Category Archives: challenges

2014 Chunkster Challenge

chunkster challenge 2014aChunkster Challenge

Hosted by me but on this blog

January 1 – December 31, 2014

A few days ago I mentioned that the Chunkster Challenge will be back in 2014. Even though I’m the host, this challenge is well, a challenge. Chunksters can be intimidating because of their size and the time needed to read them. So that made me think long and hard about the rules and there’s been some changes.

  • Audio books and e-books are now allowed. You want to listen to a chunkster on audio? Be my guest.
  • There won’t be any levels in 2014. It’s up to participants to decide how many chunksters they want to read.

If you want to know the other rules, go to next year’s sign-up page.

For the Chunkster Challenge, I’m trying to stick to my tbr pile. I need to tackle that sucker in 2014. I’m hoping to read a chunkster a month. I’m calling my reading pool the “pool of shame” since most of these books have been on my shelves for years people.

Learning to Lose by David Trueba

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  Every year I say I’m going to read this book and never do.

Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. If I can read a short story or two a week, I can finish this book in 2014.

oneillAmerican Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes edited by Molly O’Neill. Guys, it took me years to find this book at a reasonable price. I found it for a dollar years ago and never read it.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnman (nonfiction)

Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America by Enrique Krauze

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. Last year I went on and on about this book and never finished it.

Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance by Carla Kaplan

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Don’t Know Much about History by Kenneth C. Davis

The Street Sweeper by Eliot Perlman

What to Look For in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Canadia McWilliam

The Iliad by Homerlamb

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The Jinni and the Golem by Helene Wrecker. I started this book a few weeks ago and didn’t finish.

Unless I have a spectacular reading year in 2014, there will be a few of these that I won’t get to. The ones I don’t read, I’m giving away.

Will you join the Chunkster Challenge?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VIII

RIP8main300It’s here! Carl posted the sign-up post for R.I.P a few days ago. It’s one of the few events to get the blogisphere in a blogging frenzy. The R.I.P. Challenge is one of my favorite challenges. Even though the sun is shining out here in SoCal and the weather is still in the 90s, I had to sign up now.

From now until Halloween, participants will be reading books and watching movies in a variety of genres:

Mystery

Suspense

Thriller

Dark Fantasy

Gothic

Horror

Supernatural

 

The only two rules:

Have fun reading (and watching).

Share that fun with others.

rip8peril1stFor Peril the First, participants read four books that fit in with the challenge. I’ve ignored my own books most of this year in favor of library books and advanced reading copies, so for R.I.P., I’m reading strictly from my shelves. My reading pool:

RIP Collage1

RIP Collage2

Half World by Hiromi Goto

anything by Angela Carter

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Stepmother by Robert Coover

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Jinni and the Golem by Helene Wecker

rip8perilshortI love short stories but I don’t often read them. I’ll probably change that with a collection of short stories by Angela Carter.

rip8perilonscreenWhat would the challenge be without movies?! I have no idea what I’m going to watch just yet.

What are you reading (and watching) for R.I.P. VIII?

 

 

Sunday Salon: Summer Reading, Read-a-thons, and Read-alongs

Technically, summer doesn’t start until June 16th here but when you’re a student, it starts the very second you’ve finished with your last final. Since my last final is over tomorrow afternoon, I’ve started picking out potential reads for my short, (less than a month long), summer. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’ve been waiting for this day probably since Easter vacation. The chance to read as much as I want without worrying about grades or homework is my idea of heaven.

Here’s a few things that I’m looking forward to this summer:

Photo by EvilErin Flickr Creative Commons

Christina over at The Ardent Reader is another blogger/college student who’s celebrating the beginning of summer, so we’re decided to host a small informal read-athon exactly a week from today. It’s called the School’s Out! Summer Read-a-thon. Feel free to join us. You can read as little or as much as you want.

In case you didn’t know, Sheila over at Book Journey is hosting a read-along of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden throughout the month of May. On the 31st, she’s hosting a virtual garden party with discussions on the book and giveaways.  The Secret Garden is one of my annual spring reads but I wasn’t able to get to it this year. I plan on re-reading the book, watching the movie version, and re-reading Ellen Potter’s The Humming Room which was inspired by The Secret Garden.

The Chunky Book Club is hosting its next book club discussion starting June 7th for The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. I can’t wait to read this. The book was a finalist for the Orange Prize, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best Book, and is an Essence Magazine Book Club pick. You don’t have to be a participant of the Chunkster Reading Challenge and you can read this in any format.

Now I’m off to cram study. What are you reading today?

Chunky Book Club and Indie Lit Awards Shortlist

The poll results are in! Four books stood out above the rest as this year’s picks for the Chunky Book Club. Here’s this year’s selection and reading schedule:

11/23/63 by Stephen King starts our first discussion in March.

