Reading Challenges: 2014

Reading challenges are a great way to motivate oneself to read more, or read differently. I rarely need the motivation to read more, but I’m all for diversity, and my ‘To Be Read’ shelf is actually a bookcase housing close to three hundred books. So, when I stumbled across the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge on the blog of a friend, I had one of those light bulb moments. I tracked it to the source, and then, with mixed horror and delight, discovered there are blogs devoted to listing reading challenges. I recognised the symptoms of mania before I got to the second page, but by then I had already chosen five challenges to participate in. Three of them will work together, using the same selection of books. The last two are something new.

2014 TBR Pile Challenge

Hosted by Roof Beam Reader, this challenge is the lynch pin of my project. The goal is to read twelve books from my “TBR” pile over the course of twelve months. The challenge stipulates that the books must be at least twelve months old—released prior to 2013. Two alternates are allowed, just in case one of the twelve ends up in the “DNF” pile. Sign me up!

My selections:

Destiny’s Road, Larry Niven

Embedded, Dan Abnett

From This Day Forward, John Brunner

Gauntlgrym, R.A. Salvatore

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri

King of the Outback, Bill King

Revelations, Carol Berg

Ship of Magic, Robin Hobb

Sundiver, David Brin

The Heroes, Joe Abercrombie

The Shadowed Sun, N.K. Jemisin

Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin

My alternates:

Fire Study, Maria V. Snyder

Stories I Only Tell My Friends, Rob Lowe

The fact that I only had to whittle three titles away from this list should tell me something (like the bulk of my TBR shelf is wishful thinking). It’s a start. I did actually remove about seventy books from the shelf this summer. Maybe by next summer all of them will fit.

For more details regarding participation, check-ins, mini challenges and giveaways, visit Roof Beam Reader.

Vintage Science Fiction Month

This is a no brainer for me. I love old science fiction and I have a lot of it on my TBR shelf, waiting for me to revisit the glory days. January is the month and the cut off is 1979. Vintage Science Fiction Month is hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and they are looking for guests posts. For details and participation guidelines, click through the above links.

My selection:

From This Day Forward, John Brunner (1972)

13 tales of dystopia, science fiction and horror. I love short stories and I’ve heard John Brunner writes a good one. I have  vague recollection of having come across one of his stories in another anthology and of being impressed enough to pounce on this collection when it passed through the library donations.

Diversity on the Shelf

This challenge is about reading books that are written by a person of colour, or that feature a main character who is a person of colour. I consider myself an indiscriminate reader. I choose my books based on story rather than inclusion or exclusion of certain elements. I don’t really care who wrote it, unless the author is one of my favourites, and I don’t care what race or species the main characters are, so long as they make sense and provide an engaging reading experience.

That being said, I had a number of books to choose from on my TBR shelf.

My selections:

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri

The Shadowed Sun, N.K. Jemisin

For details and participation guidelines, visit My Little Pocketbooks.

The Sci Fi Experience

This one spans two months, December and January. Though tempted to double up and use From This Day Forward, I decided instead to include one of the titles I have chosen for review. Something new! I’m going to read A Darkling Sea by James Cambias. What enticed me to pick this novel, to read and for review, was the premise. It’s a first contact novel, which is always an interesting story, and the aliens live on the ocean floor, which is something new. Conflict between species isn’t necessarily new, but it’s something I haven’t read for a while. In addition, the cover art is really nice.

My selection:

A Darkling Sea, James Cambias

“I’ve Always Meant to Read That Book”

Hosted by Books & Movies, this is the challenge I’ll likely rue. Who hasn’t had this thought? It knocks me on the skull every time I scan my TBR shelf and every time I wonder if my diet of books is worthy (that’s another blog post entirely). For a while, I tried to read one ‘classic’ every year and I always found it a struggle, until I started using science fiction classics. I’ve read my share of considered classics, both during school and afterwards. I haven’t always enjoyed it. I think part of it is accessibility. A lot of books that are considered classics are just damned hard to read. The other part is reading something because you think you should. There are classics out there I would like to read, though. It’s a matter of making the time to do so. Hence, the inclusion of this challenge.

This one works a little differently. I don’t get to choose the book. Instead there are a list of titles that will be voted on throughout the year. Participants are not required to read all of them. Reviews and discussion of each title are welcome.

For a complete list of eligible titles, visit the site. It’s a surprising mix of contemporary and classic books and I’ve actually read a good number of them, which will allow me to participate in some good conversations.

My selections: (Books I voted for. * Denotes books already on my TBR shelf)

Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger*

A Passage to India, E.M. Forster

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood*

Small Island, Andrea Levy

Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt

All in all, these challenges encompass a minimum of fifteen books. Given that I read about ninety books during the course of 2013, I should be able to knock these out with ease.

Image featured on the front page is the Google Library by Vladstudio. Looks something like my TBR shelf. 😉

13 thoughts on “Reading Challenges: 2014

  1. Cassie December 21, 2013 / 12:30 pm

    I SO need to do the TBR Challenge. My shelves are heavy with books that I need to read. I also love that you can have alternates. I love that you have so many sci-fi challenges as well.

    • Kelly Jensen December 21, 2013 / 12:34 pm

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, I’m excited about the science fiction on my list. And being able to choose alternates is a good thing.

      If you decide to participate in any of these, let me know so I can see what you are reading. 🙂

      • Cassie December 21, 2013 / 12:36 pm

        I really think I will do the TBR, but I worry that I have pretty high expectations for books that I haven’t read that are just sitting there because I bought most of them based on recommendations. So, we will see! I will check back to see your reviews on science fiction because I need some good science fiction in my life.

  2. booksandmovies (@booksandmovies) December 21, 2013 / 5:36 pm

    I’m so glad you’re going to be joining in for some of the “I’ve Always Meant to Read That Book” discussions. 🙂

    • Kelly Jensen December 21, 2013 / 5:37 pm

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

  3. Alysia @My Little Pocketbooks December 21, 2013 / 6:43 pm

    You have some great reading challenges for next year. I have heard great things about Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri. Thanks for joining the Diversity on the Shelf Reading Challenge.

    • Kelly Jensen December 21, 2013 / 6:55 pm

      I really loved The Namesake and I’ve heard good things too! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. Alysia @My Little Pocketbooks January 21, 2014 / 10:07 am

    Just wanted to let you know I am posting 12 book recommendations a month for the participates of the Diversity on the Shelf Reading Challenge. This gives everyone a few new titles and old ones too, in all genres to consider during the year. Thanks for signing up!! 🙂

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