I’ve been on the fence when it comes to challenges. On the one hand, it sounds awesome and so much fun! So many bloggers participate in them, so that must say something, right? However, on the other, I don’t like feeling trapped or obligated to read something I’m not really interested in. I guess it just depends on the challenge. Obviously, don’t sign up for the ones that don’t interest you. Problem solved!
The only challenge I do is goodread’s yearly one; I always aim for 52 books. Nothing fancy, no themes. It feels a bit lackluster for me, but at least I have complete control over what/how much I read.
This morning I found out about the Mixing It Up Challenge. Ellie from Musings of a Bookshop Girl is hosting it and it sounds fantastic! I’m aiming for the full 16:
This can be any classic work, from Alcott to Zola. Always fancied trying Great Expectations, or finally feel like tackling Jane Eyre? Now’s your chance! From the fun to the frightening, the gentle satire to the all-out swashbuckling epic, there are hundreds of years’ worth of books to choose from.
This can be modern or historical, biography or autobiography. From the latest celebrity autobiography to an academic biography of Henry VIII – it all counts! Perhaps you fancy a book on your favourite classic movie star, athlete or musician?
3. COOKERY, FOOD AND WINE
Ideas for this one range from a delectable cookery book to a food memoir (like Nigel Slater’s Toast or Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential), a book on wine to the history of marmalade.
More scope to indulge a whole range of interests here, including local history, military history or world history. It might be a biography of Anne Boleyn, a book on World War II aircraft, a study of the American civil war, or something with a much smaller focus, like Bill Bryson’s At Home or Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History. Whatever floats your boat!
5. MODERN FICTION
This covers literary and popular fiction, so you can’t really go wrong with this one. From Sophie Kinsella to Haruki Murakami, Wilbur Smith to Isabel Allende, Jenny Colgan to Kate Mosse, you should be able to find something to fit your tastes!
6. GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA
This will be an entirely new genre for me, but I’m looking forward to hitting the library to see what all the fuss is about! First on my ‘to check out’ list will be Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes and Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.
7. CRIME AND MYSTERY
This category will cover everything from the genteel Agatha Christie and the scrummy Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke, through Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, to the gruesome forensics of Martina Cole and Val McDermid. You could even delve into some gritty true crime if that’s more your style.
One for Hallowe’en, perhaps! Maybe a modern writer like Stephen King or James Herbert, or you could turn to the classics with Edgar Allen Poe or the ghostly writings of M.R. James? Some YA novels would also fit into this category – Darren Shan, or Lindsey Barraclough’s Long Lankin – but no paranormal romance!
I’d say the cheesier the better for this one, but it’s up to you! Mills and Boon, paranormal romance, chick lit fluff, whatever. Personally I’ll be browsing our Mills and Boon shelf at the shop and pulling out the trashiest title I can find! :)
10. SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
Again, plenty of scope here. From the hilarious characters of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries to Frank Herbert’s Dune, you can go modern or classic, and pick from any number of sub-genres.
The world is your oyster, as it were! Maybe you’re going somewhere interesting on holiday and want to read up on it first? Rough Guides, Lonely Planet guides, that kind of thing. You could pick a Bill Bryson (always popular) or choose a book on a particular city, country or continent, like Francesco da Mosto’s Venice or one of Michael Palin’s books. Then there are all the delectable memoirs by people who’ve moved abroad and opened a taverna/olive farm/vineyard!
12. POETRY AND DRAMA
This could be a novelty collection of limericks, a collection by a particular poet, or if that sounds a bit daunting, a single, longer narrative poem. How about ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Hiawatha’ or ‘The Waste Land’? My particular favourite is probably Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’, which is more like a simple fairytale that just happens to rhyme. Or you could choose a play – how about Ibsen, Miller, Shakespeare or the brilliantly witty Wilde?
13. JOURNALISM AND HUMOUR
This one might take a little more thinking about, but it should be a bit of fun! Journalism collections can range from Nick Hornby’s Shakespeare Wrote for Money to Marian Keyes’s Under the Duvet, Jeremy Clarkson’s The World According to Clarkson to Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Big Country. Anything that’s been published in a newspaper or magazine first! Humour could be a book of cartoons, a novelty joke book or The Wicked Wit of Oscar Wilde!
14. SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY
Again, this one throws the doors wide open for you to follow your interests. Always fancied learning more about space? Are you curious about the life of Charles Darwin? Or got a lifelong love for a particular animal? There are some wonderful ‘popular science’ books around too, including things like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, David Attenborough’s natural history books, and the entire works of the brilliantly funny Mary Roach.
15. CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT
This leaves the way open for pretty much anything, whether it’s reading The Hungry Caterpillar or The Magical Faraway Tree to your kids, revisiting the joys of The Secret Garden or Treasure Island, or devouring something from the modern tide of YA. Lots of dystopian fiction, coming-of-age novels and supernatural shenanigans to choose from!
16. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PHILOSOPHY
Another wide area! Books on society and women (Female Chauvinist Pigs, Living Dolls), books on society and children (Toxic Childhood, Nurtureshock), books on how television and the internet are affecting our lives, Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, books on Freud or Marx…
If you’re interested in participating go here to sign up!