I am very much looking forward to tomorrow, as it is the first day of the Fall Reading Challenge! Since the spring of this year, I have been participating in the Seasonal Reading Challenge at Goodreads.com. This challenge is a lot of fun as it works like a scavenger hunt.

Each season (Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer) there is a new challenge created with participant-created tasks. Each task is different with different requirements and different numbers of books to read. The fun part of the challenge is finding the right books to fit each task. In this way, the challenge is like a scavenger hunt.

One example of a task is from the upcoming Fall challenge:

15.3. Dead or alive

Go to Coin Flipper and click “Flip Again.” Read two books.

If you flip 2 heads, read 2 books written by authors who are still alive. If you flip 2 tails, read 2 books written by authors who are deceased. If you flip one of each, read one of each.
REQUIRED: For a deceased author, include the year of death in your post.

When I complete this task, I will earn 15 points, as indicated by the 15.3. When I headed over to the Coin Flipper site, I flipped a heads and a tails. Therefore, I have to read one book by a deceased author and one book by an author who is still alive. Once I have done this, I will post my completed task on the completed tasks forum for the Fall Challenge and will earn 15 points towards my total. All I have to do is read two books, each at least 100 pages long, one dead author, one living author. Sounds easy right?

Not so with some of the other tasks. Take a look at this task:

25.1 – Rosemary’s task: Happiness Is…A Big Library

The biggest library in the ancient classical world was in Alexandria on the north-east coast of Africa. For this task you will read two books, one from each option.

A. Read a book borrowed from a lending library (including school, college or workplace libraries as well as public libraries, but not somebody’s personal book collection).

B. Read a book whose title contains exactly four different letters from the word ALEXANDRIA. It doesn’t matter if the letters are repeated: they only count once. Examples: The Bell Jar (E,L,A,R), Gone with the Wind  (N,E,I,D). This one DOESN’T work: Kidnapped because it contains five of the letters: I,D,N,A,E.
Subtitles may be omitted. Series titles are excluded.

Required: When you post, list the four letters in the order that they are found in your book title, as I did for the examples.

Part A is pretty easy as it can be any book from the library, but B is rough! I have to find a title that contains four of the letters from “Alexandria” but no more letters than what is represented! There’s only one e in Alexandria and that’s a pretty common letter in titles. For this part of the task, I’ve narrowed down my choices to Out of Africa (a,r,i,a) and Wise Blood (i,e,l,d).

Facts About the Challenge:

  1. There are up to 61 tasks for each challenge, with as many as 33 tasks requiring the reading of at least 2 books. Each book has to be 100 pages or more, unless otherwise specified. That means that I have to read up to 96 books, with at least one task specifying a minimum of 500 pages per book and another task specifying a minimum of 600 pages total, for a grand total of at least 10,500 pages to be read by the end of November! I will probably read many more pages than that, as it is rare that I read books that are around 100 pages (I only have chosen 12 potential books that are less than 200 pages long).
  2. The number of points earned per task depends upon the task’s difficulty. Points possible for each task are categorized as 5 points, 10 points, 20 points, 25 points, and 30 points, with one 50 point task added at the Challenge’s midpoint. Each point category includes up to ten tasks, with the exception of the 50 point category.
  3. Participants may use a book begun before the challenge start date, as long as it is over 500 pages and is less than halfway finished.
  4. One of the major rewards of the challenge is the ability to create a task for the following seasonal challenge.
  5. One task, each season, is a Group Read. Participants choose one of three books, each chosen as a representative of a particular genre. After reading one of the Group Read books, participants must post a comment on the discussion page for that particular book to receive points.
  6. Each seasonal challenge has a theme. For 2011, each challenge is related to a continent and many of the tasks require you to read a book connected to the featured continent. Challenges for this year include Australia (Spring ’11), Europe (Summer ’11), and the Fall Challenge is Africa.

Criticism of this Challenge:

Pro: Searching for the right book to fit a task is a lot of fun. Almost more fun than the actual reading of the books. Often you discover books you wouldn’t normally read (for example I have to read some True Crime books even though I am definitely not into that genre).

Con: This challenge really doesn’t promote community as much as other challenges I have found on the internet. Only one task, the Group Read, requires discussion and usually it rarely results in further discussion. Also, unless you are unemployed and sitting at home all day, it is nearly impossible to complete this challenge. Usually only 10-15 people, of at least 100 participants, complete the challenge each season, and they’re usually the same people each challenge.

Well, I’m really going to give this challenge a good try! I came close to finishing the Spring Challenge, reading almost 30 books in April, but that was because I had a month off from teaching for Spring Break. I definitely don’t get a month off this Fall!

Once all of the tasks are posted on Goodreads, I will post my proposed books for each task and highlight books on the list as they are completed. Wish me luck!

Are you participating in any challenges this fall? Would you be interested in participated in the Fall Reading Challenge?

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