Friday, May 30, 2014

Challenge Update

So back in January, I announced that I planned to take part in two challenges for 2014, the History Challenge: A Sail to the Past, and the Reduce the TBR Mountain Challenge (which I sorely needed, since I have tons of unread books lying everywhere, including on my e-reader). My friend Courtney J. Hall called me crazy—and she was right. But since it’s now more than a third of the way through the year, how have I done?

On the History Challenge, I passed seven books (the Historian level) ages ago, although I have not gone much beyond that due to other commitments, mostly interviews and my efforts to get The Winged Horse ready for publication (stay tuned for the announcement: it’s now less than two weeks away). These seven books were:

1. Stephen M. Norris and Willard Sunderland, Russia’s People of Empire: Life Stories from Eurasia, 1500 to the Present
2. Nancy Shields Kollmann, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia
3. Bernard Bailyn, The Barbarous Years
4. John Keegan, The Face of Battle
5. Ian Mortimer, The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England
6. Elizabeth Kendall, Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer
7. Christine Ezrahi, Swans of the Kremlin: Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia

I also read John Keegan’s Soldiers: A History of Men in Battle; John A. Lynn’s Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe; Barbara Mertz’s Red Land, Black Land; and at least three books in Russian that qualify as history but aren’t readily searchable on GoodReads or, so I left them out of the challenge list.

For the Reduce the TBR Mountain challenge, I had set a level of 24 books (Mont Blanc). The seven books listed above, plus Keegan’s Soldiers and Lynn’s book on women and warfare, all count for the TBR challenge, giving me nine books going in. In addition to those, I have read:

10. Tasha Alexander, Behind the Shattered Glass
11. Jason Goodwin, The Janissary Tree
12. Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
13. Bernard Cornwell, The Death of Kings
14. JJ Marsh, Raw Material
15. Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Painted Girls
16. Deanna Raybourn, Silent in the Grave
17. Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

And I am about a quarter of the way through Silvia di Natale’s wonderful Kuraj, about a girl from the steppe who is sent to Germany—why remains unclear.

So one-third of the year down, and 1.75 challenges completed. If the six books I read for interviews counted (but they don’t, because most are advance review copies), I’d be done by now.

Either I really am crazy, or I love to read—I suspect it’s a bit of both!

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