January RandomCAT -- A New Year's Resolution
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January is the month for new challenges. It's the month that stores advertise fitness products, the gyms are crowded with people turning over a new leaf, brand new schedule books are brought out with bright hopes of an organized year and closets are tidied. And by mid-February, all but the most determined among us are back to comfortable business as usual.
So in keeping with both our tendency to challenge ourselves in the new year and our tendency to have given up/forgotten our plans by February, here's a challenge for January, and only for January, the month where we mysteriously find the desire and impetus for something different.
Read a book that is challenging or intimidating in some way to you. Maybe you were once comfortable reading in another language, but haven't pick up a book in that language for a while. Maybe you find translated novels intimidating, or Nobel Prize winning authors terrifying. Maybe you have wanted to read that giant doorstop of a book that's been lurking on your to-be-read shelf for a few years, but it's always seemed too much of a commitment. Or you have a classic novel or work of serious non-fiction that is on your bucket list, but you have never managed to do more than look at the table of contents.
Pick up that book! It's January, you're ready to attack this year and this is the book that will start your year off with a bang. And the best part is that there's no need to commit to an entire category. You're only reading one book.
Finally, since this is a personal challenge, any book you choose is appropriate. You're the only one who will know if you cheat just a little and count the third book in that series you love. But it's January, so do go with that one book that you find challenging. You know which one it is.
Let us know which book you've chosen and why, and keep us up to date on your progress, so we can cheer you on. And be sure to tell us when you've finished reading that book and what you thought of the experience. And don't forget to congratulate yourself on reading that book!
I'm planning to read, and have even set out on my bedside table, a book I had my husband pick up on his last business trip to Germany. I'll be reading Herkunft by Saša Stanišic, which won the 2019 German Book Prize and people have told me that it's very good. But it's still a substantial-looking book and it's all in German and I haven't read anything in German in three years. So wish me luck!
Oh, good one. Challenges can be big or small. In 2019 my resolution was to do one proper on-my-toes pressup. Not a girly on-my-knees one. And I achieved that in July. Go me! Contrast that with my resolution for 2018, which was "to sort my life out". I suspect I might be going for a pressup book, rather than a sortmylifeout sized book!
Not sure what my 2020 resolution is going to be...
What a good idea! I have several categories of books I have let sit on my shelves for some reason. Sometimes they are just sooo big, other times they got too much publicity, sometimes they were given to me by well meaning friends who loved them and I don't think I will...the list goes on. After I give the TBR a good look, I'll probably be surprised (and alarmed?) at how many are on my shelves that could be used for this Cat.
Hm. This would be the perfect time to finally pick up Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Of course, the problem with January is that I have all of my shiny new Christmas-gift books begging to be read...
I am working on the 1,001 Books To Read Before You Die List and there are a number of authors on that list that I find intimidating - and none more so than William Faulkner. So my challenge will be to read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner in January.
>6 antqueen: Good luck with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I definitely found that a challenging read!
I love this. I'm not sure yet what I'll do. I'm thinking about reading Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. It's big, it's a genre I fear, it's one I have looked at over and over and over again, thinking I want to/should read it but feeling intimidated. (Call me a wimp -- it's not translated and it's not a HUGE book...but the genre is simply outside my comfort zone).
Something else may occur to me but this is my first thought.
>8 EBT1002: - I haven't read it yet either, Ellen. And for some of the same reasons. Which is silly because I've liked every Atwood I've read. I am going to put it on my list for January.
I don't know what possessed me to download a complete set of Mihai Eminescu's poetry (Poezii) in Romanian from Project Gutenberg, but I've just pulled it from my Jar of Fate. It's going to take me a lot more than a month to read, but I'll report my progress at the end of January, and when I eventually finish it (I'm expecting it to take me several months). It must have seemed a good idea at the time (gulp).
>7 DeltaQueen50: and >9 RidgewayGirl: Thanks for the encouragement. I may need it!
I did manage to get through The Sound and the Fury this year, which was another I'd been putting off. And now, as RidgewayGirl mentioned, I can say I'm someone who has read it. Good luck with it!
>12 Jackie_K: That sounds quite daunting. It does make A Portrait of the Artist as as Young Man seem more accessible though...
