2015 Challenge Wrap-Up

I’ve been dreading this post, because I feel like I’ve failed at most of my challenges during the year.    However, all is not usually as dire as I expect, so let’s have a look at my successes and failures for 2015.

I completed this challenge, strangely most of it in the first three months of the year, then it took me right to the end of the year to read the last book. The titles I read were:

  1.  Persuasion – Jane Austen
  2.  East of Eden – John Steinbeck
  3.  Orlando: A Biography – Virginia Woolf
  4.  The Plague – Albert Camus 
  5.  Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  6.  Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
  7.  The Narrative of the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
  8.  Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
  9.  The Club of Queer Trades – G.K. Chesterton
10.  Meditations – René Descartes
11.  The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
12.  Hamlet – William Shakespeare

My accomplishment on this one was a pleasant surprise.  I’d aimed for Level Two at 4-6 books, but made Level Four (12+ books) reading 15 books during 2015.  Woo hoo!



  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen




  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen


I managed to read all 6 of Austen’s main novels in 2015.

1.  Persuasion
2.  Sense & Sensibility
3.  Pride and Prejudice
4.  Mansfield Park
5.  Emma
6.  Northanger Abbey

I still want to add her lesser known works but I’m pleased that I managed to finish all of these.

Ew, this was a fail for me this year.  Normally I have no problem covering a number of pre-printing press books, but this year I only read three.

1.  Beowulf
2.  The Canterbury Tales
3.  The Rule of Saint Benedict.

Yipes!  Next year with my Ancient Greek challenge, I will certainly read more.

Oh, another fail.  I’ve never been able to complete this challenge. That’s because it’s impossible for me to follow a list. Actually I didn’t do too badly this year, managing to read 9 of the 12 books.

1.  Meditations – René Descartes
2.  Orlando: A Biography – Virginia Woolf
3.  The Plague – Albert Camus
4.  Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
5.  Hamlet – William Shakespeare
6.  Walden – Henry David Thoreau
7.  Persuasion – Jane Austen
8.  Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
9.  The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

This was one of my favourite challenges of the year.  The Canterbury Tales were so wonderful —- Chaucer is not only a poetic master but a connoisseur of human nature.  And Frank Mundo’s The Brubury Tales were a delightful surprise.  Like Chaucer, he not only showed a poetic prowess but also gave wonderful insights into the human condition, and wove a number of classic allusions through his modern retelling.  And excellent read!

In spite of initially being wary of my success with this challenge because of my concurrent Reading England challenge, this challenge turned out to be rather successful.  I made it to the highest level, “The Linguist”, reading 15 translated books.

  1. Meditations – René Descartes
  2. The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
  3. The Plague – Albert Camus 
  4. Erewhon – Samuel Butler (original in Latin)
  5. Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  6. Beowulf 
  7. Ecce Homo – Friedrich Nietzsche
  8. What Is To Be Done? – Nikolai Chernyshevsky
  9. Money (L’Argent) – Émile Zola
  10. Mein Kamp – Adolf Hitler
  11. The Story of My Experiments with Truth – Mohandas Gandhi
  12. The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
  13. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  14. Selected Essays – Michel de Montaigne
  15. The Rule of Saint Benedict 

I didn’t make it!  Boo hoo!  I read 50 books.  I’ve never read so few books in one year.  I’m pathetic!  And that’s all I have to say about that!

In spite of failing miserably at this challenge, it was one of my most beneficial challenges ….. well, ever.  It forced me to focus on so many categories that I’ve always have good intentions to read from but never do: poetry, essays, short stories and classic children’s books.  I’m definitely going to choose this challenge in 2016 and hopefully improve my Deal-Me-In reputation.

Clubs – Short Stories
3 – Doctor Marigold – Charles Dickens
6 – The Princess – Anton Chekhov
7 – Father Brown: the Worst Crime in the World- G.K. Chesterton

Spades – Essays
2 – Friendship – Emerson
4 – Christianity and the Survival of Creation- Wendell Berry
5 – A Panegyric for Dorothy L. Sayers – C.S. Lewis

Diamonds – Poetry
A – Ode to a Nightengale – John Keats
4 – Sonnet XXIX – Garcilaso de la Vega
7 – Ode VIII: Quiet Night – Fray Luis de León
J – Song II:  The Dark Night – San Juan de la Cruz
Q – A Red, Red Rose – Robert Burns

Hearts – Children’s Classics
A – The Forgotten Daughter – Caroline Dale Snedeker
4 – The Ides of April – Mary Ray (1)
8 – The Cabin Faced West – Jean Fritz

I was quite astounded that many of these reviews were some of my most popular reviews of the year.

