called That’s How I Blog! where I chat with bloggers about their blogging experiences and the books that they enjoy reading.  We have a twenty minute discussion (okay so often it’s a 40 minute discussion) on a book we have chosen to read together.  This challenge is a little different from other challenges because the books are already chosen for you. I really love that you get to chat about the same books with other readers and to participate in the book club at the end of the show, but that you also have the flexibility to read the books out of sync and at your own pace.

I have another challenge in the works for finishing half-read books, but I won’t be starting that til next month.

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From Sandy at You’ve GOTTA Read This!

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I absolutely do participate in challenges.  I love them for several reasons.  First, they keep me focused on books that I have made a priority to read.  If not, I meander all over the place, and don’t end up reading half of what I wanted.  Second, they push me to read genres that are new to me.  Last year, my big stretch was classics, of which I am shamefully ignorant. This year, its graphic novels.  Third, I just thrive on achieving goals – they make me accountable.  (Challenges also seem to work for me in the areas of fitness as well!) Plus, I hate to fail at things.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I still have three challenges continuing from 2009:  Harry Potter Challenge,
Japanese Reading Challenge and Random Reading Challenge.

For 2010, I’ve signed up for ten challenges:

Audio Books
E-Books
100+
Read and Review
Vietnam War Through the Generations
Read from your Shelves
Read the Book/See the Movie
TBR
Support Your Library
Graphic Novels

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I have never hosted any challenges before.  I know it sounds sophomoric, but I’m a little shy about it since I consider myself to be somewhat new.  Maybe next year!   I did consider hosting one where you read all of Entertainment
Weekly’s top books.

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From Teddy at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time:

Do you participate in reading challenges?

Yes, there are many reasons.  Challenges help me get organized for my year of reading.  They don’t dictate everything I’m going to read but they guide me.  There are several challenges that fit into what I plan to read anyway.  For example, I know I am going to read ARCs and a lot of historical fiction.  There are challenge the those both fit into nicely.  I am addicted to challenges.  They are fun.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I’m doing a lot!
O.A.T.E.S.
ARC
Books Won
What an Animal II
China
Year of the Historical
Pub
TBR Lite
Books to Read Before I Die
RYOB
Woman Unbound
New Authors
Audio Book
Hisorical Fiction
Chunkster
Global

I also am doing two perpetual challenges that I have been doing for a couple years:
Books Around the World
Books Around the States

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I currently host 2:

The ARC Reading Challenge is to read ARC’s.  I use the term ARC loosely, any book that is sent to the participant that a review is expected qualifys.  There are 3 levels.

The Books Won Challenge is to read books that you have won in giveaways.  There are four levels.

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From Natalie at Book, Line, and Sinker:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I have yet to participate in any reading challenges.  I’ve been book blogging since March and just haven’t signed up for one.  There are a bunch of great ones out there but I’m reticent to join and don’t know why!  Fear of committment, maybe?  Lol.

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From Mari at Bookworm with a View:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I haven’t participated in Challenges in the past.  Would you believe me if I told you I didn’t know exactly what a Challenge was or that so many existed until last fall?  The ones I am participating in for 2010 are simple in nature (ie: Read’n Review: where you post a review for every book you read). I read about 2-3 books a month and being in two book clubs I fear I would
be over-committing.  Once Spring comes around and I’m busy running outside, I will try to listen to some audio books, which might increase my volume read a bit.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I have signed up for four challenges, two focused on reading books from my book shelves, one to review what I read and the last one focuses on reading a novel by an upcoming/new author (from a set list).

Details:
http://bwavchallenges.blogspot.com/

I missed list another challenge that I am in:  The Canadian Book Challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

No, but I like to think I’m cheerleading from the sidelines, for all of you hosting challenges and for those who read so much, I look up to you – you amaze me!

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From Trish at Hey, Lady!  Whatcha’ Readin’?

