Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Off The Shelf Challenge: October/The End

Well, I've decided to stop participating in The Off The Shelf Challenge. This is very unlike me - I will usually stick out a challenge or whatever until I'm curled up in a ball at the end of it, sobbing and exhausted and (supposedly) victorious.

But the older I get, the more I realize that sometimes, it's okay to quit. It's okay to stop doing something that no longer makes me happy. (See The Year of Yes post.)

And that's what happened with the OTS Challenge. Don't get me wrong - I think it's a great idea and I'm happy - as are my bookshelves and TBR list - that I did as much of it as I did. The problem was that over the last couple of months, it started to feel like homework. I started choosing books based on how long they were, could I knock it out in a week, add to my count, etc. instead of choosing books I wanted to read, ones that I was in the mood for. I let the Challenge suck the joy out of one of my most favorite things - reading.

So, while this will be the last Progress Report post, I'll still do a monthly Recommendations post, mostly because I love to talk up books I enjoy.

Did you all enjoy the mini reviews? Would you like to see something a little different in those kinds of posts? Have you all read anything that blew you away this past month?

[And just because I can't quite let myself off the hook, I did a count and realized that although I read 33 Challenge books start to finish, I actually started - then put down - 20 others. So, technically, 53 Challenge books were involved and since my goal was 50 books . . . hmm, no I guess not. Sigh. Let it go . . . ] 

October - 
Challenge Books Read: 4
Non-Challenge Books Read:  3

Year to Date - 
Challenge Books Read:  33
Non-Challenge Books Read:  28
Total Books Read:  61

Standouts in October:

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti - this is another of those books that I wish I'd read earlier.  Regular readers of this blog know I lean toward dark fiction. This book isn't exactly "light," -  Ren, an orphan who is missing one hand, is adopted by Benjamin Nab. Ren thinks he's found a family. And he has . . . but not quite in the way he thinks. But there's a depth here of heart and love and even humor, all delivered in an oddball cast of characters not easily forgotten. (I still can't get giant, murderer-for-hire Dolly out of my mind!) I also enjoyed the writing style - Tinti has a way of showing who these characters are in such small subtle ways and that are so much more telling than big grand actions.

The Floor of the Sky by Pamela Carter Joern - in the Nebraska Sandhills, Toby - a tough old widow - struggles to hold onto not only her land but also her secrets. When her pregnant teenage granddaughter, Lila, visits, the past and the present collide, taking down more than one person whom Toby loves. One of the things I enjoyed about this novel was the writing style - you would think the clean sharp prose would somehow minimize the complex emotions at the heart of this story when, in fact, it does the opposite - it heightens them, brings them out, shines a light on all the angles and edges and in all the dark corners, and makes the reader feel them even more. 

7 comments:

Nick Wilford said...

It's OK to quit things if it's not working out. You did really well. No, reading definitely shouldn't be a chore!

Tara Tyler said...

i get that completely!
you did awesome with over 60 books! and i know you will still keep reading. you're a winner for trying that tough challenge in my book (ha!)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Nick - I knew I was in trouble when I started feeling like a kid who HAD to read a book and write a report on it. :)

Tara - ha! I'm definitely going to keep reading - it's like breathing to me, honestly! - and I usually keep track of how many and what ones I read over the year anyway. The only difference is that now I won't feel guilty about choosing books not on the list. :)

Lisa said...

Good for you, setting priorities and saying "no" if it's not working for you! I'm applauding!

And yes, I love your reviews, because it puts books in my universe I may not have otherwise read. Thank you! :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Lisa - I'm so glad you enjoy the mini reviews! I only do it for books I really liked/loved and think others would enjoy, too. If I liked it well enough but it didn't blow me away, or if didn't care for it, then I don't do a review.

Jillian Schmidt said...

I definitely understand your difficult decision. I'm currently on the fence about Off the Shelf myself (he). Right now I'm still going for it even though I'm sooo behind, but I might be returning to this post in a week or two to find the strength to quit if it gets to be too much :-D. And I love your recommendations - The Good Thief sounds like just my style!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Jillian - do what works for you. This post will be here if you need it. :) And definitely check out THE GOOD THIEF!