>13 antqueen: Ha - good luck with that, I think Joyce is a level of dauntingness too far for me! :D
I've read books in Romanian before, but the ones I've read so far have either been in the same subject area as my Romania-based PhD (so I knew a lot of the vocab already), or were side by side with an English version (I've got another book like that, in both languages, lined up for TravelCAT later this year). This is in a bit of a different ballpark though - Eminescu is Romania's Shakespeare or Robert Burns, basically, the national poet/bard, so I felt like I ought to read some, but I'm expecting that my understanding will be much more limited than the other Romanian stuff I've read so far. I'll feel very smug when I've done it though!
>8 EBT1002: - I may join you in reading Oryx and Crake. It's been on my shelf for a couple of years now and I always end up passing it by because for some reason it seems daunting. Probably because it's not my usual genre and I've been hit or miss with Atwood. It's time to stop avoiding this book. :)
If I hadn't read it last year, after years of avoiding it, I would have chosen Lolita for this challenge. But I am thinking of attempting Ulysses by James Joyce. I started it years ago and just couldn't do it. Stream of consciousness is just not my thing! I am thinking it will be more than just a January project though.
>10 RidgewayGirl: and >11 katiekrug:
Kay and Katie, I have liked or loved everything I've ever read by Margaret Atwood so this "intimidation" is clearly irrational. And this first RandomCAT of the year will nudge me over the edge to read it! Yay!
>15 LittleTaiko: and >16 raidergirl3: I can't tell you all how validating it is that I'm not the only reader, and usually a fairly intrepid reader!, who has been a bit intimidated by Oryx and Crake. It sounds like we're going to have a group overcome/read kind of thing (not group therapy -- haha!). I love it.
>18 RidgewayGirl: Well, that is good news. I'm now looking forward to it!
Good topic! That being said, I will need to think about it for a bit...
This is a heaven-sent (well, Kay-sent) opportunity! I have utterly failed in my Russian category in 2019, but here's a reprieve. Thank you, Kay!
Well this sounds a bit daunting and I've been think what I could read. I may join others in Oryx and Crake. The only other Atwood I've read is The Blind Assassin, but I did enjoy it. The other one I'm considering is The Odyssey which is one of those books I always thought I "should" read. A friend in the 75 Challenge thread mentioned there's a new translation and the example she provided made it seem a little more doable. My only issue will be that we'll be going away in Jan so I would have to download it as an ebook, whereas I have Oryx and Crake already in my TBR.
ETA: OH - And I could use it for the ALpha Kit.
I did not anticipate that this theme would result in everyone reading Margaret Atwood. That's wonderful.
>22 MissWatson: Those Russians always look so intimidating, what with their troikas and vodka, but they do tend to be a lot of fun once you get into them. They don't tend to write restrained novels about people living unexciting lives.
>23 dudes22: Enjoy your trip, Betty. This theme is supposed to be a little daunting, so I'm glad you were appropriately daunted, but have a few options.
If I am honest; the book I would have to read here is The Shining by Stephen King. It has been on my TBR pile every year and every year I fail to read it. Lets see, guess I can start another year with that one for January.
I have a pile of big fat biographies that has been awaiting my attention. I will probably read one of those. I am also considering A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, my birthday twin.
For a few years now I've been planning to read The Outsider in French. Now is the time!
I may have to join in with Oryx and Crake as well! Simply because I have been meaning to read it for years.
So, just went to put a hold on it at my library. I was surprised to see that in the whole state of Victoria there are only two copies still on shelf at libraries. All the other copies have been relegated to the stacks. I always find it disappointing that so many great books end up in the stacks and all the fluff stays on the shelves as it is more popular. Nothing wrong with reading books like that but if that is all that is available no one will read anything else. Particularly in the children's section. There is no The Secret Garden, etc. but plenty of Captain Underpants!
Grrr, rant over!
This is a very interesting challenge. I'm torn between reading an author who intimidates me or reading a book outside of my comfort zone. Maybe I will do both!
I'm going to tackle Solomon Gursky Was Here, by Mordecai Richler. I borrowed my parents' rather enormous-looking hardcover edition, and it's been glaring at me from my on-deck pile for months. It will be good to read it and put it in the pile of things I will shuttle to my parents on my next visit.
>34 rabbitprincess: I haven't heard of that book, but it sounds fascinating. On to my Goodreads list it goes!
