My challenge reading was a colossal failure last year. Heck, I didn't even read for my own challenge! Forthwith, my mea culpa.
I read 2 of 3 books chosen for the American Battle of the Prizes: Edward Jones' The Known World and E.L. Doctorow's World's Fair. Both were well worth the reading. These books exemplify what's great about challenge reading: because I normally concentrate on literary classics, I probably never would have gotten around to them (good as they are, they are too "new") without the push of participating in that National Book Award winners vs. Pulitzer Prize winners challenge.
I also joined the British Battle of the Prizes, a pitched battle between Man Booker Prize winners and James Tait Black Memorial Prize winners. But for this one, alas, I didn't read a single book. I still want to read the books I chose, and I'm still on the quest to read all the Booker winners, but because of my failure to perform, the challenge framework just made me feel guilty. That's the clear downside of the challenge game.
Rose City Reader, who hosted both of these challenges, decided to retire them after the 2012 season. Perhaps they had run their course. Perhaps she decided to concentrate on her very successful European Reading Challenge. Whatever the reason, they were fun while they lasted!
As for my own, the Birth Year Reading Challenge - Honors, I started one book, bought the second, and pretty much abandoned even the idea of the third, having lost all interest in it almost as soon as I chose it. Sigh.
That's truly pitiful, and it has me thinking about challenge reading and blogging in general. I did hardly any reading in 2012, but I accomplished a lot of other things (made huge strides at work, tried very diligently over a whole summer to buy a house, moved to a rented house that I love in a wonderful small town, deepened a very special relationship, formed many new friendships, traveled to some beautiful and fascinating places, and co-hosted a very festive holiday open house). All that took time away from reading and blogging.
I also discovered Facebook. For me, it was a mixed blessing. I was determined to be the Last Person on Earth to Join, the sole holdout from the social media world. But when the new man in my life told me he shared all his pictures that way and I wanted to see them, I gave in . . . and from there it was a slippery slope. I am very much in favor of the amazing, unexpected, fruitful connections that can arise. But even used wisely, Facebook is a huge time soak. Again, less time for reading and blogging.
I took an unscheduled vacation from blogging, and now that I'm feeling the urge to return, I notice some of my best bloggy friends are also on vacation, or have shut down their blogs, or have segued into new blogs, or are simply posting less frequently. I guess that's all good. Circumstances change, and we change, and not everything that's wonderful has to be permanent.
I have decided to keep blogging, not from any sense of obligation but because I enjoy it, because I feel I am returning to it fresh,and because I have made friends here, real friends, even if not all of us know each other's real names.
I don't expect to do any challenge reading this year, except maybe my own challenge. I thought long and hard about hosting another year of the Birth Year Reading Challenge, but I'm in, after all (announcement coming soon). I will keep on with reading the Booker winners. I will be moderate about Facebook. I will enjoy the longer posts that blogging allows. And I will cherish and maintain the friendships I've started in the blogosphere. That's what it comes down to, at last: keeping in touch.