This post has no title

Ross-on-Wye bookshop

You know how it is. You make yourself a resolution that you will or won’t do something. Then you yield just a little to temptation. Before you know it you’re in full flight to somewhere where you weren’t planning on going to be heading in the first place.

So it was with reading challenges / goals. I wasn’t really going to do any this year. Except read more. Then I succumbed to one that I wasn’t going to take too seriously. And then …

1. Classics Spin
2. Goodreads Reading Challenge
3. Ultimate Reading Challenge

The Classics Spin I began last year. I completed reading the first of twenty classic titles I’d selected, the choice made by the Classics Club being Charlotte Brontë’s Agnes Grey. Which I dutifully reviewed. The next randomly chosen number will be revealed on March 9th. I’ll keep you posted.

So far so good.

Then the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I put down to read forty titles this year. After all, I’d managed that number in 2017, so easy-peasy this year, surely? And so it is proving: seven titles actually read in the first two months of this year, in theory the equivalent of forty-two books over twelve months. I’m laughing now. (Metaphorically of course. I’m not actually guffawing.)

Finally, the Ultimate Reading Challenge set by Hannah Braime. This is a list of fifty-two categories (suggesting a reading rate of, on average, one book a week) selected off the top of her head. No, I don’t think I’ll actually manage all 52 categories, but here’s the full list — in case it appeals to you too — and here’s how I’ve done so far:

10. A book published in the 20th century: Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent
12. A book with a name in the title: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
15. A book someone else recommended: Terry Pratchett’s A Hat Full of Sky
28. A book with a place in the title: Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea
29. A book set in the future: Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines
33. A book of short stories: Eleanor Farjeon’s The Little Bookroom
50. A book by an author not read before: Sarah Singleton’s The Poison Garden

That’s enough about me, now over to you.

29 thoughts on “This post has no title

  1. I love having a book on the go and always feel I should be able to read more over the course of a year, but I think if I took up a reading challenge it would just give me another thing to feel pressured about and ultimately fail at.

    They work for many people and I can see the appeal, the sense of achievement and satisfaction at completing a challenge. But I have to be realistic – on my days off from work I’m writing (or at the moment studying or writing), weekends are for spending with family, evenings we watch a lot of films and box sets. That leaves maybe half an hour at the end of the day before I start drooling and nodding off.

    With all your other commitments, you read so many books – how do you do it Chris? Good luck with your challenges this year and enjoy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How do I do it? I can heartily recommend being retired, Lynn, with an adequate pension and modest needs, a local bookshop, library and charity shops stocked with a range of titles. And reading in bed. 😁 But these are benefits not everybody has, I’m well aware of that!

      But then I’ve always found time to read; the hardest thing now is the distractions of social media (not including blogging, of course!). Family is important but with them all grown up with families of their own our responsibilities are not as intense as they were.

      But I think you’re right about the satisfaction and sense of achievement that come with completing challenges. I’d just add that challenges get me out of my comfort zone (or I’d just read a limited range of genres and authors) and introduce me to, hopefully, new literary delights.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s true I don’t feel obliged to read unenjoyable books, Lynn, but even with what I could call ‘difficult’ titles I find I’ve learnt something new or gained an insight I hadn’t had before. It’s rare that I completely give up on a book, more likely put it aside to finish another time, but there are some I realise a few pages in that I’d misjudged their attraction from back cover blurbs or the casual dip; these I definitely put on charity shop donation pile!

          On a different matter, we recently had a couple of hours in York waiting for a connection between Harrowgate and Edinburgh, so had a quick stroll round the town. Didn’t make it as far as Clifford’s Tower but walked the length of the Shambles and took a few shots of the Minster. Must be, what, 45 years since I was last here and only a bit of the town wall by the station and the Minster were strong in my memory, while my only recall of the Shambles was probably based on old photos I’d subsequently seen.

          Anyway, all good for making The Restless Dead scenarios even more vivid!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah, one of my favourite parts of the country! I’d consider calling the place home if it wasn’t for the weather, the tourists … and the ghosts of course :). Very happy memories of the place. Thank you for bearing RD in mind on your travels north.

            I know what you mean about learning from difficult books – I read a few while doing my degree that I might not have chosen and really enjoyed. Wide Sargasso Sea and Goethe’s Faust being two examples. But I think my tolerance has gone down over the years. I couldn’t finish The Book Thief, for heaven’s sake! I mean, who doesn’t finish the Book Thief? Though I did return to Donna Tartt’s Secret History after dumping it for over a year and thought it was much better second time round. Not a pleasant character amongst the lot, but a good book.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Weather, tourists and ghosts — I’d find those formidable barriers to residency too, especially the last! But York seems to be a particularly lively, self-assured place.

              The Secret History? I read this many years ago and also struggled with its roll call of unpleasant characters, yet felt I ought to read it again at some future time; I might even understand it better second time round!

