Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Confession is good for the soul.....

I have been weighing the 888 challenge in my mind for a while. Long ago, when I chose the books, I actually had a category for horror, then I couldn't find enough to read (this was back last November), and dropped it. Now it's August. And many new books have found their way into my home. I'm surprised at how many horror books I was able to pull so quickly from my shelves! So now I have more than enough for an 888 category section. And, I'm not too ashamed to put it as a category! (My Cool Literary Inner Bookworm hangs her head in shame. She is ashamed she tried to get me to not confess that I read horror, and ashamed that I do! Siberia is a good place to live, she thinks. Or an island in Micronesia anywhere but here where she is SLUMMING....'look', I say, 'I've added Jane Austen to the RIP 3 challenge! and Susan Hill could be a literary ghost story, so could Peter Ackroyd.' She sniffs and balls her tissue up. 'Look, I'm reading Midnight's Children now so you can have a Booker Prize read before I go all horror for the next 8 weeks!' She stares at me. 'Fine, I'll read Possession right after, so both you and Nymeth can know how I like it.' At last my Cool Literary Inner Bookworm relents and offers to get me some hot chocolate for the autumn nights ahead. Besides, she is happy reading Birthday Letters, purring contentedly and devouring the poems as if the book might disappear at any moment.) ......

I've read half the books in the 888 challenge. I am not, sadly, going to read many in the non-fiction category, which has to date only 1 read. I'm just not that into non-fiction to a great extent. What was I thinking, 8 non-fiction plus the non-fiction challenge? (It was the glare of the challenge, I swear. That, or I'm baby blogger still, and the bright lights and fame of completing lots of challenges glittered in front of me, drawing me forward to my doom.....) So, I have had a realistic evaluation of where I stand in the challenges. I really want to complete the 888 challenge this year. I probably won't get all 64 books read, but if I get 50 or more out of it done, then it will have been a most excellent challenge for me to have participated in. So (she draws a deep breath), I am dropping the non-fiction section, and adding a horror/dark fantasy section to the 888 challenge. There! and such a big smile crossed my face as I announced that, that I know I've made the right decision!!! I don't care about the rules, though I'm sure the moderator won't mind - but if they do, I'm not in the running for prizes, and I don't mind. This was always meant to challenge myself to increase the books I read, each year. This is always my own challenge to me. I love the different challenges because they make me look at the books I own, want to own, want to read, haven't heard about yet, and force me to choose - this year or next? now, or later? And I have read so many interesting, amazing, beautiful books so far this year. (Yes, I know I have 10 to review, basically all I've read this summer. The pile is teetering near the computer, a reminder that they want to be blogged about!) So even if I fail at completing a challenge, starting with From the Stacks last winter, then at least I tried it. i'll only get better at picking challenges for myself through learning what I complete and what I don't. And, as many bloggers have said over this year, there is always next year to try it again!

I am giving myself permission to add or delete books through the year because the one main thing I have learned is, the bigger the challenge or the longer it lasts, the more it is certain that some book or two is going to come along who wants to be read for that challenge long after it's started!!! I am going to keep joining challenges, and some I will complete (and I am very happy when I do!!) and some I won't. It's the participating that is fun, and reading other reader's blogs, and always, sharing books, that is the real joy of the challenges. So no, I am not going to read all (is it 18 now? 20?) books I have listed in Carl's RIP3 challenge; it's a list I am going to pull from. I am hoping to read 12, maybe as many as 16 if I really push myself. And now 8 of those will be for the 888 challenge!!!

So, here is the new horror/dark fantasy selections for the 888 challenge:


1. The Harrowing - Alexandra Sokoloff (Awards Challenge)
2.The Terror - Dan Simmons
3. The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
4.Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz
5. The House of Dr. Dee - Peter Ackroyd (1% challenge)
6. The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan
7. Lonely Werewolf Girl - Martin Millar
8. Wolf Moon - Charles de Lint (Can Challenge 2)

I've also started keeping running totals of the books completed in each challenge, on the sidebar, mostly for myself so I can see how I'm doing. Not bad!

And on the subject of confession, I am in the midst of Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes. I am mesmerized by the poems. They are breathtaking and passionate and powerful. I love them. He has brought the Sylvia Plath we all loved to life, by recreating his memories of their relationship, in his poems. i can only read a few at a time, because there is much emotional charge, so much naked raw energy and passion spilling out, that it feels like I am being swept up also. This is poetry, and it deserved the Whitbread award. It should have won the Nobel Prize too for literature. What courage and naked honesty it took to write them, and they must have finally come pouring out when he released all that he had held back over the years. She dazzled him, even as she pained him. and yet I don't feel anything like a voyeur, because he is inviting us in, his readers, to show us why - why he loved her, what drove her, what happened to them. Because in the world of art, it matters who we love, that we love. That is where life comes from, and art and poetry can only come where there is life. Even though I am nowhere near finishing it, I can already say this is a book that every poet, every writer, should read, to see how it's done.


Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Susan, I'm honored that you chose THE HARROWING as part of your challenge, thank you so much! If you like it, let me know and I'll send you a copy of THE PRICE (they're not related but equally spooky).

Have a great and haunting fall...

- Alex

raidergirl3 said...

whe-oh, whe-oh, blogger challenge police here, please pull over.

You are changing your list? *mock outrage* how dare you, oh, wait, the rules specifically state, and I quote: 5. You may change your list or your categories at any time.

Nevermind. [emily litella's voice]

Susan said...

alexandra: well, I'm thrilled! thank you so much for dropping by! this is so unexpected! And thank you too for the offer of The Price, that is really kind of you (I know as a writer that if I read and review it, that will be great publicity for your book, which I am also very happy to do if I like it.) I will let you know when I've read The Harrowing, which will be during the next two months as The Harrowing is part of the RIP 3 Challenge also (it's on my list to pick from, but I know I'm going to read it!) This is such a pleasure.I did have a link to your blog before I accidentally wiped mine out early this month. Have a great fall out there on the West Coast, too!

raidergirl3: Hurrah! I don't have to feel guilty at all! (actually, the non-fiction books are staring at me politely outraged. I will get to them, just not this year!) and now to 8 weeks of pure horror and dark fantasy bliss :-) I love the 888 Challenge, and in the back of my head I keep wondering how 999 would sound - but maybe 3 books in 9 categories, or 9 books in 3 categories....anyway, I know once the challenge is over, I will feel a big hole, also.
Thank you! and blogger challenge police - see? here's my license!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say that "Birthday Letters' has sat on my shelf, unopened, since the day it was bought - and I'm fairly certain that wasn't long after publication day. I know that I'm a really poor reader of poetry and ought to try and do something about it but..... you know the story. There are always so many other things out there to read.

jspeyton said...

I was this close to putting "The Terror" on my R.I.P. III list, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

By the way, I've tagged you for a meme! Check out BiblioAddict for details! =)

Heather J. said...

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on Midnight's Children - I'm reading it now too (although I'm finding it slow going).

Bybee said...

My Tough and Cool Inner Bookworm never offers to get me anything...not one crumb or drop, and I've been trying to please her with a double whammy of Austen and Dickens...Jerk.

I had a copy of Birthday Letters and I lent it out, never saw it again. Sob.

Heather J. said...

me again :)

You mentioned in a comment on my blog that you were trying to change your blog layout but couldn't get it to work ... if you're still working on it, maybe I could help. It took me a while, but I finally figured out how to do the 3 column thing, and I think I still have the instructions ...

Nymeth said...

"I am giving myself permission to add or delete books through the year because the one main thing I have learned is, the bigger the challenge or the longer it lasts, the more it is certain that some book or two is going to come along who wants to be read for that challenge long after it's started!!!"

Yup, exactly. Which is why this whole following lists thing isn't working very well for me anymore...especially for year-long challenges.

Kim L said...

Why take the challenge too seriously? I'm pretty sure the point is to have fun, so I think you are perfectly within your rights to change things around. I don't think I've followed any of my challenges to the letter yet. Just no time, and plus my interest does tend to wander. Let it be fun!

Susan said...

table talk: I have to admit, I am surprised! I thought for sure you would have read it! It really is worth looking at, especially if you read Sylvia Plath before (I think i recall you saying you had).

jspeyton: I've done the meme, thanks so much! Surprisingly difficult to do! Still have to read The Terror, hoping to do it this weekend (I need a chunk of time to properly read it).

heather j: I got bogged down too - i am enjoying it, but only once i figured out he was being humourous!!! I've put it aside for the RIP challenge, so will pick it up in Nov again.

bybee: Did you like birthday Letters? I can't believe it didn't come back to you! I love it, it's awesome poetry. (yikes, that's twice I've used that tonight. My teenage son is rubbing off on me! help!!) I think you should read Archie comic books until your TCIB relents and buys you some lovely ginger tea :-) with some cookies of course! She ought to, making you read Dickens and Austen at the same time!

nymeth: I think we readers are like that 'Herding the Cats' challenge title says - we are independent and can't really be collared/led, by challenges, other people's tastes (except when we like the same books!), no matter our good intentions! I'm not giving up on challenges, though! I love this RIP3, and I've enjoyed 888 so much (especially being able to cross off books as I read them!)

kim l: see my answer to Nymeth. I really think that challenges should be guidelines. And you are right, FUN, more than anything else, something we do because we enjoy it. My problem is that I have an inner conflict between being well-read (what my inner literary bookworm insists is cool to be seen reading) and reading for complete and utter fun. It will be interesting to see which wins out, which I think the challenges I do complete will be the answer! so it's always more of an inner challenge within myself that I am answering. but I do like to win, so I hate signing up for things and not finishing!!! lol