Present and Future Challenges – 2009, 1st quarter

When I first began book blogging, I told myself I wouldn’t join challenges because I’m just reading and blogging for myself. But I have given in. The appeal of reading challenges is that it helps me get organized in my reading. Besides, they are fun to plan. Most of my challenges are personal, ongoing challenges without a time limit. (I posted about those yesterday.) The ones below are blogging community challenges.

I’m realizing that, as my son’s napping schedule changes (read: decreases) in the coming year, my reading (and blogging) time will be decreasing. In time, I may have to completely rework these goals to be more realistic! For now, these are my preliminary goals.

I realize this post is very, very long. Read any or all that may interest you. I also wanted to wait until I knew which challenges I was joining before posting my “reading lists.” I’m glad I did, because I’ve been changing these around for weeks!

Any books to read listed below are just preliminary ideas: I may change my mind at any time. I probably will.

2009 Year-Long challenges

(Links are to challenge sites where available.)

World Citizen Challenge (nonfiction). This is the most intimidating challenge for me, because the books in each category can’t be about my home country, and I know virtually nothing about international affairs. For the world issues and anthropology categories, I plan on focusing on third-world poverty/hunger. I’ll do the Postgraduate level for this “class,” for which I need to read seven books from the six categories. Why such a hard level for this challenge? I took a “foreign policy” class in college and slept through it every morning (it was at 9 a.m.); I should actually learn something! Here is my pool of books I want to/should read. (I hope they all fit the categories and aren’t about the USA or anything!)

  • Politics: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington; The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli; The Republic by Plato; your recommendations?
  • Economics: Human Action: A Treatise on Economics by Ludwig von Mises; The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith; The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx; your recommendations?
  • History: Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond; Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations by Edward Hallett Carr; U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 (my textbook from the class I slept through; even if it doesn’t technically “count” for this challenge, I’m going to revisit it!); your recommendations?
  • Culture or Anthropology/Sociology: Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel; Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization by Arjun Appadurai; Planet of Slums by Mike Davis; The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon; your recommendations?
  • Worldwide Issues: Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel; World hunger : 12 myths by Frances Moore Lappe; Hunger : an unnatural history by Sharman Apt Russell; The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey Sachs; your recommendations?
  • Memoirs/Autobiographies: Memoirs of WWII (the abridged version) by Winston Churchill; Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History by Robert D. Kaplan; The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia by Robert D. Kaplan; your recommendations?

The Science Book Challenge (nonfiction). I have dozens of books about the cosmos, DNA, genetics, and evolution on my “to be read” list. I plan to read at least three of them this year. Just a few on my list: DNA by James Watson, Cosmos by Carl Sagan, Napoleon’s Buttons by by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson, Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer, The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins, God’s Equation by Amir Azcel, and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

BiblioShakespeare Challenge (fiction and nonfiction). The challenge is read six books by or about the Bard. I plan on reading his sonnets, The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Helen Vedler, and Will in the World (a biography) by Stephen Greenblatt, as well as three plays.

Dewey’s Books Challenge (fiction and nonfiction). I plan on reading five books that Dewey reviewed on her site. Some on my list after a leisurely visit to The Hidden Side of a Leaf: 1984 by George Orwell;  The Book That Changed My Life by R. Coady and J. Johannessen; The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer; Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal by Leonard S. Marcus; The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood; Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton; and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.

Dewey Decimal Reading Challenge (nonfiction). I have so much nonfiction on my “to be read” lists and I kind of was hoping there was a general nonfiction challenge (but I wasn’t quite ready to start one myself!). I’m glad I found this challenge.

  1. 000 – January – Generalities. The Book that Changed My Life or The New Lifetime Reading Plan
  2. 100 – February – Philosophy and Psychology. Aristotle’s Ethics
  3. 200 -March – Religion. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis or God: A Biography by Jack Miles
  4. 300 -April – Social Sciences. Naked Economics by Charles Weehlan
  5. 400 – May – Language. Alpha Beta by John Man
  6. 500 – June – Natural Sciences + Math.  Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
  7. 600 – July – Technology. An Edge in the Kitchen or On Food and Cooking
  8. 700 – August – The Arts. Fundamentals of Photography by Tom Ang (thanks to this review) or Examples : the making of 40 photographs by Ansel Adams
  9. 800 – September – Literature and Rhetoric. How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch or How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi or How Novels Work by John Mullan
  10. 900 – October – Geography and History. The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Issaacson

9 for 09. This is a very random challenge. I can’t figure out why I’m going to join other than it’s fun looking at my shelf trying to figure out which book fits which category. I’m going to have fun placing the books I read (that I own) into each of the following categories throughout the year:

