Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016 Challenge Wrap-Up

Medusa (1597)
source Wikiart

Yes, the look on Medusa's face pretty much sums up how I feel about my challenges for 2016.  I was not as focused as I usually am, I didn't read as many books as I wanted to read, and so, I don't feel nearly as satisfied and accomplished as I'd hoped.  But honestly, I don't actually know how I did because I've been afraid to assess my progress lately, so let's take a look:

  1. A 19th century classic:  The Death of Ivan Ilyich
  2. A 20th century classic:  Nightingale Wood
  3. A classic by a woman author:  The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
  4. A classic in translation:  The Brothers Karamazov
  5. A classic by a non-white author:  Autobiography of Malcolm X
  6. An adventure classic:  The Persians
  7. A fantasy, science ficiton, or dystopian classic:  The Time Machine
  8. A classic detective novel:  The Moonstone
  9. A classic which includes the name of a place in the title:  Villette
  10. A classic which as been banned or censored:  Metamorphoses
  11. Re-read a classic you read in school:  To Kill A Mockingbird
  12. A volume of classic short stories:
Completed: 11 books & 10 reviews out of 12

Reading England 2016:

  • Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy


Fictional Barsetshire

  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

Northern England

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Rural England

Completed:  9 Books; 6 counties - Level 3


Completed:  7 texts - Level 3

  1. A Lover's Complaint
  2. Henry V

Completed:  1 poem and 1 play (terrible!  I reached no level!)


Completed:  11 books - Linguist (top level - yay!)

Clubs – Short Stories

2 - The Runaway - Anton Chekhov

Spades – Essays

5 - Shooting An Elephant - George Orwell
6 – Hamlet : The Prince or the Poem - C.S. Lewis
8 – The World of Tomorrow - E.B. White
9 – Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse - Wendell Berry
Q – Different Tastes in Literature - C.S. Lewis

Diamonds – Poetry

A - A Man's A Man For A' That - Robert Burns
3  - Le Voile du Matin - Victor Hugo
5  - A Lover's Complaint - William Shakespeare

Hearts – Children's Classic Novels

5 - Big John's Secret - Eleanore Jewett

Completed:  10 of 52 items (not good, but again, I read writings that I otherwise wouldn't have, so in a way, it's a small success)

Completed:  47 out of 52 books

On another note, as I complete my read of The Gulag Archipelago, my The Well-Educated Mind Biography Project that I began in May 2014 will be finished.  It was a fun, and at times challenging, project and as much as I enjoyed it, I'm excited to be starting The Well-Educated Mind History Project on January 1, 2017.  Finally, something about which to feel accomplished!



  1. Wow, you had quite the productive reading year! I know you might think otherwise but there are some really complex works that you tackled here. I mean, the fact that you finished 'The Brothers Karamazov' is a worthy accomplishment in itself. You also managed to write so many excellent reviews that I am still combing through.

    Congrats Cleo, you should be proud. :)

    1. Ah, you probably have alot of combing to do! Thanks for the pep talk .... I feel rotten about some of these challenges but on the other hand, I still have The Pickwick Papers, Don Quixote, The Faerie Queene, and The Histories that aren't counted, yet I'm part way through all of them. Good grief, I must finish that ball-and-chain, The Faerie Queene. Love it but it's the hardest poem/book that I've read yet.

      I've been enjoying your re-emergence and your reviews! I can't wait to see your challenges for 2017!

  2. So, do you LIKE doing all these challenges? From what I gather you are a very goal focused reader but even with that, that number of challenges seems a lot. My head would explode if I was participating in all those challenges. Not because I couldn't read the books but because it would feel like a crushing load of "have to's". I think it is the word "challenge" that does it.

    It was certainly fun to read this post though. I hope '17 is just as good, if not better, for you!

    1. No, you're right. I don't always LIKE doing challenges, but they keep me focused otherwise I meander from book to book without finishing, or start too many at once because they all look like shiny jewels to me. :-) I give myself leeway to fail and though it's a small annoyance, I don't get too wrapped up in it and try to feel positive about what I did accomplish ---- more than if I hadn't had any challenges at all.

