Monday, October 19, 2015

Semi-Charmed Winter 2015 Book Challenge

After the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge came to an end, I was ready for another. That was my first time participating in a reading challenge, and I loved it! It forced me out of my reading comfort zone a bit (and made me realize that sometimes YA lit can be really enjoyable!), and also introduced me to a bunch of other great bloggers who are also passionate about books. Plus, I love making lists and challenging myself to read a little more ... So challenges like these are perfect for me.

Needless to say, I was beyond excited when I saw another reading challenge mentioned on Erin's blog. I immediately headed over to Megan's blog to read through the complete list of rules, and began thinking about what books I might be able to fit into each of these categories.

And, let me tell you ... Some of these categories are hard. It didn't help that I wanted to pull from my "To Read" list as much as possible (because it's far too long not to), and I had to make sure that I would have easy access to each book I picked (i.e. I either own it already or I won't be on the waiting list at the library for months). As I've said before, I'm weirdly anal when it comes to these challenges, so I really want to stick with my original list. I know I should allow myself more flexibility, but some stubborn part of me just won't go for that.

Anyway, today I'm sharing my preliminary list and linking up. If you're interested in getting involved, the full set of rules for the challenge can be found here.

1.  A Book That Is 100-200 Pages Long - 5 pts

This was a pretty easy category for me since I knew one of the YA books on my "To Read" list is pretty short. I remembered this only because I originally wanted to use it for my YA pick in the Literary Ladies challenge, but every book in that challenge had to be at least 200 pages long. At only 170 pages, this book was much too short. I'm glad this challenge will push me to finally pick it up!

My pick: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

2.  A Debut Book By Any Author (Does Not Have To Be A 2015 Debut) - 10 pts

This year I've managed to read a ton of debut novels (it feels that way, anyway), but thankfully I still had a few more on my "To Read" list. I may regret my choice for this one since it's a pretty lengthy book (500+ pages), but I've wanted to read it for a really long time. I own The Little Friend and have read it twice, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Donna Tartt's debut novel is like. (Also, if you haven't read The Little Friend, I highly recommend it ... It's beautifully written and so haunting. I still think about it regularly, and the last time I read it was at least 4 or 5 years ago.)

My pick: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

3.  A Book That Does Not Take Place In My Current Country Of Residence - 10 pts

This was an easy pick for me. I checked this book out from the library a while ago, but I still haven't gotten around to picking it up. I'm trying to finish up the stack of books I have out anyway, so I was glad I could use at least one of them in this challenge (even though I used an Australian book for a similar category in the Literary Ladies challenge).

My pick: Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

4.  A Book That Someone Else Has Already Used For The Challenge - 10 pts

This one was a little more difficult since a lot of people haven't linked up yet (not to mention the fact that a lot of people will likely swap out some of their original picks). I looked through every list that was already posted, and finally decided to go with one of Erin's picks. It's already on my "To Read" list, and there's no waiting list for it at the library ... So it's pretty much the perfect choice.

My pick: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

5.  A Book Published Under A Pseudonym - 15 pts

I immediately thought of Stephen King's pen name, Richard Bachman, when I saw this category. I've actually only read one Stephen King novel, which is pretty shocking since I'm a huge fan of thrillers and horror. (If you're curious, I read The Shining ... And that was back in the 8th grade.) I loved The Shining, but I guess there were just always other books I wanted to read more. I'm sure I'll read more of King's stuff in the future, but I figured I may as well start with one of his books originally published under the Bachman name for this challenge.

My pick: The Long Walk by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

6.  A Book With "Boy," "Girl," "Man," Or "Woman" In The Title (Or The Plural Of These Words) - 15 pts

I've already read 5 books with the word "girl" or "girls" in the title this year. I also have two others on this list already and at least two more sitting at home that I've checked out from the library (in addition to Girl Defective). I was originally just going to go with one of the books already sitting at home, but I figured it was time to switch things up since titles featuring "girl"/"girls" seem to be dominating my reading list this year.

My pick: The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner

7.  A Book With A One Word Title - 15 pts

I had quite a few books on my "To Read" list that would work for this category, so it was tough to choose just one. In the end, I picked a book that sounded light and fun. As many of you already know, I love my dark, fucked up novels, but I figured I should add a few lighter reads to my list for this challenge. Sometimes it's nice to switch things up!

My pick: Spin by Catherine McKenzie

8.  A Book With A Person's First And Last Name In The Title - 20 pts

I opted to go with yet another chick-lit book for this category, mostly because it was the first book that popped into my head (probably because I'd recently read Jana's review and thought it sounded like an enjoyable read). It's also currently available at the library (no wait required!), so I took that as a sign that it was the right pick for this category.

My pick: Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes by Jules Moulin

9.  A Food-Themed Book - 20 pts

This was one of the most difficult categories for me. None of the books on my "To Read" list really seemed to fit, so I spent quite a bit of time poking around on Goodreads for something that looked moderately interesting. I already read The Dinner by Herman Koch earlier this year, so that was out ... And most of the other books that popped up didn't really sound that great. Although the book I wound up choosing has a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads, it was the most promising of the bunch (plus it's currently available at the library!). If nothing else, it has a very unique and interesting premise!

My pick: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

10.  A Book With A Verb In The Title - 20 pts

I still have quite a few books that I've purchased over the last year or two that I haven't read, so I wanted to try to use at least one of those in this challenge. I'm not allowing myself to buy any additional books until I read all of these, but I keep getting distracted by all the books the library has to offer! Still, there are quite a few books I want to read that the library doesn't have, so I'll have to buy them if I ever hope to cross them off my "To Read" list. I also watched this movie about a while ago (and loved it!), so I'm interested to see how the book compares.

