Monday, August 08, 2016

A Five-Year Reading Challenge that Ended Almost Two Years Ago

In October of 2009, about seven months into my book blogging life, I came up with a plan to guide me read some fantastic books. I had just transitioned from reading 'everything' (or preferably pulp fiction) to literary fiction with focus on African literature. Realising how much I was missing, I set myself the target of reading 100 amazing books in five years. These books were to be exclusive of all other books I will read in the year. Thus, I can read other books but at the end of the five years I should have read these 100 books. I developed the list with vigour, with information from several sources (recommendations from friends and best books lists). This is the kind of challenge I cherish though I don't always complete challenges. However one challenging factor when it comes to challenges is book accessibility and it is because of this that I set the five-year target thinking that within that period the hurdle would have flattened out. 

So I made a list of books (here and there). Slowly, I grazed through the list and slowly time went by. However, by October 2014, when the challenge ended my reading slumped and my blogging life with it. It was so bad that it carried into 2015 and then 2016 making it impossible to talk about the end of the challenge and my level of achievement. Within this five years (or seven years as of 2016), I had changed jobs five times and each job had taken something away from my blogging life as every job I had taken had been quite different requiring new learning and new adjustments. 

Books Unread: Consequently, I have not been able to read 50 percent of the listed. In all, I read only 46 percent and of the 54 books not read I only have two on my unread bookshelf: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The following are the listed books I could not read:
  1. Anowa by Ama Atta Aidoo 
  2. A Dry White Season by Andre Brink 
  3. The Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee 
  4. The Blood Knot by Athol Fugard 
  5. Bones by Chenjerai Hove 
  6. Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night by Sindiwe Magona 
  7. House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera 
  8. Labyrinths by Christopher Okigbo 
  9. Song of Lawino by Okot P'Bitek 
  10. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadwai 
  11. Third World Express by Mongane Serote 
  12. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera 
  13. Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee 
  14. Osiris Rising by Ayi Kwei Armah 
  15. Tsoti by Athol Fugard 
  16. Toads for Supper by Chukwuemeka Ike 
  17. Ake: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka 
  18. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  19. Summertime by J. M. Coetzee 
  20. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner 
  21. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner 
  22. Light in August by William Faulkner 
  23. Kim by Rudyard Kipling 
  24. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing 
  25. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
  26. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
  27. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann 
  28. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann 
  29. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood 
  30. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 
  31. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon 
  32. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon 
  33. Mason and Dixon by Thomas Pynchon 
  34. Vineland by Thomas Pynchon 
  35. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace 
  36. Poker by Wittgenstein 
  37. Mistress by Wittgenstein 
  38. Tractatus Logico Philosophicus by Wittgenstein 
  39. Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein 
  40. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 
  41. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert 
  42. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes 
  43. Moby-Dick by Hermes Melville 
  44. Ulysses by James Joyce 
  45. Carpenter's Gothic by William Gaddis 
  46. A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis 
  47. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maughan 
  48. Money by Martin Amis 
  49. London Fields by Martin Amis 
  50. The Information by Martin Amis 
  51. We Won't Budge by Manthia Diawara 
  52. Songs of Enchantment by Ben Okri 
  53. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 
Books Read: Though good books are difficult to come by, through benevolent friends and fate, I was able to read some really interesting titles listed below:
  1. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe 
  2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe 
  3. The Beautyful Ones are not yet born by Ayi Kwei Armah 
  4. Nervous Condition by Tsitsi Dangaremba 
  5. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta 
  6. Burgher's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer 
  7. A Question of Power by Bessie Head 
  8. The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (I: Palace Walk; II: Palace of Desire; III: Sugar Street) 
  9. Indaba, My Children by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa 
  10. Chaka by Thomas Mofolo 
  11. A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiongo'o 
  12. The Famished Road by Ben Okri 
  13. Season of Migration to the North by Salih El Tayyib 
  14. Death and the King's Horsemen by Wole Soyinka 
  15. The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola 
  16. The Healers by Ayi Kwei Armah 
  17. They Say you are One of Us by Uwem Akpan 
  18. Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams 
  19. The Trial by Franz Kafka 
  20. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  21. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  22. The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer 
  23. Life of Pi by Yann Martel 
  24. Possession by A. S. Byatt 
  25. Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
  26. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner 
  27. Beloved by Toni Morrison 
  28. A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul 
  29. A House for Mr Biswas by V. S. Naipaul 
  30. 1984 by George Orwell 
  31. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee 
  32. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 
  33. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
  34. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
  35. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  36. White Teeth by Zadie Smith 
  37. The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald 
  38. Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre 
  39. Theatre by Somerset Maughan 
  40. Atonement by Ian McEwan 
  41. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan 
  42. God Dies by the Nile by Nawal El Sadaawi 
  43. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie 
  44. Satanic Verses by Salman 
  45. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy 
  46. Infinite Riches by Ben Okiri
Even though the challenge is officially over, I will still look for some of the titles on the list to read; however, time has changed my taste and there are some books on this list I may not actively look for. I am happy that I undertook this challenge and sad that I could not make a deep dent into the list.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate to the idea of wanting to accomplish specific reading goals, only to find that the goal, which was once exciting has become only burdensome and seemingly impossible to reach. Having held that many jobs over such a period of time is a very demanding situation. It's amazing that you've been able to keep up the reading that you have. And how great that you've found 46 great reads in all!


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