Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Challenges Wrap-up

It's that time of year...challenge wrap-up time!

I managed to complete all the required categories:
1. A 19th-century Classic: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
2. A 20th-century Classic: A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
3. A Pre-18th or 18th-century Classic: The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
4. A Classic that relates to the African-American experience: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (it doesn't deal directly with the African-American experience, but it's about the American South and has a few very key African-American characters, so I'm counting it...)
5. A Classic Adventure: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
6. A Classic that prominently features an animal: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I wanted to do the optional categories, but I had way too much school stuff on my plate! I'm still really happy I completed all the required categories, though. 

I'm very sad to say that I didn't finish this challenge. I got so close! I signed up for the Do These Books Make My Butt Look Big? level, which required six chunksters of varying lengths. Here's what I managed to read for each category (each of which required 2 books): 

450 - 550 pages: 
Great Expectations (Charles Dickens) 
Ivanhoe (Walter Scott)

551 - 750 pages: 

Pamela (Samuel Richardson)
To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson (Heidi Swinton)

Greater than 750 pages: 

Bleak House (Charles Dickens)

Aaaand I'm currently in the middle of Don Quixote, which would be the last book I would need. I'm way too far from the end to possibly finish it anytime soon, though. Oh, well. I did a pretty good job! 

I committed to level one, "un peu," which required 3 books, and made a goal for level 2, "beaucoup," which required 6. I made it to level one! Here are the books I read: 

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
My Life in France by Julia Child
Versailles: Biography of a Palace by Tony Spawforth
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I believe I read 34 books last year, so my commitment was to read at least 43, and my goal was to read at least 50. I read exactly 43. Not as much as I wanted to do and it still feels like hardly any, but I did a lot of reading that wasn't necessarily "books" (poems, short stories, essays, etc. for school). Anyway, I'm still glad I was able to complete the challenge.  

Here's one I'm pretty proud of! I made a commitment to read 7-10 books in at least 4-5 different categories, and a goal for 11-14 books in at least 6-7 different categories. I made my goal! 14 books in 6 different categories. Here are the books I read: 

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
The Truth About Food by Jill Fullerton-Smith
Versailles: Biography of a Palace by Tony Spawforth
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese
Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
Night by Elie Wiesel
My Life in France by Julia Child
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
In Short by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones (editors)
My Lost City: Personal Essays by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Jackrabbit Factor by Leslie Householder

This was a really fun challenge and I was about to say I would like to do it again next year, but I think the host blog was deleted! Very sad. Does anyone know of another non-fiction challenge for next year? 

I committed to the Pastry Chef level (4-8 books). I ended up reading 9, but there was one I didn't ever review on the blog. I don't know if an official review was required, so...I'll just say I made my goal. :) Here are the books I read: 

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
My Life in France by Julia Child
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The Truth About Food by Jill Fullerton-Smith
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese
Food Rules by Michael Pollan

Whew! Well, those are my challenges! I was very excited about each one of them, and the only reason I didn't finish a couple was that, you know, school makes it hard to read for fun.  

It's been a great year for reading. Some of the challenges helped motivate me in my school reading, while others helped me take a break from classic literature. Some of my favorites (from a few different challenges) were: My Life in France by Julia Child, Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, A Room With a View by E.M. Forster, and The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. 

I love doing challenges. We'll see which ones I choose for next year! 


  1. WOW! You read a lot last year, considering you're also in a reading-heavy college track. I'm impressed!

    Of those, I read A Room with a View, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, (which I read on you recommendation!) and The Paris Wife this year. I've also previously read Northanger Abbey, Great Expectations, The Merchant of Venice, Ivanhoe, and The Old Man and the Sea. I'm actually hoping to reread Ivanhoe sometime this year.

    1. Thanks! It doesn't feel like a lot compared to what other people read, but I feel like I've been a lot better able to balance school reading and personal reading this year.

      What did you think of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter?

    2. Yeah, I see some people who read 100 books or whatever, and I'm like, "Wow! I wish I had that much time!"

      I really liked MtBBtB -- I'm trying the vanilla extract right now, with it sitting in the back of my pantry macerating since November. And I made her clotted cream to eat with scones for Christmas breakfast, which was soooooooooooo rich and amazing.

      Definitely one of the coolest cookbooks I've ever read!

    3. I'm glad you liked it! I'll have to try the clotted cream soon.

    4. It makes a LOT and is very rich -- make when you have people over to help eat it!

  2. Wow, great work! Happy New Year and good luck with your reading next year!