Having opted to accept a Reading Challenge — involving fifty-two individual categories for new-to-me books to last right through 2015 — I promised I’d monitor progress for the delectation of readers. The first three books each covered several categories, but from now on I’m going to nail my colours to the mast and stick to just one new category for each book. So Planet Narnia I’m going to nominate as my non-fiction title; The Ministry of Pandemonium is a book based on its cover; and The Journey to the River Sea will be claimed as a book that I’d owned but not yet read (even though this category covers a significant proportion of my library). So that’s three categories down, forty-nine to go. It’s now nearing the end of February now — how have I got on since my last update?
I’ve decided retrospectively that Lev Grossman’s The Magicians will be the title predicated on magic; it’s suffused with the assumption that magic exists in an otherwise mundane world, and of course the clue is in the title. I jump now to Antal Szerb’s Oliver VII which I saw as a very Shakespearean farce, a comedy of errors, so you might think I’d go for ‘funny’ as its label, but I’m opting for it as the book originally in a foreign language: in this case the language is Hungarian, translated brilliantly by Len Rix.
Peter Vance was in his last year of secondary school when his book Message to a Grandchild was published, so not unnaturally this counts as a book by an author under 30; even though his role — not insubstantial — was to garner, select and edit, as well as liaise with correspondents, publisher and other interested parties, principally the Alzheimer’s Society of Great Britain, his was the driving force that justifies the appellation of ‘author’ for this category.
The Reading Challenge stipulated that one of the book categories should be for a Pulitzer Prize winner: I’m interpreting this in a broader sense as a winner of a any major literary prize. In the case of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962) the prize was the Newbery Medal, awarded annually to the most distinguished American children’s book published in the previous year. The final title I’ve completed to date is Miss Pergrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; Miss Peregrine also teaches in this Welsh establishment so I’m categorising this as a book set in high school. Granted, some of the children seem rather young, but it’s clear that a number are nominally around or approaching 16 years of age, so that’s my defence.
So there you have it: five more titles to add to the first three of 2015, eight books so far and we’re not yet at the end of February. And I’m now reading the Selected Letters of a famous personage, whose first very famous book is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its publication this very year — I wonder if you can guess what it [the Selected Letters of …] is? Or which category I going to choose for it?