Thursday, January 14, 2010

Books: 100+ Reading Challenge

J. Kaye's Book Blog runs a "100+ Reading Challenge", a challenge to read one hundred (or more) books during the year. Reviews are optional.

I'm going to give it a try. I'll log the books in this post, and if I review them, I'll link to the review. (And the badge, linked to this post, is down at the bottom left of the blog.)


Since I tend to read multiple books at once, I'm going to have three lists here: What I'm thinking of reading, what I'm reading, and what I've read. And just to make it more interesting to me, I'm going to enter start and finish dates.

Under Consideration:
(So I don't forget what I'm thinking of reading.)
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and the other three.
One Man's Garden, and Henry Mitchell's other two books. It's been a few years since I read them all the way through.
The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor.
The Crazy School, by Cornelia Read.
Missing Melinda, by Jacqueline Jackson.
The Midnight Folk, by John Masefield.
The Changeling, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

Pending or In Progress:
American Tales, by Calvin Trillin. Started 4/3

  • 1: Death of an Old Goat, by Robert Barnard (Started ??, Finished 1/17)
  • 2: The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart (Started 1/15, finished 1/21)
  • 3: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, by Robert C. O'Brien (Started 1/17, finished 1/23)
  • (I know, but I like children's books.)
  • 4: The Killings on Jubilee Terrace, by Robert Barnard (Started 1/17, finished 1/29)
  • 5: The Remains of The Dead, by Wendy Roberts. (Started 1/30, finished 1/31)
  • 6: Miss Manners' Guide To A Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, by Judith Martin and Jacobina Martin (Started 2/5, finished 2/9)
  • 7: Something Missing, by Matthew Dicks. Started ??, finished 3/5.
  • 8: A New Leash On Death, by Susan Conant. Started 3/9, finished 3/12.
  • 9. Dead and Doggone, by Susan Conant. Started 3/13, finished 3/13.
  • 10. A Bite of Death, by Susan Conant. Started ??, finished 3/19.
  • 11. Paws Before Dying, by Susan Conant. Not a clue when.
  • 12. The Mirror Crack'd, by Agatha Christie. Stared ~4/1, finished 4/3
  • 13. Elephants Can Remember, by Agatha Christie. Started 4/3, finished ??.
  • 14. There Is A Tide..., by Agatha Christie.
  • 15. Five Red Herrings, by Dorothy Sayers.
  • 16. The Masters of the House, by Robert Barnard. Started 4/24, finished 5/1.
  • 17. Hallowe'en Party, by Agatha Christie. Started 4/30, finished 5/2.
  • 18. The Mousewife, by Rumer Godden. Started 5/3 at 1:00 pm, finished 5/3 at 1:08 pm. I declare that it counts, anyway.
  • 19. Spence at Marlby Manor, by Michael Allen. Finished 5/6.
  • 20. Meet the Austins by Madeline L'Engle. Started 5/3ish, finished 5/9.
  • 21. Shattered Silk, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 5/12.
  • 22. The Murder At The Vicarage, by Agatha Christie. Finished 5/15.
  • 23. The Thoughtful Dresser, by Linda Grant. Started 5/14, finished 5/15.
  • 24. Funerals are Fatal, by Agatha Christie. Started 5/15.
  • 25. The Language of Bees, by Laurie R. King. Finished 5/29.
  • 26. Postern of Fate, by Agatha Christie. Finished 5/29 or so.
  • 27. The Terrible Tide, by Alisa Craig. Finished 5/30 or so.
  • 28. Suddenly, In Her Sorbet, by Joyce Christmas. Finished 5/31.
  • 29. Vanish With The Rose, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 6/5.
  • 30. Simply to Die For, by Joyce Christmas. Finished 6/6.
  • 31. A Fete Worse Than Death, by Joyce Christmas. Finished 6/9.
  • 32. Wait For What Will Come, by Barbara Michaels. Finished ~ 6/16.
  • 33. Friend or Faux, by Joyce Christmas. Finished 6/21.
  • 34. Blanche On The Lam, by Barbara Neely. Started and finished 6/26.
  • 35. Dust, by Martha Grimes. Finished 6/27.
  • 36. Smoke and Mirrors, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 7/5.
  • 37. The Winds Of Change, by Martha Grimes. Finished 7/5.
  • 38. Search the Shadows, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 7/6.
  • 39: The Love Talker, by Elizabeth Peters. Finished 7/7.
  • 40. House of Many Shadows, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 7/8.
  • 41. Prince of Darkness, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 7/10.
  • 42. Witch, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 7/10.
  • 43. The Skeleton In The Grass, by Robert Barnard. Finished 7/11.
  • 44. Stuff, by Frost and Steketee.
  • 45. The Time Travelers, by Linda Buckley-Archer
  • 46. The Time Thief, by Linda Buckley-Archer.
  • 47. Green Trigger Fingers, by John Sherwood.
  • 48. The Pavilion, by Hilda Lawrence. Finished 7/30.
  • 49. The Mantrap Garden, by John Sherwood. Finished 8/6.
  • 50. Women Who Eat, edited by Leslie Miller. Finished 8/7.
  • 51. Street of the Five Moons, by Elizabeth Peters. Finished 8/9.
  • 52. Menacing Groves, by John Sherwood. Finished 8/15.
  • 53. A Bouquet of Thorns, by John Sherwood.
  • 54. Flowers of Evil, by John Sherwood.
  • 55. The Greengage Summer, by Rumer Godden. Finished Labor Day weekend.
  • 56. Jumper, by Steven Gould. Finished Labor Day weekend.
  • 57. Storm Front, by Jim Butcher. Finished Labor Day weekend.
  • 58. The Dancing Floor, by Barbara Michaels. Finished Labor Day weekend.
  • 59. The Velvet Room, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 
  • 60. Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher.
  • 61. Black Rainbow, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 9/19.
  • 62. The Wizard's Daughter, by Barbara Michaels.
  • 63. Wildside, by Steven Gould. Finished 9/26.
  • 64. Patriot's Dream, by Barbara Michaels. Finished 9/28.
  • 65. Add A Pinch of Cyanide, by Emma Page. Finished 10/5.
  • 66. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. Finished 10/6.
  • 67. Death Calls The Tune, by M. D. Lake. Finished around 10/13.
  • 68. The Forest For The Trees, by Betsy Lerner. Finished around 10/18.
  • 69. Death Masks, by Jim Butcher. Finished 11/19.
  • 70. A Stranger In The Family, by Robert Barnard. Finished 11/19.
  • 71. Shattered Silk, by Barbara Michaels. I know I already read it this year, but I re-read it from beginning to end, so I'm counting it again. So there.
  • 72. Clouds of Witness, by Dorothy Sayers.
  • 73. The Monster In The Box, by Ruth Rendell.
  • 74. On Writing, by Stephen King.
  • 75. The Skull Beneath The Skin, by P.D. James. Finished 12/18.
  • 76. A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore. Finished 12/22.
  • 77. Not In The Flesh, by Ruth Rendell. Finished 12/26.
Observation Log:

