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Preview: "Something About Me" Reading Challenge

"Something About Me" Reading Challenge

Updated: 2017-12-31T23:34:34.194-08:00


alisonwonderland's wrap-up


thanks so much to lisa and to all the participants of this challenge! it was so much fun! i finished nine books, although i was really going to try hard to finish a tenth before the end. i've posted a brief wrap-up here. see you all around the blogosphere!



Hi all!! I used a random number generator again to choose the final prize!!

It goes to Juli, which is fitting since she's done so many reviews in the past week!! Juli, if you can email me your snail mail address, I'll send you the prize!! (My email in comments).

I also used a random number generator to choose the book from the sidebar -- the book that it picked for the prize is The Poisonwood Bible, so that's what I'll send. If you already have that one/have already read it, let me know, Juli and I'll choose again.

Thanks everyone for a great challenge and I hope to see you here again next year!! Keep up with me on my regular book blog and I'll make announcements as it comes closer!

Have a great 2008!

The Challenge!



Everyone has chosen their five books that represent them and is now busily reading away on the books they've chosen to read! I'm looking forward to all the discussions about books that have been chosen. I'm also working on a PDF file that you can print out that includes all the books on the sidebar so that you can continue reading after the challenge is over -- I know you want to read more of these books than you can fit in in the next 5 months!

What a fun challenge! (3M's Wrap-Up)


This was a great challenge, Lisa, and I hope you do it again next year. I ended up with 7 titles when I said I would do 5-6, so I consider it a success. Thanks so much!

My wrap up post is here.

Juli's Challenge Wrap Up!


I had a great time participating in this challenge. I read so many good reviews and added a lot of new books to my TBR pile.

My full wrap up is here.



Juli's Review: So Many Books, So Little Time


(image) Author: Sara Nelson

Pages: 232

Personal Rating: 3/5

From the back cover:

In early 2002, Sara Nelson-editor, reporter, reviewer, mother, daughter, wife, and compulsive reader-set out to chronicle a year's worth of reading, to explore how the world of books and words intermingled with children, marriage, friends, and the rest of the real world. She had a system all set up: fifty-two weeks, fifty-two books . . . and it all fell apart the first week. That's when she discovered that books chose her as much as she chose them, and the rewards and frustrations they brought were nothing she could plan for: In reading, as in life, even if you know what you're doing, you really kind of don't.

I have to admit I did not think I would enjoy this book at all. Reading about someone else reading? It sounded boring to me. I also thought it started slowly and I almost put it down (Nelson actually talks about knowing you’re a grown up when you can put down a book unfinished because you don’t like it). Nelson really doesn’t summarize the plots of the books. She talks more about how they impacted her life or the impression they made or what they reminded her of. It was also interesting to hear her views about other people as readers.

What I Liked: Nelson reminded me of the memories books trigger in you. Where you were, a certain person, what you were doing at that point in your life. Some books you keep going back to like an old friend. She wasn’t afraid to be honest about the good and bad aspects of her life. There is an appendix that lists the books she was planning to read and the books she did actually read. I added several books to my to be read pile

What I Did Not Like: Nelson is a book snob. She seems like she wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere reading a Stephen King novel. She actually picked her books to take on a vacation based on how she thought she would look to the other women on the trip. She wanted to impress them. She considered (or did) ending friendships over bad book recommendations because of what they said about the person who recommended them.

I found this book on three lists: Sally, Vasilly and If I were to generalize and be kinda corny I would say they all have wayyyy more books to read than they have time for (well...who doesn't?). I would also guess they enjoy challenging themselves in various ways, not just those related to books. I also wondered if they had a hard times choosing their books like Nelson did. She was so picky!

