2016 Challenge Wrap-Up

Medusa (1597)
source Wikiart

Yes, the look on Medusa’s face pretty much sums up how I feel about my challenges for 2016.  I was not as focused as I usually am, I didn’t read as many books as I wanted to read, and so, I don’t feel nearly as satisfied and accomplished as I’d hoped.  But honestly, I don’t actually know how I did because I’ve been afraid to assess my progress lately, so let’s take a look:

  1. A 19th century classic:  The Death of Ivan Ilyich
  2. A 20th century classic:  Nightingale Wood
  3. A classic by a woman author:  The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
  4. A classic in translation:  The Brothers Karamazov
  5. A classic by a non-white author:  Autobiography of Malcolm X
  6. An adventure classic:  The Persians
  7. A fantasy, science ficiton, or dystopian classic:  The Time Machine
  8. A classic detective novel:  The Moonstone
  9. A classic which includes the name of a place in the title:  Villette
  10. A classic which as been banned or censored:  Metamorphoses
  11. Re-read a classic you read in school:  To Kill A Mockingbird
  12. A volume of classic short stories:

Completed: 11 books & 10 reviews out of 12

Reading England 2016:

  • Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy


Fictional Barsetshire

  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

Northern England

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Rural England

Completed:  9 Books; 6 counties – Level 3


Completed:  7 texts – Level 3

  1. A Lover’s Complaint
  2. Henry V

Completed:  1 poem and 1 play (terrible!  I reached no level!)

Completed:  11 books – Linguist (top level – yay!)

Clubs – Short Stories

2 – The Runaway – Anton Chekhov

Spades – Essays
5 – Shooting An Elephant – George Orwell
6 – Hamlet : The Prince or the Poem – C.S. Lewis
8 – The World of Tomorrow – E.B. White
9 – Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse – Wendell Berry
Q – Different Tastes in Literature – C.S. Lewis

Diamonds – Poetry

A – A Man’s A Man For A’ That – Robert Burns
3  – Le Voile du Matin – Victor Hugo
5  – A Lover’s Complaint – William Shakespeare

Hearts – Children’s Classic Novels

5 – Big John’s Secret – Eleanore Jewett

Completed:  10 of 52 items (not good, but again, I read writings that I otherwise wouldn’t have, so in a way, it’s a small success)

Completed:  47 out of 52 books

On another note, as I complete my read of The Gulag Archipelago, my The Well-Educated Mind Biography Project that I began in May 2014 will be finished.  It was a fun, and at times challenging, project and as much as I enjoyed it, I’m excited to be starting The Well-Educated Mind History Project on January 1, 2017.  Finally, something about which to feel accomplished!


2016 Challenges ….. Here I Come!

Karen @ Books and Chocolate is once again hosting my favourite challenge of the year, the Back to the Classics Challenge.  Admittedly, it’s my favourite challenge because it’s my easiest challenge. About 95% of the books I’m reading lately are classics, so I’m all over this one.  I don’t usually make a list for this challenge, as the books I read naturally correspond with the categories, however, I want to concentrate on my Classics Club List for this coming year, and my WEM Biographies Project continues, so there are some “maybe” titles that I can choose:

  • The Lord of the Flies – William Golding (#11)
  • Metamorphoses – Ovid (#4)
  • Framley Parsonage – Anthony Trollope (#9)
  • The Man in the Iron Mask – Alexandre Dumas (#6)
  • The Time Machine – H.G. Wells (#7)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much – G.K. Chesterton (#8 or #12)
  • That Hideous Strength – C.S. Lewis (#7)
  • The Gulag Archipelago – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn (#10)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X (#5)

Once again O at Behold the Stars is hosting the Reading England challenge.  I did well with my attempt at this challenge this year, so I’ve decided to do it again and learn more about English counties!

I don’t have any set books planned for this one, but I’d like to read some counties that I hadn’t covered in the 2015 Reading England challenge. And I still have to read my nemesis, Thomas Hardy, so his works are a possibility.

As well as concentrating on my Classics Club List, I also want to have some focus for my Shakespeare Project and I was happy to find The 2016 Bardathon Challenge.  
I’m planning to aim for the Mix-and-Match Shakespearean, reading, watching, performing (ha!), and/or listening to 5 plays.  I think I’ll begin with Henry V, since it’s the only play that I haven’t read from the Henriad.
I’m looking forward to getting back into the Bard!
I joined the Books in Translation challenge last year and really enjoyed it, so I’ve decided to participate again this year.  I’m going to try for the Bilingual level, which is 7 – 9 translated works during 2016, but hopefully I’ll be able to make the top level, Linguist, reading 10 – 12 translated works for the year.  
I’ve participated in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge every year and last year was the first year that I didn’t make it and ended up 2 books short.  Yikes!  So in 2016, I need to regain my streak and manage to read at least 1 book per week. If I can’t, I’m going to cry.
Jay at Bibliophilopolis hosts The Deal Me In challenge, my most challenging of challenges!  I tried it for the first time last year and failed miserably, yet it was my most valuable challenge because it forced me to read essays, poetry, short stories and children’s classics that I wouldn’t have read otherwise.  My list for this year:

