Monday, December 28, 2009

Wrapping up some 2009 Reading Challenges

It's hard to believe that 2009 is almost over. I didn't quite manage to finish all the reading challenges I joined this year, but I got to read some great books over the course of the year, many that I may not have gotten to without that little incentive. And now I'm looking forward to starting fresh in the new year with new books, new plans, and new challenges. I've gotten rather behind on reviews and such in the last month so you'll have to forgive me, I'll be posting those reviews and other end of the year stuff for a little while into January. In the meantime though, it's time to wrap up some of the challenges that I took on this year. Thank you, thank you to all the challenge hosts and hostesses for your cute buttons and fun challenges. Titles link to my reviews where available.

Graphic Novels Challenge
I signed up to read six graphic novels in 2009, and I'm over halfway through my sixth book right now.  I'm sure to finish it either tonight or tomorrow, and even though I will have a couple of reviews pending, I'm considering this challenge successfully completed.

Books read:
1. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 - David Petersen
2. Skim - Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
3. Embroideries - Marjane Satrapi
4. Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 - David Petersen
5. French Milk - Lucy Knisley (review pending)
6. Kabuki: The Alchemy - David Mack (reading in progress, review pending)

These were all so different from each other, the stories ranged from personal memoirs to adventure tales, all told through some fabulous art, and each one was enjoyable in its own way. I'm really enjoying discovering the great variety and richness in graphic novels and look forward to discovering even more great stories and art next year. So I'm joining in the 2010 Graphic Novels Challenge as well. Click on the link for more info.  I know that in my Looking forward to 2010 post about reading challenges for 2010, I said that I don't want to feel tied down to too many challenges next year, but I also said that I will still join a few focused reading challenges, and when I wrote that I already had this one in mind. I like the incentive it gives me to read more graphic novels, especially as it's a format I'm still new to.  I'm going to start out at the Beginner Level, to read 3 graphic novels, but we'll see how it goes and hopefully I'll be able to upgrade to Intermediate later on. 

Manga Challenge
I'd never read any manga before this year, but I had been wanting to try some for a while so this was just the nudge I needed.  The goal was to read 6 books and I ended up reading 14.  Manga does read really fast and each book is only one volume in a longer series, but it still counts, right?

Books read:
Emma, vol. 1 - Kaoru Mori
Monster, vol. 1 - Naoki Urasawa
xxxHolic, vol. 1 - CLAMP
Emma, vols. 2 - 7 - Kaoru Mori
Emma, vol. 8 - Kaoru Mori
Vampire Knight, vol. 1-3 - Matsuri Hino
Battle Royale, vol. 1 - Koushun Takami, illustrated by Masayuki Taguchi (review pending)

My favourite?  I really loved the Emma series, for the Austen-esque storyline and because it is just so beautifully drawn.  It was a wonderful introduction to manga, especially as it proved that not all manga is sickeningly cute or superhero violent action adventure stories.  A couple of the other series that I tried, namely Monster and Battle Royale, also have me intrigued so I'll be continuing on with them next year.  And I have several other series I'd like to try too.  I don't really need to join a challenge as now that I've begun reading manga I will definitely be reading more of it next year, but I look forward to hearing about the manga that everyone else reads and recommends so I'm signing up for the 2010 Manga Challenge too.  Click on the link for more info.

Everything Austen Challenge
I ended up mostly watching Jane Austen related TV adaptations for this challenge, but I did read Northanger Abbey which was a lot of fun. I'm so glad I revisited it this year. And the challenge was a great excuse to watch some adaptations that I hadn't seen before, especially the version of Persuasion with Ciarán Hinds. Sigh.

Northanger Abbey

Lost in Austen
Northanger Abbey
Mansfield Park
Bridget Jones's Diary

I never did post about the last two, both of which I watched earlier this month. I caught Mansfield Park on TV and really quite enjoyed it. It's not my favourite Austen book, or adaptation, but it was still a pleasure to spend some time with these characters, and it was certainly worth ignoring the housework for a couple of hours.
Then I convinced H to watch Bridget Jones's Diary with me. It's been quite a few years since I saw it, so it was good fun to watch clumsy ol' Bridget get her man. Jane's stories really are just as amusing and relevant today.

Herding Cats II: Attack of the Hairballs
There was no minimum requirement for this year's Herding Cats Challenge but I ended up reading 3 books from the Herding Cats Master Book List of books recommended by the other participants.

Books read:
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
Looking for Alaska - John Green
Embroideries - Marjane Satrapi

These were all good reads and, I think, worthy of being on the list. There are other books on the list that I'd like to read too. Someday. And I have to say that I still just adore the button!

What's in a Name? 2 Challenge
So close, but not quite. I only managed to read books for 5 of the 6 categories. I had a couple of books picked out for the last category (body part) but I just ran out of time to read either of them this month. Oh well. I had fun choosing and reading the books for the other categories.

Books read:
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
After Dark - Haruki Murakami
Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
Mother Superior - Saleema Nawaz
The Museum Guard - Howard Norman
The Death of Ivan Ilyich - Leo Tolstoy
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant - Michel Tremblay

I think the most fun part of this challenge, is initially thinking "What on earth can I read for these categories?", but then finding plenty of options in my overflowing TBR stacks, especially as it often reminded me of books that have been languishing unread for far too long. Now I just need to read them.

YA Dystopian Challenge and DystopYA Challenge
I set out to read 3 books by the end of the year and I've read two so far, and I plan to start The Knife of Never Letting Go tomorrow so there's a possibility I'll either finish by midnight on the 31st or soon thereafter. So while I may not technically complete the challenge on time, I think you'll forgive me a day or two, won't you?  Reading volume one of the manga also made me really want to read Battle Royale, the novel, soon. So hopefully I'll get a chance to fit it in early next year as well. 

Books read:
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Battle Royale, vol. 1 - Koushun Takami, illustrated by Masayuki Taguchi (review pending)
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (starting very soon)

I still have a couple other challenges to wrap up but I'll leave them to have their own posts.

How did you do with your reading challenges, if you joined any, in 2009?


  1. Congrats on finishing and taking part in so many challenges. Glad you enjoyed the Manga Challenge and I look forward to seeing what you read in 2010 :)

  2. I've only read the first in the Emma series but I loved it! I want to finish the series this year. Looks like you did some great challenges.

  3. Congrats on finishing all of those! I didn't finish some of mine this year, but fortunately I'm not too concerned :P

  4. You made great progress on your challenges this year, Nat. I look forward to your upcoming reviews!

  5. I'm so glad that you participated in my challenge!

  6. Oh my gosh! That's a lot of challenges and you do a wonderful job. Great work tanabata :)

  7. Rhinoa - Thanks. I'm looking forward to trying some more manga this year.

    Ash - The Emma series is great! I have the last two volumes, of extra stories, to read soon hopefully.

    Nymeth - Thanks. And that's the best attitude to have! :)

    Wendy - Thanks. Even though I didn't finish them all I think I did not too badly. Now I just need to work on my backlog of reviews!

    Stephanie - Thank you again for hosting it! :)

    Jenny Girl - Thanks! Sometimes it's so hard to resist all the great-sounding challenges!


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