Monday, March 4, 2013

Not Meeting the Challenge

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 PrizesEdward 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.


  1. Thank you for letting me feel less guilty about not completing the BY challenge. I tried; I really did. Then life got in the way as it often does. Oh, and all those other ways you mentioned to learn about the world . Reading does take time and no matter how shallow the information we still have to process the words and thought behind them. Or just look at pictures.

    I have enjoyed meeting, and getting to know, you and your part of the world. Glad you're back.

  2. Keeping in touch is good, and I for one am glad you're back on the air!

    My reading is proving more challenging too, I am frequently disappointed in the amount I get done, life can be like that sometimes.

  3. Hhhhmmmm, thought I left a comment but it doesn't seem to be here. I'll try again

    Delighted to hear your voice again, and find out what you're up to! I have to confess that my reading has not been all I would like it to be, partially too many too serious books, and not enough ones that make me WANT to read, and then there's all those other things that get in the way!

    Glad you're still blogging!

    1. Oreneta, I have had spam issues so I have gone to full moderation for a while. Sorry for the inconvenience it caused you!

      I'm enjoying being back, in a moderate way, and trying to carve out more time for reading and the things that really matter (like keeping up with blog friends!). I hear you on the reading - so many good and fun books, and I like to dabble now and not be so driven by tasks and promises.

  4. Stephanie, I'm glad I could help. It surprises me that so many of us seem to be having the same loss of momentum and refocusing on real life, and it's nice to know I'm not alone. I have enjoyed meeting you, too, and without blogging we probably never would have met. So that's really good!


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