Challenge

Haven’t I Read This Before?

I seem to have made the mistake of giving Jillian the idea of a reading challenge for next year. Well, no, that’s not true; the mistake would have been offering to host it myself, as that would be a guarantee that I wouldn’t get a thing read next year. Instead, Jillian’s off and running with her “Books I Started but Didn’t Finish” Reading Challenge. (See the link for details.) I’ve already broken my self-promise to not join any year-long challenges for next year with the TBR Challenge, but here I am again, joining in. Last one, I swear.

I think the original idea for this is all those books that we try so desperately to finish before a New Year begins but don’t quite make it. Instead of stressing over it, the challenge invites us to finish them next year. I’m not gonna do that. (Rebel!) I’m in the middle of four books right now. One I should finish today or tomorrow, another next week, and one has a high probability that it will simply be ignored and returned to the library next week after my renewals run out. Which leaves Walden—I’m really hoping to finish it before the end of the year because I do want a clean slate, but if I don’t I won’t fret over it and will finish it in January. I’m just not going to count it for this challenge.

No. We must go further back than that. Much further back.

The List

Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) – There’s an added layer of guilt here: DQ was assigned summer reading for my high school sophomore year Spanish class. I read about half of it before school started and I ran out of time.

The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien) – When my brother and I were little, our dad read to us almost every night. To avoid frequent “what to read” questions, he liked to choose long books, or series. Thus, he chose The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings even though he hadn’t liked them when he read them previously. Not only did my dad discover that he actually liked Tolkien, my brother and I became devoted fans. I read (or does it count as my first reread?) the series in seventh grade and the following summer discovered that there was another book set in Middle Earth. Published posthumously, the opening of The Silmarillion is not as engaging as the earlier books and I abandoned it due to a combination of dryness and school starting. (Common theme.) This has the oldest start date for the books on my list.

The Italian (Ann Radcliffe) – Another book started in high school but never completed. I don’t remember why for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that my copy is part of a volume which also contains Northanger Abbey—I’m guessing I decided to read the Austen instead!

The Prize

It seems like it should somehow be bookish, doesn’t it? Buying myself a book doesn’t quite seem right, as I seem to do that too often anyways, so it won’t really be a good reward. However, successfully completing this challenge seems like the perfect excuse to buy a bookish related TV adaptation. I’m thinking the first series of Sherlock, a contemporary adaptation of the famous detective stories.

The Manifesto

You may notice that two of my titles are also on my TBR challenge list (and for anyone who might wonder, I’ll be starting all of the books from the beginning—no cheating on the TBR Challenge). So step one is doubling the reasons I have to read some of these. Step two: just read them!

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10 thoughts on “Haven’t I Read This Before?

  1. The only book I started this year but didn’t finish (that I can remember right now anyway) is one that you also mentioned, The Italian. I’m not convinced yet that I want to go back to it anytime soon though. We’ll see. 🙂

    1. I’ve started a couple books this year that didn’t get finished, but for various reasons I don’t intend to return to them next year–which is why I dug deep into the past for this challenge!

  2. The Silmarillion would be on my list, too. At the time I tried to read it I found the begging VERY dry and never bothered with it. I still have my copy, though, so I really should get back to it one day.

    1. I hadn’t looked at it in years, but this summer, I thumbed through my brother’s copy and started skimming some of the later sections which really seemed quite readable. I really want to read more about the background of Middle Earth and the rings, so I’m determined to get through it this year. (And the sooner the better!)

  3. I’ve never read The Silmarillion straight through, you know. I read it in bits and pieces at various times. There are parts of it that I’ve read several times and the rest maybe twice or thrice. I think the first part of the book, Ainulindale I have read the most. I love the language in it, and the whole mythological beginning. I’ve also read the destruction of the three hidden elven kingdoms (Nargathrond, Doriath and Gondolin) many times. Actually, the book can be divided into stories that can be read apart from the rest of the book. A few of these stories aren’t ordered chronologically either. I think this book is really a feat that only a Tolkien fan would have the patience to go through…and even then a great deal of patience! Personally, I think the only reason I ever managed to finish this book is because of debates we used to have at a Tolkien site that required we knew what we were debating about! I grew to love it because of the debates. 😀

    All the best with reading it, Amanda. And when you get through it I would love to read your opinions on it! 🙂

    Oh, and I hope you get to finish the others as well!

    1. I think you’re the first person I’ve seen that liked the first part the best! (I’m sure there are others; I just haven’t come across them yet.) My brother has read it all the way through, twice I believe, and he’s offered up tantalizing tidbits that are enough to make me determined to finish.

      Thanks! I will definitely post about it once I get it read.

  4. I don’t think this is a very popular challenge idea. Every comment I see has people recoiling, saying, “Why would I want to go back and read something I set aside?” Ha! Makes me chuckle. 😆

    I’m thinking (no joke!) that I might finish two of my text books from college for this challenge. 😀 And then buy myself something off my Christmas Wish List.

    I love your idea to buy yourself an adaption of a book. You’re right: a book is an obvious prize. (But still my favorite kind of prize! Though a DVD of the 1995 Sense & Sensibility might make a worthy contender.)

    Good work stepping up to the plate for this, Amanda! And thanks for the challenge idea. I like it a lot. It helps alleviate my guily for not finishing books in 2011, and turns it into a way to give myself a gift. 😀

    1. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like too many people set books aside that they actually like…

      I can’t say that I have too many college text books that I’d voluntarily want to read all the way through, or if I do, I read them while in school. (It helps when you have a whole semester to read something rather than just one month!)

      Thanks, and you are welcome for the idea. An excuse for a self-gift makes it all the better!

  5. Good luck with The Silmarillion. It took me four years to finish Lord of the Rings, so I don’t think I’m touching The Silmarillion any time soon. Also, kudos to you for reading Don Quixote. I find that book really intimidating.

    1. Thanks! I’ve read Lord of the Rings several times, so I’m not too worried about The Silmarillion. The only thing intimidating about Don Quixote is its length, I think. I hope!

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