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Not a Rat’s Chance in Hell’s Challenge

January 23, 2011 27 comments

I’m usually not drawn to challenges and readalongs but Sarah’s challenge has caught my attention because there is no schedule and because I can choose whichever book I want into the categories she designed. When I was reading her funny categories, book titles came to my mind. So I thought, why not?

Voilà. Here are my choices, so far. I may change my mind later because I’m not good at sticking to reading plans.  

1. A book that has been previously abandoned. 

I’m not kamikaze enough to try again the Wind Up Bird Chronicles or Quo Vadis?  Let’s bravely say Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton, already started twice and because she’s an author I expect to like.

2. A re-read. Didn’t quite get it/thought there was more/made promise to self to re-read? Time to make good.

I’m already re-reading In Search of Lost Time. I think that will do and will probably take the whole year, considering I’m reading it as fast as turtles walk.

3. A book that has sat on the shelf, like, forever. (Decades.)

Diadorim by João Guimarães Rosa. I’ve had difficulties with all the Southern American books I’ve read.

4. A book that paralyses one with dread.

 René by Chateaubriand. A writer I’ve been avoiding like the plague. It could fit for category 3 too. We’ve been watching each other for a while.

5. Investigate a canonical writer hitherto most shamefully overlooked.

 Life’s Little Ironies by Thomas Hardy. I love this title. It’s going to be a difficult read for me because I have the English paperback edition.

6. Seek out a book by an author who has earned ostracism by being so good that any further novel could surely never measure up…?

 Les particules élémentaires by Michel Houellebecq. He won the Prix Goncourt in 2010 for another of his novels. The whole universe praises him. The book has been on my shelf for a while.

7. And the opposite… That author who was supposed to be really good, but didn’t go down too well? Give him/her another go!

I’m not masochistic enough to inflict on me the reading of Paul Claudel, so Les dieux ont soif  by Anatole France. (Translated as The Gods Are Thirsty). It seems every town in this country has a street named after him. He was Zola’s friend. National funeral were arranged when he died in 1924. Nobody reads him anymore. Unjustly forgotten or too rooted in his time to reach eternity?

8. Take a chance. Read a book which you would rather not. For instance when the OH says ‘you’ll really like this’ and you’re thinking ‘no, I really won’t…’

Un roman français, by Frédéric Beigbeder. He wants to be the French Jay McInerney. I’m suspicious when a writer wants to be someone else. I received this book last Christmas and it’s not something I would have chosen by myself.

9. A book from an unfamiliar genre

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Another Christmas gift that has been on the shelf for decades because of its science-fiction tag. It could have been my number 3 but I would have had to read two SF books. Let’s take it slow on that genre.

10. Ask a friend (preferably a person of impeccable taste, and definitely not someone who might have an axe to grind) to choose a book that you will, in their opinion, like. (This does not mean ask a dozen people until you get the right answer!)

I was about to ask for ideas to all the persons who will read this — it would have been fun — but I see it would be cheating. I could have chosen one book automatically recommended by Amazon or Decitre.fr but I’m not ready to take a computer as a friend. The best solution is undoubtly to ask a recommendation to a fellow blogger, and if possible to someone who has similar literary tastes. I’m going to play safe on this one, so Guy, if you read this, will you choose the 10th book for me?

And of course, the challenge within the challenge will be to follow the challenge!

Categories: Challenges
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