>26 LadyoftheLodge: Whenever I am pressed to name my 'favorite book'* A Moveable Feast is the one I name. I don't know how many times I have read it.
>30 pamelad: Yay! Glad to know I'm not alone in picking a non-English language book!
>32 clue: The funny thing about those dusty books on the tbr is that more often than not they turn out to be excellent. Here's hoping that 2009-clue's choice in books is good.
*Are we all in agreement that this is a terrible question to put to a reader?
>36 RidgewayGirl: Right behind you on that one. I dread the thought of picking a single favourite. I struggle to limit my favourites to a list of 10. It's like asking a parent to pick their favourite child.
>36 RidgewayGirl:, absolutely hate being asked to name my favorite book
>27 EBT1002: My online reading group is reading the first half of Wilson's translation of the Odyssey in February, so I don't have much option :-)
>40 Robertgreaves: Robert, my mind also goes blank whenever anyone asks what I'm reading now. I start mentally figuring out which of the books currently underway I should mention and then I can't think of a single one.
>41 hailelib: I have had Edward Rutherford's books on my list for so long. I think I am going to have a category in 2021 just for his books as they will definitely be a time investment.
>31 JayneCM: It's a good rant (which just means that I agree).
>36 RidgewayGirl: It's hard for me to imagine a reader asking another reader that question. I have a "favorite book" that I keep in mind for use as a password backup hint question for on line sites, but the books are not like ice cream.
Come to think of it, I have more than one favorite flavor of ice cream, too.
I have a scientist friend who reads Annals of the Former World every other year or so and not much else and is disappointed that I have not read it . I have read and enjoyed John McPhee's shorter works so am sure it will be good...it is just daunting. The book is divided into four smaller books so for January, I am going to work on Book 1.
Well, the first book that I am going to take on, is one that I have been looking at for years, sitting on my shelf, with its predecessors, waiting for me to pick it up. So this must be the time to do it, and it goes perfectly with my ocean theme too! The book: Hell's Aquarium by Steve Alten. I can't wait to start! Thank you. I will update, as soon as I can.
I am hoping to finally read Katherine of Aragon: the True Queen by Alison Weir. She has a series about the 6 wives of Henry VIII and I have 2-4. I've gotten this one from the library twice already and couldn't get to it, so hopefully the third time will be the charm.
This year I'm trying to concentrate on some series that I keep meaning to read, but don't get there. This is one of them. It also meets the AlphaKit criteria.
I'll be reading Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall that I've been meaning to read for a while. This January is her 200th birthday, and I am hosting this book for my RL book club.
Someone suggested The Song of Hiawatha for a classic-I-have-not-read challenge, and I might just do that in January. It'll fit here.
I have officially started Oryx and Crake and have enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Maybe it won’t be as daunting as it seemed.
I've read the first six chapters of Solomon Gursky Was Here. It makes a rather unwieldy bus book, but it's good so far.
>52 LittleTaiko: Oh good. I won't get to it until a bit later in the month as I'm not yet done with Unsheltered and I've started the chunkster The Bone Clocks. Honestly, the latter could also qualify for this challenge as I'm interpreting it but I'm still committed to Oryx and Crake!
(touchstones slow today... I imagine the new year's traffic is glomming up the bandwidth.)
I've finished my first Random CAT of the year, The Light Years, the first book in the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. This has been one of the longest held books on my TBR, it's been there since I joined LT in 2009 and I don't know how long before that. I feel so accomplished!
>55 clue: Congratulations! Last year, I read a book I'd bought during the first year I worked in a bookstore (literally decades ago!) and while I really liked the book, it still felt like quite an accomplishment!
I started reading my Eminescu poetry book yesterday. It's going to take me a good couple of weeks just to get through the enormous introduction (which appears to have hardly any paragraphs, if the first 5 pages are anything to go by!) before I get anywhere near the actual poems. However, I'm happy with how I've been able to more or less follow the introduction so far - I'm reading without a dictionary (as if I used that it would take me all year), and would say I've probably got 60-70% of what's being said, so I'm really pleased with that. I'm pretty sure that % will go down once I reach the poems though! :D
I am reading (well, listening to the audiobook) of The Wings of the Dove by Henry James. I have owned the Kindle book since 2012 but keep putting it off because I don't think that I will like James' writing.
