Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Reading Challenges Wrap-Up

I couldn't post this wrap-up sooner because I just finished the book that completed two of my challenges on 12/26! Cutting it close. Not sure about 2015 Challenges yet! Except Chunkster. I think I'm always doing Chunkster from now on.

2014 Chunkster Reading Challenge

Wondering what’s a chunkster? A chunkster is an adult book, non-fiction or fiction, that’s 450 pages or more.

Rules for this challenge:
Audio books and e-books are now allowed. You want to listen to a chunkster on audio? Be my guest.
Essay, short story, and poetry collections are allowed but they have to be read in their entirety to count.
Books may crossover with other challenges.
Graphic novels don’t count. Sorry guys but reading a chunkster graphic novel isn’t the same as reading a non-graphic chunkster.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about the levels of participation that have always been a part of this challenge. This year we’re going to try something new: there won’t be any levels. Don’t get me wrong. This is still a reading challenge. Challenge yourself without being locked in to a certain number. If you didn’t read any chunksters in 2013 and want to change that in 2014, come up with a number and try to read that amount.

Carin says:
I really missed the Chunkster Challenge this year so I will certainly be signing up for that one again. Plus, I read 8 books in 2013 that qualify so it's not like when I didn't do the challenge I stopped reading chunksters. For 2014 since I have a lot of challenges and don't want to overextend myself, I'm going to aim for 6. I plan to start either Les Miserables or The Power Broker before the end of the year, but I won't finish them until 2014, to start the year off right!

1. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro 1344 pages
2. Defending Jacob by William Landay 496 pages
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 512 pages
4. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn 538 pages
5. America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins 576 pages
6. The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly 559 pages
6/6 as of 6/30/2014 DONE!

Wrap-up: Well, I finished this one with half the year still to go! In fact, I read seven books, not six, that are Chunksters this year. This Challenge is becoming my perennial favorite.

2014 What's In A Name Reading Challenge

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories (examples of books you could choose are in brackets):

A reference to time (Eleven Minutes, Before Ever After)
A position of royalty (The People’s Queen, The Last Empress, The Curse Of The Pharaoh)
A number written in letters (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Tale Of Two Cities)
A forename or names (Rebecca, Eleanor & Park, The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D.)
A type or element of weather (Gone With The Wind, Red Earth Pouring Rain)
Remember the titles I’ve given here are only examples, you can by all means use them if you want to – some are classics after all – but it’s not necessary. There are plenty of other books that will fit the categories and you may have some in mind already or even some on your shelves you can read.

Extra information:
Books can be any format (print, audio, ebook).
It’s preferred that the books don’t overlap with other challenges, but not a requirement at all.
Books cannot overlap categories (for instance my first example, Eleven Minutes, could be used for category 1 or 3 but not both).
Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
You don’t have to make your list of books beforehand, you can choose them as you go.
You don’t have to read your chosen books in any particular order.

Carin says:
This challenges has always intrigued and scared me. So I checked the list of categories this year, and against my books from 2013 and 2012 I would have succeeded without trying, so I think I will give it a shot this year. I like the randomness of it.

A reference to time: Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS by Rebecca Eaton
A position of royalty: The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg
A number written in letters: The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
A forename or names: Defending Jacob by William Landay
A type or element of weather: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
5/5 as of 12/26/2014 DONE!

Wrap-up: Three of these were easy, but it took me a bit to do the weather one, and the royalty one I only had about 2 options for, and neither was I crazy over, so this one took until the very end.

Full House Reading Challenge 2014

Challenge will run from Jan 1st to December 31st 2014
Books may cross over from other challenges that you are doing.
If someone completes a full house and would like to complete another, that is fine too, and would mean two entries at the end of the year.

The Challenge:
Complete the card below. You can do it in any order you wish. You are allowed "one free exchange", if there is something on the square you really dislike you may change it to something of your choice. Once you have played this free card that is it. Mention the exchange in the final summary post.

Carin says:
I like the diversity here. Some are almost too easy, but that's a nice counterbalance to some other challenges that are more... challenging. I anticipate the "paranormal or SF or dystopian" category as giving me the most trouble although. thankfully, my book club does try to read one SF/fantasy book each year, so I except that's how I'll squeak that category out. Also the "book with an animal in it" isn't something that I seek out, but I think this category can be covered by a minor character, like if I read The Thin Man, I would count Asta the dog. I don't think I need to read an actual dog book to cover this category.

1. From the local library: Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
2. Best read so far in 2014: Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe 
3. From your wish list: The Good House by Ann Leary 
4. Set in different country from you: Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo
5: Published in 2014: The Longest Date: Life as a Wife by Cindy Chupack
6. Theme/issue you think is important: My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer
7. Setting you'd like to visit: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
8. Suspense or crime: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
9. Contemporary: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
10. More than 400 pages: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
11. Reread: On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
12: Review persuaded you to read it: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
13: Free Choice: Mennonite Meets Mr. Right: A Memoir of Faith, Hope, and Love by Rhoda Janzen
14. Published before 2013: You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers
15. Book with animal in it: The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
16. Won or borrowed: The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier
17. Historical fiction: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
18. Less than 200 pages: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
19. Non Fiction: The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore
20. Author new to you: The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
21. Book from a series: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller #4)
22. Free or bought very cheaply: Flyover Lives: A Memoir by Diane Johnson
23. Published in 2013: Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
24. Paranormal or SF or dystopian: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
25. You love the cover: Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
25/25 as of 8/14/2014 DONE!

