2012 Challenge Wrap-up

Why yes, this is a little late. How astute of you.

So I thought we’d take a quick look at the challenges I signed up for last year, and how I got on with them. It seems to be A Thing this time round that hardly anybody completed their challenges and there’s a lot of challenge-free-2013 talk going on. Not for me though! I love these things. I don’t really mind that I only completed one as it still pushed me to read things that I may not normally have bothered with.

Overall, I challenged myself to read 129 books – simply based on the fact that I read 128 books the year before and I try to up it every year. Yeah, so that didn’t go so well. I ended on 103, which is quite obviously nowhere close. Still, I started Law School in September along with an awful lot of related projects, so it was only to be expected.

Still, the books I did read were good ones – I finally got round to Anna Karenina, The Hobbit and The Phantom of the Opera, all of which I’ve been meaning to read for years. All in all, I’m pretty happy with 2012.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Challenge

Only the best people fail appallingly at their own challenges!

On the bright side, it was unlikely I’d have read any of these books if it weren’t for the challenge, so it’s a success in that respect. I’m especially glad I got to read The Phantom of the Opera, as I ended up falling completely in love with it.

I read 4 out of 9 books:

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells  

The Mixing it Up Challenge

It’s strange – although I read quite a variety of different genres, there are some that I never read. Non-fiction science, for example, or even biographies. I was quite strict with my categories, but even so – it might be something to think about in 2013!

I’ve only just noticed I used Jonathan Safran Foer twice…

I read 12 out of 16 books:

Classics – Daughters of the Vicar by D.H. Lawrence
Cookery, Food and Wine – Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
HistoryAn Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain by John O’Farrell
Modern Fiction Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Graphic Novels The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore
Crime and Mystery Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
Horror Dracula by Bram Stoker
RomanceNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Science Fiction and Fantasy Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey
Journalism and Humour Moranthology by Caitlin Moran
Children’s and Young AdultVirtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Social Sciences and Philosophy The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

The Terry Pratchett Challenge

Ohhh, this one did not go well. I think it’s because I use the Discworld books as something to read if I don’t really want to read, if that makes any sense.

This year I’ve had so many great books on my TBR shelves that I never really felt the urge to pick up a Terry Pratchett novel.

I read Good Omens because a friend of mine was reading it at the time and reminded me how amazing it is, but Snuff was just an attempt to knock a book off for the TBR Challenge.

I read 2 out of 7 books:

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Snuff by Terry Pratchett 

The What’s in a Name Challenge

This challenge is one of my favourites, not least because I actually managed to complete the damn thing. And yes, I do feel like I deserve a fanfare for that.

It’s just a fun challenge, I guess. I like scanning my book titles for words that would fit into a particular category! I’ve even signed up for the same challenge this year 🙂  

I read 6 out of 6 books:

A topographical feature – The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan 
Something you’d see in the sky – Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch 
A creepy crawly – Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
A type of house – Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut 
Something you’d find in a handbag – Red Glove by Holly Black 
Something you’d find on a calendar – 11.22.63 by Stephen King 

The Telling Tales Challenge

I could probably have easily finished this challenge if other books hadn’t gotten in the way. I had so many ideas for different books I could use, and ones that I actually wanted to read too!

Alas, it was not to be. If I’d had more time, I’d have completed it for sure. However, it was such a great idea that Bex is running it again this year – click here to go join in! 

I read 4 out of 10 books:

Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey (Puss in Boots)
Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright (Guess.)
The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon   

The TBR Challenge

This is the challenge I put the most effort into, without a doubt. A simple concept, just to read books bought before 1st January 2012, but harder than you’d think.

I know I didn’t complete it, but I considered every single book I picked up and whether it would fit into this challenge. The last book I bought in 2011 was a big leather bound collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories that sticks out quite far off the shelf, so it was easy to use that as a marker – everything to the left of that, I could read.

I ended up at 31, but there’s no way I’d have read some of these if it weren’t for this challenge. I discovered some great books too – The End of Mr Y, for example, had sat on my shelf for more than a year before I picked it up and I ended up loving it.

