December 16, 2011

I read most of these...
I finished the last book from the Off the Shelf challenge earlier this week: Tom Piazza’s Why New Orleans Matters. Very moving and readable book about some of the reasons New Orleans is special and why careful rebuilding after Katrina is so important. From the introduction: “New Orleans is not just a list of attractions or restaurants or ceremonies, no matter how sublime and subtle. New Orleans is the interaction among all those things, and countless more. It gains its character from the spirit that is summoned, like a hologram, in the midst of all these elements, and that comes, ultimately, from the people who live there—those who have chosen to live there, and those whose parents and grandparents and ancestors lived there.”

I completed both my reading challenges on time—not that either of them was all that “challenging”—and they both served a purpose. The Vintage Mystery Challenge introduced me to some new authors in my favorite genre (Frances and Richard Lockridge, Margery Allingham) and allowed me to revisit some old favorites (Rex Stout, Patricia Wentworth and Agatha Christie). The Off the Shelf challenge helped clear my shelves a bit. (Shh…don’t tell anyone, but I’ve filled up that space with more books I’ve purchased this year!) I read some books that had been languishing there for too long and even got rid of a couple without reading them at all, hopefully passing them on to someone who will appreciate them. (See the 2011 Reading Challenge Log for a full list of the challenge books I read this year.)

I’ve considered signing up for new reading challenges next year, like this Classics challenge or even revisiting the Off the Shelf challenge to try to clear that shelf for good (hahahahaha). But I decided not to. I love reading, and I will still read for pleasure, and for research, but 2012 must be devoted to writing the book that I keep telling people I’m going to write. I can’t allow myself to be distracted by reading challenges, tempting though they are. My focus must narrow a bit, at least for now. It’s time to put up or shut up.

What challenges, reading or other, are you going to tackle in 2012?

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  1. Congrats on finishing your reading challenges. I finished mine too - and mine were also not very challenging. I'm going to do fewer reading challenges next year too - not for the same reason as you (I'm not writing a book) but I think because I chose challenges this year that I knew I could complete, which really isn't the point of a challenge, is it? I'm going to do the War Through the Generations challenge again next year, which will be World War I, but that may be the only one. Good luck on your book!

  2. Congratulations on your reading accomplishment for 2011. I recognized the title of the one on New Orleans because I bought it last summer in hopes of reading it before our NOLA trip. That didn't happen, but it might make an interesting read for me in 2011 as I sift through my NOLA memories.

  3. Thanks, Cheryl. I think even though we completed our challenges easily, we still benefitted from them! Good luck with next year's challenge. It sounds like an interesting one.

  4. Claire--I think you'll like Piazza's book. It was very easy to read, interesting, and, I thought, nicely summed up the allure, spirit and feeling of New Orleans. It should be a good companion while you sift through your NOLA memories.

  5. It's nice when you feel like you've accomplished something with your reading--and that includes just enjoying the books you pick whether at whim or planned. I did pretty well with the last couple of challenges I did, too. I try not to join many unless I had wanted to read the books in any case (which for me--reading more classics is something I want to do next year). How exciting that you are planning on doing some serious writing. I think there must be a point where you just have to do it and not plan or think about it!

  6. Danielle--Maybe some people like challenges in order to read anything--or anything out of their comfort zones? You and I don't have a problem with reading (!), and you seem quite adventurous in your tastes...I've begun reading more widely thanks to you and other bookish folks.

    You're right, too, about just starting to write. I've been planning and thinking and educating myself all through 2011 with not much writing to show for it on the book. 2012 will have to be more writing, less "reading about writing."