Winter reading challenge

This season, I’m taking part in a Winter Reading Challenge with a variety of friends and acquaintances across the country. The challenge is broken into numerous categories in a shared spreadsheet which I check regularly to see the progress of my competitors/reading-mates. Each category is worth a certain number of points, and the challenge winner gets the big responsibility of choosing an extra category for the Spring Reading Challenge.

These challenges are a wonderful opportunity to expand my reading selections and to see what other people chose for each category. Here’s where I am so far in my reading:

Microhistory (15 points)

On Day 1 of the challenge, I started reading “Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay. As the title suggests, Finlay explores the deep history of a variety of colors like ochre, indigo, and violet. Though I haven’t finished it, I am intrigued by her historical exploration of each color’s cultural history.

Freebie (5 points)

This category is the hardest one to choose a book. It’s the precious elective in a course catalog full of requirements. My decision was made simple because Jenny Erpenbeck’s new book “Go, Went, Gone” became available at the library. I devoured it within a few days and it’s the only book I have finished for the challenge so far. It was amazing. Erpenbeck presents a story of a retired classics professor in contemporary Berlin who begins interviewing migrants and refugees about their lives prior to arriving in Europe and their experiences seeking work and asylum in Germany. Erpenbeck’s straightforward writing style and compelling subjects are quite touching. Overall, not light topics to tackle, but somehow uplifting.

A post-apocalyptic book written by a woman (20 points)

Highly recommended by a colleague here at PPL, I look forward to starting Naomi Alderman’s “The Power about a world in which women have the power to release electrical bolts from their fingertips.

A book about relationships to read with your partner or mentor (30 points)

I’m defining this category broadly (aren’t most books about relationships?) and selected “The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Having started but not finished reading this book a few times, this is a good opportunity to read a highly acclaimed piece of literature and learn more about the experience of the Vietnam War.

If you find yourself in need of suggestions for reading or gifting over this winter season, check out Books For Your Holiday List 2017. 

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