Sometime: Speaking of children's books, I'm thinking of tacking on a personal challenge of some kind. I love children's books, but haven't read most of the really good ones published since I was a child. I could, of course, just include a bunch in the 100+, but given that even a children's chapter book can generally be knocked off in a couple of hours, making my list too children's-book-heavy feels a little bit like cheating. But I'm not quite ready to read 100+ adult books plus 100+ children's books.

I'll have to think that over.

3/5: Seven books by 3/5? That's ten books behind! Could I possibly have read that little, or am I failing to log things?

I suspect that this is a reflection of my habit of re-reading a few chapters of a book and then putting it down. In the past few days alone, I've read a good chunk of two Elizabeth Peters books, two Charlotte Macleods, one Robert Barnard, one Calvin Trillin, one Judith Martin (in addition to the full book listed above) and one Henry Mitchell. But I didn't start at the beginning or read all the way through to the end, so they don't count.

3/6: A post puzzling over why I'm not reading more.

4/1: Why read all those Susan Conants? I don't even like dogs. I suspect that it's just to read something thoroughly unchallenging.

But I may have found a better re-entry into reading: Agatha Christie. I just picked up The Mirror Cracked, and I was smiling from the first paragraph. I'd forgotten how tightly plotted her mysteries are - they're worth repeated re-reading, if only to see how all threads lead to the end.

So the new theory is to return and re-read my favorites of the classics. Agatha Christie - the Miss Marple and Mrs. Oliver mysteries; Poirot and I never got along. Dorothy Sayers - almost the only writer whose short stories I really like; I usually only read people's novels. Ngaio Marsh. I'll see what comes after that.


4/18: Fourteen percent of the year's books read, almost thirty percent of the year gone. Must Read Faster!

I'm tempted to pick up enough old favorite children's books to get myself where I should be right now in terms of book count, which is... um... well, yeah, thirty books, or sixteen more books than I've read so far

Rumer Godden's The Doll's House and The Fairy Doll and Impunity Jane and The Story of Holly and Ivy and Home Is The Sailor and Miss Happiness and Miss Flower and Little Plum.

And The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. And Harriet The Spy. And A Wrinkle In Time and the sequels. And The Borrowers. And A Cricket In Times Square. And The Changeling, and there are a lot of other Zilpha Keatley Snyder books that I've never read.

And Abel's Island and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and everything else by Roald Dahl. And The Light Princess. And Rabbit Hill. And The Saracen Lamp and Candle In Her Room and After Candlemas and Portrait of Margarita and everything else by Ruth M. Arthur.

Sounds like I wouldn't have any trouble finding sixteen. Cheating? Yes. But I'd enjoy it.

5/31: Well, this is encouraging - three books in three days. That's how it's supposed to go.

And also disconcerting - I almost forgot to log two out of three. Is my count low?

Ah, well. Send more books!

9/26: Wow. I really seem to like Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters. She represents thirteen entries so far, and I still have two more to read.