I read 32 out of 50 books:

Rivers of London (Peter Grant series #1) by Ben Aaronovitch
Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie 
Daughters of the Vicar by D.H. Lawrence    
The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani 
Nemesis by Agatha Christie 
Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright 
The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy 
The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada 
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer
Dracula by Bram Stoker  
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol.2 by Alan Moore 
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells 
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
Shopaholic & Sister by Sophie Kinsella
The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines 
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho 
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 
Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine
Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires series #3) by Rachel Caine 
Feast of Fools (Morganville Vampires series #4) by Rachel Caine 
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender 
White Cat (Curseworkers series #1) by Holly Black 
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Bumped by Megan McCafferty 
Unnatural Issue (Elemental Masters series #7) by Mercedes Lackey
Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult 
Lord of Misrule (Morganville Vampires series #5) by Rachel Caine
The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas 
Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon
Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan 

The Project Fill in the Gaps Challenge

This one doesn’t really count because it’s not over yet, but I wanted to talk about it anyway.

The idea is to read 100 certain books of your choosing over five years – I began this year, so logically I should be at 20 by now. Here’s my list.

I read 17 out of 100 books:  

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Dracula by Bram Stoker 
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard 
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel 
The Lady with the Little Dog by Anton Chekhov
The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy 
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho 
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas   
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer    

How do you feel about 2012? Are you taking on any for 2013?


  1. Belle says:

    Ha, I failed my own challenge too. But you have a good way of looking at it – that even if you don't complete them, challenges make you read books you wouldn't have otherwise. That's definitely true for me.
    Looks like you read some great books last year, well done!

  2. Ellie says:

    Dude, you did frickin' awesome on these challenges! Not least because you read loads of awesome classics and stuff. I failed my own challenge too, mostly because like you, for some reason there were categories that should have been easy to fill AND YET I NEVER FILLED THEM. Bad Ellie.

    I'm one of the no-challenge brigade this year, mostly because I realised what I love about challenges is the bit at the start and at the end. I love making lists and browsing my library for Stuff To Put On The Lists, and setting out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, filled with Good Intentions. I also love getting to the end and thinking "Yes, I have read some fantabulous books thanks to these challenges! I must do more!" It's just that part in the middle when I suddenly realise I'm BEHIND and I've left ALL THE HARD BOOKS til last and there's a shiny new book I want to read first and… and… *rocks quietly*

    So I thought I'd take a year off, read some great classics and non-fiction and all sorts of stuff without worrying about lists and numbers, then come bouncing back in 2014 for another year of Challengey Goodness. Besides, I can still use challenges to PICK books if I'm stuck for inspiration. Say, the What's in a Name one, or that Key Words one I was tempted by. I'll be like an occasional ninja participant. In the meantime, I shall cheerlead for everyone else's challenges instead! *stacks party poppers in a corner and waits patiently*

    Wow, this is a long comment. Lack of coffee makes me ramble too much, sorry… 😀

    1. Ellie says:

      I also just realised I should probably change my Blogger picture again. Now it's not Hallowe'en any more a picture of me resting cheerily on a coffin might give the wrong impression, don't you think? 🙁

    2. Hanna says:

      Yay for long comments!

      I love the beginning of challenges too – I don't think about it that much in advance really, but it's fun when (for example) you're doing an alphabetical challenge and for a while EVERY BOOK YOU READ can fit into it. Gives you a nice sense of achievement 🙂

      It's not too bad though, because I tend to forget about them for the next nine months or so… I mean, I still update them if I HAPPEN to read a book that fits in (and I really did CONSTANTLY try with the TBR challenge), but otherwise I don't really mind. Then I remember in December, but it wasn't some huge hyperventilating shock or anything. I tried to knock a few more off each challenge but it's fine.

      I don't know where this is coming from… I'm not normally this laid back…

      Oh, I like the keywords challenge! It's fairly open to interpretation too, which I like. And the What's in a Name one is fun too, although I can NEVER remember what the categories are 🙂

  3. SO MANY CHALLENGES! I'm really impressed. I only signed up for one (Ellie's) and missed my target on that. Hmm. Not sure I've ever completed a challenge. This year I'm not even setting myself a target number of books, I'm just going to read what I want to read.

  4. Ellie Warren says:

    I completely forgot about Hannah's Terry Pratchett challenge but I did read World of Poo and The Long Earth.

  5. Sophia says:

    You did really well, though I wish I could be as laid back about not finishing as you! I ended up not finishing two, but they played on my mind and made me all anxious: "It was a challenge – I PROMISED", I wailed as the end of December got closer. I'm having a year off to recover in 2013!

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