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.