10/17: Puzzlement. I can't believe that I read only one book between 10/6 and 10/13, but I can't recall reading any more. I wonder how many books might be missing from the year's list?

11/19: Well, I'm less puzzled, but my book count isn't going up as a result. For the last month and a half, I've gone back to my old book-grazing habits, reading bits and pieces of all sorts of books, most of them books I've already read. So I'm reading constantly, but adding nothing to my tally. That may or may not improve - on the one hand, I'm off for Thanksgiving week. On the other hand, we're in NaNoWriMo. So we'll just see.

12/6: So, I'm at 73. On December 6. So to get to 100+, I'd have to read more than a book a day. I rather doubt that that's going to happen. But I'll keep reading, to give me a score to beat next year.


  1. ohh 100 books in a year... what does that work out to in a month? 8 or so books? that means two books a week. I have been struggling through this social change 2.0 and History of the Middle Ages since the holiday. I guess I would need to change my material. Or supplement with comic books perhaps.

  2. Yep, a tiny bit over two books a week. And we're two weeks in! (Eep!)

    And there will be no reading in November, I'd guess. :)

  3. yeey! I'm so glad you decided to join. :)
    I already reached 5 books - but it's only the beginning. And I'm lucky in the summer, I have a 3 week vacation and I'm usually able to read some 15 books.
    I'm looking forward to seeing what you read.

  4. You're ahead of me at 5. I've finished some since the first, but I can't clearly remembered when I started them. I took myself to the library and the bookstore, so I'm stocked up for a little while now. :)

  5. I have been wanting to join a book club ever since I moved to Santa Fe, as a way of meeting people, y'know?
    But so far I can't figure out how to find one!
    Maybe this will suffice.
    I'm off to check the blog to see what the reading list would be. 2 books per week might be a bit tough for me - I might be able to manage 50 per year though ;) Thanks for the heads up on this (even tho' I'm woefully late to the start)

  6. You're welcome. :) I'm getting further and further behind; I must occasionally get off the computer.

  7. Hows it coming now? I made it to the required 25 by the end of march and haven't read a thing since!!!! This is harder than I thought it was going to be. Maybe I'll read something tonight. The problem is I got the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys series on dvd (from 1977) and I'm addicted to this campy thing so its taking up a lot of reading time!

  8. I'm waaaaaaay behind. I only have twelve, which means that I have to read roughly one book every three days to make the 100.

    I knocked off an Agatha Christie in two days, and I have three more Christies and a Dorothy Sayers lined up, so I may start closing the gap. Slowly.

    One rule that I'm making is: No puttering with my phone. Web browsing at home on an actual computer is all very well; web browsing or checking Twitter on the phone is no fun at all, and I could be reading instead. But there's something about the imaginary interactivity (it's not really interactive, because I never post or tweet or email from the phone) that seems to be addictive.

  9. You know, I recently downgraded my phone from a blackberry to a normal phone. My internet and email addiction has been cut in half. I also go for whole minutes now without wondering where my phone is or if I got an email or update. One day I left my phone on vibrate in my purse by accident and didn't check it the entire afternoon. I missed 2 calls. Amazingly, I survived and so did the callers. There is a lesson in here somewhere :) Good for you!

  10. ps. patricia wentworth is in the same vein as agatha christie, dorothy sayers. Not quite as procedural as ngaio marsh. Quick reads too. The protagonist is Miss Silver, who is Miss Marple, pretty much. Also, I highly highly recommend the more modern Inspector Lynley (E. George) series if you haven't read them if you like the police procedural type mysteries. If I hadn't read them all already they'd all be on my list. Also easy but entertaining (and different) reads are the Martha Grimes Emma Graham Series. The first novel there is Hotel Paradise (have to read in order) an it really is a very good read I think, and quick! Just different for the genre. Its one of the few series (I get bored) that I wish the author would publish a 4th book.

  11. Jess! I missed your comments until now, I'm sorry.

    All of your book suggestions are fabulous, except that I've read (and loved) most of them. :) Which means, if you see what I mean, that I'd probably like any others that you suggest, so, got any others? :)

    On the phone, yes, a phone with fewer features would probably get me to cut down on the temptation to use the Internet while I'm out. Of course, now I'm eyeing iPads, so I may be doomed. :)

  12. okay, how about "the beekeeper's apprentice' (King). That was a good one.

    And I just read "Lumby Lines"(Fraser), it is flawed plotwise however the atmosphere of small time life springs from the page, and its a 1 night read.

    One of my favorite books of all time is Devil in the White City. I want to WRITE a book like this.

  13. Howdy! I read and loved the King Holmes ones, too. :) But I haven't read the other two - I've looked at the cover of Devil in the White City many times, but for some reason never picked it up. I will now.

  14. Commenting on my own post: So, I'm at 73. On December 6. So to get to 100+, I'd have to read more than a book a day. I rather doubt that that's going to happen. But I'll keep reading, to give me a score to beat next year.

  15. I faaaaailed! Ah, well. I promptly run over and sign up for the 2011 challenge.