Reading Challenges for 2017

I’ve set out my own reading plan for 2017, but if you’d prefer a challenge with specific category descriptions to guide you, here are several. Many of these challenges offer discussion groups either on their own web sites or through Facebook pages, so you’ll be getting a book group as well as book recommendations.

Here are several challenges to get you started in your search for the right one for you. If you don’t find anything appealing here, do a web search for “reading challenge 2017.” You’ll find lots of entries, some for specific interests (e.g., Christian reading challenge, European reading challenge).

BOOK RIOT’S 2017 READ HARDER CHALLENGE

For this well-known challenge “there are 24 tasks, averaging to two per month over the course of the next 12 months. You may count one book for multiple tasks, or read one book per task.” The purpose is to achieve “a perspective shift – but one for which you’ll only be accountable to yourself.” You can download a printable PDF of the challenge tasks.

The 2017 Reading Challenge

From Modern Mrs. Darcy, who describes this as a “choose-your-own-adventure reading challenge.” She offers two focused challenges, “reading for fun” and “reading for growth.”

Take the 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

POPSUGAR offers “40 book prompts to help diversify and expand your reading in the new year, PLUS an “advanced” section with 12 books for hardcore readers who complete the challenge before the year is over.” The challenge consists of “a variety of ideas to mix up your reading choices, not specific book titles.” Examples of categories are “a book set in the wilderness” and “a novel set during wartime.”

There’s a printable list you can download and use to check off categories as you complete them.

2017 Reading Challenge

This challenge from Better World Books aims to get you “to try different kinds of books.” There’s a PDF checklist to download to keep track of your progress. And the Better World Books blog will be posting recommended books for each challenge category throughout the year, just in case you have trouble coming up with titles on your own.

Retellings Reading Challenge 2017

This challenge from the U.K. asks you to read retellings of stories such as classics, children’s classics, fairy tales, myths, legends, folk tales, well known people’s lives.

Reading Challenge

This Pinterest board links to many reading challenges from several years.

The WeAreTeachers 2017 Reading Challenge

This challenge asks you “to read at least one book from one of these categories every month.” There’s no indication that you must be a teacher to participate.

The 2017 reading challenge

This challenge, from Justina Wooten of Anythink Wright Farms of the Rangeview Library District in Colorado, might suit you if the 40+-category challenges are too much to take on. This one lists a different category of book for each month in 2017.

 

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Amazon: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is 2016’s best-selling book

Amazon says its best-selling book of 2016 is “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition Script.”

Source: Amazon: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is 2016’s best-selling book

They’re Back: Best Books of the Year Lists

The best books of the year lists seem to appear earlier and earlier every year. Here’s a first look at some of the offerings.

100 Notable Books of 2016

The New York Times announces its choices in the following categories:

  • Fiction & Poetry
  • Nonfiction
BAFFLING OMISSIONS FROM THE NY TIMES’ 100 NOTABLE BOOKS LIST

Emily Temple isn’t satisfied with the New York Times list because it omits several books that she thinks it should include. She offers her list of notable omissions here.

Best books of 2016 – part one

A list from The Guardian, in which “writers choose their best reads of 2016.” Selections include fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

Best books of 2016 – part two

A companion to (or, rather, a continuation of) the entry above.

Best Philosophy Books of 2016

Philosophy raises fundamental questions about the world around us and how we should live our lives. Fortunately, a range of popular books now available mean you too can grapple with some of these issues. Philosopher and author Nigel Warburton picks his favourite philosophy books of 2016.

 

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

September is National Translation Month (NTM) — Celebrating Writing in Translation

Celebrating Writing in Translation

Language is a way to express the human experience, yet it also presents communication barriers. With the efforts of accomplished translators, however, those barriers can be overcome to foster artistic unity across linguistic boundaries.

Source: National Translation Month (NTM) — Celebrating Writing in Translation

Last Week’s Links

Under Pamela Paul, a New Books Desk Takes Shape at the ’Times’

One of the book resources I look at most often is coverage by The New York Times. In this article Publishers Weekly looks at recent changes in the way the paper covers book-related news:

In mid August, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet announced in a note to staff that New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul would oversee all Times books and publishing industry coverage. Two weeks later, how exactly this move might change coverage is beginning to come to light.

New study finds that paper books rule with American readers

girl reading

A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that 65 percent of Americans surveyed had read a paperback or hardcover over the past year, compared to 28 percent who opted to read an e-book. Forty percent of those surveyed said they only read print books, while just 6 percent read e-books exclusively.

Ten books you should read this September

Although titles that tell other people what they should do make me cringe, I can’t resist a list of reading recommendations.

Of the books listed here, the one that appeals to me the most is Ruth Franklin’s biography of Shirley Jackson.

What about you?

Can Jonathan Safran Foer Make a Comeback?

Alex Shephard muses on Here I Am, Foer’s third novel recently published after a 10-year hiatus.

