Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Google Group; Challenge Woes

Today I bring you two topics that are barely-related to one another. The first is that I'm announcing (or announcing again) the creation of my google group, Reading With Becky. I did post this earlier in the week, but since TSS *may* bring in a few new readers, I wanted to take this opportunity to promote it. If you've joined, by the way, this is something I encourage. Promote, promote, promote! There is a little box on the right-hand side of the blog that should allow you to join the group--or express interest in joining the group. (It is moderated, so your membership would be pending until I approved.) Or you can email me at and I'll send you an invite.

What is the group? Why should you join? I originally started the group and had it on WordPress as a blog. Participants would join in by commenting. But it wasn't so user-friendly, and it was really really limiting as far as how "group" an activity could be. The google group makes it very user-friendly, and very group-oriented. The new group will be less about me, and more about you! Our August selection is THE ACCIDENTAL TIME MACHINE by Joe Haldeman. And our September/October selection is tentatively The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This hasn't been put to a final vote yet, but it is the title getting the most attention at the moment. If you like discussing books in a very casual-non-threatening way then you should consider joining. You don't have to participate in every group read in order to join. But you can join in on as many as you like. I mean for the group to be just casual chatter amongst friends.

Now to transition....

Challenges. Reading challenges. I'm addicted. Are you? I've already begun to think about 2009. I'm really trying to figure out the plan. Or perhaps for the melodramatic THE PLAN. You see, I've committed a bit too much in 2008. To the point where I'm beginning to question my sanity. To the point where I'm thinking that I should never be allowed on the computer unguarded. It's too late for 2008. But it's not too late to save myself from this drama in 2009. I'm not saying I'm dropping out of the challenge world. I'm not. Have no fear. But for me to have committed to over seventy challenges in 2008...well...I think we can all agree that wasn't the wisest thing I've ever done.

So here are the rules I'm thinking about implementing for myself.

1) Just because I have an idea for a challenge doesn't mean I have to create and host it.
2) Just because I host a challenge doesn't mean I have to join it.
3) Just because I've found the perfect image to be a challenge button doesn't mean I have to create and host the challenge.
4) Just because a challenge has a cute button doesn't mean I have to join it.
5) I shouldn't join a challenge unless I've already got books that fit the challenge that I was already planning on reading at that time or in the near-future.
6) When I discover a new challenge, I should bookmark it, yes, but not join on the spot. I need to think about it for a few days at least and see if I really, truly need to join it.
7) I should not feel guilty for not joining a challenge even if it is a) hosted by a blogger I love b) a challenge that I've joined in the past c) a challenge hosted by a newbie that is just getting started.
8) Just because I've joined a challenge doesn't mean I need to go overboard with it. If it says six books, then I don't *need* to read twenty.
9) Just because I've joined a challenge doesn't mean I have to finish it.

So last night I was reading and I got distracted by a challenge idea. I went to my computer, went to my favorite imaging site, and created not one but two (or four really) challenge buttons. I then started to write a challenge post. I was almost finished with the post before I realized that I didn't have enough books in my tbr pile to complete the challenge without adding more books to it. And that is the LAST thing I need to do is to go out in search of more books at the library, online, or in the store. So I saved it, but restrained myself. Here are the two buttons I created.

The challenge would be to read a minimum of four--maximum of twelve--books written by women authors 1700-1900 throughout 2009. But most of the books in my TBR pile are for challenges I've committed to reading in 2008, but in all likelihood won't be able to finish. I just don't know if there is enough interest to have a challenge. This is when one and three come into play. Yes, I had an idea. And yes, I did without any extra searching on my part, have two images that make super-cute buttons (in my opinion) but is that really enough to justify giving birth to another reading challenge? If you should happen to like the idea for this one, then let me know.

I'm thinking about setting a horribly strict rule with myself. No more--absolutely no more--than 12 Challenge books per month. For a total commitment of 144 for the year. What that would mean is that I'd be able to a) read more 2009, 2008, and 2007 books. (I'm still playing catch up on 2007.) b) I wouldn't feel obligated to seek out extra books at the library "just because" they'd fit in great with a challenge. It's one thing to read a book because you WANT to read a book. Quite another if you read a book just because you NEED to read a book because it's on your challenge list. I have no problem with adding a few spontaneous (if genuine) reads to the list. Especially if I see books being reviewed on other blogs that I can't help myself with. But I don't like feeling I have to read something no matter what. This new restriction would NOT include group reads for my group.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Shonda said...


