Monday, February 1, 2010

Birth Year Reading Challenge

We're dipping our toes into the reading challenge pool!

What makes this challenge different from the others out there? Our PRIZES! At the Cafe, everybody wins.

Special thanks to Steven Depolo for permission to use his photo!


What books were published the year you were born? This challenge encourages you to find out, and then read some of them. You might even draw some conclusions about what was going on in the literary world that year.

Wikipedia has lists of books by year published. Literary prize lists are a great source, and Googling “best books of _____” will also give you interesting results.

Ready to join? Leave a comment and a link to your post! (And we promise no one will make any snarky comments about your age.)


1. Join anytime between now and November 30, 2010. The challenge ends at midnight EST on December 31, 2010.

2. Books may come from your TBR pile or list, but they don’t have to.

3. Overlaps with other challenges are allowed and encouraged.

4. Change your list at any time.

5. Reviews and reactions are encouraged, but you don’t need to have a blog to participate.

6. All genres and formats are eligible. If it’s a book, you can count it.

7. One candle is awarded for each qualifying book you read. There is no limit on how few or how many candles you can earn.


When you meet your reading goal, we’ll let you select a book from our library – most likely a gently used trade paperback – and mail it to you. But keep reading because . . .


On January 1, 2011, the three readers who’ve earned the most candles will be entered into a drawing to win a collectible first edition/first printing copy of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2008.


C.S. (host: not eligible for prizes) (see comments for list)
Hip Chick of Hip Chick's Home
Christina of Readers of Romance (see comments for list)
maryt/theteach of Work of the Poet
J.G. (host: not eligible for prizes)
Julie of My Book Retreat
Stephanie V of Hookin', Knittin' & Livin'
Kymmie of ...Not the Whistle Stop
Colleen of Bookphilia (see comments for list)
Peggy (see comments for partial list)
Awaris of The Other Lives
Manasa of Silent Conversation
Mark, The Expat Bookworm (see comments for list)
Jackie of The Raven's Spell
Beachreader (see comments for list)
Rose City Reader of Rose City Reader
SocrMom78 of 100 Books. 100 Journeys.
Caitlin of Choatic Compendiums
Bev Hankins of My Reader's Block
Lorren Lemmons of The Story Girl
Becky of The Book Frog (see comments for list)


  1. Here's my Birth Year Reading Challenge list from (croaking sound) nineteen (whistle sound) fifty (yadda yadda yadda) nine. Nicely enough, all of these books can be found on my TBR list of National Book Award fiction finalists. By the way, it goes without saying that J.G., myself and our cats are not eligible to win any of the prizes. We want YOU to win them, so sign up. And we'll even pretend not to look when you mention your birth year.

    1. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

    2. The War Lover, by John Hersey

    3. Henderson the Rain King, by Saul Bellow

    4. The Third Choice, by Elizabeth Janeway

    5. The Devil's Advocate, by Morris West

  2. My birth year seems to have been a remarkably poor literary year. I've never even HEARD of most of these books....though it includes Asimnov's guide to the Bible...which may warrent reading.... The Theory of Island Biogeography might be good....

    but it also includes:
    A Short History of Pakistan (is that possible?)
    Three Popes and the Jews
    The Nigger Bible *wince*
    The Nine Billion Names of God (collection)
    Polish Logic ?????????
    The Quicksand War: Prelude to Vietnam (something light before bed)
    The Quicksand War: Prelude to Vietnam (it' companion)
    finally, Ecstasy and Me.

    I could go on.

    The national book awards, one I may have heard of.....maybe I'll read the poetry????

    Still looking for Canadian prizes from that era. Maybe I'll look in the UK?

    I'll have to get back to you on this one....

  3. The Nobel prize for that list was for books in Spanish. Do I get extra points if I read it in the original? It doesn't say in the rules that I have to understand it all.....

  4. Though this one: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (Farrar)
    won both the National book award and the pulitzer.....a list may be forming...., something by this guy Miguel Angel Asturias...still, gonna think about this a bit. Such an unpromising year.

