2020 Reading Challenge Overview

62 thoughts on “2020 Reading Challenge Overview”

  1. Sure does! In fact, this was a good reminder to myself that I have never actually read Beowulf and really should so thanks!

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    1. I’m not sure Beowulf counts as from another culture for me, because I’m a white American with English ancestors. Still … 1100 years is a long time from when it was written to now, and no one read Beowulf round the fire when I was a child, so I’m going to read it now.

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      1. I started reading Mythos and realized, wait! I have some Greek ancestors! I was not raised with any Greek culture though so I sort of shrugged it off then. I probably know just as much or more about Norse mythology and I don’t have a spec of Nordic blood in me lol. I’m viewing it as ‘something I wasn’t raised learning about’ so it counts!

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      1. Haha not reading in old English. It’s the Seamus Heaney translation that I’ve had since it came out twenty years ago. I dipped into it then but never read it through.

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      1. I’m glad I read it at last. The introduction was useful and interesting for some historical background. The translator respected the original epic and the 10th century scribe by treating the material as a recital of factual events plainly told rather than as a once-upon-a-time tale. The introduction also prepared me for what would have otherwise seemed like jarring insertions of Christian morality into a pagan epic. I wondered about that 10th century scribe—he was a Christian but maybe close enough to his pagan forebears to take the Beowulf story literally. Maybe that’s why it’s possible to see Beowulf as a real person instead of a cartoonish superhero. I saw his bravado as a young, impetuous and ambitious knight in the Grendel/mother portions, and his wise and wary and even fearful reflections as he prepared to face the dragon and death at the end. Meta impressions—no battle victory is permanent, and best let sleeping dragons lie.

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  2. Pam, that was a fantastic summary and compelling argument for me to pick up a copy (of that translation specifically) to add to my TBR pile! I think there is so much value and much to be learned from folklore and fairytales of various cultures that really encompasses humanity and history while remaining timeless.

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  3. I was originally listed as CalamiTEA, but unfortunately someone tried to hack my email and I am locked out, so I needed to open a new blog as well. Circe was my January pick!

    I just read Circe! I couldn’t put down the book. I posted the full review on my blog.

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    1. I thought it was a fantastic re-telling too! I love how Miller made her so human in her faults and really highlighted the process of change and transformation to someone that because powerful not only in her craft, but in her heart and soul. I would love to see your review, feel free to post it here!

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  4. I’m going to read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston for February. A personal part of my 2020 challenge is to read books that I have at home that I haven’t read before. The paperback copy of this Hurston book is one my son bought for a college class and left behind when he moved away. My husband has some collectible editions of Hurston but I don’t want to mess with those.

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    1. THAT would be a challenge for me…. no matter how many I read, my pile keeps getting bigger and bigger and I can’t seem to leave the store with anything less than 3 at a time! I have heard amazing things about that book and have had my eye on Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick.

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  5. I just read and posted my February book! This month I chose Throwaway Daughter by Ting-Xing Ye. I actually am starting a book review podcast with a couple friends and this is the first book we chose. I loved how we got to know so many people in one family.

    Calamiteaandbookreviews.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks for putting this book on my radar! It looks like something I would love! A book review podcast sounds like a great idea, good luck with it and I will be sure to check it out!

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  6. I finished reading Their Eyes Were Watching God a couple of days ago. Wow! A riveting story as well as an immersion into a place and time and culture I knew something about but didn’t “know” in the heart and skin sense. It’s a story of a black woman’s experience in the Jim Crow south but most of the drama and comedy of the story are not (at least to my perception as a white reader) about race. For much of the story the whites are offstage. The black characters seem aware of the whites’ power and menace, and unsurprised when that power is inflicted, and otherwise go about their lives as best they can.

    The part of the story that resonated with me was Janie’s experiences from girlhood to middle age with boys and men—the attraction, the joy, the fear, the compromises, the self-protective strategies that women experience living with men.

    We’ve had several of Hurston’s books at our house for many years but I’d never picked one up until this reading challenge, so thanks for the motivation.

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    1. I’m so glad you were motivated through the challenge! I have noticed only in the last few years how much I have missed out being isolated or privileged, unaware of some of the deeper dynamics going on around me. It is exactly one of the reasons that I wanted to have a diverse reading challenge.

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  7. My March read will be Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree, which is about children who are different from their parents in various ways, including autism. I saw the documentary based on this book a couple of years ago. Since part of the challenge is to read books I already have (or that are in my house in my husband’s or son’s collections), this is what I’m going with. This book is almost 700 pp so I might not finish!

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    1. I am curious about what approach the book will be taking? Is it from a nature vs nurture deep-dive or how families coped with these differences from a relationship/dynamic standpoint?

