Friday, December 16, 2011

Declaring Challenge Bankruptcy

What I need is a fresh start.

I was way too ambitious this year on the challenges, and now I am buried under an impossible deadline. Even if I spend my entire Christmas vacation glued to a book, I don't think I can do it. And quite frankly, I don't want to spend the holidays that way, particularly on books that I picked out a year ago.

No doubt I will still read those books eventually. Most are from ongoing quests to finish a list -- the Bookers (including the ones I've never even seen before), the Man Asians, the Oranges, plus as many of the "classics" as I can manage in my lifetime, and the new-to-me Florida canon, plus assorted odds and ends that I hear about from time to time (for example, I'm still eager to read Born on a Blue Day, which if nothing else has a well-chosen, evocative title).

For the most part, though, I'm finished with reading on deadline. Particularly when the deadline is about two weeks away. From now on you'll have to check the actuarial tables to find out what my time frame is. Thirty years sounds about right.

And so I bid a fond, failed farewell to the 2011 versions of the 2nds Challenge, the Wendell Berry Challenge, the Book Masochism Challenge, and the Complete Booker Challenge. These are fine challenges and I wish them well. It's just that they don't fit in this new aired-out life I'm creating.

I will continue the Battles of the Prizes -- British and American -- because I am far along and they don't end until January 31. (Brilliant! Thank you, Rose City Reader!)

Without challenge reading to help me focus, I have started constructing a formal TBR list, which appears as a new page on this blog. Usually the TBRs just rattle around in my head, lurk on the wish list at, and/or collect on the bookshelf. The challenge bankruptcy books will be the first ones on the formalized list. I'm sure I'll get around to all of them eventually.

Same books, different mind-set. That's the fresh start I need.


  1. I completely understand. I thre in the towel last month and have sworn of challenges except for a few ongoing...
    I like your idea of having a TBR list it keeps you accountable with a lot of wiggle room.
    Happy Freedom in Reading!

  2. Challenges can help to focus my reading. I only participated in one reading challenge last year and that was yours. It was more, um, flexible, shall we say? - and my goal was whatever I achieved.

    I think having a set list that I had to get through would be to much like university. Being an Eng. Lit. major, I had to read a whole lot of books I wouldn't have chosen. I'm never doing that again.
    Good for you to stand up to yourself.

  3. Thanks, y'all. Yep, feeling kind of free to pick and choose these days -- with a little structure lurking in the background.

    The list is a work in progress! But in a good way.

  4. Well, I completely understand, even though I am also completely excited that you will finish the Battles. That extra month is a good thing, I agree!

    Will you be hosting the Birth Year Challenge in 2012? I'm in if you are, but I understand if you want a break from that one too.

  5. Yes, Rose, the Battles are my favorites. Three books are very do-able, and thank goodness for the January deadline.

    I haven't decided on the BYRC yet, though I am leaning toward giving it a rest. If anyone wants to take it over, I'd be happy to pass it on.

    (Hint, hint. Anyone?)

  6. Oh my! I love it! I am going to have to borrow your words and declare Challenge Bankruptcy also. I joined too many then read whatever the heck I wanted all year and not so surprisingly I have many challenges unfinished. And yet I have joined 4 major ones for 2012. I will never learn.

  7. Christina, borrow away! Challenges are fun in small doses, but shedding the overload is very freeing.


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