Juli's Review: Gallery of Regrettable Food


Author: James LileksPages: 191Date: 2001Genre: Non-Fiction, Comedy, Pop CulturePersonal Rating: 5/5From the back cover:WARNING: This is not a cookbook. You'll find no tongue-tempting treats within -- unless, of course, you consider Boiled Cow Elbow with Plaid Sauce to be your idea of a tasty meal. No, The Gallery of Regrettable Food is a public service. Learn to identify these dishes. Learn to regard shivering liver molds with suspicion. Learn why curries are a Communist plot to undermine decent, honest American spices. Learn to heed the advice of stern, fictional nutritionists. If you see any of these dishes, please alert the authorities.Now, the good news: laboratory tests prove that The Gallery of Regrettable Food AMUSES as well as informs. Four out of five doctors recommend this book for its GENEROUS PORTIONS OF HILARITY and ghastly pictures from RETRO COOKBOOKS. You too will look at these products of post-war cuisine and ask: "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?" It's an affectionate look at the days when starch ruled, pepper was a dangerous spice, and Stuffed Meat with Meat Sauce was considered health food.Bon appetit!I thought this book was absolutely fantastic based mainly upon it's uniqueness. Basically Lileks makes fun of recipes he has found dating from the 50's to the 70's. It had incredible photos of the dishes, retro fonts and colors, and a cool layout. I laughed out loud several times. He shows pictures of each dish and then "talks" about that dish. Most of the dishes are just plain disgusting. There were two chapters near the end that dragged a little but besides that it was a very fast read. I plan on keeping it on my coffee table so people can grab it for a good laugh.MY FAVORITE QUOTES:Ladies, serve toast--and well-groomed twins in tuxedos will want to have sex with you! Perhaps that circle is not a cross section of a spine, but a blowhole (ahem) of sorts--of a false eye to confuse predators. Put it on the floor and watch it frighten the dog.This looks very much like a magnified cluster of warts. Although warts don't usually come with parsely.I don't know, and I don't want to know. I just don't. It's a cucumber fun house, perhaps: notice how they seem to be pressing against the sides of the mold as if demanding our attention. Help! We're being felt up by smelly salmon in here --let us outJames Lileks has a website "The Official Institute of Good Cheer" on which the Gallery of Regrettable Food is based.I picked this books from Tiny Librian's list and I would have to say she has a great, quirkcy sense of humor![...]

Tiny Little Librarian's Wrap-Up


Thanks so much, Lisa! This has been an awesome challenge.

My (rather long!) wrap-up is

Juli's Review of The Echo Maker


From the back cover:

On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, twenty-seven-year-old Mark Schluter has a near-fatal car accident. His older sister, Karin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when Mark emerges from a coma, he believes that this woman--who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister--is really an imposter. When Karin contacts the famous cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber for help, he diagnoses Mark as having Capgras syndrome. The mysterious nature of the disease, combined with the strange circumstances surrounding Mark's accident, threatens to change all of their lives beyond recognition. In The Echo Maker, Richard Powers proves himself to be one of our boldest and most entertaining novelists.

If you can get through the first 100 pages of this book it is well worth reading. This is one of the more intricate novels I’ve read in awhile. There is a lot going on that is cleverly intertwined…neurology, biology, ecology, relationships…there are four or five main characters whose lives layer over each other in an amazing and sometimes sad way.
At times it was confusing. Not because it was poorly written, I just had a hard time following on occasions. For the most part I just kept reading to see what the human mind was capable of.

I selected this book from 3M's list (Michelle). When I finished reading the book and read why she picked it I was shocked to learn that she HAD Capgras and Cotards Syndrome in college! I tried to imagine her (even though I don't know her) in situations similar to those in the book. It must have been a difficult and strange time to say the least. I assume/hope that she is no longer suffering from those conditions as it seems so painful for everyone involved.

I found the book very interesting because I have degrees in psychology and biology and they overlap perfectly here. Great recommendation if you have the right mindset.

