Saturday, 2 January 2016

2016 Challenges ..... Here I Come!

Karen @ Books and Chocolate is once again hosting my favourite challenge of the year, the Back to the Classics Challenge.  Admittedly, it's my favourite challenge because it's my easiest challenge. About 95% of the books I'm reading lately are classics, so I'm all over this one.  I don't usually make a list for this challenge, as the books I read naturally correspond with the categories, however, I want to concentrate on my Classics Club List for this coming year, and my WEM Biographies Project continues, so there are some "maybe" titles that I can choose:

  • The Lord of the Flies - William Golding (#11)
  • Metamorphoses - Ovid (#4)
  • Framley Parsonage - Anthony Trollope (#9)
  • The Man in the Iron Mask - Alexandre Dumas (#6)
  • The Time Machine - H.G. Wells (#7)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much - G.K. Chesterton (#8 or #12)
  • That Hideous Strength - C.S. Lewis (#7)
  • The Gulag Archipelago - Alexandr Solzhenitsyn (#10)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X (#5)

Once again O at Behold the Stars is hosting the Reading England challenge.  I did well with my attempt at this challenge this year, so I've decided to do it again and learn more about English counties!

I don't have any set books planned for this one, but I'd like to read some counties that I hadn't covered in the 2015 Reading England challenge. And I still have to read my nemesis, Thomas Hardy, so his works are a possibility.

As well as concentrating on my Classics Club List, I also want to have some focus for my Shakespeare Project and I was happy to find The 2016 Bardathon Challenge.  

I'm planning to aim for the Mix-and-Match Shakespearean, reading, watching, performing (ha!), and/or listening to 5 plays.  I think I'll begin with Henry V, since it's the only play that I haven't read from the Henriad.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the Bard!

I joined the Books in Translation challenge last year and really enjoyed it, so I've decided to participate again this year.  I'm going to try for the Bilingual level, which is 7 - 9 translated works during 2016, but hopefully I'll be able to make the top level, Linguist, reading 10 - 12 translated works for the year.  

I've participated in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge every year and last year was the first year that I didn't make it and ended up 2 books short.  Yikes!  So in 2016, I need to regain my streak and manage to read at least 1 book per week. If I can't, I'm going to cry.

Jay at Bibliophilopolis hosts The Deal Me In challenge, my most challenging of challenges!  I tried it for the first time last year and failed miserably, yet it was my most valuable challenge because it forced me to read essays, poetry, short stories and children's classics that I wouldn't have read otherwise.  My list for this year:

Clubs – Short Stories
A –  Cabbages and Kings - O’Henry
2 – The Runaway - Anton Chekhov
3 –  The Queen of Spades – Alexander Pushkin
4 – Le Horla – Guy de Maupassant
5 – The Tell-Tale Heart - Edgar Allan Poe
6 – The Life You Save Might Be Your Own- Flannery O'Connor
7 – The Honest Thief – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8 – A Little Woman - Franz Kafka
9 –  A Haunted House - Virginia Woolf
10 – The Birds - Anton Chekhov
J –  The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Gilman
Q – The Eyes - Edith Wharton
K -   Signs and Symbols - Vladimir Nabakov

Spades – Essays
A – Milton - Charles Williams
2 – Doodles in the Dictionary - Aldous Huxley
3 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream - G.K. Chesterton
4 – On A Faithful Friend – Virginia Woolf
5 – Shooting an Elephant - George Orwell
6 – Hamlet : The Prince or the Poem - C.S. Lewis
7 –  The Tyranny of Bad Journalism - G.K. Chesterton
8 – The World of Tomorrow – E.B. White
9 – Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse - Wendell Berry
10 – Sense - C.S. Lewis
J – Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community - Wendell Berry
Q – Different Tastes in Literature - C.S. Lewis
K – Vulgarity - G.K. Chesterton