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Not anymore. I did when I first started blogging, but I found I’m not disciplined enough to finish a challenge.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

Actually, I’m hosting two challenges, but they’re specifically geared towards the books I want to read this year. They are the O.A.T.E.S. Challenge and the Laura Lippman Challenge (which will be announced on Monday 1/11/).

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m hosting two challenges: the O.A.T.E.S. Challenge, which was inspired by Joyce Carol Oates. The idea is to read authors whose last name begin with A, T, E, or S. Joyce Carol Oates is obviously the author you’d read for O. My goal is to read a few JCO books this year, as well as two books by Margaret Atwood, a book by Tolstoy, a book by Steinbeck, and something by Ernest Hemingway. The goal is to challenge my reading this year. The other challenge I’m hosting is the Laura Lippman Challenge. Laura Lippman has written quite a few books, most of them crime fiction, many of which have been nominated for or won awards. While she’s not a particularly challenging author, her books fit in with my reading plan this year.

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From Dar at Peeking Between the Pages

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Yes I participate in reading challenges.  I really enjoy them because they allow you to step out of your comfort zone and read something different; something you may not have read otherwise.  Also I think challenges bring about a great sense of community in the blogging world.  We all get excited about joining the challenges and figuring out what books we’ll read and then updating throughout the year.  It’s fun and I think it brings us all together in a way.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

Lots!  lol!  Here’s the list of my challenges this year:

Vietnam Reading Challenge
Young Adult Reading Challenge
ARC Reading Challenge
Romance Reading Challenge
Chunkster Challenge
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
eBook Reading Challenge
Reading From my Shelves Project
100+ Reading Challenge
Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge
Outlander Challenge
Random Reading Challenge
Sookie Stackhouse Challenge

Yikes, that’s 13.  Looks like I’m going to have to find myself one more challenge. Can’t be staying at the number 13.  lol.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I don’t host any challenges but I’m still thinking about doing one if not this year then next year for sure.

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From Lisa at Lit and Life

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

When I first started blogging last June, I didn’t really know much about the challenges and wasn’t sure it was something I would be interested in.  Then Stephanie at Stephanie’s Written Word started the Everything Austen challenge.  As a person that has read every Austen book and seen at least one movie version of each of them, I felt like this was the perfect challenge for me to jump in on.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that not only were challenges a great way to encourage me to read certain books, but that they were also a great way to meet new people and to drive traffic to my blog.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

This year I’ve become something of a challenge addict.  In addition to continuing with the Random Reading Challenge, I’ve added eleven new challenges: What’s In A Name 3, The Michener Challenge, Our Mutual Read, 2010 Read ‘n’ Review Challenge, 451 Challenge, 2010 Reading From My Shelves Project, 2010 Flashback Reading Challenge, You’ve Got Mail Reading Challenge, O.A.T.E.S., All About The Brontes 2010 Challenge, and the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge which I’m hosting.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

The idea for the Gilmore Girls challenge came about, as so many ideas do, when I was talking with another blogger who mentioned that she had come across a list of all of the books ever shown or discussed on the t.v. show The Gilmore Girls.  I loved that show and when I saw how many books and the wide variety of books were included, I knew it was the perfect idea for the challenge I’d been thinking about putting together.  You can check out the Gilmore Girl Challenge HERE.

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From Susan at Suko’s Notebook

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I love to participate in challenges, but I only join the ones which don’t require a great number of books be read, because I’m busy and I like to choose what I’ll read. I also don’t like challenges with too many rules and regulations. But reading challenges are fun to join, and bring more visitors to your site.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I am participating in a few reading challenges this year, The Aussie Author Challenge, The Typically British Challenge, and the All About the Brontes Challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I would love to host a reading challenge on my blog. If I can think up a good one then I will!
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From Anna at Diary of an Eccentric

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Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Yes!  I enjoy participating in reading challenges because they motivate me to read books I’ve wanted to read for a long time or open myself to new authors, books, and genres.  It’s fun to see what other participants are reading for the same challenge.  I’m always adding titles to the long list of books I’d like to read some day.
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Which reading challenges are you doing this year?
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So far, I’ve only signed up for two:  the Vietnam War Reading Challenge at War Through the Generations and the Jane Austen Challenge at the Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object.  If the Everything Austen Challenge at Stephanie’s Written Word happens again this year, I’ll join that one, too.
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Do you host any challenges yourself?

