Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Feeling Challenged

I've decided right away to start 2008 with a bang instead of a whimper. If you check out my banner, you might notice that I am not bumbling only through perfume, but also books (and beauty--ha!). In 2006, I tried to join a blogger's book club, but I found myself overwhelmed by perfume. In 2007 I started my Reader's Journal posts and was a bit more successful at keeping things up. As I plan to continue my Reader's Journal posts throughout 2008, I thought perhaps I should ensure I'd have something to write about, so I joined not one but two different reading challenges.

The Short Story Reading Challenge
In a nutshell, I've agreed to read ten short story collections by ten writers I've never read before. I used to be an avid reader of short stories, but lately I've been re-reading the same collections over and over again, so I am hoping this gets me out of my rut and helps me find some new favorites. I'll be posting about the collections I read both here and at The Short Story Reading Challenge blog, which will also include all the lists and reviews of other participants. If you're interested in joining this one yourself, the rules are listed there as well as at Kate's Book Blog. My thanks to Kate, whom I've never met and whose blog I just discovered before Christmas, for organizing this challenge.

It also happens that I am such a nerd, I've already composed my list (not in any particular order). I have read some stories by a few of these authors, but never a full collection, so I think that still counts. My choices are:
Sunstroke and Other Stories, by Tessa Hadley
Cliffs of Fall and Other Stories, by Shirley Hazzard
Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona, by Ryan Harty
Shiloh and Other Stories, by Bobbie Ann Mason
Lost in the City, by Edward P. Jones
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by ZZ Packer
A Kind of Flying, by Ron Carlson
Corpus Christi: Stories, by Bret Anthony Johnson
Jenny and the Jaws of Life, by Jincy Willett
Laws of Evening, by Mary Yakuri Waters

The Pub 2008 Challenge
I found many interesting challenges, but because I've never done one before I thought that if I were going to do two, I'd better pick a second one that seemed...well, do-able. I found this through the blog A Novel Challenge, and it's being organized by the person who owns this blog, which I just found today. The basic rule: read eight books published in 2008. Four of these books must be fiction, but no children's or young adult books. Just after signing up for this one, I realized I hardly ever keep up with new releases, so I may have to make the list as I go. That said, I already have my first choice, which will be published on January 14--West of Last Chance, by Kent Haruf. Plainsong is one of the best books I ever read, so let's hope this is a good choice! I'll keep you updated on my list as it takes shape. You should be able to read all entries at The Pub (2008). You can also sign up there, if you are so inclined.

It's already shaping up to be an interesting year!

*images from The Short Story Reading Challenge and The Pub 2008