  1. Long (longer than you usually read). The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin
  2. Free (ala bookmooch or elsewhere). Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
  3. Dusty (been on your shelf three years of longer). Twentieth Century Pleasures by Robert Haas
  4. Used (falling apart). Gulliver’s Travels or Moll Flanders or Albert Camus’s The Stranger
  5. Letter (the title has a letter in it) . Angle of Repose because the “R” in “Repose” reminds me of “Rebecca” (I wish!)
  6. Strange (something you normally wouldn’t read). Inside My Heart by Robin McGraw
  7. Distance (something written or taking place more than 1000 miles from you). Too Late the Phalathrope by Alan Paton
  8. Alive or Not (by an award winner, alive or not). The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  9. Cover (prettiest or ugliest cover). Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

2009 Part-Year Challenges

Really Old Classics Challenge. This is my own challenge and it ends July 31, 2009. You can still join at any time: you choose how many books you want to read and you read them and review them on your site. That’s it. I want to emphasize that you can read just one book and still participate in this challenge. I’ve chosen to read five books; I’ve already read two. I plan on reading The Odyssey and The Aeneid, probably the Fagles translations on both accounts. I also want to read a few more translations of each of those and of The Iliad, and I plan on reading Aristotle’s Ethics (as part of the Dewey Decimal Challenge) as well.

2009 1st Quarter Challenges

Martel-Harper Challenge. Dewey started this quarterly challenge in October, and I’m going to continue hosting it in her honor. I’m doing this challenge because I love how varied the list is. For first quarter 2009, I plan on reading Animal Farm and Borges Fictions, which I’m already in the middle of and which Martel most recently sent Harper!

The Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge. This challenge goes from January until the end of March 2009 and asks us to read books about eating, travel, or cooking. On my list: The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fischer, which is a collection of all of her essays about eating; The Flavor Bible, which I won from Bermuda Onion last month; Culinary Artistry; On Food and Cooking (a reference book); The Elements of Taste; An Edge in the Kitchen; and The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters and The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider (Christmas presents from my husband).

Which challenges are you joining, if any, for 2009?

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. I’m so excited that you’re joining my challenge, and your choices look great! 🙂  I’m hoping to have the challenge blog up on Monday, so sorry it’s taken so long.  We’re in a lot of the same challenges, so it should be fun.  Those poetry books you have listed look interesting-I really want to try to read more poetry this year. *sigh*  So many goals, so little time!

  2. Eva,

    I’m glad my book choices look okay. I had a really hard time finding books that weren’t about the USA. It seems most are about the USA….I look forward to see your recommendations and I may (probably) will rework my lists! I’m excited about the poetry. I don’t think I can wait until September! But like you say, so many goals so little time, so I probably will…

  3. Oh, and just to let you know, books about U.S. foreign policy totally count for American citizens!  I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear enough in my challenge rules.

  4. You’re making me feel better about the fact that I did a huge post like this today too 😛 Challenge addicts of the world, unite and take over! You’re joining some great challenges. Some of those I managed to resist so far…we’ll see if that lasts.

  5. Eva, glad to hear that they’ll count, and thanks for the reading lists. I’ll go check them out! Nymeth and Lezlie and Ladytink, it’s quite odd I’m joining so much; I wasn’t going to! But it does make planning my next read fun!

  6. I love this post! Instead of writing one long post, I wrote many short ones. This is much better!  I see you and I joined some of the same challenges: 9 books for 09, Martel-Harper, Dewey, and World- Citizen. Good luck with your lists and happy new year!

  7. Vasilly, I’m glad it works for you. I’m sure some people are bored/overwhelmed with the whole list, but I wanted to keep it together. I’m looking forward to my reading this year! Happy New Year to you too!

  8. I am having fun trying to see if all the books I want to read fit challenges and I think I could overlap about 6!   And last night, I looked up books for things I’m interested in reading about but it took forever and now I want to see if the library has it or bookmooch – it’s getting too complicated and time-consuming.    But it IS fun!     AND I still need to get back to Bloom’s HOW TO READ.  sigh…

  9. Thanks for taking up the Science-Book Challenge for 2009.  The Dawkin’s book is big but easily digestible and well worth reading. I also like Napoleon’s Buttons quite a bit.  Some of the other authors are familiar from books I’ve enjoyed but I haven’t read those titles. I’ll be anxious to hear your thoughts.

    I’ve added your name to the official challenger’s page. Please let me know if I got something wrong.

  10. Those are some great challenges.  I joined two challenges last year and didn’t finish either one so I’ve been wary of them this year.  Some of the ones you’ve listed look really fun, though, and I think I’m going to reconsider.

  11. Yummy list. Thanks for joining my challenge. Can’t wait to see what you think of your books. You can see and post reviews here, just so you know.

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