01 January 2008

The 888 Reading Challenge with a Twist

I didn’t originally intend to sign up for this challenge, as I never know in advance what books I’ll get to read each year; it all depends on the availability at the Bookfest and the library. But then it occurred to me that I could put my own spin on it: instead of a list of books I must read, I could compose a list of books I will read if at all possible and let serendipity take care of the rest. If I can track them down, great; if I can’t, it doesn’t matter. A pressure-free challenge with the added fun of testing fate!

1. The Collections
Books composed of short stories

Cat-o-Nine Tails - Jeffrey Archer
The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke
Ghost Stories - Charles Dickens
In a Glass Darkly - J. Sheridan le Fanu
Life’s Little Ironies - Thomas Hardy
Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman
Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman
Waifs and Strays - Charles de Lint

2. Eighteen Hundred and Something
Books that have withstood the test of time

Shirley - Charlotte Brontë
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
She - H. Rider Haggard
Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
The Aspern Papers - Henry James
Indiana - George Sand
The Way We Live Now - Anthony Trollope

3. A Little Light Reading
Books that are fun to read

Welcome to Temptation - Jennifer Crusie
The Big Over-Easy - Jasper Fforde
Lola Carlyle Reveals All - Rachel Gibson
Under the Greenwood Tree - Thomas Hardy
Austenland - Shannon Hale
Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome
The Man with Two Left Feet - P. G. Wodehouse
The Trials of Tiffany Trott - Isabel Wolff

4. Next, Please
Books that are next in a series or sequence

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
Seeing Redd - Frank Beddor
The Angel of Darkness - Caleb Carr
Venus in Copper - Lindsay Davis
Cat in a Midnight Choir - Carole Nelson Douglas
Voyager - Diana Gabaldon
Rosa and the Veil of Gold - Kim Wilkins
To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis

5. The Rest of the World
Books set in the past of a country outside Britain

Shogun - James Clavell (1600s Japan)
Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood (1900s Australia)
Imperium - Robert Harris (100s BC Rome)
Jerusalem - Cecelia Holland (1100s and guess where?)
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry (1800s America)
The Honest Courtesan - Margaret Rosenthal (1500s Italy)
Perfume - Patrick Süskind (1700s France)
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (WW2 Germany)

6. Screen First, Page Second
Books I’ve seen an adaptation of

Bleak House - Charles Dickens
A Room with a View - E. M. Forster
The Quiet American - Graham Greene
Runaway Jury - John Grisham
Seabiscuit - Laura Hillenbrand
Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman
The Cider House Rules - John Irving
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters

7. Things that Go Bump in the Night
Books that are mysterious, spooky, or just plain weird

Every Dead Thing - John Connolly
Neuromancer - William Gibson
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
The Boys from Brazil - Ira Levin
Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast - Mervyn Peake
Titus Alone - Mervyn Peake
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

8. We Meet at Last
Books I’ve been wanting to read for ages

Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Euginedes
The Crimson Petal and the White- Michel Faber
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
Northern Lights (a.k.a The Golden Compass) - Philip Pullman
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776