My pick: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

11.  Two Books With The Same Title By Different Authors - 30 pts

I thought it would be much easier than it actually was to find two books to fulfill the requirements of this category. I noticed in the comments that the rules were going to be pretty strict on this one (i.e. the titles had to be exactly the same), so that made it a little more difficult. I spent quite a bit of time searching through both Goodreads and my library's website to find something, and I was really happy when I finally found two books I could use that would also allow me to cross something off my ridiculously long "To Read" list. (The Joe Hill book is from my list.) The April Henry book doesn't really sound like something I ever would have picked up otherwise (and hopefully I don't need to read the other books in the series in order to get into this one), but the titles matched ... So I'll take it.

My picks: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill & Heart-Shaped Box by April Henry

12.  Two Books About The Same Subject (One Nonfiction, One Fiction) - 30 pts

I had a historical fiction book on my "To Read" list that I thought would be perfect for this category. Unfortunately, there were no nonfiction books at my library on the exact same subject. So I decided to kind of stretch it a bit (especially since the rules for this category aren't as strict), and pick a nonfiction book that focuses on a different killer during the same time period. Both books are set in Victorian London during the time of the infamous Jack the Ripper, though the novel focuses on the (also very real but less famous) Thames Torso Killer while the nonfiction book is all about Jack the Ripper. True crime is pretty much the only nonfiction I truly enjoy (with a few exceptions, of course), so I was glad I could use a true crime book for the nonfiction portion of this category!

My picks: Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough (fiction) & Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History by Paul Begg (nonfiction)

The challenge doesn't officially begin until November 1, so there's still plenty of time to compile a list if you think this looks like your kind of thing! I'm already excited to get started!

For now, though, I need to tear through a bunch of my library books (that aren't on this list, of course!). I've been trying to avoid checking any extra books out (unless they're books I've been waiting for for a while) until I get through the majority of the stack I have at home right now. I've been doing a great job sticking with that so far, but once this challenge starts I know I'll be making more trips to the library!


  1. The matching titles category was mine - I'm starting to feel bad now as so many people are finding it difficult! There are actually loads of books with duplicate titles, I promise! (I came up with the idea when I saw that one of my GoodReads friends had read a book called Still Missing that was not the book of that title I had read).

    I love Stephen King but I've never read The Shining, even though I love the film.

    1. I was going to email you back, but you were listed as a no reply blogger. Here's what I was going to say:

      Oh, don't feel bad for coming up with a difficult category! I feel like that's part of the fun of the challenge. :-)

  2. I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake a few years ago and definitely thought it was interesting. A little strange, but overall pretty good :)

    1. I was going to email you back, but you were listed as a no reply blogger. Here's what I was going to say:

      I'm glad to hear it's not a total bust. I thought it sounded really unusual, but it might not be my kind of book. I guess we'll see!

  3. I LOVED I'll Give You the Sun. Not sure what it was about it - perhaps just the tone and voice - but I tore through it and it was a favorite for the year so far. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. I'm not the biggest fan of nonficition, but I have a feeling that I would love true crime books if I gave them a chance. The Jack The Ripper books sounds like a great choice for the last category! I have quite a few books that I need to finish up before the challenge starts too!

  5. That sounds like such an awesome reading challenge! I think I want to join it as well since I've seen others do reading challenges and they seemed like a lot of fun.

    1. I was going to email you back, but you were listed as a no reply blogger. Here's what I was going to say:

      You should definitely join! I love getting to know other bloggers through challenges like this. It's also a great way to push yourself to read a little more and possibly also pick up something you wouldn't normally read.

  6. I feel like I want to do this challenge but won't but will make the list anyway.

    I hope you like Ally Hughes! We Need to Talk About Kevin is a hard read for a number of reasons. It was actually a DNF for me because I couldn't take the author's writing style. I hope you have a better experience with it than I did.

  7. Thanks for the shout outs. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill is on my bookshelf at home waiting to be read. Looks like a perfect fit for my 4th category's choice. I am interested to hear your thoughts about We Need to Talk about Kevin.

  8. I love Megan's reading challenges, but seriously.. her categories can be so hard sometimes! haha. they often make me pick up books that aren't on my TBR list, and then I dislike them because I force myself to read them. The first one I did with her they had the 'read a book that someone else has already read for the challenge' so when I got to choose the category lol that's what I chose - I love that it means you can't finish in a month, you have to wait till after the first link up. I have my list ready except for the last one. so hard because I hate hate hate non fiction.
    i read we need to talk about kevin years and years and years ago, it was definitely not an easy read. i'll be interested to hear what you think.

  9. I love that you're reading books about Jack the Ripper. There's something incredibly romantic about England's history... even the super duper gruesome parts! I also love your format! Maybe I'll try something like this for the next challenge! (Assuming I do well enough this time around to show my face for the next one... ha!)

  10. Oh you have such a good list together! The food category was one of the hardest ones for me too and I'm not 100% thrilled about my choice, but hoping it will be okay if I get to it for the challenge.

  11. Jack the Ripper is one of my faves!! I absolutely love true crime books. I debated joining this challenge but after the summer one, and doing the movie one, and the mounting TBR pile I already have I decided not to over commit any more :)

  12. Great choices!!! I can't wait to read your thoughts on these books!