Thursday, January 06, 2011

Reading Challenges: How I fared in 2010

This post could just as easily be titled "The Great Challenge Fail of 2010"! Along with my sporadic blogging last year, the challenges I joined in 2010 got rather neglected along the way. However, I did still manage to read some of the books I'd hoped to when I signed up. So, here's how I did.

First, a carry-over from 2009, as the challenge runs yearly from one Canada Day to the next, The Canadian Book Challenge 3. The goal was to read 13 books during the 12 months of the challenge and while it's a lot for me, slow reader that I am with varied interests, I enjoyed taking part in the challenge previously. The year before I almost reached the 13 but I only read ONE Canadian book from July 1st, 2009 to July 1st, 2010! I'm not sure I can still call myself a Canadian after that poor performance! I know my focus has been on Japanese Literature but I'm still disappointed. I suppose I'll have to catch up on Canadian Lit once I'm finally living there again. Needless to say, I didn't sign up for the 4th round of the challenge that's currently running.

Here are some further examples of my dismal challenge failure last year. I signed up to read one book for Carl's always awesome Once Upon a Time IV Challenge which ran from March 21 - June 20, 2010. I knew I was booked up with other reading plans but I figured I could fit in one. Plus I also joined Trish's Non-Fiction Five Challenge which ran from May - September 2010. As the challenge name suggests, the goal here was to read 5 non-fiction books in 5 months. I'd enjoyed and successfully completed both of these challenges in previous years but guess how many books I read for these two challenges in 2010? Go on, guess! ... If you guessed a big fat ZERO, then you would be absolutely right! Really sad, isn't it?

It isn't all quite that bad though. Next, the Reading Resolutions Challenge which ran throughout the year. My Reading Resolutions were:
Read more Japanese Literature.
Read more books from my shelves.
Re-reading allowed.
Read some Orange Prize books.
Well, I did indeed read more Japanese Literature. In fact, about half of the books I read last year were Japanese lit. As for reading the unread books on my shelves, over a third of what I read would qualify. My shelves are still groaning under the weight of all the unread books and I clearly have more work to do but at least I read some of them. And I did re-read some books that I'd been wanting to for a while. The only resolution I broke down on was on reading some Orange Prize books. As far as I know none of the books I read last year were on any of the Orange Prize lists. My Orange Prize Project is not going very well at all. Ah well. Still, I did ok on the other three resolutions so I'm moderately happy.

Since it coincided with the above reading resolutions, I joined the Reading From My Shelves Project. For this challenge I set myself the goal of reading 20 books that were already on my shelves before January 1st, 2010, and passing on 20 books. In other words not only reading some of the unread books on my shelves but moving at least 20 of them off of my shelves as well. If my count is right, I read 22 books that were acquired prior to 2010, however I wasn't very good at the passing them on part. Most of the books I read last year are still here as I didn't want to part with them. Plus I started reading ebooks last year so a good handful I couldn't have shared if I wanted to. This year I'll definitely have to work harder at creating space, and reading more from my shelves.

Also fitting in with my reading resolutions, was the Flashback Reading Challenge. For this challenge I had the goal of re-reading 3 books in 2010. Last year I re-read exactly 3 books, all Japanese literature. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki, and The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and they were all worth re-reading. In fact, I'd count two of these in my top reads of the year.

For fun I joined the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge because when I get the chance, I always enjoy watching movies based on books. They're rarely as good as the books but I still like watching them. For this challenge I signed up for the Double Feature which was to Read and watch two books/movies, which for me was The Housekeeper and the Professor and Battle Royale. For these two pairs I both read the books and watched the movies in 2010 so both formats were new to me. I don't know if they count but I also watched a couple of movies last year of books that I'd read and enjoyed previously: Persepolis, and Smilla's Sense of Snow. And others probably that I never blogged about and am forgetting now.

Then to go completely against the idea of reading from my shelves, I joined Amy's Buy One Book and Read It Challenge. Of course buying one book and reading it in a whole year, isn't much of a challenge so I set myself the goal of buying SIX books and reading them. As someone who buys lots of books that then just sit there for a few years before I finally read them, this seemed like a good incentive to actually read the new books instead. Just to be clear, for the purposes of this challenge I only counted those books I purchased myself. A fair portion of what I read last year were books for review, received and read in 2010 but not bought by me. Still I did read 9 of the books I purchased myself last year. The actual number of books purchased must be over a hundred though so I clearly have a lot of reading to do.

Since I'm still fairly new to manga and graphic novels, and as I'd enjoyed both of these challenges the year before, I again joined the Manga Challenge and the Graphic Novels Challenge. For manga, I read a volume or two of each Oishinbo, Emma, Monster and Battle Royale, and therefore read the required 6 manga for the challenge, and by default, if you consider manga to be a form of graphic novel, then I suppose I completed that challenge as well. However, I tend to think of manga as Japanese comics, and graphic novels as non-Japanese comics. I'm not sure this distinction makes any sense but in my own reckoning, I didn't read a single graphic novel in 2010. My "excuse" is that they're often expensive and not something I would be able to find in a library here. So even though I have a list of ones I'd like to read, I hesitate to buy them. One of these days when I win the lottery...