I co-host annual war-related reading challenges with Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) at War Through the Generations.  Last year, we hosted the WWII Reading Challenge, and this year, we’ve switched gears to Vietnam.  We are very interested in the impact of war on people and society, and our participants are encouraged to read fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and even watch a couple of movies if they desire, with whatever war we’re covering as the primary or secondary theme.  We compile related book reviews and recommended reading lists on the challenge blog.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it to provide a useful resource to readers interested in war-related books.  And it’s why I limit myself to only a few reading challenges per year.
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Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Whatcha Reading? Meme

I’m a reader who is always looking for a good book recommendation from friends, neighbors, people on planes, in waiting rooms, at the library.. wherever I happen to be. I find myself saying, “Whatcha reading?” several times a week!

In this meme, I’d like to know 5 things:

1. Whatcha reading?

2. How much of it have you read so far?

3. What’s it about? (in a nutshell! A sentence or two is enough)

4. What does the title refer to?

5. Would you recommend it?

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Here are my answers.

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1. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander

See the really interesting Kitchen Boy website Here

2. I’ve only read about 45 pages

3. Historical fiction about the murder of the Russian Imperial family in 1918, told by the only survivor decades later.

4. The title refers to the survivor in the palace where the murder took place.. the little kitchen boy.

5. I’m not sure yet if I would recommend it!  I’m not loving it so far.  I’m hoping it picks up.

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Please leave your answers in the comments here, or on your own blog with a link in the comments here.

I’m going to tag the following people, but would love to hear from anyone. Please, play along! I need recommendations!

KWJ Writes, Thea at the little bird, Beastmomma, Tara at Books and Cooks, BlogLily, and Patti at Displaced Beachbums… Whatcha reading?

Review: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Crossing to Safety, by the late Wallace Stegner, is an eloquent novel that explores the complicated nature of long term friendship. The Langs (Sid and Charity) and the Morgans (Larry and Sally) meet and embark on a 40 year friendship that is sustained through births, illnesses, job loss, cross country moves, career success, envy, generosity, thwarted ambition, and failure.

The story is told from the perspective of Larry Morgan, who, of the two men, is the more accomplished author, but the less financially stable. The couples meet when Larry and Sid, working together at a Wisconsin university, attend a party with their wives. The wives, both pregnant and due around the same time, are immediately taken with each other. The husbands also have much in common and have great respect for each other. The relationship of the foursome deepens over time and becomes more like family than merely friendly.

Crossing to Safety is honest and human. It unfolds slowly, meandering through reminiscences and meditations on what it means to be a writer, the power of friendship, the depths of love and marriage, and the realization that even your closest friends and loved ones are ultimately unknowable. No one, not even a very close friend, can ever know what truly goes on inside another person’s marriage.

The novel has at least three covers. The one I bought looks like this: 13777373.jpg

but I like this one so much better: 9780141188010l.jpg

It captures the mood of the book more accurately. Then there is this one, which I don’t care for at all:

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The title of the book comes from the following quote by Robert Frost:

“I could give all to Time except-except

What I myself have held. But why declare

The things forbidden that while the Customs slept

I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There

And what I would not part with I have kept.”

I’m not a poet and I’m not sure how to analyze that, but I think crossing to safety as stated here refers to what remains of a relationship after it is over, after death. If anyone can enlighten me on this, I would appreciate it.

Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972. Crossing to Safety was Stegner’s final novel before his death in 1993.

I enjoyed Crossing to Safety. It is a quiet novel with no great dramatic action, no affairs between the couples or big plot twists. It is simply an extremely well-written, mature and beautiful tribute to enduring friendship.

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?