Sunday, April 22, 2007

Reading Challenges

I've been thinking over my reading habits and my blogging habits. I've been mulling over the influence of the blogosphere (so-called) on my reading selections, and wondering where it's going, and where it all might end. Of wait, there is no end. Solomon said, "of the making of books there is no end" some few millennia ago, and if he were writing today, he'd doubtless amend, "and the reading of blogs hath no conclusion."

One of the benefits/dangers of reading litblogs (and oh, how I enjoy reading litblogs) is the constant exposure to new-to-me books. The "to be read" pile is already so full I could keep reading happily for the rest of year. Also, I truly enjoy rereading books, and that's one reason I have so many books around--so I can read them again.

But I am so easily distracted! During this past year of blogging and reading litblogs, I have "taken on" some of the reading challenges floating around out there--the "From the Stacks" challenge (to read five books from your already overloaded shelves) and the "Chunkster Challenge" (to read selected titles of 400 pages or more). I chose books that were already on my "to be read" stack because they fit these challenges anyway. I have toyed with a number of other challenges, such as the "RIP Challenge" (to read a set number of "atmospheric" books) and the "Classics Challenge" (to read classic literature). Most recently, I even considered the "Once Upon a Time Challenge" (to read fairy tale and fantasy literature), and I don't even like fantasy literature very much (although I have read a great deal of it in another season of life).

Looking over that last challenge and wondering what books I might choose so I could participate was the last straw. I've already read plenty of books in that category (most recently, I did reread The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and I don't really want to read anymore. ( I nearly killed myself reading Inkspell last year to preview it for my kids.) So why am I drawn to these challenges at all? "Books, books, is an excuse to read books."

I don't need an occasion to read books. I read thick books (War and Peace or North and South), classic books (same books), atmospheric books (Dracula), non-fiction books (From Dawn to Decadence or Lost in Translation), and even the occasional fantasy book all the time. Also novels, mysteries, the occasional spy novel or psychological thriller, science fiction titles, philosophy, history, and literary essays. I don't need these challenge, and here is my declaration: I am not joining any more of them, because I can't figure out how to get those cute little avatars on my side bar. No, no, that's not right. I am not joining any more of them because they distract me from my personal reading plans and leave me feeling dissatisfied if I don't finish them. I will not participate in any more reading challenges except my own self-imposed challenges (such as reading books in Polish, finishing War and Peace, and reading From Dawn to Decadence in 2007).

However, I most sincerely hope that others continue offering and joining these challenges, because I love to see the suggestions that everyone else makes for each challenge. I will happily add new titles to my "to be read" list from these challenges, even if I don't get to read the book for a year or two, long after the irksome (to me) challenge deadlines have come and gone.

I even made note of a fantasy author from that "Once Upon a Time Challenge," and I'm keeping my eyes open for his books. Because you never know. I might like it.


At 6:40 PM , Blogger Loose Baggy Monster said...

Great post! I too have found myself increasingly bogged down by book challenges (which isn't the intent) and it's getting to the point where I stop reading books that I personally want to read because I "should" be reading for my challenges. While I will continue with "some" of the challenges I'm already in, I think I may also join you in deciding that the challenges are great for adding books to my own list, but I will read them when I feel the urge to. -Sarah


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