The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna is a great way to start the summer in June.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett will help readers welcome Autumn in.

From what I’ve read about Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, it’s the perfect way to end the year.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a participant of the Chunkster Challenge to join us in the book club. So if any of these books look interesting to you, why not join us? The discussion posts will go up at the beginning of that particular month and discussions will start around the 15 th except in December when they will start on the 5th.

Indie Lit Awards

The short lists for the Indie Lit Awards have been announced!  The awards cover various genres from fiction to non-fiction to GLBTQ. After looking at the lists, there are so many books I’m interested in reading. The winners will be announced in several months.  Congratulations to the authors whose work made the list.

Dare to Disconnect Challenge

It’s that time of the year where people everywhere look at the new year as a fresh start.

Earlier last week I was on Twitter having a great discussion with Wallace from Unputdownables. We were discussing our reading goals for 2010. I confessed that I read more books in 2008 than I did in 2009 so one of my resolutions for 2010 is to read at least 235 books this year while Wallace wants to read at least 100 books in 2010.

We both admitted that if we are going to accomplish our goals, we need to disconnect from time-suckers like TV and the internet. Though it’s great to catch up on our favorite shows or read interesting posts or whatever online, there’s so much time being taken away from reading. We decided to start a personal challenge where we replace one bad habit with a good one. It is that time of the year, right? Wallace is replacing TV with more reading while I’m replacing spending hours online with reading.

We’re calling our challenge, Dare to Disconnect. The plan is to post an update on how we’re doing at the beginning of each month throughout 2011. We’re also giving each other encouragement through email, posts, and Twitter. If this sounds like something you would like to do, feel free to join us. Just leave a comment here or on Wallace’s blog.

To help me achieve my goal, I plan to limit the amount of time I’m online. No more losing hours to different articles or website. No more playing games online. Instead I’ll write my posts offline instead of online, pick out my homework ahead of time for my online classes and check my email only once a day instead of the millions of time I check now. I think being specific and having some kind of plan of action is going to help. We’ll see how I’m doing in February.

So what about you? Do you have any resolutions for the new year?

Sunday Salon: NaNoWriMo, PiBoldMo, and book bans

Good morning! Right now the sun isn’t up, the house is quiet, and I have a nice large cup of coffee in front of me. Today will be a great day. While my kids are off to a nearby Halloween/birthday party, I’ll be making plans for two writing challenges that start next month: NaNoWriMo and PiBoldMo.

You probably already know what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is all about: writing a 50,000-word novel in one month.  What you probably haven’t heard of is  PiBoldMo.

PiBoldMo is Picture Book Idea Month.  The goal is to come up with one picture book idea every day for the month of November. It sounds easy but I doubt it will be. There will be prizes like picture book critiques, artwork, jewelry and more.

I’m really excited for both challenges to start though I’m aware that I’ll have to really manage my time if I want to read and blog as much as I want to. That means I need to stay off of Farmville and any other games that I usually play, plus no more surfing the internet for interesting articles. That’s okay. I’m up for the challenge!

Book-Buying Ban

So lately I’ve bought a ton of great-looking books. These are books that I’ve read about on Twitter like The Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus and The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin while  a few are books I’ve wanted to reread like Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. I’m excited about reading everything I’ve bought plus the books from my latest library loot, which I haven’t blogged about yet. So it leads me to impose a book-buying ban for myself. No more new books for myself until the beginning of the year. I’ll still check out books from the library but that’s it. I’m hoping to read everything I’ve bought this month by January 1, 2011.

My questions for you: Do you ever go on a book-buying ban? Are you planning on participating in any writing challenges in November?

Reading for a Good Cause

24readathonWith the start of Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon less than a week away, I thought it might be a good idea to start writing my various posts for the big event.

Chris at Stuff as Dreams Are Made Of recently wrote a post about the charity he will be sponsoring during the read-a-thon. So I’m stealing the idea to tell you about the charity I’m sponsoring.

This year I joined The Year of  Reader challenge. The purpose of the year-long challenge is for bookworms to sponsor literary charities through the books they read. You can have others sponsor you or donate yourself. One of the charities I’m sponsoring is 826national.org.

In 2002 author Dave Eggers opened 826Valencia. The purpose of the organization is:

assist students ages six to eighteen with their writing skills, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our work is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

Currently there are seven chapters of 826 in Valencia, California; Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Ann Harbor, and Brooklyn. All seven are under the umbrella known as 826National.

The chapters offer tutoring, field trips, and workshops  in things like  screenwriting, SAT prep, comic book writing, and more.  All services are free for the kids that come in. I wish this organization was around when I was growing up.