      Does that make sense? Probably not, but that's normal. ;-)

  3. my gosh, woman!! 47 dense, hard to read tomes in one year! beyond impressive, i must say... but i have to agree with "Book Stooge" about actually doing the challenge thing... i read serendipitously for the most part, browsing until grabbed by text; and i don't finish a book if it displeases... i know i'm not disciplined, but life is short and there's no tiiiimme, for fussing and fighting my friend.. (oops, sorry, i do tend to fall into unpredictable plagiarism sometimes...) but congratulations upon a medallion effort above and beyond me, certainly...

    1. Yes, I did have quite a few challenging tomes, so it's not all bad. You are so well read though, you can afford to coast, whereas I always feel like I have so far to go.

      Thanks for the inspiring comments to send me into 2017!

    2. i'm not very well read; a lot of different books, but no concerted efforts like you're capable of; i admire that, yes i do...

  4. I think all that matters is that you read. These challenge wrap-ups are fun, but not if they make you think that because you missed a few slots, you missed. ;-)

    1. Jillian is probably the sanest person I know. ;-) And you're right, Jillian ..... the challenges at least make me read and that's the most important point.

  5. Wow! You have a very impressive year!

    I am just getting ready to start The Brothers Karamozov, but it is an intimidating prospect!

    1. Hey, MR! Thanks! Good luck with the BK. I felt I learned more from it after reading it than in the process. It could probably be read 100 times and you'd still get something out of it.

  6. Your Medusa picture made me chuckle. XD Great job on your challenges!! I think the fact you were able to give each one a good amount of attention (Shakespeare included, I personally find him daunting!) is really something to be proud of.

    1. Thanks! Shakespeare sort of fell by the wayside in 2016 but I hope to rectify that in 2017. Your Sherlock Holmes challenge is very tempting. I'm still thinking about it ....

  7. Sometimes 'challenge wrap-up's remind me of end-of the-year evalulation a manager. He saw the'numbers' but at times overlooked the invisible effort I put into a project. Your hours of effort with FQ, WEM biographies, Gulag and Russian lit should be on the top of your list! Three cheers for effort and don't be blinded by the numbers. I looked back at my original 'target' reading list 2016 (you wished me good luck plowing thu it!) on 120 books....I only read 20 on the list! There are so many tempting reading projects that just pop-up during the year. #20BooksOfSummer, #AusReadingMonth,#Nonficnov and always your good suggestion during a reading dip #ChildrensLiterature #Bingo's. 2017 is a year of targets with room for surprises along the way!
    My motto is "you only live once, so think twice!" Looking forward to your yearly wrap-up 'the best of...'

    1. Only 20 out of 120? Well, that does make me feel like I'm not alone. :-) I love your motto! I think I'll adopt it! ;-)

  8. I say, "Well done!" Good for you, especially tackling those Ancients. Thanks so much for joining me on the bios. Looking forward to another two or three years in histories. : )

    1. The biographies kind of flew by so strangely 2-3 years don't seem that long. I'm glad we have the GR group; I can't wait to get started!

  9. This is good work Cleo!! You read some of best literature around the world! And from what I recollect of your reviews, you enjoyed many! It's always the quality and never the quantity/! :) Also thank to you, I ended up reading a lot of stuff, I would not have otherwise ventured into, therefore a Big thank you for that! Its been an awesome reading year and now lets gear up for 2017!

    1. I love your positive attitude for 2017. You also have challenged me to read outside of my comfort-zone, so thanks reading buddy! I can't wait to see what we come up with for the new year.

  10. Nicely done. I finished 9 of 12...but considering the size of some of them, I'm pretty happy with that.

    1. Thanks, Joseph! I wish I'd finished all 12 and was so close but I'll start with more focus this year. Congrats on your 9. You had some HUGE books to get through this year so you can be very proud of yourself!

  11. I think your lists are amazing! Such a lot of good reading there. I'm planning to read the Brothers K this year seems in the air somehow.

    1. Aw, thanks Lory! Yes, I noticed at least 4 people who are planning to read The Brothers K. I hope you enjoy it. The brilliance of it didn't strike me until AFTER I was finished, and at some point I'm definitely going to read it again. All the best with your reading in 2017!

  12. Wow, I'd say you had a really good year--better than I did (at meeting challenges at least). I didn't read a single Greek book this year, and while I read for reading England, I haven't posted a thing. But your accomplishments this year inspire me!

    1. I had so many great plans to read about twice as many Greek works as I did. At least I covered most of Aeschylus, which is an accomplishment. I need to go back and look at my accomplishments for previous years. I'm not sure if I've done better or worse, but at least it would be interesting!