(completed 11.26.07)

The sisterhood of the traveling pants


Well, following Lisa's post, I guess I read this just in time. This was my last book for the Something about me Challenge although I did read others from people's lists that weren't on my original or alternate to read list. In the process, I discovered that I really don't enjoy the constraints of a challenge (but I may still be back for 2008!) and prefer to just read what people recommend, or new books that come out, or interesting books I find in my travels (both virtual and real). I did enjoy the camaraderie of seeing the books everyone chose and why.
I enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but didn't love it. I am curious enough to read the rest of the series although not immediately. So thanks to Lisa and everyone and see you in 2008!


Diary of a Young Girl


I finally got around to reading Diary of a Young Girl (the story of Anne Frank). I had, of course, read my fair share of excerpts from this in school, but I never read the whole thing. Pattie has raved about it and it made her Something About Me List, so I bought a copy. Actually, I think I got my copy off of Bookmooch. Anywho. It sat in my room and did not get read. I am not sure why I had trouble picking it up.

So, I added it to my Baby Steps Challenge list. Still, I procrastinated.
Finally, I picked it up, unwilling to greet the new year without having completed it.

It was wonderful.

And sad.

I knew Anne's story well enough to know it was NOT a happy ending kind of book, but I knew little enough about the details to not feel like I had read the last page first. I found the diary so real and honest. It reminded me of my OWN diary from that age. When I would find myself thinking Anne was sounding like a spoiled brat, I realized I had too at that age. The point of a diary is you CAN sound like a brat, b/c no one else will ever read it. In Anne's case, the world has seen her good and bad side.

The story is universal as far as teen girls go.


The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (Chasida)


Susie Salmon is 14 when she is raped and murdered by a neighbour on December 6th 1973. He dumps her body parts in a sink hole, locked inside an old safe. As it turns out, she is by no means his first victim and she won't be his last.

Up in heaven Susie gets to watch her family and friends deal with her death and continue with their lives, although she is not able to influence her. She watches her father suspect their neighbour with no one believing him, her mother begin an affair and disengage from her family, her sister get her first boyfriend and her younger brother lock his feelings away. One final chance is left to Susie on earth in the form of Ruth, a girl who was in her class in school.

I mostly really enjoyed this novel. The idea of heaven was interesting and I liked that it was forever changing as the soul changed and learnt new things about themselves, earth and the people still living there. It was also good to see how the different people dealt with Susie's death, it was very realistic writing. The only part I didn't like so much was near the end in a scene involving Ruth, Ray and Susie which spoilt the realistic illusion for me a little. That it didn't particularly have a happy ending to Susie's case again made it more real somehow and the fact that her death still remained somewhat of a mystery.

We're almost done here!


Hi all. I'm just going to assume everyone has finished the challenge for the final prize drawing...(except a couple of you who are in the sidebar, but didn't participate after all...)

If you didn't finish and you want to play by the rules, you can let me know and I'll leave you out of the drawing, but I won't tell if you don't!! I'm not, by nature, a rule player. :)

Hope you all had fun doing this challenge. I'll leave this blog up if you want to reference it, and see you here next year for Something About Me 2008!

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen: Trish's Review


(image) I am so thrilled that I finished with this challenge and with such a pleasant read!

Pride and Prejudice was my final selection for this challenge. My review can be found on HERE on my blog. Because the story is so well-known I don't discuss the plot so much as a few of my feelings. While I really enjoyed the story, I'm a sucker for the new movie-version with Kiera Knightly. Yes, some parts were butchered out, but certain scenes I think are portrayed so beautifully to show the tension between Lizzy and Mr. Darcy.

If you haven't read this one, I would recommend it as the quintessential romance novel. Enjoy!

A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly


Here's another enthusiastic review for this challenge. I can't believe that so many of the best reads of the year for me come from here. First "Weetzie Bat", then "The Giver" and now "A gathering light"(or "A Northern Light") by Jennifer Donnelly.
Read why on my blog.

I'm still reading the last book on my list, so I don't think I'll manage to finish the challenge. Unless I can swap this one with another book that I read (The Giver) which wasn't on my original list. Would that count?:P
Anyway, it doesn't matter, I hope I'll manage to post another review before the end of december!