Wrap-up: Because of the random nature of this challenge, and the random nature of my reading, not to mention the flexibility of some categories, I knocked this one out without much trouble.

Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge 2014

About the Challenge:
I started the Mental Illness Advocacy (MIA) Reading Challenge in December 2010 in an effort to raise awareness, knowledge, and acceptance of mental illness. Reading, both fiction and nonfiction, is an excellent way to broaden one’s horizons and expose one to new ideas and ways of thinking and being. I hope reading and reviewing books featuring characters struggling to deal with mental illness, whether their own or another person’s, will help remove the stigma faced on a daily basis by those with a mental illness. They already have to struggle with an illness; they shouldn't have to face a stigma too.

What Books Count?
Any book, fiction or nonfiction, that is either about mental illness or features characters or real people with a mental illness counts for the challenge. However, the book must not demonize people with mental illnesses.
So, for example, the movie Fatal Attraction, which features a character with Borderline Personality Disorder, would not count since she is demonized in the movie. However, Girl Interrupted, which also features a character with Borderline Personality Disorder, would count since that character is presented as a three-dimensional person with good and bad traits.

Challenge Levels:
Acquainted–4 books
Aware–8 books
Advocate–12 books

Carin says:
I read a lot of these types of books already and have a ton on my shelves, particularly regarding addiction. And with Jordan hopefully starting a MSW program next fall, I expect mental health issues will be even more of a conversation topic, so I need to keep up! I read at least 13 books last year that would have qualified, although I don't know how books about sociopaths and psychopaths can't demonize them. But I will sign up for Advocate-12, the top level. I might have bitten off more than I can chew here, but we'll see.

1. You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers (face blindness and schizophrenia and alcohol addiction)
2. Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel B. Smith (anxiety)
3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (PTSD)
4. The Good House by Ann Leary (addiction)
5. Columbine by Dave Cullen (psychopathy)
6. The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok (schizophrenia)
7. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (cutting, Munchhausen's by proxy)
8. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (psychopathy)
9. Someone Else's Love Story: A Novel by Joshilyn Jackson (Asperger's)
10. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Asperger's)
11. Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent (cutting, suicide)
12. The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg (alcoholism)
12/12 as of 12/26/2014 DONE!

Wrap-up: This was the perfect level for me as it was just challenging enough that I was cutting it close to finish, but I didn't struggle as these were pretty much all books I'd have read otherwise, although I did have this challenge in mind while making book selections.

State by State in 2014

Ever thought you would like to read your way across America?
The USA Fiction Challenge asks you to do just that.
Read just one book from each state - you choose whether the link is the setting or the author.
You choose whether you confine yourself to a particular genre or not.

Carin says:
What I plan to do is extend this challenge over multiple years. I am picking setting (I think often where an author's from is wildly irrelevant to a book) and I am not confining myself to a genre. I would be hard-pressed to read 50 books all set in different states during one year, but also some books (nonfiction in particular) just aren't set in any state at all, some states are way over-represented (NY!) so are hard to avoid repeats, and it would decrease the number of international books so much, that it would feel like a hardship. Not to mention that some of the upper Midwest and west states are going to be very hard. I am kicking myself for having already read Bad Land. So I am going to aim to finish this over the next three years. I will start off strong but late in 2017 I expect to be struggling to find states like Idaho. If I get more than 35 done in 2014, then I will aim to finish in two years.

Alabama: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
California: The Longest Date: Life as a Wife by Cindy Chupack
Columbine by Dave Cullen 
Connecticut: The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic by John Putnam Demos
Florida: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani 
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley Jr.
Illinois: Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen
Iowa: Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn 
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
Maine: The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Massachusetts: Defending Jacob by William Landay
Michigan: You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
North Carolina: 
My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer
North Dakota
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
Pennsylvania: The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
The House Girl by Tara Conklin
West Virginia: 
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

22/50 as of 12/15/2014

Wrap-up: My goal is to finish this challenge in 2017 and now I think that will be hard. It's amazing how many books are set in NY and CA, and I'm hitting doubles for states I didn't think would be particularly easy like AL and PA. It's also tough because only the American books that I read qualify, and I'm just not that restrictive in my reading. I had hoped to have 25 at the minimum in 2014, but I was just short of that.

1 comment:

Kathryn T said...

Thanks for joining in with the Full House challenge and completing it. I smile at the animal one, I never meant it to be a main character, just a book with a small part one that might take a readers fancy! Happy New Year.