Since I am sponsoring two charities this year, I alternate between the two every month. This month it’s 826’s turn. As usual for every book I read, I donate $1.50 to that month’s charity. I don’t have a goal as to the specific amount to donate, but so far this month I’ve read 20 books. I hope to double that amount from now until the end of the read-a-thon Sunday. We’ll see.

The Martel-Harper Challenge

My favorite blogger ever, Dewey, is hosting The Martel-Harper Challenge. The M-H challenge is a mini quarterly challenge that lasts three months and you only have to read two books. It’s based on the books that author Yann Martel sends Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper every two weeks.
For the October-November-December quarter I plan on reading:

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Weekly Geeks #18

I really should be studying but I have just too much energy. So I’ve been doing everything else: taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, daydreaming . . . I’ll get to studying soon. I think the kids feel the same way because I asked them to take a nap hours ago and they’re still up. I give up.
This week’s Weekly Geeks is about catching up. Catch up on whatever it is you need to catch up on: book reviews, TBR pile, library books . . .
So this week I will be catching up on a number of things.
At last count I was signed up for about thirty challenges. Now with school and everything else in my life, I think I will cut my challenges down to about five total for the rest of the year. I have a challenges notebook that I use so I can remember what challenge deadlines are coming up and what books to read but it still feels like a chore. So I am going to go through my notebook and my five favorite ones I will keep.
I also need to update my TBR pile. I am so tired of looking at my TBR bookcase. I need to start reading the books now and give them away. I will definitely be giving some away for Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon in October. If you haven’t heard of this great challenge already, go on over to The Hidden Side of the Leaf and read all about it.

I also need to catch up on my homework. I have a ton of classes and for the last two weeks on and off I have been sick. It’s crazy having the flu and it’s about 80 degrees today in California. If I haven’t been the sick one then it’s been one of the kids. So “catch up” will be my new name for the next week.

Wish me luck.

Weekly Geeks #18

I really should be studying but I have just too much energy. So I’ve been doing everything else: taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, daydreaming . . . I’ll get to studying soon. I think the kids feel the same way because I asked them to take a nap hours ago and they’re still up. I give up.
This week’s Weekly Geeks is about catching up. Catch up on whatever it is you need to catch up on: book reviews, TBR pile, library books . . .
So this week I will be catching up on a number of things.
At last count I was signed up for about thirty challenges. Now with school and everything else in my life, I think I will cut my challenges down to about five total for the rest of the year. I have a challenges notebook that I use so I can remember what challenge deadlines are coming up and what books to read but it still feels like a chore. So I am going to go through my notebook and my five favorite ones I will keep.
I also need to update my TBR pile. I am so tired of looking at my TBR bookcase. I need to start reading the books now and give them away. I will definitely be giving some away for Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon in October. If you haven’t heard of this great challenge already, go on over to The Hidden Side of the Leaf and read all about it.

I also need to catch up on my homework. I have a ton of classes and for the last two weeks on and off I have been sick. It’s crazy having the flu and it’s about 80 degrees today in California. If I haven’t been the sick one then it’s been one of the kids. So “catch up” will be my new name for the next week.

Wish me luck.

Sunday Salon: Breaking All the Rules

This month has been very bookish despite the fact that fall semester has started for me out here in California. So even though I have almost no spare time to read that hasn’t stopped me from acquiring books in any way that I can. Which really sucks since just last Saturday I signed up for J. Kaye’s Ban-on-Spending Book Challenge. The premise of the challenge is not to spend another dime on books until you read the books you already own that are on your TBR list. I tried, I really did. But within a couple of days I had books in my mailbox from Paperbackswap and Amazon. Having a $1 bookstore just down the street from where I live doesn’t help matters either. Every single book in the store is only one dollar and you can always find great finds.

Friday I promised my younger siblings and my kids that if they behaved well while we were school shopping, I would take them to our local $1 bookstore. Mind you, I forgot all about the the ban on spending. We went in and I came out with seven books for myself, which brings this month’s total of books bought or traded to 26, a record for me. But can I really complain when I acquired Munro, Welty, Lutz, Smith, O’Brien, Hoffman, and the many other book covers you see throughout this post for one dollar each or for free? You will hear no complaints from me.


I felt guilty for about three seconds before hugging my new books protectively and pushing the thought out of my mind. I’ll try the challenge again September 1st. Not a day before.

Too bad none of the books fit into any of the challenges I signed up for this week: Lambda Challenge and Carl V’s 3rd annual Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Challenge. The Lambda Challenge is an ongoing challenge based on the Lambda Literary Foundation awards. Every year the foundation gives out awards to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender literature. Since this is a genre I totally forgot about, I’m in. I have no idea what I’m going to read yet.