Here I Am has some thematic overlaps with the first two books (namely, the question of what it means to be an American Jew in the 21st-century). But despite that kinship and its occasional formal digressions—there’s a Second Life-y video game, transcripts of sexts, excerpts from a screenplay, oh, yeah, the imagined destruction of the state of Israel—it’s more of a self-consciously ambitious Franzen-esque Big Book.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Introducing Book Marks, Lit Hub’s “Rotten Tomatoes” for Books | Literary Hub

Book Marks will showcase critics from the most important and active outlets of literary journalism in America, aggregating reviews from over 70 sources—newspapers, magazines, and websites—and averaging them into a letter grade, as well as linking back to their source. Each book’s cumulative grade functions as both a general critical assessment, and, more significantly, as an introduction to a range of voices.

Source: Introducing Book Marks, Lit Hub’s “Rotten Tomatoes” for Books | Literary Hub

I’m still checking this out. Let us know what you think about this new service in the comments.

On Novels and Novelists

Joyce Carol Oates: ‘People think I write quickly, but I actually don’t’

Joyce Carol Oates, often described as “America’s foremost woman of letters,” recently talked with writer Hermione Hoby for The Guardian. At age 77, Oates has written more than 100 books and has been a Pulitzer finalist five times.

What Hoby calls “a pronounced gothic streak” runs through much of Oates’s fiction. Hoby explains why by quoting a passage from the afterword to Oates’s 1994 collection Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque:

“We should sense immediately, in the presence of the grotesque, that it is both ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ simultaneously, as states of mind are real enough – emotions, moods, shifting obsessions, beliefs – though immeasurable. The subjectivity that is the essence of the human is also the mystery that divides us irrevocably from one another.”

Hoby says that Blonde, Oates’s fictionalization of Marilyn Monroe’s interior life, is often regarded as her best novel. My book club back in St. Louis read it several years ago and loved it. We also read and loved her novel We Were the Mulvaneys, which remains one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.

Michael Connelly Chooses ‘The Long Goodbye’ for WSJ Book Club

Prominent mystery writer Michael Connelly has chosen Raymond Chandler’s novel The Long Goodbye for the Wall Street Journal Book Club. Connelly credits this book with launching his writing career. He was majoring in construction engineering in college when he saw Robert Altman’s 1973 film adaptation of the novel. He bought all of Chandler’s novels, read them back to back, then changed his major to journalism and creative writing.

Amazon Series: BOSCHAlthough Connelly has written some stand-alone novels, he is best known for his fictional detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department. The Bosch novels are the basis for Amazon’s series Bosch, starring Titus Welliver. The series’ second season will be released this year.

There’s a link in this article for joining the WSJ Book Club, but I think you have to be a subscriber of the paper to sign up.

Inside Lisa Genova’s medical best sellers

Lisa Genova was trained as a neuroscientist, but she has left that career behind to write full time. She self-published her first novel, Still Alice, and sold it out of her car trunk because she couldn’t land a literary agent or publisher. That book was eventually picked up by a major publisher, and Julianne Moore won an Oscar for her portrayal of the lead character in the film version.

Still Alice tells the story of a Harvard neuroscientist who develops early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. While most writing about Alzheimer’s features the point of view of care givers, Genova’s novel portrayed the experience of the patient. Genova has written three more books about neurological conditions: Love Anthony, about autism; Left Neglected, about traumatic brain injury; and Inside the O’Briens, about Huntington’s disease. Her next novel, she says, will be about ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

10 underrated novels from great authors

Sure, you’ve heard of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, but what about Pudd’nhead Wilson? Read about this less well known work of Mark Twain, along with underrated novels by the following writers as well:

Fyodor Dostoevsky
Cormac McCarthy
Haruki Murakami
Edgar Allan Poe
George Orwell
Stephen King
Graham Greene
James Salter
Richard Yates

J.K. Rowling reveals statue she marked after completing ’Harry Potter’

J.K. Rowling recently revealed on Twitter that she defaced a statue in her Balmoral hotel room after finishing the final volume in her Harry Potter series. See the evidence here.

A good sport about the whole thing, the Balmoral has renamed the room the J.K. Rowling Suite and protected the statue inside a glass case. This is certainly a case of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Herman Wouk Says He’s A ‘Happy Gent’ At 100

Herman Wouk has written a lot of famous novels, including The Winds of War and The Caine Mutiny, which won a Pulitzer Prize. Now, at age 100, he’s issued a spiritual memoir, Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author.

It’s a memoir, he says, that “sums up what it means to be a writer.”

Alan Rickman’s Best Bookish Roles

On Thursday, January 14th, Alan Rickman passed away from cancer and leaves a horrible gaping hole in the entertainment world. As every Harry Potter fan (and casual observer) knows, Rickman was most well known for his role as Severus Snape, the villain-turned-redemptive-hero that plays a central role in the film adaptations.

Source: Alan Rickman’s Best Bookish Roles

Books in 2016: a literary calendar

From a new novel by Julian Barnes to the film of The Girl on the Train, from the most hotly tipped debuts to Henning Mankell’s farewell essays – everything you need to know about the literary year ahead

Source: Books in 2016: a literary calendar

Calendar contains dates for appearances in the U.K.

From coloring books to Harper Lee, a good year for the physical book | The Seattle Times

As e-book sales remain stalled at some 25 percent of the market, hardcovers and paperbacks held steady at a time digital has upended the music, film and television industries.

Source: From coloring books to Harper Lee, a good year for the physical book | The Seattle Times