C is for Challenges

C is for Challenges. Or for Century (by Ray Smith). Or for Christie, Agatha (The Mysterious Affair at Styles).

On the third day of My Twelve Days of Challenges, I’m chatting about the A to Z Reading Challenge.

Originally I’d planned only to complete this one if I could do so accidentally. But November rolled around and I was only missing 2 books.

As you likely know, if you’ve attempted this before, the bulk of the letters can be completed fairly quickly. (I was at 43/52 on April 30/10.) But…the remaining letters are obstinate. And I found two of them particularly so.

Anne of Ingleside (by L.M. Montgomery, novel, January 2010)
Bondwoman’s Narrative, The (by Hannah Crafts, novel, February 2010)
Century (by Ray Smith, novel, February 2010)
Down a Dark Hall (by Lois Duncan, YA novel, January 2010)
Ethel Wilson (by Desmond Wilson, literary criticism, February 2010)
Fall on Your Knees (by Ann-Marie MacDonald, novel, March 2010)
Generation X (by Douglas Coupland, novel, February 2010)
Hetty Dorval (by Ethel Wilson, novel, January 2010)
Innocent Traveller, The (by Ethel Wilson, novel, February 2010)
Jade Peony, The (by Wayson Choy, novel, February 2010)
Kappa Child, The (by Hiromi Goto, novel, May 2010)
Liza’s England (by Pat Barker, novel, March 2010)
Making Conversation (by Christina Longford, February 2010)
Necessary Secrets (by Elizabeth Smart, Journals, February 2010)
On the Side of the Angels (by Elizabeth Smart, Journals, February 2010)
Poor Caroline (by Winifred Holtby, January 2010)
Queen of the Tambourine (by Jane Gardam, novel, November 2010)
Rainbow Valley (by L.M. Montgomery, novel, January 2010)
So this is the world and here I am in it (by Di Brandt, essays, March 2010)
To Bed with Grand Music (by Marghanita Laski, novel, March 2010)
Unit, The (Ninni Holmqvist, novel in translation from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, March 2008)
Venous Hum (by Suzette Mayr, novel, November 2010)
White Woman on the Green Bicycle, The (by Monique Roffey, novel, April 2010)
Except the Dying (by Maureen Jennings, novel, July 2010)
You COMMA Idiot (by Doug Harris, novel, September 2010)
Z for Zachariah (by Robert C. O’Brien, YA novel, February 2010)

Atwood, Margaret (Negotiating with the Dead, essays, January 2010)
Baszile, Jennifer (The Black Girl Next Door, memoir, February 2010)
Christie, Agatha (The Mysterious Affair at Styles, novel, January 2010)
Dickner, Nicolas (Nikolski, novel in translation by Lazer Lederhendler, January 2010)
Endicott, Marina (Good to a Fault, novel, February 2010)
Ferris, Joshua (The Unnamed, novel, April 2010)
Gunnars, Kristjana (The Rose Garden, cross-generic prose, March 2010)
Hurston, Zora Neale (Jonah’s Gourd Vine, novel, February 2010)
Ihimaera, Witi (The Whale Rider, novel, December 2010)
Jones, Sadie (Small Wars, novel, April 2010)
Kaufman, Andrew (The Waterproof Bible, novel, April 2010)
Livesay, Dorothy (Journey With My Selves, autobiography, January 2010)
Marshall, Paule (Brown Girl, Brownstones, novel, February 2010)
Nixon, Joan Lowery (The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore, January 2010)
Ostenso, Martha (Wild Geese, novel, March 2010)
Panter-Downes, Mollie (Good Evening, Mrs. Craven, stories, May 2010)
Quick, Matthew (Sorta Like a Rock Star, YA novel, December 2010)
Robertson, Ray (Moody Food, novel, February 2010)
Smart, Elizabeth (Autobiographies, February 2010)
Tyler, Anne (Noah’s Compass, novel, February 2010)
Urquhart, Jane (L.M. Montgomery biography, January 2010)
Vassanji, M.G. (The Book of Secrets, novel, March 2010)
Waterston, Elizabeth (The Magic Island, literary biography/criticism, April 2010)
Xiques, Donez (Margaret Laurence: The Making of a Writer, literary biography, September 2010)
Yi, Nu Nu (Smile as They Bow, novel in translation from the Burmese by Alfred Birnbaum and Thi Thi Aye, March 2010)
Živkovic, Zoran (Impossible Encounters, novel in translation by Alice Copple-Tošić, April 2010)

The two books that I read just to tick off the final letters for this challenge?

I’d vaguely considered reading Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider because I loved the film, but I probably wouldn’t have remembered to find a copy if I hadn’t so freshly abandoned John “I is for Irving”‘s A Prayer for Owen Meany (two reading friends absolutely a-d-o-r-e this novel, but this is not my first failed attempt to read beyond the first two chapters).

And I’d never heard of Matthew “Q is for Quick”, but a quick browse at the library convinced me that I would get along better with Amber Appleton (she really should be on the A line, doncha think?) than with anything lounging on my own Q shelves at home.

The “tough” letters in the A-Z Reading Challenge did take me to my bookshelves though, nudging me towards choices as distinct as Suzette Mayr (“V is for Venous Hum”) and Jane Gardam (“Q is for The Queen of the Tambourine“).

Both of these have been neglected for years in favour of shiny-new-and-tempting additions and library loans (making me wish that I’d signed up for a Read-from-my-own-shelves challenge).

And I was thrilled to have an excuse to read Except the Dying for X, because I’d been meaning to explore Maureen Jennings’ Murdoch series for years (and now I am itching to complete it).

As for the other X? It was sheer luck that I found Donez Xiques’ work on Margaret Laurence which focussed on her growth and development as a writer.

How challenging was this one? I’d say it’s a 9.

Mainly because you can’t overlap between the two lists (you have to have 52 individual works).

And because it took me beyond my pre-existing reading plans. Only by a book or two…but still. That’s a challenge.

And not one I expect to repeat. That’s enough alphabetizing for me, thanks very much all the same!

Have you been crazy enough to try something like this?