Up For A Challenge?

as i gingerly wade into the waters of bookish blogs,  tiptoeing about amongst the myriad bookworms out there in cyberspace, i am fascinated by the many readers who love a challenge.  i’ve discovered announcements of seafaring challenges, russian writer challenges, jane austen challenges, notable book challenges, something called the “chunkster challege,” whereby all books must be at least 700 pages, science fiction and romance challenges…the mind boggles.

at first, i was hesitant about participating – goodness knows, i certainly don’t need any incentive to read, for there’s more than enough of that lurking in those bookstacks piled accusingly about my house.  but one challenge did appeal to me.  the short story challenge, offered up by the lovely kate, provides several attractive options for broadening one’s short story horizons.  so i’ve signed on.

a confession – i don’t care for short stories.  

then why this challenge? you ask, puzzled.

because i want to like short stories, i want to appreciate them for the small works of art i know they can be.  

and because i dabble in writing them.  it seems churlish to write in a format you don’t particularly care to read.

so here is my short story challenge pledge:

i, ravenous reader, will read (and review) five short story collections during the year 2008.

i have chosen two of the collections~interpreter of maladies, by jhumpa lahiri; and birds of america, by lorrie moore. 

i welcome any recommedations for the remaining three.  i know you have some. (winks)

now tell me…what’s challenging your reading world these days? 

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8 thoughts on “Up For A Challenge?

  1. Ooh, I applaud you taking this challenge Becca!! I’d do it too, but…I’ve decided it’s okay if I don’t like short stories. I can love a book an author has written but never quite manage to “like” their short stories and it’s true of each and every one I have tried.

    I would have to say the only short story author I have ever “liked” is Alice Munro.

    I’m not taking any “challenges” as such, but I am opening my mind to subject matters and authors that I might otherwise have turned away from.

  2. I wish you luck! For a long time I didn’t care for short stories myself, but in the last few years I’ve jumped in and found several collections that have stuck with me. Interpreter of Maladies was one of those books, so I would definitely say that one is a great choice!

    I would also recommend 2 that made my top 10 of the year:

    The Secret Lives of People in Love, by Simon Van Booy. The stories in this collection are sweet, have a sort of classy feel to them. Made me laugh and cry by turns. Just beautiful writing.

    No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July. This one is quite the opposite from Van Booy. While the stories are no less affecting, in my opinion, they feel very contemporary, are very quirky and interesting.

    Good luck with the challenge! I look forward to reading your thoughts on the books you choose.

  3. I’d love to read the Laurie Moore (I very much enjoyed Anagrams) and am very tempted to try to slip it into my short story challenge list. I do like Ali Smith and many people say Alice Munroe is excellent. If you felt like something completely different, the French 19th century writer, Guy de Maupassant is well known for his short stories, and the horror ones can sometimes be quite entertaining!

  4. I find short stories extremely difficult, although I appreciate how very clever a lot of them are. I admire you for taking on what is clearly going to be a very personal challenge for you, but for myself I decided to pass this one by. However, if you come across anything that you really recommend for the reluctant reader that I am I’ll be grateful for the suggestions.

  5. This is something I could do. I don’t know if you read about my goal to read 52 authors in 52 weeks? Well, some of the authors on my list have published short stories that look interesting! I can’t say I’m not a fan because I’ve never read (other than in high school) short stories. So, I’m up for it.

  6. I’m very relieved to hear that I’m not the only one who does not really like short stories, yet would like to be able to. As for a short story collection, I recommend Junot Diaz’ Drown (which has the added benefit of being very short indeed). I’ve written about two of the stories already – and they are very seductive.

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