Saturday, November 24, 2012

2013 A Little Help from My Friends Challenge

The idea for this challenge came from a post on my other blog. I asked my friends for their must-read books. From those suggestions, I am going to set a goal to read 10 books this year.

So here's the challenge:
--In some way, get a list of book suggestions from your friends.
--From those suggestions choose between five and ten books that you will read in 2013.
--Make a list of the books that you will read and a few alternates. (I like some flexibility.)
--Copy the picture above, if you like, and post it on your blog.
--Make a post on your blog where you will keep track of the books for this challenge, and link back to this post.
--Please post a comment below with  link to that blog post. Come back and post again when you've finished. Reviews aren't required but they're always fun! If you don't blog, join us anyway. Just let us know in the comments what you are reading and when you are done.
--No book started before 1/1/2013 counts. Books can be used for other challenges.
--There will be prizes including book giveaways and an Amazon gift card.

My list:
1. Kristin Lavransdatter  by Sigrid Undset (3/17/2013)
2. Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (1/6/2013)
3. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (7/4/2013)
4. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (12/15/2013)
5. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (10/29/2013)
6. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor (6/29/2013)
7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
8. Middlemarch by George Eliot (12/13/2013)
9. My Antonia by Willa Cather
10. Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (2/18/2013)
--Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
--The Passing of the Armies by Joshua Chamberlain
--The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (11/21/2013)
--Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
--Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Nerdy Non-Fiction Challenge

It's always good to have some motivation to read non-fiction.
I'm going for the Dork Level. I'll post my books here:
1. . Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (1/13/2013) TRAVEL
2.  In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1/20/2013) CRIME 
3.  Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (1/21/2013) FOOD 
4. Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. (4/5/2013) SELF-HELP
5. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (4/8/2013) MEMOIR 
6. In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larson (4/12/2013) HISTORY 
7. Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough (5/30/2013) EDUCATION/SOCIAL ISSUES 
8. Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen (6/13/2013)  SPANS SEVERAL 
9. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (7/25/2013)  MEMOIR
10 L.S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America by Kenneth Turchi (8/13/2013) BUSINESS


Geek: 4-6 books in at least 2-3 different categories
Dork: 7-10 books in at least 4-5 different categories
Dweeb: 11- 14 books in at least 6-7 different categories
Nerd: 15+ books in at least 8+ different categories


* Health, Medicine, Fitness, Wellness
* History- US, World, European, etc
* Religion, Spirituality, Philosophy
* Technology, Engineering, Computers, etc
* Business, Finance, Management
* Sports, Adventure
* Food- Cookbooks, Cooks, Vegan Vegetarianism, etc
* Autobiography, Biography, Memoir
* Art, Photography, Architecture
* Music, Film, TV
* Self Improvement, Self Help, How To
* Home, Garden
* Science-Nature, Weather, Biology, Geology
* Anthropology, Archaeology
* Animals-Insects, Mammals, Dinosaurs, etc
* Family, Relationships, Parenting, Dating, Love
* Crime, Law
* Poetry, Theatre
* Politics, Government, Current Affairs
* Literary Criticism/Theory
* Cultural Studies
* Travel
* Crafts

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

This looks like loads of fun! The goal is to read eight books from eight of the categories. I will post my list here:
1. Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer (1/11/2013) 1933 (Category 23)
2.  The Case of the Stuttering Bishop (Perry Mason) by Erle Stanley Gardner (1/20/2013) 1936 ( Category 29)
3. The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton (3/4/2013) 1922 (Category 28)
4. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (3/25/2013) (Category 8) 
5. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (4/4/2013) 1941 (Category 14)
6. Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey  (5/25/2013) 1949 (Category 11)
7. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (9/4/2013) 1951  (Category 5)
 8. The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham (9/19/2013)(Category 17)

General Rules: (Abridged)

*All novels must have been originally written before 1960 and be from the mystery category (crime fiction, detective fiction, espionage, etc.).  Short story collections (whether published pre-1960 or not) are permissible provided all of the stories included in the collection were originally written pre-1960.  Please remember that some of our Vintage authors wrote well after 1959--so keep an eye on the original publish date

Vintage Categories:

