Monday, December 17, 2007

My Year of Reading Dangerously

I want to try to cut down on the challenges I join for next year, especially the year-long ones, but I can't resist this one, hosted by Andi and Heather for Estella's Revenge. A bit of arm-twisting to finally read some of these authors is definitely a good thing. Who knows when I'll get around to reading them otherwise!?
"My Year of Reading Dangerously: A Challenge" will begin on January 1, 2008 and consist of some very simple rules. Namely, read authors or genres that intimidate you.

You can:
1. Read along with the "official" Estella's Revenge "Dangerous" novels.
2. If you don't want to read our list, your other choice is simply to complete 12 books that you deem "dangerous" and intimidating.
3. A combination of numbers one and two.
(click on the button for more info)

I'm going with option number 3. I hope to read along with some of the "official" choices but will substitute in other books for some of the selections. As in all the challenges I join, I'm trying to read from my shelves as much as possible but I also enjoy the 'excuse' to search out some of the ones that I don't already have. You naughty girls forcing me to buy more books! ;)


January: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (since Estella is our namesake) --> A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
I've already read Great Expectations and I've had Tale on my shelves for far too long.

February: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (African American) --> Beloved, by Toni Morrison
I already own Beloved so I'll read it and then if that goes well I may be encouraged to try more.

March: Cat's Eye, by Margaret Atwood (Atwood for Atwood's sake)
I don't have this one but since I'm not as averse to reading Atwood as I was a few years ago, it's a good chance to read another of her books.

April: Transformations, by Anne Sexton (Poetry) --> In keeping with the poetry theme, I'll read Ariel, by Sylvia Plath, and then maybe The Bell Jar as well, which I've never read.

May: Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote (Southern) --> I'm not sure yet whether I'll read this title by Capote or not. I read In Cold Blood last year and I already have the Capote biography by Gerald Clarke so I may read that instead, or maybe something else entirely.

June: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (Russian)
I've been meaning to read Lolita for several years now. It's time I finally did.

July: The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (adolescent) --> Daisy Miller, by Henry James. Henry and I don't always get along so I'd like to try reading something else by him. I also have A Portrait of a Lady on hand.

August: Maus I and II, by Art Spiegelman (Graphic Novel, Pulitzer winner)
Another I've been meaning to read for some time.

September: The Secret Lives of People in Love, by Simon Van Booy (Independent)
Ever since Nancy raved about this and then interviewed Simon I've had it in mind to read so I think I'll just have to finally order myself a copy.

October: The Human Stain, by Philip Roth (Contemporary/Jewish)
I've never read anything by Roth, and I've been interested in reading this since seeing the movie a couple of years ago.

November: A Month of Classic Short Stories, Various - watch for a list
OK. I'm game for some short stories.

December: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (Dusty) --> The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Just because I feel I should.

Whew! That should keep me busy. Hopefully reading along with others, at least for some of them, will encourage me to read them on schedule. Wish me luck!


  1. Seing some of your choices I can only say you will have a great time. Dickens, Nabokov, Roth and Steinbeck will surely provide that.

  2. Oooh, great list! I've got to find the time to write up my list. There will be several substitutions in mine, as well.

  3. So glad to have you Nat!! And great list. The Great Gatsby is such a fantastic read! All are great choices, but especially that one!

  4. Quintarantino- I hope to have a good time. :)

    Nancy- I'll be curious to see your list when you get a chance to post it.

    Heather- Oh yeah! I needed a vote in favour of Gatsby! Thanks, I think, for creating such an unresistable challenge! ;)

  5. Yay - glad you are joining in on this one. I have no idea how well I'll do with it but it'll be fun no doubt :)

  6. I know what you mean about the year-long challenges. I'm trying desperately to NOT sign up for any in 2008. I'm stubborn and like to read what I'm in the mood for, not what's on a list.

    To your list:

    A Tale of Two Cities was one of my favorites in high school. "It was the best of times..." Enjoy!

    Beloved is fabulous. It's the only book by Morrison I've enjoyed. Lots and lots of symbolism. Might be worth reading with a Cliffs Notes alongside. :)

    As I recall, my husband spoke highly of The Chocolate War. I wonder if he taught it in one of his high school classes.

    I've wanted to read Maus I and II ever since Andi first mentioned them in a Yahoo group several years ago.

    Ah! The Grapes of Wrath. Another favorite read in High School!! I didn't care for The Great Gatsby both times I read it (ducking from Andi's wrath! :) )

    Good luck! I may join in on a couple of these reads, here and there. We'll see... :)

  7. Iliana- I have no idea how well I'll fare either but it should at least be fun trying. Hopefully reading one a month or thereabouts will work better than my usual style of putting them off then running out of time!

    Les- I don't think I could stay away completely so I've decided I can join a few shorter ones and that are flexible! Nice to hear that you really enjoyed both A Tale of Two Cities and Beloved. Thanks for the tip on the symbolism and looking up some 'help'.
    I'll see how the 'official' discussion goes for The Chocolate War and The Grapes of Wrath and if then they appeal to me I might try them later on. Thanks for the wish of good luck! :)

  8. It's a really interesting challlenge, isn't it? Unfortunately I don't think I should join anymore. But that's a great selection of books. Beloved is very disturbing and uncomfortable, but a necessary book, I think. And the writing is just beautiful. I also enjoyed both Ariel and The Bell Jar.

  9. Nymeth- LOL! C'mon just one more! I'm joking! I know what you mean about only being able to handle so many challenges. I'm curious to see what I think of Beloved. Thanks for your input.


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