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      1. I’ve only started the first section of the book. Solomon has tons of research as well as stories of families.

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  8. For March I read parts of Andrew Solomon’s book Far From The Tree. I read the first chapter, “Son,” which was mostly about his own experience growing up a gay child of initially unaccepting parents and his history of depression, and the chapter “Autism.” Solomon says he had 70,000 pages of research for the book, which is 702 pages long, not including endnotes. The autism section I read was interesting, but seemed like a conglomeration of stories rather than a really informative narrative about autism. Maybe that’s reality—that each autistic person’s story/experience is different. The book touched on personal and social and political and scientific issues involving autism. Is autism a disease, a disability, a difference, an identity? Some of the stories were heartbreaking. Some were uplifting. Overall, the takeaway for me, someone with no personal or family experience of autism, is to not make assumptions about someone else’s experience. The “reality” that I “know” as a neurotypical person, is no more real than that known to an autistic person.
    I’m glad I read parts of the book. I might dip back into it in the future for the other chapters on other ways children can be different.
    Thanks for the prompt list, Rabbitholeblogger. Now to search the shelves for my April read.

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    1. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about it! I’ve been reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

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  9. I’m still in the middle of my April book! I have plenty of choices here at home for May but haven’t picked yet.

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    1. I hear that, I am in survival mode these days! Whereas others have found extra time on their hands, I have found much much less! I finished mine, but writing up a review has been…. delayed lol!

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  10. I am so behind in updating! 😢 But! In March, I read Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary. I loved the way he used humour to explain his life, like yelling during a theatrical performance to play the song again! It’s been a while since I read it, but that stuck out to me, even now.

    It honestly wasn’t my first choice, but quarantine happened. 🤷🏼‍♀️

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    1. It sounds like a great read nonetheless! I think I will have to put it on my list to read. Thank you for sharing it! I just happened to be lucky that I had mine sitting on my shelf and have quite a large stack of TBR books that I have been able to get through the challenge…so far so good!

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  11. I mixed up April’s and May’s challenges! I just realized I read the Latin culture book last month. Holocaust will happen this month. Sorry!

    I read Gods of Jade and Shadow, which takes place in Mexico’s during the Jazz Age. I enjoyed this book. Casiopea is a fun heroine. My main complaint is that there were no other flushed out female characters. But the plot was well paced, we felt all the descriptions, and there was a lot of mythology I wasn’t familiar with.

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    1. No harm no foul! I am lucky I am even aware what day it is, let alone month (months do have 60 days in them right?!). Ok so I had to go and check out this book and it looks totally fascinating! Mexican and Mayan folklore is something I have little-to-no experience or knowledge in! Sounds like it was at least a fun read, despite the lack of character diversity/depth.

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  14. I finally read my May pick, Sugar Island by Ivonne Lamzares. I’ve had the book since it was published in 2000–the author is a friend—but I never read it until now. A quick one-day read, but I feel I’ve traveled to another place and time. I’ve lived in Miami for many years, and know many Cuban Americans who lived through the times depicted in the book, but reading the novel helped me (a non-Hispanic white woman) understand their experience better. It’s written in the first person, and the main character is Tanya, young girl living through about the first decade of Castro’s Cuba. It’s about the conflicting impulses to escape despite danger and to cling to safety, and the imperfect understanding a child and young woman has about her own and others’ motivations and actions. The book is full of sensory descriptions that helped me feel, see, smell and taste what Tanya was living through. I highly recommend it.

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  15. I’m still behind on June through August, but I accidentally caught up on my September read with Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper. I say accidentally because I wasn’t thinking about the challenge when I read it a couple of weeks ago. My self-imposed additional challenge is to read books I already own, and this one I bought at the Miami Book Fair last year, where I heard a presentation by the author. It’s the memoir/autobiography of a woman born into the Westboro Baptist Church (the ones with the “God Hates Fags” signs) who left that church as a young adult. It is absolutely fascinating. It gave me an understanding of why a person would stay in what seems like a crazy cult and that the outside world’s contempt and hostility is part of what holds that group together.

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    1. I LOVE books that help you gain insight into other cultures/views/beliefs. I think its one of the biggest blessings of reading and why diversity is so important in both representation and reading!

      I used to live in Miami — went to the Univeristy of Miami for my undergraduate studies. You are making me miss it now lol

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  16. I’m behind! But I’m starting my June read—Frankisstein by Jeanette Winterson. I heard the author read from it at Books And Books, a local bookshop here in Miami, and I have a signed copy in my library. Winterson is a lesbian, and some of the characters are LGBTQ, so it fits the prompt. Plus, it’s amazing!

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    1. This looks sooooo interesting, I think I am going to have to put this on my To Order list! It must be such an interesting retelling!

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