"Reading Challenges: a help or a hurt? Do you find that the reading challenges keep you organized and goal-oriented? Or, do you find that as you near the end of a challenge that you've failed because you fell short of your original goals? As a result of some reading challenges, I've picked up books that I would have otherwise never heard of or picked up; that, frankly, I have loved. Have you experienced the same with challenges? If so, which ones? Do you have favorite reading challenges?"I have a love hate relationship with reading challenges. I love to do them, but occasionally I do feel pressurised by them. I do think that I am a bit better at them as over the last year or so, I have worked what I need to do out that in order to make the challenges work for me, and not feel as though I am reading just for challenges or what feels a lot like "assigned" reading. The key for me is to only select books that are already on my reading list for any challenges rather than selecting new titles. One of the things that does tend to happen though is that I add a lot more books to the To Be Read list as a result of participating in challenges! That isn't a bad thing, but my list is getting really long already.
In order to try and keep track of what challenges I am participating and what books I need to read, I now have a spreadsheet that I use to list the books that I am planning to read, along with details like whether they are going to fit for more than one challenge, and the due date to read them by. This doesn't always guarantee that I will meet the challenge deadlines but I get a lot closer than I was.
So far this year, I have completed 11 challenges which you can see in my side bar) and I am currently participating in 6 challenges as well as 3 ongoing challenges. In fact, the main challenges that I am really struggling with at the moment are those ongoing challenges - The Complete Booker, The Orange Prize Project and the Pulitzer Project as I haven't read anything for any of them at all this year!
I must confess to being a bit of a magpie when it comes to Reading Challenges. Whilst there are some challenges that I can see myself joining in on for a very long time (for example the Chunkster Challenge, and the Pub challenges), I am also attracted to new challenges particularly if they have very pretty buttons. I know that I am not alone in having 'oh, look at the shiny button!" moments.
For me, regardless of crossing books off of the TBR list, or having pretty buttons, the best benefit of challenges is without doubt the opportunity to get to know other book bloggers. Even events like Bloggiesta last weekend showed me once again just how many new to me book bloggers there are out there in blogland!
It seems fitting that in the final part of this post I talk about a challenge that finished in the last few days. Carl V always does an awesome job at the organisation of the three challenges that he runs each year and this year's Once Upon a Time III is no exception. The challenge ran from March 21 to June 20 and the focus was on fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology. I chose to read 5 books from any of the above characters. Since the start of the challenge I have read the following books which fitted the criteria:
Superior Saturday by Garth Nix
The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts
**Marked and Betrayed by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
**Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
Fish Out of Water by Mary Janice Davidson
**My Big Supernatural Wedding anthology
Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Dreaming Place by Charles de Lint
**Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
A couple of years ago I wouldn't have called myself a fantasy reader so that list of book actually quite impresses me!
I thought I would comment on a couple of things. The books that I have masked with the ** are books that possibly fit better into the RIP challenge as most of them feature vampires or werewolves, but I guess they could come under the fantasy label. The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts and The Terror by Dan Simmons are probably more correctly classified as horror as well but I have included them for the purposes of this challenge.
The reason why I include The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson in the list is because her excellent novel is a retelling of a Celtic myth and one of the main story lines in The Forgotten Garden by
Kate Morton is about a book of fairy tales and the fairy tale aspect is integral to the storyline.
So, Once Upon a Time III is over. Roll on RIP!