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Unfinished Symphonies of Reading Challenges

I admit defeat. As long as I am a book blogger, I will be lured to take up reading challenges, no matter how hard I try to resist.

That was then…

This year I signed up for 10 challenges,  and have completed all of them except two.

1. Typically British

Timeline: 1st Jan 2010~ 31st Dec 2010. I started with “Gordon Bennett” – Read 4 Typically British novels, I am moving up 2 notches and try out for “Cream Crackered” to read 8 Typically British novels.

  1. The End of the Affair By Graham Greene
  2. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
  3. One Day by David Nicholls
  4. The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters
  5. Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
I thought it would be easy to get myself up to 8, but I will have to call it a day at 5, completed the Gordon Bennett level. No cream crackers to crack unfortunately.
2. Aussie Author Challenge

Challenge starts 1 January 2010 and ends 31 December 2010
2 challenge levels – TOURIST and FAIR DINKUM!

TOURIST – Read and review 3 books by 3 different Australian authors
FAIR DINKUM – Read and review 8 books by Australian authors (a minimum of 5 different Australian authors)

I’m going as a tourist for now and then upgrade myself to Fair Dinkum when I feel up to it.

  1. Every Move You Make, David Malouf
  2. The Secret River, Kate Grenville
  3. Ransom, David Malouf

I didn’t feel I could take the leap from 3 to 8 books from Aussie authors. I had a great time discovering new Aussie Author this year though.

3. World Religion Challenge 2010

I am doing this challenge because I love the beautiful button! No seriously, reading religious books is one of my guilty pleasure, so what better way of doing this then to follow the:

The Penthouse Path (Also Known As: The Five Biggies Path): Read something about the five major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Duration from 1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2010.

  1. The Islamist, Ed Husain (Islam)
  2. Understanding Judaism by Carl S. Ehrlich (Judaism)
  3. Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse (Hinduism)
  4. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott (Christianity)
  5. …. short of one for Buddhism, trying to read Dharma Bum by Jack Kerouc now. We will see how it goes.

Unfortunately I am short of one book to reach the penthouse.

4. Arabic Summer Reading Challenge

To participate: select what you will read this summer from the recommendation list. If you prefer a more challenging challenge, read one each month. * I will select a reading-challenge winner on August 20, 2010** and will ship her (or him) a bundle of Arabic fiction new to English in 2010.***

  1. The Map of Love, Ahdaf Souief
  2. Yalo by Elias Khoury (read after the closing of the summer challenge)

The challenge ask to read two books, I did, but didn’t read it in time for the closing.

My 2010 Reading Challenges Page

This is now…

2011 Reading Challenges

Next year, Learning from some of the unfinished symphonies of reading challenges experience, I will refrain from signing up to too many reading challenges in 2011. Besides the Read A Myth Reading Challenge that I will be hosting with Bina, I aim to read at Athena level at 2 books to qualify, but felt I might get caught with the series bug and read a few more on the myth series. I am still aiming to finish the Animal challenge that will be due this February 2011.

I have also sign up with the Nordic Challenge 2011, with 2 books to qualify. I think it was that snow covered chalet and the Book draw every quarter that entices me. So Scandinavia, here I come!

I am keeping an eye on the reading challenges that pops up on book blogosphere every day, and boy, were there many! The ones which requires only 1 book to qualify particularly entices me, while 3 to 6 books and above is a bit hard for me to commit, but some days when my resolve is weaken I could feel myself teeter between signing and not signing up.

My strategy for next year will be this: I am going to read whatever I want (with these reading challenges in mind) and then take a look at my “have read” list, sign-up to the relevant challenge and simultaneously post my reviews on the challenge that I have chosen to participate and finish them. This is called “post-reading challenges sign-up” exercise. 😉

I really like the Global Challenge, but felt that I might flounder in some continents. I think I would score on the British Books challenge too, having book publishers on the list giving away freebies is a plus, but at 6 books minimum I felt my conviction falters. Man-booker and 1001 books list are always at the back of my mind, and I am going to keep watch on Dolce Bellezza’s J-Lit 5 towards the second half of the year too. 😉

But whichever ways it may go next year, I resolve to complete half of the 110 TBR books I have on my shelf.