Diamonds – Poetry
A – A Man’s a Man for a’That – Robert Burns
2 –  Gesang Der Geister Über Den Wassern - Johann Wolfgang
               von Goethe
3 – The Morning of Life - Victor Hugo
4 – Sonnett XXIII - Garcilaso de la Vega
5 – A Lover’s Complaint - William Shakespeare
6 – Resolution and Independence – William Wordsworth
7 – Ode III – Fray Luis de León
8 – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night - Dylan Thomas
9 – To A Mouse – Robert Burns
10 – Tears, Idle Tears - Alfred LordTennyson
J –  Easter Wings – George Hebert
Q – On His Blindness - John Milton
K – Phoenix and the Turtle - William Shakespeare

Hearts – Children’s Classic
A – A Triumph for Flavius – Caroline Dale Snedeker
2 – Three Greek Children - Alfred Church
3 –  The Story of the Treasure Seekers – E. Nesbit
4 – Detectives in Togas – Henry Winterfeld
5 – Big John’s Secret – Eleanore M. Jewett
6 – The Tanglewood’s Secret – Patricia St. John
7 – The Wolves of Willoughy Chase - Joan Aiken
8 – Red Sails to Capri – Ann Weil
9 – Sprig of Broom - Barbara Willard
10 – Teddy’s Button - Amy LeFeuvre
J –  Call It Courage – Armstrong Sperry
Q – Tales from Chaucer - Eleanor Farjeon
K – Beyond the Desert Gate – Mary Ray 

And last, but most exciting, is the Ancient Greek Reading Challenge which I posted about here.  I'm planning on reading the dramatists, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, some comedies, and perhaps even make it to Plato and Aristotle if I'm feeling rather brave.

Other than these 2016 challenges, I have on-going projects such as:

My C.S. Lewis Project:  

I did wonderfully the first year but last year was a sorry sight.  I need to read at least a couple of Lewis this year.  Mere Christianity should be a "gimme" and I'd also love to start and finish The Screwtape Letters.  Otherwise Miracles is my favourite and The Abolition of Man would be a good one to try, as I struggled with it the first time I read it.

My Barsetshire Chronicles Read:

Sigh!  This was a complete failure last year.  I didn't even get one book read. The next up is Framley Parsonage, so I'm going to have to focus, focus, focus!

The Well-Educated Mind Biographies:

Okay, this is one challenge where I'm doing well, thanks to Ruth!  She keeps me honest.  Next up is Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.  There are 10 biographies left before we move on to Histories, so hopefully we'll finish them all this year.

My Shakespeare Project:

I've been moving reasonably slowly through this lately, but at least I'm moving.  I hope my Bardathon challenge will help me read some more of the Bard in 2016.

I'm also doing a few read-alongs including O's The Pickwick Papers Read-Along, Amanda's Children's Literature Event in April, and a few of us are reading Ovid's Metamorphoses (beginning now) and Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queene (beginning mid-April).  If anyone wants to join in on the last two, please let me know.  We keep getting new recruits!


  1. Ok, after all of this amazing and exciting bookish stuff in your post, all I have to add is that Lord of the Flies was pretty darn good.

    1. :-D I've read The Lord of the Rings about 8 times, but each time is equally enjoyable.

  2. The Gulag Archipelago sounds fascinating - I'll be eager to hear what you think of it, if you choose it. I like your Deal Me In categories, too; poetry is a great idea! Also, so glad to see Call it Courage on the Hearts list; I have great memories of my mom reading it to me when I was a kid. :)

    1. I've started to read The Gulag already (I'm trying to get ahead reading the unabridged version in case others want to read the abridged) and I'm really enjoying it. Solzhenitsyn has some very insightful comments.

      Call It Courage was one choice that I waffled with, so I'm really thrilled to hear that it's good. It's fun to encounter books that you read as a child ..... it's just like meeting an old friend.

  3. And I thought I had too much on my plate! OMG...Cleo, are you planning to do anything else besides reading in 2016/ Like Cooking, Cleaning, walking??? If you are please let me know your secret like a time turner or something....because I WANT to read so much more and I just don't seem to have the time! Anyway some great Trollope, Chesterton and Solzhenitsyn is something....Happy Reading!

    1. I think many of the books I read will cross over challenges so it won't be too hard ..... except for the Deal Me In, which is so difficult but worth it.

