Renay, over at Let's Get Literate, is hosting the Herding Cats II Challenge (Attack of the Hairballs). Running from April 1 through December 31, 2009, this one is a reading challenge that's "only a reading challenge if you want it to be."
I had a lot of fun with the first Herding Cats Challenge last year. In these challenges, the participants are asked to come up with a list of favorite books (five this year), to add to one big master list of titles. Then you choose your reading for the challenge from that list. However, this year there's no set number of books to read; in fact, reading isn't really required at all. As Renay says: "Browse the new book list. Stay a while. Read a few (eta: if you want; not even reading is required this time around if you don't have time to commit to a new challenge but still want to share your favorites)." But there's a review link for sharing reviews if you choose to write them.
You can sign up and read all about the challenge on the announcement page. I know it sounds like a strange sort of reading challenge, but since I love to make and read lists, I find it hard to resist. This year, your titles are all supposed to come from books you've read in 2007, 2008, or 2009. So, here's my list of five:
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. This is probably Wharton's masterpiece; winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. I read it for the first time earlier this year, and it's quickly become one of my all-time favorites. Now I think everyone should read it!
Booked to Die by John Dunning. First book in Dunning's great Cliff Janeway mystery series. Janeway is a former Denver police detective who leaves the force under rather questionable circumstances, and turns to selling rare books. This is a wonderful series for anyone who loves old books and the book trade. But the Janeway books are definitely not "cozies."
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. This novel about a young academic who hunts down a secret text with instructions about entering another dimension has been called "chick lit for nerds." Well, I'm a nerdy chick, and I really enjoyed it.
The Ladies' Man by Elinor Lipman. I guess this one could be called "chick lit for old chicks." The three sisters in Lipman's absolutely wonderful novel are all aging Boomers who should be old enough to know better. But when an old boyfriend shows up out of the blue, they just can't help but get involved all over again. This book has gotten very mixed reviews, but I thought it was hilarious.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Another book about a book. In 1950s Barcelona, the son of a widowed bookstore owner discovers a rare book by an obscure author, and becomes obsessed with tracking down the writer. This is another one I've added to my all-time favorites list, even though it does have quite a lot of violence. It's a subject I love.
These are five of my favorites from the last few years, and I tried to pick books that didn't seem to be on the master list already (at least, not when I looked at it). I also tried to pick a few books that I thought might not appear on a lot of other lists, to add a little variety to things. Haven't decided yet which books I'll read, but the master list has some really interesting choices.