Carl’s R.I.P. Challenge is one of my favorite challenges. Every year I count down to fall and the chance to sign up and read as many scary stories as I can. I’m a chicken so I read more mysteries than thrillers. Because my list of potential reads is long, I won’t list it here. You can read it here though.

This week I managed to finish three books and a couple of essays. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt by Nick Hornby is a collection of essays about the books he’s read for The Believer magazine. The collection is smart and funny, a great collection for any book lover’s shelf. I’ve read several books by Hornby including About a Boy, How to be Good, The Polysyllabic Spree, and currently High Fidelity. You cannot go wrong reading Hornby.

The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg was this month’s re-read. It’s a pretty simple story about a woman named Nan who leaves her husband, home, and life as she knows it to figure out who she is and what she wants. Along the way she talks to strangers who are almost always women to see how their own lives turned out and are they living the life they want. Written as letters to Nan’s husband and also as diary entries, the book is a quick and enjoyable read.
Also read this week was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl Poet. This was required reading for my British Lit class, but I’m glad I read it. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is thought to have been written in the 14th-century by an anonymous writer. It’s about a mysterious, huge, green knight coming to King Arthur’s court to challenge any knight to a game he had in mind: he would let them strike a blow to him with his large, scary axe in exhange that in one year and a day that same knight will find him and stand a blow from the green knight. There’s a lot of embrassment because no one was stupid enough to volunteer. Arthur ended up volunteering and before he could strike a blow to the green knight, his cousin Sir Gawain, offered to take Arthur’s place. Gawain cuts the knight’s head off thinking that would be the end of the game only for the green knight to pick up his rolling head, tell Gawain who he was and the name of his manor, before riding on his large green horse with his head in his hands. The rest of the poem had to do with Gawain’s journey and what happens. I have to thank my professor for requiring this and holding my class’s hands through this. For a minute I thought about changing my major from English to accounting.

Yesterday I started reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. I was kind of wary about reading it since every book after Twilight hasn’t been as fulfilling. But Breaking Dawn is proving to be as much of a page-turner as the three books before it. I plan on finishing this morning so I can start on my many pages of homework. I’ll post my review later on this week.

Okay this post is so long. So I’m off to drink too much coffee and read while shouting at Bella to quit being so selfish. Have a great week.

Weekly Geeks #9

Weekly Geeks #9
This week’s theme: Challenges

1. If you participate in any challenges, get organized! Update your lists, post about any you haven’t mentioned, add links of reviews to your lists if you do that, go to the challenge blog if there is one and post there, etc.

2. If you don’t participate in any challenges, then join one! There’s a good selection of possibilities over on my right hand sidebar (scroll down) where I list those I participate in. There’s also A Novel Challenge, a blog that keeps track of all sorts of reading challenges.

I love reading challenges. You can almost always find a challenge that suit your taste or host one if you can’t. This year I have signed up for 29 challenges. The ones in bold are finished:

1. 24 hour Readathon
2. Southern Reading Challenge
3. In their shoes reading challenge (my own)
4. Kate’s short story
5. The Pub

6. Once Upon a Time 2
7. Triple 8
8. 48 hour
9. Mini-challenge
10. Stephanie Meyer

11. Man Booker
12. Summer Reading
13. Soup’s On
14. Spirituality
15. Graphic Novel

16. Orange Prize
17. Newbery Project
18. You set it paperback
19. Book Awards
20. Book Awards 2

21. Classics
22. Just 4 the hell of it
23. The Pulitzer Project
24. Jewish Literature
25. Russian Reading

26. D.E.A.R.
27. From the Stacks
28. Read one book
29. The Complete Booker

That is a lot of challenges. I refuse to even count how many books I would have to read total. The Triple 8 challenge is 56 books by itself. I’m only signing up for one more challenge and that’s the R.I.P. Challenge coming in September. This week’s Weekly Geeks is really going to keep me busy posting whatever reviews I have pending, updating all of my challenge lists, plus cross-posting as many books as possible.

Challenges Progress

I don’t think I’m going to sign up for anymore challenges this year. I’m starting to get just a little swamped.

In their shoes : 3 out of 10
Triple 8: 27/56
Short story: 2/5
The Pub Challenge 2/8
Once upon a time: 3/5
Mini-challenge 9/12
Man Booker 1/7

Spirituality 0/3
Soup’s On 1/4
Graphic Novel 7/6
You set it paperback 0/6
Book Awards 9/12
Southern Reading Challenge 0/3
D.E.A.R. completed
48 hour challenge start date pending

Okay, that’s it, no more challenges. Now I’m off to read.