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (Faith)


Guy Montag is a fireman. This job involves setting fire to books as opposed to putting out fires. The title of the book, "Fahrenheit 451", is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns. People are being made alike and to achieve this books are being taken away to stop people who read from knowing more than others. In place of books the television has taken over with broadcasts being 24 hours a day on large walls in every home. Secretly however, Montag has been rescuing the odd book from places he has torched and hiding them in his house without giving it much thought.

One day he meets 17 year old Clarisse McClellan who helps show him how to begin questioning things again and then he attends a fire that changes him forever. He saves The Bible (possibly the last copy in existence) from the house and shows his wife his collection which they begin to read. He also tracks down a man he met in a park once who becomes involved in Montag's life for the better for both of them. The system is on to Montag though and has been silently and secretly monitoring for who knows how long. Will he manage to keep his secrets hidden and retain his books...

I really loved this book. The characters were really well written especially Montag and the Captain at the Firestation, they have a wonderful battle of words about half way through about how books can both assist an arguement and then in the same novel turn around and give the exact opposite opinion. A bunch pf professors being exiled and forced into hiding, memorising whole novels to keep the words alive is a great idea for a story. The afterward was particularly interesting about looking at how television is already conquering our lives and encouraging you to go out and get others to read more which I am sure will appeal to many out there reading this post. It compliments 1984 by George Orwell nicely and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky (LMC)


Raskolnikov, Rodion Romanovich sets out one day in the middle of a fever to kill pawn broker and money lender Alena Ivanovna. He fashions a loop of cloth inside his jacket to hide an axe after hearing her sister Lizaveta will be away one evening and she will be at home alone. Once he gets to her flat, his plans soon seem to come undone. After killing Alena, Lizaveta arrives home earlier than expected and Raskolnikov has forgotten to lock the front door. In the spur of the moment he kills her as well and then flees the scene, taking Alena's purse and some possessions.

Interweaving the story of Raskolnikov is the story of his sister Dunya. She was a governess in a household where the gentleman of the house fell in love with her. His wife arranged for her to be married to clerk Luzhim, Peter Petrovich much to her brothers disgust. Both force her to choose between them and in the meantime her former boss Svidrigaylov, Arkady Ivanovich turns up to cause further trouble for Dunya.
What is really interesting is Raskolinkov's reasons, or lack of, for the murder. He doesn't really appear to have any and he certainly expresses little or no remorse during the course of the book. He refers to Alena as an "old witch" and barely mentions Lizaveta who was such a gentle soul. He gets involved with a prostitute (Sofya Semenovna) and her family who end up being his salvation ultimately.

There are some great cat and mouse games and converations between Raskolinkov and Porfiry Petrovich (the examining magistrate) as the net around Raskolinkov tightens. Do the police know the truth or are they just playing games with him? The book isn't so much about the crime (although it is frequently mentioned) or the punishment of it by law, it's more about suffering. Raskolinkov seems to make things worse for himself by randomly confessing to people and then pretending he was joking to further increase his suffering (perhaps because of his lack of guilt and motive?). It also discusses the nature of crime and his particular belief that some people who are geniuses are above the law (like Napoleon). It also parallels Dostoevsky's own experiences with crime and just escaping being put to death at the last moment to be exiled to Siberia.

It took me a little to get into this novel as it is pretty complicated, luckily my copy had a really handy guide to the Russian names at the back as they kept using different names for the same person. Once I did get stuck in, I fell in love with it. The climax is gripping the edge of your seat to see how it all plays out and I found it nearly impossible to put down. I highly recommend it if you haven't yet found the time for it.

Harry Potter


I didn't originally choose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in this challenge (and indeed, you will not find it on my list); however, I decided to write a bit about it as I've just finished all seven books in the series.

I wasn't going to let my daughter read these until I'd read them, mainly because of the swirl of controversy surrounding them. But to my surprise, I really enjoyed them, and I couldn't put them down. In fact, I had to check them out of the library 2 and 3 at a time, because I wanted to start the next one right after finishing the previous one!