I’m still mulling over my challenges for 2016.  Deal Me In, Back To The Classics, Reading England, and the Ancient Greek challenge are definite choices, but there are so many other tempting ones floating around.  Stay tuned!

Deal Me In Challenge List 2015

Happy New Year all!  My first post for the year is a list of Short Stories, Essays, Poems and Children’s Books for my 2015 Deal Me In Challenge.


Clubs – Short Stories
A –  Cabbages and Kings – O’Henry
2 – The Runaway – Chekhov
4 – Le Horla – de Maupassant
5 – The Tell-Tale Heart – Poe
8 – A Little Woman – Kafka
9 –  A Haunted House – Woolf
10 – The Birds – Chekhov
J –  The Yellow Wallpaper – Gilman
Q – The Eyes – Wharton
K –   Signs and Symbols – Nabakov
Spades – Essays
A – Milton – Williams
3 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Chesterton
6 – Hamlet : The Prince or the Poem – Lewis
7 –  Monsters and the Middle Ages – Chesterton
8 – The World of Tomorrow – E.B. White
9 – Discipline and Hope, Means as Ends – Berry
10 – Sense – Lewis
J – Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community – Berry
Q – Different Tastes in Literature – Lewis
K – Vulgarity – Chesterton
Diamonds – Poetry
2 –  Gesang Der Geister Über Den Wassern – Goethe
3 – The Morning of Life – Hugo
5 – A Lover’s Complaint – Shakespeare
6 – Resolution and Independence – Wordsworth
8 – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Thomas
9 – Ode to a Grecian Urn – Keats
10 – Tears, Idle Tears – Tennyson
K – Phoenix and the Turtle – Shakespeare
Hearts – Children’s Classic
2 – Three Greek Children – Church
3 – The Mysterious Benedict Society – Stewart
5 – Journey from Peppermint Street – deJong
6 – The Tanglewood’s Secret – St. John
7 – The Wolves of Willoughy Chase – Aiken
9 – Sprig of Broom – Willard
10 – Teddy’s Button – LeFeuvre
J – The Book of Three – Alexander
Q – Tales from Chaucer – Farjeon
K – Beyond the Desert Gate – Ray (2)

Deal Me In Challenge 2015

Okay, only one more challenge ……. really ……….!  Jay at Bibliophilica is having his yearly Deal Me In challenge and it looks like such fun, I couldn’t resist.  I’ve been watching Dale @ Mirror With Clouds participate all last year, and Marianne gave me an idea with a twist for it that should work wonderfully!

The rules are:

What is the goal of the project?
To read 52 short stories in 2015 (that’s only one per week)
What do I need?
1) Access to at least fifty-two short stories (don’t own any short story collections or anthologies? See links to online resources below)
2) A deck of cards
3) An average of perhaps just thirty minutes of reading time each week
Where do I post* about my stories?
(*You don’t have to post about every single story, of course, but if you have something to say about the story you read any given week, your fellow participants would love to hear it.)
1) On your own blog or website if you have one (I will link to your post at the bottom of my weekly post. I currently plan to do my weekly post on Sundays)
2) if you don’t have a blog or website you may comment on my weekly post, sharing thoughts on your own story – or start one at WordPress or blogspot – it’s easy and free to create a basic blog.
How do I pick which stories to read?
(The 52 stories themselves are totally up to you.) Before you get start reading, come up with a roster of fifty-two stories (you can use any source) and assign each one to a playing card in a standard deck of cards. It can be fun to use different suits for different types of stories, but that is optional. Each “week,” (if you’re like me, you may occasionally fall a story or two behind) you draw a card at random from your deck and that is the story you will read. There are links to last year’s participants’ rosters hereif you want to see some examples.
What if I don’t have time to read a story every single week?
Try one of the challenge variations noted below, the Fortnight (or “payday” if you prefer) version is one story every two weeks or the “Full Moon Fever” version with just thirteen stories read or selected on seeing each full moon…
How do I sign up?
Leave a comment below with your URL and I will link you. My first wrap-up post of the year (I post weekly, usually Sunday night or Monday morning) will include links to any new Deal Me In posts and a list of the participants with links to their roster of stories.
What is the purpose?
To have FUN and to be exposed to new authors and stories and maybe get in the habit of reading a short story a week. Isn’t that enough? 🙂

Now I’ve decided to follow Marianne’s lead and adjust the challenge to work for my reading plans for the year.  Part of my plan for 2015 was to try to read more children’s classics, essays and poems for the year, so instead of reading all short stories, I’m going to split it into four categories:  Short Stories, Essays, Poems and Children’s Classics.  
I’m really looking forward to this challenge.  In the next day or so, I’ll post my list of titles corresponding to the playing card deck.  I’m not promising I’ll be able to read all 52 of them, but I’ll certainly do my best!