Bookishly challenged


I began the year by signing up to lots of challenges, none of which I expected to take terribly seriously – they were intended to help me pick my next backlist read, rather than to be strictly achieved. Just as well really, since I stopped tracking any of them long before summer. But did I accidentally complete any (prompts) at all?

First up, I have to acknowledge this was not the year of backlist reading I intended it to be. Fully half my reading was either an ARC (if not necessarily a recent one) or a 2022 purchase (although in my defence, most of those were Subjective Chaos nominees). Nonetheless, it left rather fewer candidates to accidentally match to my first two challenges, which were all about backlist and aging TBR…

TidyTheTBR with Runalong Womble | Storygraph

Much to my own surprise, there was quite a lot of harmony between my relatively short list of qualifying reads (on the shelf on Jan 1, not an ARC) and the Womble’s prompts – almost enough to tempt me into putting my head down and completing the challenge until I realised what the longest book on my TBR was. Yes, cathedral building is interesting, but no I’m still not interested enough to read 1000+ pages of The Pillars Of The Earth. Maybe if it were about megalith builders. One day I may admit I’ll never be interested enough and quietly shuffle it off the shelf, but it was a gift and everyone tells me it’s great and I have guilt, okay? Just not enough guilt.

But that’s beside the point. My final tally is 9 of 12 prompts. Not bad.

Bookish Valhalla Adult SFF Backlist Challenge (#ASFBB22) | Join in on Storygraph

The Valkyrie are more lenient than the Womble, so I was allowed to include backlist ARCs for this challenge. This didn’t make as big a difference as I hoped, but bumped me slightly closer to completing the challenge. Final tally: 10 of 12 prompts.

There’s Always Room For One More Backlist Challenge | Join in on Storygraph

Hilariously, I didn’t do anywhere near as well at my own challenge – largely due to my self-imposed limit of only counting reads older than my blog. I have a shelf full. I read… 3 of them.

Prompts completed: Move Over Mister (not written by a bloke): Planetfall | Scifi: Plan For Chaos | Written in the 80s: Native Tongue

No bingo and no brownie points for me, but more backlist to look forward to in the future.

The Great Series Read Project | Goal: 3 | Achieved: 4

I completed Hell’s Library, The God-King Chronicles, The Expanse, and The Broken Earth so I get to feel supremely smug for exceeding my goal (and having a damn fine time doing so).

BookForager’s Picture Prompt Challenge

This felt like the easy challenge at the start of the year – every read seemed to fit a prompt – but revisiting it at the end of the year to fill the gaps required a bit of creative interpretation… which is fine.

Stack o’ books (the occult)*: Piranesi | Death: How High We Go In The Dark | Galleon (ships and sailors): The Godbreaker | Ringed planet (other worlds): | Planetfall | Dragon astride the world (conquest): Girls of Paper and Fire | Rocket (space travel): Far From The Light Of Heaven | Ex libris (library books): The God of Lost Words | House: Just Like Home | The Earth: The Moonday Letters | Crossed swords (conflict): This Is Our Undoing | Dinosaur: One Day All This Will Be Yours | Trophy (competition): Firebreak | Plant (herbal tea): A Psalm For The Wild-built** | Heart (medicine): The Bruising of Qilwa | Watch (time): A Man Of Shadows | Witch: Witchmark

*In retrospect, I’m not entirely sure how I decided this picture of a stack of books was the occult. I hadn’t seen Mayri’s text descriptions yet, and apparently that’s how my brain classified the picture with no further input. Since Piranesi works either way, I’m keeping it as the assigned book and being bemused at my brain.

** …and then I realised it’s a carnivorous plant, so probably not best for making tea, but here we are. Good luck, little monk.

I’ve had a whale of a time with these challenges, even if I didn’t keep my eye on the ball – revisiting at year’s end to see how I accidentally did has been huge fun. You can rest assured I’m picking out a new set of fun-focused challenges for 2023 to entertain myself with.