  5. Don't despair, Oreneta. Here are a few others:

    The Confessions of Nat Turner (Styron)

    The Chosen (Potok)

    A Garden of Earthly Delights (Oates)

    One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez), which was first published in Spanish in 1967.

    Hope that helps.

  6. I looked for some for you, too, Oreneta. How about:

    Tom Stoppard's "Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead" (it's a play, but it comes in book form)

    V.S. Naipaul's The Mimic Men

    Wilder's The Eighth Day

    I did a little research on these and they sound possible.

  7. I'll give it a try, it sounds interesting.

  8. Glad to have you, Anethema, and welcome! Give us the link to your post when you have your list, and I'll make you official.

  9. this sounds interesting to me.
    I actually found quite a few books that I think may be an interesting look at those times.
    I have posted on my blog about it and my list is there. You may find that link by clicking on my name.

  10. oops! You may find that post at Hip chick's home. Sorry.

  11. Of course I am signing up for this! I'll go find some books, make a post, and give you the link.

    Good luck!

  12. There is a handy little website called Books of the Century that lists best sellers, Book-of-the-Month Club selections, and "notable" books by year. A good source for ideas.

  13. Welcome, Hip Chick! Your list is quite ambitious and it seems you were born in a very good year.

    Rose City, thanks for the tip and your enthusiasm. We look forward to seeing your list.

  14. Wow, what a novel idea! (heh-heh, no pun intended) Fun!

  15. This is an intriguing idea. I'm headed off to Google land to see what the possibilities from 1964 are, but if anyone asks I'm reading from 1970. ;)

  16. What a great idea for a challenge! Count me in. I'm off to find some books...

  17. What a great idea! I was born in 1973 so I have found a few books written that year that has potential but since I really love romance books am finding that so many romance books written that long ago are totally dated. So far my list is...(at least a maybe list)

    The Princess Bride
    Breakfast of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut Jr.)
    Jonathan Living Seagull
    Demon Seed (Dean Koontz)
    Fear of Flying (Erica Jong)

  18. Here's a list I got from the Internet (I'll do some more looking):
    A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Harper) - January 2, 1944

    Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith (Reynal) - May 14, 1944

    Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham (Doubleday) - July 2, 1944

    Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge (Coward-McCann) - October 15, 1944

    Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (MacMillan) - November 14, 1944

    The Green Years by A. J. Cronin (Little, Brown) - December 17, 1944

    I've read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and The Razor's Edge. I'm foin gto check if the others are still in print. And try my hand at this meme. It's a great meme! :) I got it from hip chick.

  19. I've got my post up about the Birth Year Reading Challenge.

  20. OK, that looks more promising....I think I'm in. There are some titles there I'd like to read! Thanks for the help....

  21. Willow, it only takes one book to join in!

    Hula, don't make me ask for your driver's license! :-)

    Diane, happy hunting! Can't wait to see what books you find.

    Christina, welcome! Thanks for your list. I bet you will enjoy The Princess Bride. Some of it isn't quite like the movie, but the good parts are.

    maryt, welcome, also! I posted your link, and your books look like good reading.

    Oreneta, good luck with your search, and happy choosing!

  22. I'd love to join this challenge. I posted my list:

    I only have four books on the list at the moment but I may add more. This is a fun idea!

  23. Sounds fun. I'll have to do a bit more research first (from a brief google search it looks like I've already read a lot of the good ones for 1989) and write my post, but then I'm joining!

  24. I'm in! I've posted my preliminary list here -

    Since I've only heard of one author, this should be interesting. It may also be a bit of a treasure hunt to find all the books.

  25. Welcome, Julie! Your books look interesting, and I think you'll like Ira Levin. He's a good writer.

    Welcome also, Stephanie V! All your choices are new to me so I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of them.

  26. Awaris, I hope you can track down some interesting titles and join us. Happy book sleuthing!

  27. Made a post about the Birth Year Challenge and have a tentative list of 5 books up. A good mix of books I've been meaning to read and books I've never even heard of!

    Posted about over here:

  28. Hi, Kymmie. Glad you have joined us! Your books look like good choices. I've only read The Bone People, and will be interested to hear what you think of it.

