The bibliographing Reading Challenge

Or, what should be called The Incredibly Derivative bibliographing Reading Challenge. Amateur Reader, you won’t be upset, will you?

No, he’ll be inspirational! I’ll be stealing a few of the rules from the Scottish Literature Reading Challenge and Clishmaclaver, which was great fun, but also making some changes.

The object: some sweet, sweet blog discussion and reading recommendations.

The rules: You read a book, challenge me to read it, and we both write about it. The book must be published before 1939, readily available, and not something I’ve read in the past three years. I’m up for writing about things I’ve read before as well as re-reading things I encountered a while back, but nothing too recent. Here are my reading lists for 2008, 2009, and 2010 for reference.

How much crazier is this than the Scottish Reading Challenge? I’m hoping that since I only have about five readers it won’t be too crazy, but I suppose we’ll have to see. I reserve the right the end the challenge at any time if it gets out of hand, and to respond on my own time. To participate, leave me a comment and we’ll work something out.

So what do you think? Got some good books for me next year?

18 comments to The bibliographing Reading Challenge

  • Yeah, could you just base it on books I plan to read anyway, Nicole? I know you tend to prefer, and I mean this in no way pejoratively, classic lit, but I have books by several new, up-and-coming authors from local Chicago presses, such as Featherproof, and lit zines such as the2ndhand and Knee-Jerk and so forth that I intend to read. I’ve noted them on my own blog but they are Todd Dills, Amelia Gray, Adam Levin, Lindsay Hunter and Patrick Somerville. A few others less affiliated with Chicago-related things are Alissa Nutting and Tina May Hall.

    But if you cannot base it on these things, then I am still curious and wondering what you will base it on and will be interested in participating, even if I cannot to the utmost extent I will no doubt desire.

  • Haha, you so crazy!

    I’ll have to give some thought to what to read with you. Sounds like great fun. :-)

  • Ibn Gahaba

    As one of your, er, 5 readers (can’t be!), I’ll take you up, with a slight emendation: how about a book started in 1938 but not published until 1945?


  • How do you feel about Henry Green-maybe Living from 1929 -about the lives of the owners and the workers in a Birmingham Iron Foundry (this is Green’s first work)-less than 200 pages

    or Belly of Paris by Zola 1873

    or if we are ambitious-The Fifth Queen Trilogy by F M F ?

  • A difficult choice since I don’t lightly “wish” books on people. I’ll definitely keep this in mind as I read through the year.

  • Ah, the inner pushover in me will come out so easily!

    Matt—My cutoff is not exactly because I prefer classics, though it may seem I do from the blog. It’s more just an assurance that time will have been one weeding factor in selection, protecting me from the mediocre. However, the local component of your suggestion is particularly compelling…so let’s settle on one. I’ll try to email you this weekend.

    Ibn Gahaba—Sure, you’re well within my initially contemplated cutoff of 1950, so why not?

    Mel—Ooh, tempting me with more FMF? I will seriously do that if you want to. Or either of the others—do you want to pick?

    Dwight and Emily, I look forward to hearing from you later in the year.

  • Ibn Gahaba

    Well, then, with your acceptance ot a relatively recent work (1938-1945): Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch.

    Called by George Steiner perhaps the greatest book no one has ever read (or something like that), and one review — 30 pages by a Yale German professor — said it was maybe the greatest thing since Dante. Definitely a black, double diamond slope.

    Broch is vastly underappreciated, and I would have suggested Sleepwalkers but, er, I’ve read that one, and DoV stands as a K2 if not Everest in literature.

    Of course, if we’re on a central European bent, I’d also suggest Razdetsky March and Man Without Qualities, which are also long-time desires. I’m in, if you are, but Death of Virgil is my foremost suggestion.

  • Ibn Gahaba

    Er, make the preceding “Radetzky March.” Argh.

  • Spiffing idea, Nicole. I’ve some suggestions that I would love to read/reread in parallel with you. One has been mentioned above but I will reference again.

    MMy requests, pre-1939, are Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks or his Doctor Faustus, or Goethe’s Elective Infinities. If you can bear a post-39 suggestion, an ambitious one, then Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time.

  • Ibn—Death of Virgil it is! I must say I’m a bit intimidated already, but extremely game. Would you like to guest-post here at all? When are you thinking? February/March sound okay?

    Anthony—More intimidation! (Why am I afraid of Germans?) All of these are on my lifetime TBR list, but I would love to do Elective Affinities with you. I really want to read the Musil, actually, as well…

  • Ibn Gahaba

    Fantastic! February works well and I’d be happy to guestblog here.

  • Upset? These rules are the only valid rules. All other Reading Challenges should call themselves Reading Unchallenges.

    Having said that, given the immenseness and density of the Broch and Musil and so on, I’m going to suggest we read a single haiku. Maybe that Basho poem about the frog. Or a solitary aphorism of la Rochefoucauld. Or a four-word Sappho fragment.

    Just to average things out.

  • Wonderful, Nicole, Elective Affinities is high on my list. Kafka was awe-inspired by Goethe, and this book in particular.

  • Since I made my comment here on the Challenge I have read and totally loved three Henry Green novels (all published in one lovely book by Penquin Press)- Loving, Living, and Party Going-

    Party Going is considered the best of his eight novels

  • BC

    I have that volume of Green and read Loving and Living. Very good indeed. There is something about these folks like Green (manufacturing), Wallace Stevens (insurance), Charles Ives (same), Hermann Broch (textiles) who engage in the most prosaic of business while being real artistic innovators!

  • BC-I think you will like Party Going a lot also-

  • Mel—Amazon has been recommending me the Penguin Classics volume with all three of those for ages. Would you still count it as a challenge even though you’ve finished already? I’d love to try Green.

  • Nicole-I would be happy to reread one of the Green novels along with you if you decide to read it-I really love them-let me know