So here are my sign-ups and contenders for next year’s reading challenges (for details, you may click on the images / buttons and it will send you to the relevant sign-up pages):


August 1, 2010 through July 31, 2011 – qualifying level 1 book

February 3rd 2011 to January 23rd 2012 – Lets start at Merchant level 1-3 books

1 January to 31 December 2011

These two TBR challenges are similar, which I thought just as well as I could kill two birds with one stone. Clearing up my TBR is a priority in 2011, so what better way than signing up for these to give me the big push I needed!

I have no idea there are so many TBR Challenge out there. I’ll sign up for the first two, but keep a watch for the other two.

The TBR challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader impose more stringent rules, which is good for me, it says:

1. Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list forAT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2010 or later (any book published in the year 2009 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – I WILL be checking publication dates). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.

So here’s my list for the 12 next year:

  1. Flowers of Algernon – Daniel Keyes
  2. Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
  3. Lord of the Flies – William Goldings
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  5. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
  6. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  7. Winter in Madrid – C.J. Sansom (read and pass on)
  8. Crime in the Neighbourhood –  (read and pass on)
  9. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres (read and pass on)
  10. Love in the time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  11. Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
  12. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

Two alternates:

  1. Iliad – Homer
  2. Italian Shoes – Henning Mankell

The next twelve would be:

  1. Night Train to Lisbon – Pascal Mercier
  2. My Name is Red – Orhan Pamuk
  3. Saturday – Ian McEwan
  4. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  5. South of the Border, West of the Sun – Haruki Murakami
  6. Small Island – Andrea Levy
  7. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
  8. Orlando – Virginia Woolf (To read and pass on)
  9. Crime and Punishment – Doyestoysky
  10. Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  11. The End of Mr. Y – Scarlett Thomas
  12. Chocolat – Joanne Harris

and other notable alternatives:

  1. White teeth – Zadie Smith
  2. Empress – Shan Sa
  3. Brideshead Revisted – Evelyn Waugh
  4. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  5. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

The Other two TBR challenges:

Qualifying level: 3 books – Master of Trivial Pursuit

Qualifying level: 2 books

Last but not least, the Nordic Challenge. Signed up at Freya level – 3 – 5 books, I will upgrade as I go along.

There will be 5 levels. The levels are
Huginn and Muninn: Read 2 books
Freya: Read 3-5 books
Tor: Read 6-10 books
Odin: Read 11-20 books
Valhalla: Read 20+ books

Qualifying level: 1 book

Just when I thought I won’t sign up for any challenge, I just can’t resist this one!! Such beautiful buttons!


The above is the reading challenges that I have sign-up to. I will keep a look out for the following challenges throughout the year, if I feel I’m up to it, I will register and post reviews at the same time. You can click following images and it will lead you to the sign up page. The contenders are:

Qualifying level: 1 book

Qualifying level: 3 books or more

Qualifying level : 6 or more books

Well, that’s all from me. What about you? Are you signing up to any reading challenges next year?


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


20 thoughts on “Unfinished Symphonies of Reading Challenges

  1. I’m so happy that you joined my Reading from My Shelves Project 2011; have fun.

    Have a wonderful holiday.

    Posted by Bibliophile By the Sea | December 25, 2010, 3:25 am
  2. Love this post Jo. I’m currently thinking about my own challenges strategy for next year lol. Your first 12 books set of TBR is awesome (why are there 2 sets?). I’ve read 5 of them and they’re between 4.5 to 5 stars :D. I might read Love in the Time of Cholera too this year, and we’ve talked about East of Eden. Here’s to a great reading year in 2011!

    Happy holidays for you and your family!