  29. Okay, I think I'm going to try this, even though I'm generally allergic to commitment.

    Here's what I have in mind, based on what 1975 had to offer:

    1. Dead Babies, Martin Amis
    2. Changing Places, David Lodge
    3. Curtain, Agatha Christie
    4. The entire (eek!) Illuminatus! trilogy, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, which I've been meaning to read forever anyway.

  30. Colleen, I'm glad you're taking a chance with us! Your choices will be new territory, so we will learns lots from you.

  31. This is a great challenge! I'll start with the ones I have in my bookshelf - I'm overdue for a reread anyway!

    Charlotte's Web by EB White
    Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis

    The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain

    . . . and then I'm off to the library with my list!

  32. Sounds like a cool challenge. It'll be interesting to see what good stuff came out in my year ... count me in :).

  33. Peggy, happy to have you along. Let us know what good things you found at the library!

  34. Manasa, welcome! When you list your books we'll make it official. Happy choosing!

  35. My post about the challenge is up (finally!) at

  36. Okay, here's my list of books for this challenge:

  37. Awaris, we're so glad you signed up! Doctorow is a very good writer (C.S. likes him) and The Remains of the Day simply took my breath away. We'll enjoy hearing about all of your books.

    Someday maybe you can tell us a little about yourself (in English). Right now you're a mystery in plain sight!

  38. Manasa, your list looks interesting! I have read another McEwan novel and The English Patient, so we can compare impressions. Welcome!

  39. Hello, I'm joining the challenge.

    For 1965, I'm starting with either "Dune" by Frank Herbert, or "The Looking Glass War" by John Le Carre. Should be fun.

    I'll post updates at:

    --Mark (The Expat Bookworm)

  40. Welcome, Mark, we're glad you're joining us! You've reminded me that Dune is one of those books I can't believe I haven't read yet.

  41. A mystery? Aw, I like that:) But really, there’s nothing mysterious about me.
    I just started my blog recently, and it’s not even a real blog but more of a reading journal. I got my reading list for the next year’s Literature course and was at first delighted to see that I’ve already read a good half of it, and then realized with horror that I don’t remember most of them. Well, I remember whether I liked them or not and how they made me feel, but I’m afraid that’s not gonna be enough for my professor. So I promised myself to write something about every book I read and since I know myself to be lazy and hm... inconclusive, I made a blog up of those somethings, so that my friends can keep track of what I write there and control me.
    And about me – I’m now in my second year at Charles University, studying translating and interpreting. Oh, yes, and I live in the Czech Republic. I love reading and music and movies and TV shows (and justify the amount of time spent with those by watching them without the stupid Czech dubbing – I’m studying the language, of course)… And I’m quite a SF/fantasy fan, but that’ll probably become more and more obvious with my reading choices:)
    Is that enough of a quick About-Me? :)

    And btw, feel free to comment in detail on the mistakes I make - in grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure or any other of the thousand things I’m capable of screwing up:D


    This should be interesting...I'll have to research and see what books were written that year. I know about the movies from my birth year, but for some strange reason, books never occurred to me.

  43. I posted a page with ALL current reading challenges. Let me know if you want me to add any other information to your challenge. I hope it brings even more readers to your challenge!

    Reading Challenges.

    Rachelle (Bibliobabe)

  44. You can find my list at

  45. Spitfire, welcome! 1985 was a very, very good year, so you have great books to choose from.

    Rachelle, thanks for getting the word out! (And your name is cool!)

    Jacki, glad to have you along and be your third challenge! Should I warn you that it's a slippery slope? :-)

  46. I found your challenge and thought this looks good, but another challenge... until I started looking at my year (1961) and so here's my list - I may add more

    1. Revolutionary Road
    2. Stranger in a Strange Land
    3. Catch - 22
    4. To Kill a Mocking Bird

    I know it's sad that I haven't read any of those classics - great challenge idea!!!

  47. Welcome, Beachreader! Your year was a fruitful one, and it's never too late to knock off a few modern classics. (Some of them are on my TBR list, too. Still.)

