Friday, October 21, 2011

Goodreads challenges

A while ago I asked rhetorically whether or when somebody would set up a virtual book club online. And of course there are several and Goodreads seems to be one of the most robust. I've joined a couple of groups, Historical Fictionistas and Mysteries, Crime & Thrillers, which coincidentally happen to be the main categories of my own book, but I've refrained from any blatant self-promotion so far.

It is kind of fun to see so many people totally engaged with books and reading. There seems to be a tolerance for various speeds. Some people read all the time and have scads of books, but others seem to be more normal people who read as much as they can along with work and other life things.

One of the more interesting features are the "challenges," designed to set goals and so provide incentives to read certain kinds of books. I've never stayed in a book club too long because I didn't like the idea of reading a book someone else picked when there were so many unread books on my own shelf that I picked at one point because I was interested in them. In a challenge, however, you pick the books, as long as they fit the parameter of the challenge, and the discussion is more of an exchange of views about different books.

One challenge for instance is Around the World in 52 Books -- i.e. one book a week during 2012, each from or set in a different country. Just for the heck of it, I went through my shelves and listed unread books set in different countries, then went to Andrea's shelf and listed some more of hers. Embarrassingly, I came up with 42 books, each set in a different country, that I have on my shelf and haven't read. I'm sure I could get to 52 without any trouble. Now I don't think I can read a book a week from this list. Some of them are long, and I'll want to read other things, too. But I can start now, and no one says I have to stop at the end of 2012. I can just keep checking off this list until I'm done.

Another challenge, in Mysteries, Crime & Thrillers, is the 50-state mystery challenge, which is to read a mystery set in each one of the 50 states (51, since obviously I will add DC). I actually embarked on a similar project some years ago when Darras and I first contemplated collaborating on a police procedural set in Kansas. I even picked up several books at the time set in various states. It turns out there's a great site, Stop, You're Killing Me, that indexes mysteries according to location, so you can see any number of books set in each state. So I put up a list of dozen books in that challenge to get started. Since Darras and I now want to get back to this idea, this is kind of like research for that project.

The links above are to my first posting of each list on Goodreads. I'll keep the updated lists on this blog under the Lists label, and will review each book as I read it and label it according to the challenge, 52World or 50Mystery. Not sure how long I can keep up either one, but it should help me to spend more time reading and less time in front of the TV.

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