This winter, I’ve begun participating in a Goodreads group called Bookish. It’s a great group of people who are both smart and kind and upbeat. The thing that I’ve loved the most is the Bookish Winter 2013 Challenge. I had a great time searching for books to fit the tasks and am having an even better time reading them! As silly as it might seem to care about points, it really has been a fun and motivating game to play, and the result has been some of the best, most focussed reading I’ve done in a long time. I had no idea what I was missing not being part of a book group whose tastes are similar to mine.
In recent years I haven’t been as ambitious about my reading as I’d like, but I didn’t realize until participating in the Bookish Winter Challenge just how unadventurous my reading had become. The challenge involves a whole bunch of tasks that have parameters and points associated with them, some of them thematic to the time of year and some invented by group members. They are really creative and fun. When I first started to try to find books, I had no idea how much fun it would be to go searching for books to fit the criteria. I have spent hours making lists and using search terms on Goodreads.com and the Library as well as looking at other sites related to literary movements and geographical areas, and tracking down authors, looking at page length, and noting dates of publication. I’m actually sad that there’s only a month left and that I’m going to have to wait until the fall for the next challenge!
So far I have completed two tasks. The first is two-book task called “As Seen On T.V.” that required me to find two books read by two different television characters. I ended up with The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maughm, which was on Rory Gilmore of the Gilmore Girls extensive reading list and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer, which apparently Lisa Simpson of The Simpson read. Luckily I wasn’t required to also have watched the shows mentioned. Not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed watching the shows, but both of those shows are ones I have missed or only watched a few episodes of here and there. The other two shows that had particularly interesting book lists associated with them were Lost and Mad Men.
The second task is called “The Three Rs: Reread, Restart, and Reassess.” I reread Anna Karenina, restarted The Adventures of Augie March (which I’d somehow put down and never gotten back to even though I thought it was some of the best writing I’d ever read), and reassessed Sophie’s Choice, which I posted about here, and which I’ve long thought I might have judged unfairly.
I’m almost finished with the “Upstairs/Downstairs” Challenge, which is in honor of Downtown Abbey. I read Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh for the “upstairs” half and am three quarters of the way through Raised From The Ground, by José Saramago. I’ve also read Will In The World, one book of a three book challenge that has me picking three out of four suits from a deck of cards on the theme of Socializers (Hearts), Achievers (Diamonds), Killers (Clubs), and Explorers (Spades.) Pretty fun stuff, huh?
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is the only book I’d had already been planning to read. I was happy when I saw that it was on Lisa Simpson’s list, but I could probably have fit it into one of the other challenges. All of the other books I’ve read and plan to read were books I’ve never heard of or were books I’ve been heard of and was interested in reading someday but hadn’t actively sought. The challenge has been an excuse to range farther afield and find things I otherwise wouldn’t have read, or at least not right away.