The From the Stacks Challenge was a great first challenge for me, perfect for forcing myself to pick up those books that I otherwise would not have read. This challenge ran from November 1st 2008 to January 31st of this year. So I finished with a week or two to spare. The goal was to read five books that we have on our shelves at home, that we've been meaning to read but haven't managed to get to, for whatever reason. I have a lot more than five books that qualify, but I the books I chose were mostly gifts that I was given, some more than two years ago. I think it is very necessary to read the books that are given to you as gifts, because somebody obviously went out of their way to choose that book for you.
The first book that I read for this challenge was actually not a gift, but one that I picked up because I had heard so much about it. It was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. This one became one of my favorite reads of 2008 - I just loved it! And I'm so glad that I forced myself to read my copy of it. What a great way to begin this challenge!
The next book I read was also not a gift, but a signed first-edition that I had picked up for myself when I saw it on sale at the book store. It was Dragons of the Dwarven Depths by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I have to say that I do consider myself a Dragonlance fan, although not a huge one. I have enjoyed their books, but there are other series that I have loved more (The Deathgate Cycle is incredible, all fantasy fans should pick that one up at some point). This book was fun, very Dragonlance-y, but not great. Adding it to my collection of signed first editions meant more to me than reading the book itself, even after reading it.
I read Under the Net by Iris Murdoch for this challenge in December. This was a gift, one I received from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend for Christmas last year. They always choose thoughtful and interesting books, so I felt terrible for never getting around to reading their gifts. This was a fun read, very enjoyable both for the writing style and for the story.
I began the new year with another gift from J and A - Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This book is definitely on my list of favorite books now, and is probably the best book I've read so far this year. They actually got this book for me at least two Christmases ago! I can't believe I let it sit on my shelves for so long!
The final book I read for this challenge was a gift from my dad last Christmas - Crimes Against Nature by Robert F Kennedy Jr. I really enjoyed this one, and now when my dad asks me about it, I can actually discuss it with him, rather than making excuses for why I haven't read it yet!
I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for challenges in the future that are like this one. Anything that encourages me to read books that I own, rather than books from the library, is good. I still get tons from the library (just check out my Library Loot posts!) but at least my own bookshelf is not as neglected. Now I just have to figure out a way to encourage myself to read those books that I borrow from friends . . .