Reading Challenges and Life Challenges

A few of weeks ago I read a post about the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge.  I had read about at the beginning of the year as well, being a dedicated Book Riot reader.  I’d not committed to participating in the challenge, but for some reason, the new post intrigued me.  Maybe it was the pretty printable PDF list with all the categories, maybe it was the thought of putting the completion badge on my blog.  Whatever the reason, I printed out the list and started marking off the tasks I had completed without trying to, in the course of my normal reading this year.

Turns out I’d already completed slightly over half of the tasks – it helps that one title can function for more than one task.  So I said, Yes!  I think I can do this!  I even made a list of books that would fit each of the remaining tasks.  There are some interesting categories, like “a book that is a retelling of a classic story,” and “a book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ.”  I suspected that the one task that might give me a problem would be the “read a book published before 1850” one – I’ve read all of Austen, and thought perhaps Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens would be a good choice.  But classics usually take me longer to read, so I wondered if I could get it done by the end of the year – and still do all the other reading I want to do!

I was gung-ho for a few days, ordering a copy of This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald from the library (task: read a book written by an author under the age of 25.)  Then things got wonky with my family – my mother’s husband had been ill for a long time and took a turn for the worse.  My son went through a stretch of poor sleep as well, and suddenly I was just too darn tired to contemplate having to complete reading challenges.

I love the idea of expanding your normal reading to include things you might not automatically reach for.  I’m all for stretching oneself.  But sometimes life inserts itself into one’s plans, and a reading challenge is something I just don’t have the heart or energy for.  Life has provided enough challenges lately.

My stepfather passed away on Sunday night.  We were not close, but my mother loved him dearly, and I love her dearly, so this week has been really hard.  So many decisions to be made, so many things to do, so many complicated emotions to process.  My mom’s now facing a totally new life, alone, and I’m her only immediate family in the United States (her sister is in Ireland.)  So I am her main support.

Last weekend I’d begun two novels, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies and Mat Johnson’s Loving Day.  I had planned on reading and writing about Loving Day for the Diversiverse  blogging event organized by Aarti at Booklust.  I still have until the 18th to post, so hopefully I’ll get my reading done.  Things are so topsy-turvy in my world right now, I need to receive the respite that reading can provide. As soon as I post this, I’m heading to my book!

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10 thoughts on “Reading Challenges and Life Challenges

  1. I’m sorry for your mother’s loss. That’s a tough time for everyone involved, I hope you take it easy and get some (mental and physical) rest. Reading is such a good way to get away for a little while and give you a breath of fresh air.
    If you want something older than 1850 AND short, you could try Candide by Voltaire.
    What book did you think of in the category “a book that is a retelling of a classic story”?

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    1. Thank you so much. Candide is a good recommendation, I’ve never read it. I think for the retelling I was possibly going to do Alexander McCall Smith’s version of Emma.

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear that. Sorry I didn’t read this sooner. Life has been getting in the way of my routine. Hope you and are family are coping, and my thoughts and well wishes are with you.

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