1. Colorful Crime: a book with a color or reference to color in the title
2. Murder by the Numbers: a book with a number, quantity in the title
3. Amateur Night: a book with a "detective" who is not a P.I.; Police Officer; Official Investigator (Nurse Keate, Father Brown, Miss Marple, etc.)
4. Leave It to the Professionals: a book featuring cops, private eyes, secret service, professional spies, etc.
5. Jolly Old England: one mystery set in Britain
Yankee Doodle Dandy: one mystery set in the United States
World Traveler: one mystery set in any country except the US or Britain
8. Dangerous Beasts: a book with an animal in the title (The Case of the Grinning Gorilla; The Canary Murder Case; etc.)
A Calendar of Crime: a mystery with a date/holiday/year/month/etc. in the title (Hercule Poirot's Christmas, Holiday Homicide, etc.)
Wicked Women: a book with a woman in the title--either by name (Mrs. McGinty's Dead) or by reference (The Case of the Vagabound Virgin)
11. Malicious Men: a book with a man in the title--either by name (Maigret & the Yellow Dog) or by reference (The Case of the Haunted Husband)
12. Murderous Methods : a book with a means of death in the title (The Noose, 5 Bullets, Deadly Nightshade, etc).
Staging the Crime: a mystery set in the entertainment world (the theater, musical event, a pageant, Hollywood, featuring a magician, etc)
Scene of the Crime: a book with the location of the crime in the title (The Body in the Library, Murder at the Vicarage, etc.)
Cops & Robbers: a book that features a theft rather than murder
Locked Rooms: a locked-room mystery
Country House Criminals: a standard (or not-so-standard) Golden Age country house murder
Murder on the High Seas: a mystery involving water
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: a mystery that involves a mode of transportation in a vital way--explicitly in the title (Murder on the Orient Express) or by implication (Death in the Air; Death Under Sail) or perhaps the victim was shoved under a bus....
Murder Is Academic: a mystery involving a scholar, teacher, librarian, etc.  OR set at a school, university, library, etc.
Things That Go Bump in the Night: a mystery with something spooky, creepy, gothic in the title (The Skeleton in the Clock, Haunted Lady, The Bat, etc.)
Repeat Offenders: a mystery featuring your favorite series detective or by your favorite author (the books/authors you'd read over and over again) OR reread an old favorite
The Butler Did It...Or Not: a mystery where the butler is the victim, the sleuth....(gasp) the criminal....or is just downright memorable for whatever reason.
A Mystery By Any Other Name: any book that has been published under more than one title (Murder Is Easy--aka Easy to Kill [Christie]; Fog of Doubt--aka London Particular [Christianna Brand], etc.)
Dynamic Duos: a mystery featuring a detective team--Holmes & Watson, Pam & Jerry North, Wolfe & Goodwin, or....a little-known team that you introduce to us.
Size Matters: a book with a size or measurement in the title (Death Has a Small Voice, The Big Four, The Weight of the Evidence, etc.)
Psychic Phenomena: a mystery featuring a seance, medium, hypnotism, or other psychic or "supernatural" characters/events
Book to Movie: one vintage mystery that has appeared on screen (feature film or TV movie).
The Old Bailey: a courtroom drama mystery (Perry Mason, anyone? Witness for the Prosecution...etc.) OR a mystery featuring a judge, lawyer, barrister, D.A., etc.
Get Out of Jail Free: This is a freebie category.  One per customer.  You tell me what special category the book fits ("It's got an awesome cover!"..."First book I grabbed off my shelf") and it counts.  Only thing I won't take is "It's a Vintage Mystery!"--that's a given. :-)

What's in a Name 2013

I enjoyed the What's in a Name Challenge this year, so I'm going to do it again.

Here's How It Works

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories:
(I'll post the books that I actually read in blue. If I have a possible book for a category, it will be posted in a pastel color.)

  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title:  Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman (3/3/2013)
  2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (1/21/2013)
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding by Arliss Ryan (4/3/2013)
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
  5. A book with an emotion in the title:
    In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson (4/12/2013)
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (11/27/2013)

Review:Unlearning Liberty

If you had told me that the next really good book that I would read on anything even parenthetically related to politics or the constitution would have been written by a liberal atheist, I would have been very dubious. But Unlearning Liberty , about the attack on free speech on college campuses and the effect that it has on society as a whole, was excellent. Greg Lukianoff didn't, as is so often the case, ignore the errors of those he agrees with. The book was an even-handed look at the way colleges infringe on students' rights and the alarming changes in attitudes toward free speech. If you are interested in constitutional issues, higher education reform, or the way that our society can--or can't--deal with complex issues, I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

100 Must Reads for Men

I love book lists. I think this one looks really good. There are very few books on here that I would suggest my sons skip. And while this list, from The Art of Manliness, is geared toward males, many of the books on this list are among my must-reads for everybody.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I have officially finished all of this year's challenges. I'm still keeping track of books that fit challenges like TBR, Foodies, Memoirs, etc. And I'll keep adding to my 100+ challenge list, mostly because that is my record of my reading for the year.

My 100th book of the year was The Count of Monte Cristo. I loved it. But it also took me longer to read than any book that I've ever read.

I'm starting to think about challenges for next year and am working on one of my own. I'll be posting it here soon.