This morning, shortly after midnight, I finished the seventh and final installment. They were really, really good books. Controversy? Well, those who want to find it can surely find it if they look (after all, anyone looking for something to complain about, will find it!).

Because it's looking doubtful that I'll finish my Something About Me list, I wish to submit the seven HP books as substitutes for the ones I didn't get to.

An Inconvenient Wife


An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance

Summary (from Booklist): Mrs. Lucy Carelton, who comes from one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in 1880s New York City, has been completely undone by her nerves. Her ambitious husband, a nouveau riche stockbroker, drags her from one doctor to another in search of a cure that will allow her to fulfill her many social obligations without giving in to hysteria. They think they have found the solution in charismatic neurologist Victor Seth, a champion of a relatively new procedure called hypnotism. Seth sets about freeing Lucy from the social constraints that have made her so unhappy, encouraging her to pursue her artistic talents and explore her sexuality. Seth convinces himself that his techniques, including his handy way with an electrotherapy wand, are all in the name of science, but even he is unprepared for the new Lucy who emerges - a passionate, calculating, amoral creature of large appetites.

I really enjoyed how this book kept changing - at first it seemed like it was going to be an exploration of women's submissive role in 19th century society, then it got into Seth and his ambitious quest for recognition by the medical community and it looked like he'd be a Svengali, then Lucy became her own person, so it looked like it would be about her new life, and then there was a major plot twist!

At first I was concerned that it was just going to be about Lucy and her hysteria, a fairly simple historical fiction, and I wasn't sure if I'd like it. But, as you can see above, it kept me very interested. It was well-researched, with lots of interesting details about New York society and early medicine (apparently what I'd heard about vibrators being used to treat hysteria is indeed true!). Often the way Lucy's husband and father, and even Seth, treated her made me very angry, so I was glad when she emerged from their suppression as her own woman. The discussion of the power of the unconscious mind was also interesting, especially since it's something that's still being explored today.

I couldn't find LibraryLady's reasons for picking this one and her blog seems to have gone kaput, but I thank her very much for the recommendation, as I don't think it's one I would have stumbled across on my own and I'm very glad to have read it.

This Side of Paradise


(image) Ellen chose this book:
Sure, everyone loves The Great Gatsby, but Fitzgerald's first novel is more raw and sad and charming. I read it in high school and probably re-read it at least once a year.

I agree with her assessment of the book's rawness, sadness, and it's charm. This novel had some fun prose and interesting writing. Not the most riveting, but not the most boring thing I've read in awhile either. The novel started with that particular romanticism that captured the pre-World War I era, and while the war itself is not elaborated on, the book does a good job of exploring the effects of people post-war. The novel is in some ways less refined tha TGG, but it really outlines the themes and the raw writing potential of Fitzgerald.

I Am The Messenger - Wendy's Book Review


(image) People die of broken hearts. They have heart attacks. And it's the heart that hurts most when things go wrong and fall apart. - From I Am The Messenger, page 270 -

After reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief earlier this year (read my review here), I rushed right out and bought I Am The Messenger. It has taken me 11 months to actually sit down and read it...and although I can't rate it at the level of The Book Thief, I wasn't disappointed.

Ed Kennedy is a young taxi driver, a do-nothing sort of guy who hangs around with his friends playing cards and drinking coffee with his geriatric, smelly dog, The Doorman. Then one day he intervenes in a bank robbery...and his life changes. He begins receiving playing cards - aces - with messages he must figure out. The novel creates tension in that the reader (and Ed) are kept in the dark as to who the deliverer of the messages is...until the very last page.

Written in simple prose, but with Zusak's signature brilliant language, I Am The Messenger delivers powerful and profound messages of faith, the underlying goodness of humanity, and the admonition that one must risk and stretch to achieve their purpose in life.

I want words at my funeral.
But I guess that means you need life in your life. - From I Am The Messenger, page 278 -

I love that Zusak is still a young man with, I hope, lots more stories inside of him. He is a writer of immense talent, and I Am the Messenger is just another example of this.