    Posted by mee | December 25, 2010, 1:27 pm
    • Mee, I’m so happy you like it! Feel free to come back here and click any buttons you want to get you to the sign-up pages.
      I have got 2 sets because 12 seems so little, so if I finished the first 12, I would be motivated to stick to the next 12. Let me know when you want to start East of Eden or Love in the Time of Cholera!

      Happy holidays to you and family too! 😀

      Posted by JoV | December 25, 2010, 2:09 pm
  3. I just did my sign up post for The Read A Myth Challenge

    I will start out reading probably in January The Bacchae by Euripides (about 405 BC)

    thanks for hosting this-I am trying to limit myself to 10 challenges this year-thanks for hosting this one-

    Posted by Mel u | December 26, 2010, 7:48 am
  4. Wow, I think you do really well with challenges, Jo! And they all sound so great, but I sucked at the ones I wanted to complete this year, so I’ll restrain myself for 2011. I’ll do our challenge of course! 😀 And then the feminist reading challenge but otherwise I want to read whatever I want like you 🙂

    Posted by Bina | December 26, 2010, 12:05 pm
  5. Wow – Look at all those challenges! I’m only doing two this year, one that I’m hosting (“2011 TBR”) and one that I’m doing on my own (“Books-in-a-Series” Completion) – but it still amounts to A LOT of books. On your 2011 TBR Challenge list, I have read the following:

    Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
    Lord of the Flies – William Goldings **
    To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    East of Eden – John Steinbeck **
    Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte **
    Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides **

    And – so exciting – 4 of these (**) are all-time favorites of mine and one (Flowers for Algernon) is another GREAT read. I didn’t enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird all that much – but it is certainly a necessary classic for any literary or bookish person.

    Looking forward to your reviews!

    Posted by Adam | December 27, 2010, 3:30 pm
    • Adam, Thanks so much for a warm welcome from the host of TBR challenge…. I do try to pick some great classics to read to make my 12 worthwhile or some other books which I need to read very quickly so that I could pass them on. I’m sure there is a going to be lots of fun and sense of achievement clearing TBR next year… I’m glad to see so many of them are your great reads… will surely stick to the list in all earnest next year! 😀

      Posted by JoV | December 27, 2010, 9:18 pm
  6. Wow, what a long list o___O I know how it feels though, I just can’t say no to a good challenge (or a pretty button :P) Thanks for signing up for my Chinese Literature challenge by the way!

    Posted by Chinoiseries | January 1, 2011, 12:05 pm
  7. What book do you intend to read or had read for the Nordic Challenge? It is a nice button and I am tempted to participate too. 😀

    Posted by J | January 14, 2011, 8:49 pm
    • J, today I went out book shopping again and bought Jostein Gaarder’s The Orange Girl. Gaarder’s wrote the famous book called Sophie World’s (a book about the history of philosophy) which I like and read 13 years ago. Gaarder is Norwegian, so that qualifies. 😉 Other books I’m thinking is Henning Mankell’s Italian Shoes. Mankell writes crime fiction and many other Swedish writers write amazing crime fictions, so I’m exploring that too. I think I can meet the 2 books level. After that we’ll see. 😉

      Posted by JoV | January 14, 2011, 10:45 pm
  8. Just checking-in on your progress for the 2011 TBR Pile Challenge – how are things going so far?! Don’t forget to link your reviews to your master list. 🙂

    Also… BIG Giveaways are happening next week, and TBR Pile Challenge participants earn extra entries for linking to their lists, so be sure to visit my Giveaways section soon! 😉

    Posted by Roof Beam Reader | June 20, 2011, 11:45 pm
  9. I love your blog so much but then I got too busy with life so I forgot your url and got upset and thank God I bookmarked your url on my browser so her I am, reading your blog again :’)
    Do you join the Murakami challenge? I have read 2 of his works: Sputnik and Norwegian Wood, those books are amazing..

    Posted by Puspa | October 19, 2011, 5:04 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with JoV, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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