Clubs – Short Stories
A –  Cabbages and Kings – O’Henry
2 – The Runaway – Anton Chekhov
3 –  The Queen of Spades – Alexander Pushkin
4 – Le Horla – Guy de Maupassant
5 – The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe
6 – The Life You Save Might Be Your Own- Flannery O’Connor
7 – The Honest Thief – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8 – A Little Woman – Franz Kafka
9 –  A Haunted House – Virginia Woolf
10 – The Birds – Anton Chekhov
J –  The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Gilman
Q – The Eyes – Edith Wharton
K –   Signs and Symbols – Vladimir Nabakov
Spades – Essays
A – Milton – Charles Williams
2 – Doodles in the Dictionary – Aldous Huxley
3 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – G.K. Chesterton
4 – On A Faithful Friend – Virginia Woolf
5 – Shooting an Elephant – George Orwell
6 – Hamlet : The Prince or the Poem – C.S. Lewis
7 –  The Tyranny of Bad Journalism – G.K. Chesterton
8 – The World of Tomorrow – E.B. White
9 – Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse – Wendell Berry
10 – Sense – C.S. Lewis
J – Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community – Wendell Berry
Q – Different Tastes in Literature – C.S. Lewis
K – Vulgarity – G.K. Chesterton
Diamonds – Poetry
A – A Man’s a Man for a’That – Robert Burns
2 –  Gesang Der Geister Über Den Wassern – Johann Wolfgang
               von Goethe
3 – The Morning of Life – Victor Hugo
4 – Sonnett XXIII – Garcilaso de la Vega
5 – A Lover’s Complaint – William Shakespeare
6 – Resolution and Independence – William Wordsworth
7 – Ode III – Fray Luis de León
8 – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas
9 – To A Mouse – Robert Burns
10 – Tears, Idle Tears – Alfred LordTennyson
J –  Easter Wings – George Hebert
Q – On His Blindness – John Milton
K – Phoenix and the Turtle – William Shakespeare
Hearts – Children’s Classic
A – A Triumph for Flavius – Caroline Dale Snedeker
2 – Three Greek Children – Alfred Church
3 –  The Story of the Treasure Seekers – E. Nesbit
4 – Detectives in Togas – Henry Winterfeld
5 – Big John’s Secret – Eleanore M. Jewett
6 – The Tanglewood’s Secret – Patricia St. John
7 – The Wolves of Willoughy Chase – Joan Aiken
8 – Red Sails to Capri – Ann Weil
9 – Sprig of Broom – Barbara Willard
10 – Teddy’s Button – Amy LeFeuvre
J –  Call It Courage – Armstrong Sperry
Q – Tales from Chaucer – Eleanor Farjeon
K – Beyond the Desert Gate – Mary Ray 

And last, but most exciting, is the Ancient Greek Reading Challenge which I posted about here.  I’m planning on reading the dramatists, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, some comedies, and perhaps even make it to Plato and Aristotle if I’m feeling rather brave.

Other than these 2016 challenges, I have on-going projects such as:

My C.S. Lewis Project:  

I did wonderfully the first year but last year was a sorry sight.  I need to read at least a couple of Lewis this year.  Mere Christianity should be a “gimme” and I’d also love to start and finish The Screwtape Letters.  Otherwise Miracles is my favourite and The Abolition of Man would be a good one to try, as I struggled with it the first time I read it.

My Barsetshire Chronicles Read:

Sigh!  This was a complete failure last year.  I didn’t even get one book read. The next up is Framley Parsonage, so I’m going to have to focus, focus, focus!

The Well-Educated Mind Biographies:

Okay, this is one challenge where I’m doing well, thanks to Ruth!  She keeps me honest.  Next up is Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.  There are 10 biographies left before we move on to Histories, so hopefully we’ll finish them all this year.

My Shakespeare Project:

I’ve been moving reasonably slowly through this lately, but at least I’m moving.  I hope my Bardathon challenge will help me read some more of the Bard in 2016.

I’m also doing a few read-alongs including O’s The Pickwick Papers Read-Along, Amanda’s Children’s Literature Event in April, and a few of us are reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses (beginning now) and Edmund Spenser’s The Fairie Queene (beginning mid-April).  If anyone wants to join in on the last two, please let me know.  We keep getting new recruits!