Summer Book Challenge 2014

When I was little, every summer my town library would have a summer book challenge to keep our young brains from turning to mush from all the sunshine and lack of schooling. Or video games. It might have been video games.

For every book you read, you logged it, and you accumulated points, earning little trinkets like those erasers in the shapes of ice cream cones, or wacky pencils, or puntastic posters. Being the little budding lit nerd I was, I was all over that.

Now, as a grownup, there are less challenges in life. I mean sure, you can strive for a promotion, or a better holiday bonus. You can challenge yourself to finally lose that freshman fifteen from five years ago. Or you can make your own challenge. From taking a photo everyday, or the Couch to 5K program, there are plenty of challenges out there. But here, on BiblioSmiles, we care about challenges of the literary nature.

So, for summer 2014, here’s the 10 Book Challenge that I’m going to attempt to accomplish between June and August. Ten books has us at 3.3 books a month, which may be ambitious depending on the sort of books we choose. But that’s why it’s a challenge! Based on what books you pick, this can either be really difficult or fairly whimsical and easy.

1. A book you always meant to get around to
Ugh, if you’re anything like me, this list is MILES long. Maybe even going across the globe, several times over. Recently, I read both The Book Thief and The Time Traveller’s Wife, which were books that had been sitting on my to-read list for years.

2. Reread a childhood favorite
Another impossible decision. It seems like during our crazy scrambling adult years of struggling for stability, it’s hard to find time for the vestiges of our childhood. So treat yourself. Pick up one of the books that first made your young imagination soar. Last year, I reread The Giver quartet, and prior to that, The Little House on the Prairie series. I’m rereading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt this summer.

3. A book someone else picks for you
As Danielle wrote in her post about Book Con’s book swap, giving someone a book to read is like giving them a glimpse into your soul. The books we adore echo the words that are written on our own hearts. So ask your mother, your boyfriend, your bestie, if they could choose any book for you to read what it would be. My recommendation for you is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, if you don’t know who to ask.

4. A book in a genre you don’t usually read
I love love love fantasy, YA dystopian novels, and historical fiction. Still, I acknowledge that everyone needs a palate cleanser time to time. If you only ate sushi for a month straight, you’d get pretty sick of it. So I’m going to switch it up with a mystery, philosophical fiction, or historical fiction in an era I wouldn’t usually pick.

5. Something originally written in another language
Bonus points if you read it in the original language! I’ve always wanted to read Dante’s Inferno, or Hesiod’s Theogony. It could be a classic like one of those, or you could choose something totally modern. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s A Hundred Years of Solitude, or 19Q4 by the quirky Haruki Murakami are more recent bestsellers written originally in Spanish and Japanese, respectively. I’m reading Le Petit Prince, or the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

6. A book in a different format
If you usually read prose, try a collection of poems or short stories. Maybe a play (and not one assigned by your English teachers, where you have to listen to totally bored students botch iambic pentameter in class). A graphic novel, a comic, or a manga. I have been procrastinating getting around to Watchmen. And my bestie, who’s usually not one for poems, has been devouring the works of Rainier Marie Rilke.

7. A classic
This also counts as a book you always meant to get around to, but probably one that’s going to be a bit more of a challenge. Maybe one of those books you can name drop at parties and sound like a snobby prat. Or just something you’ve heard referenced a million times and want to know what the fuss is all about. I’m going to attempt The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky.

8. A book by your favorite author that you haven’t read yet
Because shame on you if you haven’t fully worshipped all the works by your literary idol. For me, I’m going to finally read either The Graveyard Book or the rest of the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman.

9. A nonfiction book
Although we’re usually fiction-focused here, there are great books being published all the time of the nonfiction variety. How about a biography, a history book, or a theological text? Since my background is in journalism, I can vouch that there are great books by journalists. There’s the classic In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, to The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs, where he tried to literally follow all the rules of the bible.

10. A book either published or a bestseller from the year you were born
Because, why not? Every list needs a wildcard. You can check Wikipedia or Goodreads for lists for your birth year.

Bonus book! 11. A book you haven’t read that was adapted to a movie/TV show
For ideas, check out my post on TV shows based on books. Pick one of your favorite movies and read the source material – there are endless choices. Fight Club? Pride and Prejudice? The Shining? My pick is The Secret Life of Bees by Susan Monk Kidd, which I also have yet to see the movie for.

So, are you going to try the challenge with me? Tell us your book choices in the comments! Happy reading!

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.

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