I did it! I finished The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner and although I did struggle somewhat, I didn't hate it and can now understand why Faulkner is revered as a writer.
There's another reading challenge elsewhere I've been trying to do for some years and keep failing to complete. It's simples, should be easy: compile a list of 12 books you intend to read during the next year - but last year I read not one of the books I listed. lol These are all books I want to read. So, nothing intimidating about it but apparently indicating intended reads must offend some sensibility. :P
So, my reading for this month's theme will be to read one of the books on that list. I'm not going to name them all (because that would be self sabotage -lol) the one I'm planning on is The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells as it also fits this month's AlphaKIT.
>63 thornton37814: I'm so pleased you said that! I have a friend who wrote and published a book, and I know she'd love me to read it, but I'm so worried I won't like it. It doesn't help that all her amazon reviews are glowing 5*s! What if I give her her first 2* or 3*?
Actually I am also later this month going to read a book of poetry by my brother-in-law. I'm quite nervous about that too! (his poetry is excellent, but poetry usually makes me feel really thick!)
>63 thornton37814:. I had that a year or two ago. Hate reading friends books because of the "what if".
Just to chime in with unbidden optimism, I have read two novels by my friend Kate Southwood and loved them both. It's hard to tell if I was influenced up, so to speak, by knowing her and holding her in such high regard. Regardless, it is kind of cool to be able to say "I drank Irish whisky in graduate school with someone who can write that beautifully!" *smile*
My word of the year is BOUNDARIES. Setting them, pushing them and seeing them. I promised myself that I would stand up for myself and care less about others' opinions of me.
"Other people's opinions of you are none of your business" - Russell Brand
In keeping with this theme, I am challenging myself and my thinking by reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
While I feel guilty starting another book in the middle of several others, I'm going to try reading Dubliners by James Joyce. I got it for Christmas a year or so ago, and I'm so terrified by the monstrous webs of symbols and ideas that he entwines in his stories that I've been really hesitant to read it. But, I'm going to give it a try. I guess I'm taking the jump... Here goes!
>70 lowelibrary: I started that book a couple of months ago and quit about 1/3 into it. It's a restatement of basic Buddhist thought, packaged for a specific audience. Good stuff and it will help in the boundary-setting territory! I need to return to it...
The Forgotten Explorer / Charles Helm, Mike Murtha (editors)
Samuel Fay was an American hunter who explored the Northern Rocky Mountains (North and West of Jasper, Alberta) over a few years, in 1912, 1913, 1914. His longest trip was 4ish months between the end of June and November, 1914, when he was hunting and collecting wildlife for the US “Biological Review”. The bulk of this book is Fay’s journals while on that trip, though the foreword is someone else’s summary/account of the trip, and there are appendices that include articles Fay wrote about his travels afterward.
I hadn’t realized before starting the book that Fay was a hunter and that was the purpose of his travel. I don’t like hunting. I did enjoy the descriptions, especially of the wildlife; I just kept hoping the next sentence after any wildlife was mentioned wouldn’t be along the lines of “so we shot one (or more)...”. I think I won the book at a conference, and it’s just been sitting here, waiting for me to read it for a while now. It’s not a long book (page-wise), but I was kept from reading it for a long time due to the tiny font in the book! It’s now done and I will donate the book. Overall, I rated it ok.
I have finished L’Étranger! I read it in French when I was at school and am sure I understood a lot more this time, even though my French language skills are not nearly as good.
Back to put in the accent.
>57 VivienneR: Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird was excellent. I'm sorry I waited so long.
I am working my way through The Song of Hiawatha. I'll finish it, but halfway through it's still not a genre I particularly care for...an "epic poem in trochaic tetrameter".
I started The Power this morning. It's not necessarily that the genre(dystopia/science fiction) is intimidating, its just that it's not something I would necessarily look to read. I'm trying to branch out with my reading. So far so good!
I've finished Maid in Waiting the 7th in John Galsworthy's series of the family Forsyte. This has been hanging over me for a while as I felt books 5*6 had got a bit obsessed with Fleur and I'm not sure I like her very much. This was a bit of a departure and Dinny and her family were far more appealing to read about.
I never did take to Fleur but I did like her husband. I hope to start the last trilogy of the Chronicles soon.
