Four years ago I started a personal challenge to read all the Shakespeare plays that had not been forced upon me in school or had read on my own. At the time, I believed that I could read the remaining 27 plays in 13 months, at ~two plays per month, as I was working in a remote area for 10 hour-days for eight days straight but still wanted to have some kind of a life. Once again, I managed quite well for the first half of the year and then life creeped in, leaving the challenge fallow.
The main rules of the challenge were:
1. Read two plays per month so as to have a life.
2. Poems and sonnets to be read at leisure.
3. Read the play before seeing a production.
4. Histories to be read in chronological order.
5. The order of the plays depended on category with no two same categories next to one another in order for balance. Example: history, tragedy, comedy, history, comedy, tragedy but NOT history, tragedy, tragedy, comedy, as that could get too depressing. (Given the severity of the histories, I set up the list such that there was a comedy and tragedy between them.)
Once all the plays were read then one could do the more competitive versions of "The Game of Shakespeare", which is much more fun if you actually know the less popular plays and actually like Shakespeare (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3606/the-game-of-shakespeare). ...But I digress. So here is the list with dates of completion and italics for histories.
That makes 14 more plays to get through, so even if I am only able to get to roughly one play per month, I should complete the remainder of the plays by the end of the year.
Given those self imposed challenges that make it past the first six weeks of the new year, I have observed that past reading challenges seem to loose steam by mid-year/summer. In order to defeat the lull, I figured I should set up a challenge to focus on those books I really need to dust off the shelf and still have some enthusiasm toward. That way, when the mid-year slump comes around, I can start a new challenge, one perhaps a bit more inventive.
In no particular order:
1. The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley
2. Oblomov, Ivan Goncharov
3. Pushkin's Children, Tatiyana Tolstaya
4. To Live, Yu Hua
5. Irish Sagas and Folk Tales, Eileen O'Faolain
6. Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family History, Elizabeth Shown Mills
7. Parnassus on Wheels, Christopher Morley
8. Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, Yu Hua
9. Finding Your Canadian Ancestors, Irvine & Obee
10. Linear Models with R, Faraway
11. The remaining Shakespeare plays I haven't read
12. Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, Elizabeth Beeton
13. Teach Yourself Gaelic circa 1970, Roderick Mackinnon
14. How to take over the world, from the tiny cell you made for yourself with just your laptop and unique personality
15. Cartographies of Disease, Tom Koch
16. Pushkin's House, Andrei Bitrov
17. Frederick Wentworth, Captain
18. Scribblers, Sculptors, and Scribes, Richard LaFeur
19. The Pattern Making Primer
20. Ancestry's Guide to Research: Case Studies in American Genealogy
21. A Garden Herbal, Anthony Gardiner
22. The Fiery Cross, Diana Gabaldon
23.Yo, La Peor, Monica Lavin
24. The Genealogy Handbook, Elien Galford
25. The Auld Scots Dictionary
There, a nice 25 books to start the list with, subject to alterations (including additions) at lister's discretion.
Thank goodness I did not waste good money on this book by buying it!
Only 20 pages in and I am ready to abandon this book. I have read textbooks that are more interesting and written better. Here are two examples of the bad writing/editing (hardback edition):
1. page 9 "When babies were born everyone willed them to live, but there was no surprise when they died, eventually, almost all of them, including the two Mary had cared for herself, bringing them eight, nine, ten times a day to the teat of a neighbor's goat so they could suckle what Mary's sister couldn't offer, having died bringing them to life, and what Mary couldn't offer, being only fourteen at the time, and having no babies of her own."
(Let's make it better (or at least no worse)! "When babies were born everyone willed them to live but there was no surprise when they died. Even the two Mary had cared for herself after her sister's laborious death bringing the babes into the world, trekking them eight, nine, ten times a day to the teat of a neighbor's goat so they could suckle what Mary's sister could no longer offer. What more could a poor Irish girl of fourteen without children of her own due or a wet nurse nearby do?" ...And as my country cousins like to say, 'If they are old enough to bleed, they're old enough to breed!')
2. page 18 "Mary felt like her mind had dropped straight out of her head like a stone."
I don't have a fancy pants arts degree but even part-time voracious readers can spot bad story telling from a distance!