Sunday, January 27, 2008

CHALLENGE: A Year of Reading Dangerously

The Officially Dangerous Titles, hosted at Estella's revenge

January: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (since Estella is our namesake)
February: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (African American)
March: Cat's Eye, by Margaret Atwood (Atwood for Atwood's sake)
April: Transformations, by Anne Sexton (Poetry)
May: Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote (Southern)
June: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (Russian)
July: The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (adolescent)
August: Maus I and II, by Art Spiegelman (Graphic Novel, Pulitzer winner)
September: The Secret Lives of People in Love, by Simon Van Booy (Independent)
October: The Human Stain, by Philip Roth (Contemporary/Jewish)
November: A Month of Classic Short Stories, Various - watch for a list
December: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (Dusty)

Why Not?

January: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: I want to read a Dickens, I have A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver, but maybe not in January
February: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison I really don't like Morrison, and I think I've read this one already, years ago, when I believed Oprah about books
March: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood I've read Cat's Eye, but I like Atwood and have others of hers to read.
June: Lolita by Nabokov I just finished Lolita
October: The Human Stain by Philip Roth I've read The Human Stain. Didn't like it at all.

My Official List of Reading Dangerously:
I'd like to try a combination of the official list and my adaptations

January: A Tale of Two Cities or Oliver to be read sometime during the year
February: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines (African American)
March: Oryx and Crake by Atwood
April: Unsettled by Zachariah Wells (poetry)
May: Other Voices, Other Rooms by Capote (or some other Capote)
June: something Russian (are there any short Russian books?)
July: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (adolescent)
September: The Secret Lives of People in Love
October: American Pastoral or The Plot Against America by Roth (Contemporary/Jewish)
November: classic short stories
December: The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck


  1. Does your Russian selection have to be by a Russian author? Or can it be about Russia? I read The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland last year. It was about an archivist during Stalin's era who decided to hide a famous writer's manuscript that was due to be burned. Stalin killed a lot of Russian authors and artists during his reign. He was a nut job. Anyway, the story was fascinating and had a lot of suspense - and was short!

    Here is my review of the book if you're interested.

    Happy Sunday!

  2. I joined this challenge too. I thought it would be run to read along with other bloggers. Of course, I actually skipped Great Expectations because I've read it twice already!! Right now, I'm trying to wade throught Dicken's Bleak House!

  3. jill - I'm not sure. I'm reading House of Meetings right now which is set in a Russian gulag. I'm assuming it's by a Russian. But short sounds good!

    stephanie - I think the back end of the challenge is what I want to do most, but hopefully I'll get the first few read too.

  4. If you're looking for a short Russian book, I would recommend Pnin, by Vladimir Nabokov. I struggle with Russian fiction much of the time, and some don't even consider Nabokov a truly "Russian" writer because he wrote in English, but...

    Anyway, I loved Pnin because it was brief, funny, and Pnin himself was wonderfully quirky.

    Thanks for joining us for the challenge!

  5. When did you stop believing Oprah? I started to early in this century, but the Frey debacle finished the job.

  6. andi - thanks, it looks like a fun challenge, and I'll look for some short Nabokov

    bybee - After the third incest, depressing book, I wasn't sure, but the couple of Morrison books I tried did me in. I just don't get them. By the Frey debacle, do you mean him and his book, or Oprah's treatment of him?

  7. I really liked One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich which is short, but it's set in a gulag as well so I don't know if you'd want to read about that again.

    Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie is not short, but it is truly fascinating. It's about the last czar, his son's hemophilia, and the Russian Revolution. Excellent book.

  8. Meant to add that I'm glad you're doing this, too! It'll be fun to compare notes.

  9. michelle - thanks for the rec - I'll try another gulag, even just to compare and I'd like to try one by an authors I've heard of, like Solzhenitsyn, or Nabokov again.
    I read a Nicklaus and Alexandra book when I was much younger that was very long but very interesting. I'm not sure of the author.
    Oh, I knew I'd join; I hate to think I am missing out on something.:) I thought it was going to be hard to find Maus, since it is lost at the library, but then I found it in my school library, so I can borrow it for the summer.
    The comparing is half of the fun of these challenges.


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