      Cleaning? What is that? ;-)

      I rarely have uninterrupted reading time so I take every few seconds I can get. However holidays can be good, like this past one where I read The Moonstone in two days!

      Happy reading in 2016 to you too! I've just started Metamorphoses .... wow!

    2. I LOLed so loudly on the cleaning bit that people at the cafe are staring at me! ;) I am sure uninterrupted reading does not happen which is why I am sooooo impressed! You read so much and that too heavy reads and you get it done! SNOWED!

    3. I'm so glad that I could make a spectacle out of you! There's no need to thank me. ;-)

      Yes, I don't know how I get most of it done. I just keep plowing ahead and rarely assess where I'm at. Sometimes that gets me in trouble, but it also stops my attention from getting distracted by lamenting at my lack of time or not reaching my goals. I save lamenting for the end of the year. ;-) But I guess I aim high, expect to fall short, but end up getting some good reading done. I feel somewhat wretched at only completing 50 books in 2015 (one year I was in the 80s), but I have to remember that I completed in-depth Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and Hamlet reads with corresponding posts, so that would probably equal another 15 books. And I've always been wanting to read deeper, so I must simply suck up the 50 book lament and move on, huh?

  4. The 2016 Bardathon Challenge... Ooooh... I might have to join that!

    Love all your challenges :)

    1. I'm glad I could finally introduce you to something fun since it's you who always seem to find the unusual books and challenges.

      Peer pressure!

  5. Oh dear, Cleo, I didn't need to read this post as now I'm tempted by more challenges! Actually, it might be a good idea to sign up for the translation challenge, as I would really like to read some contemporary translations this year, and none of the other challenges I've signed up for will help that. But the Shakespeare challenge is really tempting, especially given the 400th anniversary connection...and Shakespeare doesn't take that long to read... Good luck with all your challenges and Happy Reading 2016!

    1. Ha ha! I'm sorry .... I think ....... :-) The translation challenge should be easy for you, as it is for me; I naturally read translated work so it's usually effortless for me to succeed with that challenge.

      Shakespeare doesn't take long and neither do the Greek plays. And now that I've influenced you (hopefully not to your detriment), I'll try not to put up any more tempting goodies. But, we'll see ..... ;-)

  6. I'm glad I saw this. I was going to participate in a Shakespeare readalong but it was cancelled so glad I found another.

    1. I just stumbled on the Bardathon, so I'm happy to influence others! ;-) I'll try to remember to let you know if I see any other Shakespeare read-alongs to participate in. Hamlette at The Edge of the Precipice hosted an awesome one on Hamlet last year. The plays can be read quickly but it's certainly nice to read them slowly and think about all the aspects of the story.

  7. Your challenges look very challenging! I love your list for Deal Me In. I have known for a long time now that both C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton were very prominent literary critics; however, most of the works of theirs that I've read is more of a theological nature. As I love those writings, I really need to see what they say about literature. Your list has inpired me to do that.

    1. Well, I'm happy to be able to inspire someone, instead of just making them dizzy! ;-) Hee hee!

      I love Lewis and have read tons of his works, but I'm just beginning to discover Chesterton. His The Club of Queer Trades was one of my favourite reads from last year. You could even put this book in the Deal Me In, by reading one chapter (each one a case) for one story.

  8. I'm with Ruth...Lord of the Flies is superb! Not happy happy joy joy...but an astute commentary on humanity...IMO.

    1. Well, I hated it in high school but I have a feeling that my opinion will reverse with a mature re-read. Thanks for the feedback!

  9. For your Deal Me In Challenge, I LOVE that you have children's classics! All 4 suite lists are fascinating--I haven't heard of most of these! I may have to read one or two of them. ;-) Which one of the bunch is the serial womanizer you alluded to before?

    1. I've really enjoyed all my categories, as it makes for changes in the draw, but strangely enough, I haven't drawn any short stories yet this year. Just weird!

      Ah ha! The serial womanizer is Robert Burns! I just look a course about him, and his womanizing was rather appalling. It's one thing to pursue women, but the number of servants who ended up in "situations" because of him implied a manipulation due to his rank which was hard to stomach. I still like his poetry, but as a person he gets little respect from me.