70?!? I'm speechless!!

I do know what you mean about challenges. This is my first year of doing reading challenges and I have to say I am having fun. Even if I don't officially sign up for a challenge, I may add it to my spreadsheet to see if I can read books that fit the requirements.

Having done challenges for 7 months now, I'm starting to realize that I have other reading goals I would like to pursue (reading 20 books published in 2009, reading 20 male authors in 2009, reading XXX pages in 2009, etc).

Although I still plan to participate in reading challenges next year, I may limit myself in order to pursue personal reading goals. I do have to say I've read more books this year than I ever have, explored genres that I never thought would interest me, found new-to-me authors who are now my favorite, and returned to reading YA Fiction (brings back good memories for me). So, reading challenges have been an enlightening experience for me.

Alix said...

Wow I don't know where you find the time.

Challenges don't seem to work for me. I liked the togetherness of checking out what other people were doing but I don;t like feeling under pressure to read something. So I think I'll stick to just reviews.

Wendy said...

Becky, you are cracking me up! I thought I was bad about joining challenges...but I'm no where NEAR 70!!! I've also decided to try to curtail my challenge-mania in 2009 and plan to focus more on my perpetual challenges and join fewer time-limited ones. I also don't join a challenge unless I have the books for it already on my shelves. I'm considering joining your book group...although that is another obsession I should probably be more selective about. I love the chit-chat in my email box and reading what others think about books; but lately I've not had the desire to always read the book of the month and talk about it! Perhaps I've finally reached my limit (nah!) :)

Miss Kim said...

LOL Becky! I am new to challenge but I've already gone a bit bananas over them! I think your Rule #6 is the most important one to keep in mind! I also think joining challenges that last for your lifetime is a good idea!

Oh but I would likely join your new challenge if you ever decide to put it out there!

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid my rule has had to become never join a challenge otherwise I would never have time to read all those wonderful new books that come out that just don't fit into any challenge out there.

Unknown said...

Becky - you're my reading hero! I'm new to blogging and challenges this year, but I've totally gotten addicted. I've joined many of your challenges, but I'm nowhere close to 70.

As it is, I'm getting close to my 100th post on my book blog, and I only started it in June! I had already read almost 100 books up until I started the blog, so it is taking me time to get all the reviews posted. This doesn't even count all the new books I'm reading now.

Your site is a must stop for me daily, so keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I knew you were obsessed, but like the others have said, 70?!?

However, you seem to read a variety of books along the way.

I agree that you need to cut back...because while it's good to challenge oneself, you also should have the freedom to choose what you want to read. I'm involved with a few challenges, but only using books that already are on my TBR pile. And most of the challenges with the freedom to select other books later and not be locked in with the same books.

Also not to be smart, but why do you read? Is it just to finish another book? To finish a challenge? Or is it to read for pleasure or to get something out of it? Personally, if I read that much, I probably wouldn't absorb anything I've read. But then I guess we're all different.

Becky said...

I didn't take offense, justareadingfool. Here is a post that answers the question probably in more detail that you'd care to know.

While most of my reading is personal, I also read so much of the new stuff so I can be part of the community. The Librarians Choices is a committee that I'm on (year after year) to publish a list of the 100 best kids/YA books. So I read a lot of 2008 fiction both because I want to and because it helps me be better informed when we're meeting to discuss our list.

Debi said...

Sounds like some good advice you've given yourself there! #9 is what truly saved me a lot of's fun to join, it's fun to make up lists, it's fun to read the books when the mood strikes, but if they don't all get read by the end of the challenge, well, big deal, right? Just allowing myself to think that way has taken away a lot of the stress. And when I do actually finish a challenge on time, it's just icing on the cake, as they say.

Suey said...

This post made me laugh too! Crazy crazy! I do hope you succeed in your challenge restrictions! It'll be fun to watch your progress. :)