A number of years ago, I started a reading challenge for myself. A little creative, a little classic, a little gamification to up my reading quotient and broaden my reading selections. Then it morphed into a group and about 20+ people joined. Because of some personal issues, I left that group last year and let others run with it. I have no idea if it’s still active, but I went in search of “other sites” that I could haunt to get my reading-discussion/virtual-book-club fix. It didn’t really work for me. It turns out that when I’m not part of a group of friends and family, I don’t care much what OTHER people are reading except in a generic sense. If someone raves about a book, I’ll consider it. But it doesn’t make me want to read it at the same time or in close temporal proximity if I don’t know the person.
Which means…dun dun dun…my 2023 Reading Challenge is ONLY ABOUT ME. 🙂
For inputs, I have a lot of possible books to choose from. I have dozens of lists from my early Reading Challenges, including classic lists from Time, BBC, Guardian, etc. Plus of course all the award winners. And then there are new books, genre books, friends’ suggestions, etc. Plus I like the gamification options, sort of like a bingo card where you track what you’re reading against some arbitrary tracking category.
Soooooo, my reading challenge comes down to three parts for 2023.
A. How many books?
Well, that’s a funny thing. I set myself a goal of how many BOOK REVIEWS I would write in 2023 at 52. But some of those are books I have in my “to be reviewed” pile. They will not all be reviews of “newly read” books. So if BRs are at 52, should my list be less than 52? Or do I accept that not all of my newly-read books will get reviewed at the same time as I finish them? I’ve been trying to stay on top of things, but there are other things that intervene. I think that I will aim for 52, aka the one-a-week option, even though it might not directly overlap with my list of BRs. Weird, I know. I’ll be the only one who likely notices.
B. How will I track them?
I’m going to go with the classic “double alphabet” list i.e., I will aim for the 52 books to have at least 26 that have the first substantive word in the title starting with A, B, C, etc. I’ll make some allowance for books like Erle Stanley Gardner titles where the titles all start with “The Case of the…” and go with whatever comes after that intro for the title. The second list of 26 is to do the same but with the name of the author. I’ll primarily go by last name, but I might have to be creative for certain low-usage letters in names (like last names starting with X!). So that’s easy enough to do. And in a perfect world, with double-counting, you COULD do it in just 26 books, but it’ll go past that, I’m sure.
But I’m going to be a little bit more creative than that…I’ll add in indications if the books meet other criteria too (like classic or award-winning, or mystery or sci-fi!).
C. What books am I considering?
I don’t want to ignore serendipity, so I’m only going to pre-plan the first 26 books and let the last 26 come from other sources for now.
The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr…I’m already working on this one (with tags for mystery, historical, award winner, and diversity);
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky…I have been reading this for some time and am about 2/3 of the way through-out. I want to finish, but it is quite slow going (classic genre);
Book 1 by Jacob Horton et al…it’s terrible, but I never finished the first book that he wrote as part of a group. And I’ve even forgotten the name of it now. Sheesh, I’m a terrible father (local author);
All’s Fair in Love and the Nuclear Apocalypse by Jacob Horton et al…I’ll read this one too, likely in March (local author)
Make: Getting Started with 3D Printing (2nd Edition) by Liza Wallach Kloski and Nick Kloski…I have the 3D printer, but I don’t understand enough of the theory to help me understand the practical instructions of my printer (non-fiction);
Something by Agatha Christie, time to dust off the classics and start the ride (good for mystery);
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child…we’re going to the play in March, I’m trying to decide if I should read it before or after (fantasy, plays);
A book by Lawrence Sanders…for classic mystery or thriller);
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters…from a classic list;
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green…from a classic list;
Something Wicked by Carolyn G. Hart…from Agatha awards;
Lost Little Girl by Gregory Stout…from Shamus awards;
Beat Not The Bones by Charlotte Jay…from Edgar awards;
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley…from Edgar awards of sorts, this is book #1 of a two-book series;
A Case of Loyalties by Marilyn Wallace…this might be hard to find though, from the Macavity list of winners;
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton…from a classic list;
Rabbit, Run by John Updike…from a classic list, but frequently referred to by Lawrence Block;
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James W. Cain…from a classic list;
Neuromancer by William Gibson…from a classic list, a rare sci-fi style story;
Still Life by Louise Penny…the first of the series;
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid…from the popular seller’s list;
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir…latest top seller for sci-fi;
Winterhouse #2 by Ben Guterson…part of a YA series I’ve been reading slowly;
The first book in the P.C. Cast series about young vampires;
Next book in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch that I started over a year ago; and,
A Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich…it’s been a while since I caught up.
And I guess I need a tracker!
So that’s my starting point. Feel free to follow along.