Mixing It Up Challenge 2012

I stumbled across this great idea for a challenge yesterday at Musings of a Bookshop Girl and just had to sign up. You can do so too by clicking here because who doesn’t want to get our of their reading comfort zone in 2012? Plus Ellie is one of the friendliest, funniest bloggers I’ve ever come across so it’d be great if everybody could join in.

The basic idea is to read one book from each of the following categories – 

This can be any classic work, from Alcott to Zola.  Always fancied trying Great Expectations, or finally feel like tackling Jane Eyre?  Now’s your chance!  From the fun to the frightening, the gentle satire to the all-out swashbuckling epic, there are hundreds of years’ worth of books to choose from.

 Completed! Daughters of the Vicar by D.H. Lawrence.

This can be modern or historical, biography or autobiography.  From the latest celebrity autobiography to an academic biography of Henry VIII – it all counts!  Perhaps you fancy a book on your favourite classic movie star, athlete or musician?

Ideas for this one range from a delectable cookery book to a food memoir (like Nigel Slater’s Toast or Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential), a book on wine to the history of marmalade.
Completed! Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

More scope to indulge a whole range of interests here, including local history, military history or world history.  It might be a biography of Anne Boleyn, a book on World War II aircraft, a study of the American civil war, or something with a much smaller focus, like Bill Bryson’s At Home or Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History.  Whatever floats your boat!

Completed!  An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain by John O’Farrell

This covers literary and popular fiction, so you can’t really go wrong with this one.  From Sophie Kinsella to Haruki Murakami, Wilbur Smith to Isabel Allende, Jenny Colgan to Kate Mosse, you should be able to find something to fit your tastes! 
Completed! Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

This will be an entirely new genre for me, but I’m looking forward to hitting the library to see what all the fuss is about!  First on my ‘to check out’ list will be Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes and Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.

Completed! The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

This category will cover everything from the genteel Agatha Christie and the scrummy Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke, through Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, to the gruesome forensics of Martina Cole and Val McDermid.

Completed! Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

One for Hallowe’en, perhaps!  Maybe a modern writer like Stephen King or James Herbert, or you could turn to the classics with Edgar Allen Poe or the ghostly writings of M.R. James?  Some YA novels would also fit into this category – Darren Shan, or Lindsey Barraclough’s Long Lankin – but no paranormal romance!

Completed! Dracula by Bram Stoker

I’d say the cheesier the better for this one, but it’s up to you!  Mills and Boon, paranormal romance, chick lit fluff, whatever.  Personally I’ll be browsing our Mills and Boon shelf at the shop and pulling out the trashiest title I can find!  🙂

Completed! Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Again, plenty of scope here.  From the hilarious characters of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries to Frank Herbert’s Dune, you can go modern or classic, and pick from any number of sub-genres.

Completed! Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey

The world is your oyster, as it were!  Maybe you’re going somewhere interesting on holiday and want to read up on it first?  Rough Guides, Lonely Planet guides, that kind of thing.  You could pick a Bill Bryson (always popular) or choose a book on a particular city, country or continent, like Francesco da Mosto’s Venice or one of Michael Palin’s books.  Then there are all the delectable memoirs by people who’ve moved abroad and opened a taverna/olive farm/vineyard!

This could be a book of love poems, a collection by a particular poet, a novelty book of limericks, or if that sounds a bit daunting, a single, longer narrative poem.  How about ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Hiawatha’ or ‘The Waste Land’?  My particular favourite is probably Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’, which is more like a simple fairytale that just happens to rhyme.

This one might take a little more thinking about, but it should be a bit of fun!  Journalism collections can range from Nick Hornby’s Shakespeare Wrote for Money to Marian Keyes’s Under the Duvet, Jeremy Clarkson’s The World According to Clarkson to Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Big Country.  Anything that’s been published in a newspaper or magazine first!  Humour could be a book of cartoons, a novelty joke book or The Wicked Wit of Oscar Wilde 

Completed! Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

Again, this one throws the doors wide open for you to follow your interests.  Always fancied learning more about space?  Are you curious about the life of Charles Darwin?  Or got a lifelong love for a particular animal?  There are some wonderful ‘popular science’ books around too, including things like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, David Attenborough’s natural history books, and the entire works of the brilliantly funny Mary Roach.

This leaves the way open for pretty much anything, whether it’s reading The Hungry Caterpillar or The Magical Faraway Tree to your kids, revisiting the joys of The Secret Garden or Treasure Island, or devouring something from the modern tide of YA.  Lots of dystopian fiction, coming-of-age novels and supernatural shenanigans to choose from!

Completed! Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Another wide area!  Books on society and women (Female Chauvinist Pigs, Living Dolls), books on society and children (Toxic Childhood, Nurtureshock), books on how television and the internet are affecting our lives, Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, books on Freud or Marx…

Completed! The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
I’m going to aim for the full 16, although I’m going to leave off thinking about which particular books until much, much later. Knowing me, I’d probably forget and read them this December or just lose interest in them by 2012!


  1. Sounds like a good challenge, I like the mix of genres. Good luck!

  2. Ellie says:

    Yay! Good to have you along for the ride Hanna, and everyone's chosen to aim for the full 16 so far which is amazing! Looking forward to seeing what you choose, I'm sure I'll end up adding a few books to my groaning wishlist as a result… 🙂

  3. This is great – good job signing up for all 16! I only chose 12 and I still think I'll be struggling. Have fun reading! 🙂

  4. Ellie says:

    Bloomin 'eck, two down already! My unintentional month-of-pretty-much-zero-reading has scuppered my chances of a good start really, but I've finished one category and reading from another two right now so maybe there's hope yet! 🙂

  5. The Psychopath test sounds really interesting. I only picked 12 books to read because there were a couple genres that I don't really care for but now I'm thinking that I can do the full 16. Thanks for the idea!

  6. Ellie says:

    Just so yers know, you're all ticked off and entered for the runner-up GO YOU FOR TRYING giveaway! Yes, I'm doing this ridiculously late, but SHUT UP I WAS VERY BUSY READING ABOUT MR ROCHESTER'S TORMENTED BROW. 😀

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