I am back from two weeks of travels over the holidays! I am still thinking of A Moveable Feast even more so, since I again visited the Hemingway Home and Museum and had lunch at his fave spot Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West. What a talented and larger than life person he was! A tragic ending to his life too.
>83 hailelib: I agree with you there. It's his family that feature in this book, and they're a much more engaging bunch. I wasn;t looking forward to book 7 if it was yet more Fleur, but I'm now looking forward to book 8 and 9 with more enthusiasm.
>80 jonesli: - I was never a science fiction/dystopian story reader either until the year we had the Sci-fi Cat. It really helped broaden my reading and I found out what I liked and what I didn't. I wouldn't say I read a lot of dystopian fiction, but I do like some of it.
>17 JayneCM: I'll be joining you on (re)attempting Ulysses this month. I've read 3 or 4 chapters for literature classes in high school and college and even bought the Audible edition years ago, thinking that might help, but thus far, it's just not happened. Now, I'm thinking of trying alternating the text and audiobook or even combining them, if that works better. I've liked stream of consciousness in Faulkner and Woolf well enough, and Dubliners was pretty good, so it should be feasible. In theory. Hopefully.
I finished Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry which I am going to count here. I purchased the Kindle edition way back in 2012 and kept avoiding it because of its reputation of a difficult read. I read it!. It is a difficult read but worth it. Reminded me of Ulysses in many ways. One of those books you need to listen to, read text, and have other helps. Wiki was a good source for this book.
I finished Solomon Gursky Was Here for this challenge! It's told in a non-linear style and my particular copy is a heavy hardcover, but it ended up being a very good read. I'm glad this challenge prodded me to finally pick it up!
I finished The Bone Clocks which definitely counts for this challenge. It's a long work of speculative fiction. I ended up giving it four stars and appreciating the themes. The characters and stories (yes, plural) are wonderful!
I'm still planning to read Oryx and Crake for this month's challenge. I will include it in the wiki as well.
And I did it, I finished a book (well, booklet) in Russian. Der Herr aus San Francisco offers Bunin's best-known story in a bilingual edition and I bravely battled a very complicated composition, built of extremely long sequences of participles. I think I need to recapitulate some grammar. Still, it went better than expected.
>94 sallylou61: Thank you! It's been ages since I last read anything longer than a newspaper article.
I finished Poems from a Life by Des Greene. Poetry is something I always feel that I should read but don't generally want to read so it was perfect for this challenge, especially as I already owned the book!
I decided to read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt because it door-stopper size (750+ pages) had me keep pushing it aside and this seemed like a good time to read it. Just the push I needed.
I just finally finished reading Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, our bookclub read for tomorrow night (and both the RandomCAT challenge and BingoDOG). I had started reading that book early last year for a class I planned to take but withdrew following my concussion. I'm a slow reader, and the Hemingway book was long and slow going. It's amazing he could take over 450 pages describing actions and people's feelings spanning less than four days.
>88 pamelad: Thanks for sharing Wilson's review! I've read plenty of appreciations of the novel, and his seems fair enough. Personally, I disagree with his distaste for the parallels with The Odyssey, as that's more or less my favorite part about the novel (both in studying excerpts previously and currently reading it straight through): it's actually far more enjoyable to me to look for parallels in theme, content, and chararacter with Homer's epic than it would be to slog through the minutiae of theoretical people's thoughts without any overarching classical framework. But his point about the dullness at points is definitely one I concur with. (The portrayal of women is also a sticking point with me, but that's more or less to be expected.)
>89 leslie.98: Thus far, I've managed to read through the end of chapter 7 (Aeolus) without the audiobook, and it's been successful enough that I intend to continue just plain reading. But if I get stuck, I'll definitely give the audiobook a try!
I'm just home from lots of travel and am finally choosing books for January...
My hair stylist gave me The Help months ago, and for some reason I have been avoiding it like the plague. It's not a difficult book, but for some reason I pick another book every time, with various mental excuses. Well, I have an appointment with her next week, so my resolution is to read it before I see her!
>103 LisaMorr: I listened to that one on audiobook when I was still driving to work most days. I liked the audio version, and I have the print version too.
>106 EBT1002: I am still waiting for my library hold - hope it hurries up! Do you plan on reading the next books in the series as you rated this one highly?
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