Last but not least, I of course joined Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge 4. It runs to the end of January so it's not quite finished yet and I've read well beyond the one book required to complete the challenge. The problem is that I'm so very behind on reviews that I haven't posted proper reviews for most of them yet. Something to work on this month. And I'll talk more about the Japanese lit I read in 2010 in another post.

So there are the challenges that I joined last year. There were some successes and some major failures, but it was fun nonetheless. Besides the life and health issues that got in the way last year, I think the main reason behind the failures is the fact that I started getting quite a few more books for review last year, which meant I had less time to read other books. This year I need to get a handle on the overdue review books and find a balance between reading those and reading for myself. Always a juggling act.

How did you do with your reading challenges last year?

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  1. It's so easy to get carried away because there are so many exciting challenges around. I too didn't complete every challenge I signed up for, but it was fun. This year I'm doing less, but we'll see. I'm also going to try and read more from my shelves:) Good luck!

  2. Ahh.. we do want to start the new year with the best intent and enthusiasm! I too didn't score very well on the two challenges I am suppose to finish last year, The World religion challenge and Animal name Challenge (Read anything about animal or book title that bear animal name).

    I only signed up for 5 this year. I think that's enough for me. :D

  3. Ehhh--don't think of them as failures! Definitely not.

    I'm done with challenges--at least those of the bookish nature. I do like readalongs so I might do more in 2011 if there are any of interest. Last year I only did my own two (Classics and Non-Fiction) and to be honest I'm not sure if I successfully finished either! ;)

    Good luck in 2011!

  4. Hi!
    I would love to join your Japanese Literature Challenge.
    Got some problems though...It's really hard for me to acquire a book about Japan or written by a japanese here in South Korea. and also, I'm not really familiar with Japanese authors and books.
    Do you have any recommendations? BTW, I prefer nonfiction.
    all the best for you!God bless!

  5. Hello, remember me? Grace here from Dubai ( blog). I've not visited yours for so long that I am surprised you have your own domain right now!

    Good luck in your book reading goals in 2011!

  6. Even attempting challenges is better than nothing at all! I think I need to keep mine to as minimum regardless. I hate the feeling of 'obligatory' reading, although I must admit that reading for challenges has always broadened my knowledge.

    I can't wait for Murakami's 1Q84 to be released in English! Won't that happen this year? Will you tell me as soon as you hear anything?! xoxo

  7. I did not join any reading challenge last year. It's just because I did not do any blogwalking. What a shame.

    But this year, I join some of them. I am trying to keep on the track

  8. Sakura - You're so right. There are always so many fun-sounding challenges and it's enjoyable whether we complete them or not. Every year I seem to say that I'm going to read more from my shelves but then don't actually do that! Maybe this year. ;)

    JoV - At least we get a fresh start every new year! I'm going to post about my 2011 reading challenges very soon and I think I'm up to 8. Oh well, it's still January and I'm full of optimism. :P

    Trish - Lol, I call it my challenge fail, but I'm actually not all that upset about it. Although I'm disappointed that I didn't read any non-fiction during those 5 months for your challenge. I did read a couple memoirs earlier in the year but...
    I still like joining some challenges but am not too stressed about them. Read-alongs ARE fun. I hope to do some of those this year too.

    leeshinyoung - The Japanese Literature Challenge is actually hosted by Bellezza. If you click on the button above in the post it will take you to the Introduction post for the challenge at her blog. The current one ends soon but I'm sure she'll be hosting another one later this year.

    I'm hosting the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge, if you're interested. He might be a good author to start with because he is very famous internationally and his books have been translated into many languages. He does also write some non-fiction essays.

    If you're interested in mathematics, you could try to find "An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics" by Yoko Ogawa and Masahiko Fujiwara. I haven't read this non-fiction title but loved the other fiction books of hers that I read.

    Or? Well, what kind of non-fiction do you like? Are you at all interested in Japanese history?

  9. Grace - Hi! Nice to connect with you again. Still in Dubai, I see. And thanks! I wasn't blogging as much last year but am hoping to get back into the swing of it this year. Hope you're doing well.

    Bellezza - That's my justification for continuing to join challenges. It can be hard to balance reading for yourself and for obligations, like challenges or review books. Ah well. We keep trying.

    And YES! 1Q84 is supposed to be coming out in September this year! (Book One and Two, at least, as far as I know Book Three will be out a little later). I'll be sure to let you know and I'll post about it once it gets closer to the actual release date! I can't wait either! :)

    Aleetha - Reading challenges can be a lot of fun. Which ones did you join so far for this year?

  10. Golly, there are SO MANY challenges, aren't there? I don't know why I didn't sign up for the Nonfic Five because I am sure I did that anyway and of course, the Buy-Book-and-READ-it one. "All in fun, not a competition."
    And I had no idea they made a movie of the Housekeeper and the Professor! I must go check for that. I, too, love to read the book and see the flick.
    Congrats for what you did accomplish and best to you for 2011's challenges! :)


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