Book-a-Week Challenge

Ceramic Garden Frog by Joy Shrader

Lately, one of my favorite writerly treats is reading Nina Badzin’s blog on “The Writing Life. Married Life. And Motherhood.” We have several obvious interests in common — plus an abiding love of Twitter.

I should mention that Badzin has three kids with one more on the way. I am pretty sure that doubling my kid quotient would make my head explode. Yet Badzin manages to stay sane. And eloquent. And not stutter or have an eye twitch. Like me.

Last February, she decided to take on the Book-a-Week Challenge. The idea appeals to me for several reasons. First, my pile of books “to be read” is reaching tottering dimensions. I should probably whittle it down before it falls on someone.

Second, I’d like to spend more time reading and less time checking Facebook “for just five more minutes.” Reading, delving into good books, has always fueled my imagination and my writing. It’s a better example for my kids. And it lengthens my attention span. Anyone else find that spending too much time on-line makes you a bit . . . twitchy??

But my third reason for jumping on the Book-a-Week challenge? It’s easier than having two more kids, avoiding that whole head explosion problem. And labor. Let’s not forget the labor.

I’m looking forward to seeing if I can really fit one more committment into these wobbly days of homeschooling, writing, and puppy training. I’m sure it will involve cutting back on my internet quota, but what else will I have to shift and trim? Maybe someone else will wash the dishes. I could easily give that up.

Of course, I might fail completely. Each book might take me three weeks. Or five. I could worry about the disgrace of having to confess my failure, but I don’t think I have enough readers to qualify for public humiliation (see, there IS always a bright side). In any case, I’m sure I’ll find a lot of word treasures along the way. Check out my new Reading Log page where I’ll keep track of the books I finish.

As I gear up for this latest addition to my juggling repertoire, I’d love to hear your recommendations. What’s the best book you’ve read this summer? And, please, no 1000-page epics or stories involving more than a half-dozen kids. I’ve still got my sanity, more or less. Let’s keep it that way.

12 thoughts on “Book-a-Week Challenge

  1. Oh, yes – I will be monitoring your latest self-challenge. Better than the head-explosion thing, although that would undoubtedly go viral on YouTube.

    Here are a few book suggestions for you:
    “The Help” (I listened to it on CD and it was fabulous in that format)
    “Perfect Lives” by Polly Samson
    “Fair Warning” and “A Small Hotel” by Robert Olen Butler
    “To Be Sung Underwater” by Tom McNeal
    “A Far Country” by Daniel Mason


    • Hi Brenda,
      Thanks for the recommendations. I read The Help and loved it, so I think we must have similar tastes.
      I am thrilled about this challenge. Unlike puppy training, kid raising, or publication woes, this one is largely in my control (more or less) — though my husband chided me for staying up until almost midnight last night to finish the first book!
      Well, if I fail, we’ll go with the head explosion. You are right — it would be a hit on You Tube. 🙂

  2. Woo-hoo!! I’m so happy to have a partner in crime with the book-a-week challenge. I’ve been doing it for six months and it still makes me happy. It really does! Like you mentioned on my blog, it gives a sense of control in an otherwise out-of-control existence (aka–parenthood, trying to finish WRITING a novel, etc.) I genuinely feel a sense of accomplishment when I add a new book to the list. And it does help give me ideas for the novels and stories in progress.

    And yes, you will have to spend a little less time online to get the reading done. The whole challenge forced me to stop bringing my laptop to bed. A good thing!

    • I know — it’s fun to have a partner in crime in such a venture! I’m glad my comment about goals and control made sense and didn’t sound too, hmm, control-freakish. I felt great when I finished that first book, and now I’m working through my second. Already, I have to say that I feel more focused on my writing, less focused on the internet. Definitely a good thing!

  3. We just read A Summer Without Men for our book club. This little book (would definitely fit into the weekly regimen) is nearly perfect for about 80 pages. Then the writer’s mortality comes into view. As I said to another reader, for those first 80 pages, you can’t go away for even one sentence or you’ll miss some of her beautiful language and interesting thoughts.

    In the end, a summer without men wouldn’t work for me, you know, how would all that grass get cut, neither would fall (leaves), winter (snow removal) or spring (garden prep), but I really liked this missive.

    • I love getting book club book ideas. At my book club, I always write down a bunch of new titles that people are reading and enjoying. Now, I can try to catch up on that list.

  4. Lisa,
    I’ve always enjoyed everything you’ve written ( with the exception of some literary criticisms that went over my head ) and now your witticism … wow.!!!

    Winter’s Bone By Woodrell
    Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand

    Keep em coming

    • Thanks for the suggestions Dad (and the praise, and the love of books you instilled in me, and the unwavering faith all these long years.) xo

      • You are up early.
        You’re welcome Lisa,. You honestly have me laughing like I’m watching a good stand up comic.

        These venues, blogs , twitters , ( god save me from face book at my age ) are all new to me,; so if this is not the right forum for this question let me know !

        Here goes !

        You are confined to an island for one year. You can bring six and only six books! What would they be

  5. Go, you! Did you read _Eat, Pray, Love_? I’m curious about Gilbert’s follow-up book. Also, I just saw a non-fiction book by Sue Monk Kidd and her mother _Traveling with Pomegranates_ or something of that nature. Looks promising. Does a book of short stories count? I love Pam Houston. I think _Waltzing the Cat_ was my favorite.

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