Recommended; rated 4/5.

I read this book on the recommendation of Jill who says:

I love this story because it shows that we are all capable of doing wonderful things. The main character receives cryptic playing cards with clues written on them, and he's charged to do good deeds to designated strangers - the catch is that he doesn't know exactly what he's supposed to do. So he must observe and be creative. And figure it out, or else...
Thanks for the recommendation, Jill - great book!

Wendy's Challenge Wrap Up


Thank you to Lisa at Breaking the Fourth Wall for hosting this challenge! My original reading list consisted of more books, but the rules state that participants must complete five (5) books at a minimum...and I have done that, so I'm taking credit for a finish on this one. Here are the books I read:

1. The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett (Completed August 26, 2007; read a review here)
2. The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers (Completed September 6, 2007; read a review here)
3. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (Completed October 12, 2007; read a review here)
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Completed December 8, 2007; read a review here)

5. I Am The Messenger, by Markus Zusak (Completed December 17, 2007; read a review here)

My favorites were East of Eden AND A Thousand Splendid Suns - both of which I rated 5/5. There was not a "dud" in the bunch!

I still want to read many of the books on my original posting for this challenge...and will continue 'checking them off' and posting reviews as we move into 2008.

Challenge Completed!


I made pretty good progress with the "Something About Me" reading challenge- finishing all of my main selections plus most of my alternates. I don't think I can squeak in I, Elizabeth before the year's end, so I will officially declare this challenge completed! Please check out my blog if you're interested in reading any of my reviews on these books.Thanks to Lisa for hosting this challenge and to all of the participants who offered up so many great books to read!MAIN SELECTIONS COMPLETED1) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Alyson, Lucca) - I plan on reading Geraldine Brook's March for the Book Awards Challenge, but I wanted to brush up on the girls before I do. Completed September 16, 20072) Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote (Lucca) - A great excuse to finally read Capote! Completed September 3, 20073) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (SheReads) - This book is burning a hole on my bookshelf. I must get to it soon! Completed September 30, 20074) The Red Tent by Anita Diamante (Sarah Miller) - I always wanted to read this book - I am beginning to enjoy Biblical Fiction. Completed August 25, 20075) Chocolat by Joanne Harris (Chasida, Margo) - I loved Five Quarters of an Orange, and I loved this movie, and I love chocolate! I can't believe I haven't read this book. Completed August 18, 20076) Blindness by Jose Saramago (Vasilly) - I share a lot of reading tastes with Vasilly, and she lists this one as one of her favorites - plus I can use it for the Book Awards Challenge. Completed August 12, 2007ALTERNATES COMPLETED1) The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland (Alyson) - This sounds like an intriguing story though I will wait for more reader reviews before I commit to reading. Completed July 23, 20072) The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (Margo) - Kinsella's books are perfect after reading deep, complicated fiction - perfect for the poolside! Completed October 12 2007DIDN'T COMPLETE1) I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles (Soleil) - I enjoyed reading some of Philippa Gregory's Tudor stories and thought this would be a nice addition.[...]

Becky's Finishing Post....


For this challenge, I have read So Many Books So Little Time by Sara Nelson, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum, and the Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo.

Update & a Question


Here's where I am:

Crime and Punishment (JMC)

Chocolat (Chasida, Margo)
Can you keep a secret (Kathrin)

Of Human Bondage (Athena)

The Thirteenth Tale (Kristin)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Janet, Stephanie)

The Robber Bride (Ellen)

Anne of the Island (Becky)

Anne of the Windy Poplars (raidergirl)

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Lucca)


The Red Tent (Sarah Miller)

March (Dewey)

The Writing Life (Megan)

Anne Frank (Pattie)

I can't see me completing the challenge at this time, but I want to continue reading all my books. Since we're nearing the end, what happens next? Will this blog continue for us slowpokes? Or is that it? Just wondering what everyone's thoughts were on this.