Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One Two Theme! Challenge

I swore I wouldn't sign up for any challenges other than the TBR Dare, but then I found Alexandra's challenge after linking to her blog (see -- I really do read comments and explore other people's blogs -- I find such great stuff that way!)  It sounds like a fun way to attack my TBR list. Basically, you choose your own challenges, by theme.  For the first theme, you choose one book; the second has two; the third has three; and so on.  For any theme with more than two books, at least one must be non-fiction.

Here are my themes and possible reads, mostly drawn from my TBR shelves:

1: China
Peony or East Wind, West Wind by Pearl S. Buck
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Mildred Jung Chang
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

2: World War II
Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Berniers
A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson (see, I knew I could sneak at least one Persephone in!)
Nella Last's War by Nella Last

3:  Food
Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe (also France)
The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antoine Careme by Ian Kelly
Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Journey through Kyoto by Victoria Abbott Riccardi
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Chef by Jaspreet Singh

4:  France
My Life in France by Julia Child
Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Perfume From Provence by Lady Winifred Fortescue
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser
Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or The Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
The Drinking Den or Germinal by Emile Zola

In other words, I need to read (at least) one book about China, two about WWII, three about food, and four about France.  I feel like my themes aren't particularly original but the whole point is to find a reason to work on the owned-and-unread pile.

So, bloggers, what do you think?  Good choices?  Any recommendations?  Anything that will help me whittle down my unread book pile is a good thing, right?  And how is everyone else doing on the TBR dare?


  1. Some challenges are just too irresistable. :D

  2. My Life in France is absolutely a joy to read. Well written, interesting, Julia Child is a treasure.

  3. I'm guessing you've read A Movable Feast, by Hemingway, but that's a lovely story about France.

  4. Amanda -- I think this one would be perfect for you. . .

    JaneGS -- I think Julia will be my next nonfiction read. I've signed up for The Three Musketeers readalong with A Literary Odyssey -- I hope it won't be a Gallic overload!

    Melissa -- yes, I read it several years ago. I think it's my favorite Hemingway so far. But thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Nice idea for a challenge! I really like this one. Of the books you listed, I love The Dud Avocado and Paris to the Moon. I'd also recommended The Painted Veil for the China category if you haven't already read it.

  6. This sounds like a fun challenge! I haven't read many of the books you've listed, but I highly recommend Wild Swans - it was one of my favourite books that I read last year. I also loved The Three Musketeers (and everything I've read by Dumas actually!)

  7. Brenna -- I'm really excited about the French part. I'll probably end up reading more than four books. And The Painted Veil is one of my favorite Maughams -- have you seen the movie?

    Helen -- Wild Swans scares me a little, so that's good to hear. I'm hoping to start The Three Musketeers for a readalong today.

  8. I have seen this challenge before and it looks like a great way to get through some TBR books and spend some focused time learning about one area. I'm just a little bit daunted by the work that would go into classifying books into categories.

  9. I like the idea of themes. I don't intentionally read in themes, but I have interests that I pursue, reading several books on a given topic in a row.

  10. I so love A Bell For Adano. (You could even make that theme Italy! Or, Pulitzer Prize winning novels. :)

  11. I found Wild Swans to be a fascinating read. We have a few in common on our TBR shelves. :) I, too, have Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Julia's Life in France. All in good time! I unofficially took the TBR dare for the first two months of the year, allowing myself to pick up Cornflower's BOMs. The January book I already had on the TBR shelf, so I managed to only pick up one in those two months that wasn't already here. There were several that arrived on the doorstep - mainly as gifts/blog giveaways/Valentines and I'm happy to have the freedom to now read them at my leisure. I have really enjoyed the pressure of the TBR Dare and hope to continue reading more from home than not this year. Happy Reading to you!

  12. Welcome to the challenge! :-) I think your themes are great, I might steal some of your book choices! ;-)


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