I used to be a very avid participator in reading challenges, events, and readalongs. But over the years, as I've become busier with teaching, those things have fallen by the wayside. It was easy for me to dive into anything that seemed interesting when I had nothing really going on.
But now, so long after creating this space, I have come to only enter and participate in those things I'm truly interested in. I stumbled upon the book blogging community by accident, and while I love certain aspects of it, I'm selfish in many ways at this point in my life. I want to read what I want to read...with not real rules or expectations or demands placed on my time.
I read for two primary reasons-to educate myself and to forget about the real world. And, quite honestly, the books I read for those categories are incredibly different and diverse. I love reading YA literature, science-fiction, and fantasy, and those are things I will continue to read (and not feel bad about it as I have in years past), but I also love the classics. They give me the opportunity to exercise my brain and challenge myself.
And, over time, I have come to realize that having a balance between those two kinds of reading escapes is what works for me. When I start demanding things of myself, I get stressed and fall into a reading slump.
However, I really like making lists of things to read and committing myself to some things I might not get to otherwise. Enter: Reading Challenges.
Now, one thing I'm doing differently this year is making sure that I'm picking books I'm really excited about (in the past, I've picked books that I felt I "needed" to read...so...I never read them). I'm also working on reading from my own shelves. I have also reached the point in my life where my acquisitions need to slow down. I literally have hundreds of books in my small apartment that I've never read. I need to remedy that.
So, here are my plans for this year.
This "Challenge" isn't really a reading challenge. Instead, it's more of a lifestyle change. I've always been an avid book buyer. Going to the bookstore generally means I bring home 4-5 books, read 1-2 of them, and then repeat the process. So, I have a lot of books on my shelves. I have enough unread books to read for years without buying anything new.
So, as of the first of this year, I'm putting myself on a "no-buy." Exceptions include picking up books by favorite authors, getting books as gifts or in bookswaps, grabbing something from the school library, or if it's a title that will help my teaching in some way (I often pick up history books to look at topics I'm teaching in more detail-I find that necessary). I did order a few books I've been craving since instating my "no-buy" but I truly do feel setting myself up to read from my shelves is the way to go this year.
If you're interested in #Readmyowndamnbooks you can visit Andi at Estella's Revenge to learn more.
#PotterBinge is an event that I'm already participating in, but I'm going to continue my reread of the series throughout this month. So, I found it fitting to include here. I would like to do more rereading in 2016, which leads me to...
My own Reread Project. I actually need to update the page I made for this project, as I HAVE reread quite a few books in 2015 (most recently The Old Man and the Sea). There are quite a few classics I want to get back to, so I think setting a goal of 5 rereads for the year is a great place to start!
While we're talking about classics, I'm also going to be taking a more active part in The Classics Club's Women's Classic Literature Event. I have quite a few classics on my shelves by women that I'd like to get to in 2016, so this is the perfect venue to get to those and share that with other readers.
(I actually made a personal goal to be more involved in the Club in general...especially as I helped create and cultivate the Club at it's website).
And, speaking of awesome women, I also need to turn my attention back to Willa Cather. I also need to update the page for this project, as I have made progress. I would like to read 3 books by Cather this coming year to make some good progress toward completing her complete works.
And...I would also like to make some progress reading Dickens. It's actually been a year or two since I've read any Dickens, but I'd like to read at least 2 of his works this year. I'm still not sure if I want to go in order of publication, but we'll see what grabs me.
The last of my personal projects is my Shakespeare Project. While I have read MANY of his plays, and most of those multiple times, I still have a ways to go to get through his complete works. I'd like to make a dent in the histories, but I'm only 3 away from finishing off his tragedies...so, we'll see what ends up happening. I think 6 plays over the course of the year is a manageable number!
The Mount TBR Reading Challenge coincides really well with all of my other challenges and projects, as I really AM focusing on reading books that have been sitting for a period of time. There are different levels to this challenge, which you can read about on the challenge page, but I'm going to go for Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is reading 60 books from your TBR. As I read 75 books total in 2015, I think this is a perfectly manageable number, and as all the unread books on my shelves are on my ever-growing TBR, this is a perfect challenge to coincide with #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks. Bring it on.
*I really like that I don't have to make a list of books for this challenge. Hurrah!
The only "Traditional" reading challenge I'm participating in this year is the Back to the Classics Challenge. I've participated in this one a number of times (sometimes I've completed it, sometimes not even close). I enjoy the categories, so it's a good place to go to when I'm not sure what to read next. And a few of the titles will crossover to other challenges and projects. :)
Here is my list with the challenge requirements:
1. A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.
I'm probably going to read a Dickens title for this category. I'm leaning toward The Old Curiosity Shop (Will count toward my Dickens Project)
2. A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1966. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later.
I'm leaning toward a title by Virginia Woolf (will also count toward my Women's lit Challenge)
3. A classic by a woman author.
Any of my remaining titles by Willa Cather-most likely The Song of the Lark.
4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.
I already know that this is going to be Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I tried to read it a couple years ago but set it down and never returned to it.
5. A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.
Truthfully, I'm having a hard time selecting a title within the time frame, so I will have to come back and update this one (the title I wanted to read, Bless Me, Ultima was published in 1972, so it isn't old enough to count for the challenge).
6. An adventure classic - can be fiction or non-fiction. Children's classics like Treasure Island are acceptable in this category.
I'm going to put down Don Quixote for now, but that might change. :)
7. A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like 1984, and children's classics like The Hobbit are acceptable in this category also.
Ummm, is it cheating if I just say 1984? ;)
8. A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional. This list of books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is a great starting point if you're looking for ideas.
I've been craving a reread of some Sherlock Holmes, so I think one of the novels will be a good choice for this category.
9. A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.
I have a few options for this: A Tale of Two Cities, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame most likely....
10. A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.
I'm thinking either a Hemingway or Gone with the Wind....
11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). If it's a book you loved, does it stand the test of time? If it's a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?
I think I'm going to tackle Oedipus Rex for this category. It's one that I know I read in high school, but I don't have any strong memories about it.
12. A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Children's stories are acceptable in this category also.
This is another great option for some Sherlock Holmes stories. I also have an anthology of Mark Twain stories, so that's another idea.
There you have it, my 2016 reading plans. Let me know what you're planning!