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I love York for the very reason Neil hates it – its history. It lives there like few other places I know. And being a history geek … Like parts of Bristol, you just have to love how the past envelops you.
              I did think TSH was good – in the end. But it didn’t inspire me to read any of Tartt’s other books, much as she’s a lauded writer in some quarters

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I do agree with Lynn. Plus, my overladen shelves (left of fireplace is books I’d like to re-read, right is tbr) are like resident cats faced with a stray on the doorstep hoping to get in. Cats and book case say no!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the analogy with cats! Do your books hiss and spit too? 😀 For myself, I do pass on a good proportion of read books these days instead of hoarding them (as I used to) but — and this is a mysterious process — empty spaces get filled up almost immediately with new TBR tomes. How does that happen?!


    1. There’s a lovely bit of dialogue in the Christopher Nolan Batman films that always makes me smile, Lory: Why do we fall, Master Bruce? So we can get up again.

      That’s definitely my attitude to Reading Challenges. But I’d forgotten that sense of community too, which shouldn’t be a surprise really, that’s why we share our experiences online, isn’t it? And why we have dialogues like this. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I admire your dedication. I have my list of books for my book club, which is already too much dense text in too little time and then there are all the insomnia thrillers, the travel books and those other bon bons I just can’t resist…..Good luck with your resolution!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, travel books, the indispensable companions when planning, travelling, recalling, reminiscing and dreaming about the next trip! Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, Rough Guides, Baedekker — where would we be without them?! (And guess which idiot forgot to pack that guide to Edinburgh now that we’re halfway there?)


        1. According to Wikipedia “since 1979 Baedeker travel guides have appeared as Baedeker Allianz Reiseführer (travel guides) … Multi-coloured with copious illustrations and in many languages, they now cover most of the popular tourist destinations in the world. Over 150 guides have been published already and the list keeps growing, as well as the number of languages in which they are published. In Britain, the guides have been published in collaboration with the British Automobile Association (The AA) and in the USA by Macmillan Travel.”

          Liked by 1 person

  4. inkbiotic

    I want to tick the last box on your poll cos it made me laugh! Good luck with reading, and hopefully you’ll be bringing some of those books back to us with your thoughts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I tend to only sign up for challenges I know I won’t have any trouble completing, which probably means they’re not really ‘challenges’ at all. Like Lory, though, I enjoy feeling part of a community and discovering the blogs of other participants. Good luck with your challenges this year. 🙂


    1. That’s why I prefer to see my challenges as ‘goals’, Helen, so no chance of a sense of failure if they’re not achieved! Semantics, I know, but if you can’t fool yourself…

      Agree totally about the community aspect — hence this post and the marvellous responses so far!


  6. I can’t wait to participate in a reading challenge! With kids still at home most of the day, however, I have to be realistic with myself. At least I can find out some great recommendations from you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Not a fan of reading challenges, myself 😉 I’d probably pick an easy one I’d do anyway and then I’d feel like cheating 😉 And besides, with more and more non-fiction books occupying my time, it would be a scramble to put in the 40 genre books in one year… One could wish 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are so many Reading Challenges around that it’s possible to pick one that suits, but if you don’t need a stimulus of that sort to read widely or in depth then they’re pointless. I’m a latecomer to much fiction-reading so this sort of thing is great for me.

      Having said which, I ought to read more non-fiction…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh Chris, you are reading my mind right now!

    I sign up for challenges for two reasons, to read books (in the subject matter of the particular challenge) I haven’t read before and with a community of people to discuss them with. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

    During the last weeks of December I decided on my challenges for 2018 and made a spreadsheet so I would be able to read all I planned and hoped for….and it all derailed during the first few weeks of January, when on a whim, I decided to read a book for Margery Sharp Day, an author I had never read, but who is a favorite by bloggers I admire. I so enjoyed that book, I checked another out of the library.

    Now I am reading a Diana Wynne Jones for March Magics which put me totally off my “schedule;” my spreadsheet has now become a list of suggestions!

    So in modern parlance I’ll just end with, “I feel ya bro.” 🙂


    1. Not mind reading but a case of great minds thinking alike, Laurie! Reading for me is a sort of journey that you have a ghost of a route planned out for, but there’s always an interesting landmark just off road that I’d either kick myself for or mildly regret if I didn’t visit. And I should seek out a DWJ to read for March Magics…


  9. It sounds like you’re having fun with your challenges! I don’t sign up for that many challenges because I don’t want to restrict myself too much. But, I think they help to stretch us some– encouraging us to read more widely which is always a good thing. And, like others have said, it helps to create a feeling of community.

    I hope you have great fun with your reading challenges this year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having fun is important, and I wouldn’t bother the moment it ceased to be fun! I’m basically lazy, so pushing myself to try something different may initially be an effort but rarely a waste of time, and I feel chuffed when I’ve found that genre or title or author more enjoyable than I’ve feared! Thanks for your wishes. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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