Challenges - the good, the bad and why I won't be joining any in 2011

Image from We Heart Books
Its that time of year again. Everyone will be joining up to all the various challenges that are being hosted throughout the blogosphere and getting ready for the year ahead.

This year, though, I won't be one of the crowd.

I have decided to take a different path to the masses and I wanted to share why.

What do I expect from reading?

I expect a lot of things from my reading.

I want to learn from what I read. I want explore new genres and increase my broader knowledge of the literary world. I want to explore new ideas and different realities. I want my reading to be a process of discovery.

Why didn't you get that in challenges?

Last year I started many reading challenges, all of which I completed some time ago (you can see which one's I participated in here, although the page is out of date). Some of the challenges I participated in (like the Bibliopiliac Challenge) I needed to make an effort to complete and others (like the Classics Challenge) I would have met the requirements of whether I was participating in the challenge or not.

The result of course is that I have been left dissatisfied. None of the challenges really challenged me in an special way and I definitely haven't learnt anything from them. 

The challenges I found were all about quantity. Meeting a particular number of books to complete certain levels. They were things like reading classics, ebooks, new authors etc.

All of these a great ways to challenge yourself - but not quite 'weighty' enough for what I wanted. They didn't satisfy my urge to learn and explore literature. It was too much about quantity and not enough about quality.

So what will you be doing instead?

This year, I have decided that if I really want to explore literature I need to think about what areas of literature I am interested in learning about and make an effort to read them.

There will be no time limits.

There will be no sign up dates.

There will be no levels to complete.

It will just be me reading to learn and explore.

I am calling these my:

Reading Projects!

There are several reading projects that I am going to dedicate my self to next year (in fact I have already started one of them).

Early science fiction

I really enjoyed reading The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham and Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, so I have decided that I am going to explore more of these early works of science fiction. I am giving myself a very broad range, from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century. I am really looking forward to this.

Series

There are so many series of books that I haven't read or I have read some and not all of them, so I am going to work on them. I like a good series. I think that there is something special about being able to create a character or characters but be able to keep them fresh and new with each story. Here are some of the series I will looking at:
  • Tarquin Hall - The man who died laughing etc
  • Jasper Fforde - finish the thursday next series
  • John Marsden - finish the tomorrow when the war began series
  • Jean M Auel - finish the earth's children series
  • Kerry Greenwood - start the Corinna Chapman series and read some more phryne fisher
  • Alexander McCall Smith - more detective lady series

 I might finish the Twilight series just because I started it, but we will see.

Crime fiction

I have mostly dismissed crime fiction as a little bit trashy, which a lot of the modern crime fiction is. But there is whole world of crime fiction out there that isn't - Raymond Chandler (I just finished the long goodbye), Dashiell Hammett and Peter Temple to name a few. So am going to explore this genre - I think it deserves more credit that it receives.

In Summary

This is my plan for 2011 and I put a disclaimer here that my Reading Projects might change, disappear, grow or their may be additions. That's the whole point - I read to escape reality for a little while, but also for something much deeper and that is what I am going to focus more on this year.

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