  48. You know, I never officially signed up for this, although I consider myself a participant. Oops! Please use this link for my official sign-up post:

    I finally came across a book on my TBR shelf that was written in my birth year and I am going to start it next week. It's something by John Knowles (of A Separate Peace fame), but now I can't recall the title.

    So I'll be back soon with a review.

  49. Hi, Rose City! So happy to have you along! (As you can see, I am a bit behind on my admin tasks. Sorry for the delayed welcome.)

  50. Now that I am finally reading my first book, I am even more jazzed about this challenge. Thanks for putting up my link.

  51. I am in for this challenge! My birth year is 1972 so hopefully there will be some good stuff from that year for me!

  52. SocrMom78, we're glad to have you! May I suggest Watership Down, All Creatures Great and Small, or The Stepford Wives? No doubt there are other good ones, too. (Thank you, Google.)

    Let us know when you decide and post, and I'll make it official!

  53. Posting is up! Can't wait to get started!!!

  54. One candle for me! I finished and reviewed Indian Summer by John Knowles. Here is my review on Rose City Reader.

    Based on just one book, I'd say 1966 was a year of bitter and disillusioned literature.

  55. I have finally finished my first book for the challenge

  56. I'm in. What fun!

  57. Welcome, SocrMom78 and Caitlin! So glad you are along for the ride.

    Beachreader and Rose City, keep those candles comin'!

  58. I can't believe that I forgot to post my book 'review' for the challenge. It's here:

    The real challenge is finding the books on my list.

  59. You're up on the progress list, Stephanie. Thanks for reading along. Hope you can find the rest of your birth year books!

  60. Yay, my first book completed. 4 more to go.

  61. I just can't resist a Reading Challenge. Here's my list. I don't if I'll make 22. We'll see. I'd go for my age (41)...but I don't know if I could manage 41. Here's my post:

  62. Hi, Bev, and welcome! Your books look varied and interesting, and 22 is pretty ambitious! Keep us posted.

  63. Well...I went ahead and said 22 because I'm trying to get in 75 library books for a "Support Your Library" Reading challenge. Most of those 22 will be coming from the I'm taking care of two for the price of one! Half-way to my first candle (Graham Greene's _Travels With My Aunt_).

  64. OK, here is my review of Valley of the Dolls on Rose City Reader. I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed.

    Oh well, on to the next book! At least i get another candle.

  65. Rose City, this has been a week of bad books, stangely enough. So you are in good company, and at least you got your candle . . .

  66. I know I am joining this challenge on the tail end of things, so I am setting a goal for three books. My birth year challenge blog post is here: I am very excited to get started!

  67. Welcome, Lorren! We're happy to have you and look forward to hearing about your books.

  68. All right, I'm in. I'm Becky, blogging as The Book Frog and I was born in 1962. Tentatively, the books I'm going to be hitting from my birth year are:

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (this one will be a reread, but it's been, oh, thirty years or so since I first read it, so I think it should count ;)

    The Demoniacs by John Dickson Carr

    The Kindly Ones by Anthony Powell

    The Ipcress File by Len Deighton

    Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

    I may add to (or change) this list, but as of now, this is it...

    Have you created a Linky somewhere to add reviews?

    By the way, I saw your button on a blog hoppers blog, so came over to check it out. I'm a follower now (yay! feel free to visit and return the favor) and will be checking in frequently.

    Becky (The Book Frog)

  69. Hi, Becky! Glad you are along for the reading ride. Your books sound interesting and I look forward to your reviews.

    You can post progress updates in the comments at:

    (also linked to a button in the sidebar).

  70. My Birth Year Reading Challenge is for 1979. I don't know which books I will read yet, but I know there has to be some great choices.

  71. My birth year is 1979. Don't know what I am going to read yet though. Trying to generate my list now.

  72. Part two of my birth year reading challenge is at I'm loving this challenge, thank you.

    1. Hi, Barbara - Nice to hear from you! This is an old page for a previous challenge year, but I've noted your post. Other 2017 info can be reported at Thanks for joining in!


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