Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Bestseller Puzzle Reading Challenge

You've heard of the Goodreads Challenge. I participate every year (but this may only be my third year--can't recall), but I do wish Goodreads tracked a category for books readers attempted but abandoned. You can only delete them or mark them as "read." The former might lead to you trying the same lousy book again, as middle-aged forgetfulness creeps up on you, and the latter just isn't true. All of which to say is, I "read" 125+ books last year, completing my challenge, but at least five of those were dumped books, and by "dumped" I mean I gave up usually before I hit the 5% mark.

Anyhow, I signed up for the Goodreads Challenge again in 2017 but thought I'd add my own variation to it and invite any of you to come along.

Welcome to....the Bestseller Puzzle Reading Challenge!!!

This Christmas I gave my youngest a puzzle, which we worked on together.

Very fun puzzle, and fascinating to see how many bestsellers I'd never read. Historically speaking, not every bestseller turns into a classic, but seeing which stand the test of time is too tempting to resist.

If you're a reading addict like me, this challenge won't be too daunting because you've probably already knocked off many of the titles. Which are (if you can't see them in the little picture):

  1. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. (Done. Read it a couple years ago.)
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. (I should get credit for reading this about 800 times because I have three children.)
  3. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. (Done in high school and again in grad school. Plus, I've seen it in movies and live several times--NOT THAT THAT COUNTS IN THIS CHALLENGE.)
  4. Return to Peyton Place by Grace Metallious. (My book club read the original Peyton Place, and it was not high literature by any means. I may not get to this one for a while.)
  5. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. (Another new one! I saw five minutes of the Maggie Smith movie, but again THAT COUNTS FOR NOTHING IN THIS CHALLENGE.)
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. (I've only read a couple of these. Should be fun and annoying because Holmes is fun and annoying.)
  7. Sanctuary by William Faulkner. (I have a love/hate relationship with Faulkner. I love As I Lay Dying and I've abandoned his incomprehensible The Sound and the Fury.)
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird by the non-senile Harper Lee. (I think we can all safely cross this one off.)
  9. The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales edited by Maria Tatar. (Ooh! I put the library edition on hold for this one, since it's illustrated.)
  10. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. (Read this in grad school. Once is enough.)
  11. Bare Fists by Marshall R. Hall. (This one may actually be the last to be completed. The story was published in a pulp magazine, and I bet I'll have to visit a library collection to see it.)
  12. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. (Check.)
  13. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. (Check check.)
  14. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. (Check. Thanks, book club!)
  15. The Case of the Lucky Loser by Erle Stanley Gardner. (Boom! The library has it. Thanks, KCLS.)
  16. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. (Check. Great book, apart from Lucy Manet's ditherings.)
  17. The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. (Just read it and it was fabulous!)
  18. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. (Looking forward to it.)
  19. Animal Farm by George Orwell. (Somehow, growing up in California, neither Orwell book got assigned in high school. Now's my chance to correct that deficiency.)
  20. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. (Check.)
  21. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. (Read the play in college, saw the Liz Taylor version, bought the t-shirt. Done.)
  22. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. (If you look carefully at the picture, you'll see Black Beauty somehow made it into the puzzle twice. What the heck? Does that mean I have to read it twice? I'm pretty sure I already have. I even remember my older sister crying over it.)
  23. Stuart Little by E. B. White. (Check.)
  24. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. (I'm guessing the dumb-show version in The King and I doesn't count.)
  25. The Little Red Hen by ??? (The name is blocked out, but I've read all about this little red hen and understand her ungenerous mindset after years of slaving away for my ungrateful children.)
  26. The Godfather by Mario Puzo. (Could it be anywhere as good as the movie?)
  27. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. (I have high hopes the book will be so awful it's wonderful. Rather like the movie version.)
  28. War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. (Sci-fi is a genre I am discovering in my middle age, and this one's so famous it's a shame I haven't yet read it.)
  29. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. (This whole book challenge is so phony.)
  30. Jaws by Peter Benchley. (Great fun.)
  31. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. (East of Eden is still my favorite of his.)
  32. Love Story by Erich Segal. (Yay! Can't wait!)
  33. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. (Which explains why Ralph Ellison called his novel Invisible Man, with no definite article.)
  34. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. (Why did Peter get to bring his cat???)
  35. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. (Just read it a few months ago, to see if my teenage son might like it. Uh...doubtful.)
  36. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. (H. G.! Stop spinning out the bestsellers! Give someone else a chance!)
  37. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. (It's hard to read books after you've seen an adaptation with Whoopie Goldberg, but I'll give it a shot.)
  38. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. (All it takes is one year of gardening and a rabbit eating your sugar snap peas, and you will be firmly in Mr. MacGregor's camp.)
  39. The Pocket Book of Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock. (Ooh! A period piece!)
  40. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. (Check.)
  41. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (Check. Good book.)
  42. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. (Check.)
  43. The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley. (Who knew it was a book?)
  44. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. (Very dated, but we listened to the audio book and cringed our way through.)
  45. 1984 by George Orwell. (See #19 comment.)
  46. Heidi by Johanna Spyri. (I used to think the midday snack Heidi and Peter shared was the tastiest thing imaginable.)
  47. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. (The rare case where it takes less time to read the book than to watch the movie(s)!)
  48. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. (You can tell it's written by a man because no woman on the planet would breastfeed a grown man, even for the literary symbolism of it all.)
  49. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. (A wonderful book that has never had justice done to it in film.)
  50. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Ditto.)
  51. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. (Strangely, a follow-up book to #6, but with a shorter title that makes you think the other one should be the follow-up.)
  52. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, because, at this stage in the game, you need a freebie, and you already read this one at #22.
  53. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. (Loved this. Loved her A Little Princess more, but this one was right up there.)
So there you have it! How many can you cross off, right off the bat? I've got 32 of 53 out of the way, which is the ideal way to start off a reading challenge, and the next BPRC book loaded on my Kindle is Erich Segal's Love Story. Whee!

Happy New Year to all.


  1. I've read 28 of them. I notice it's heavily weighted towards recent books. Maybe that's because it's a bestseller list. I highly recommend "Black Beauty." It's actually not a children's book; it was written to protest the way horses were treated at the time.

    1. If by recent you mean mostly 20th century, I'd agree. And I don't know if they mean *that* edition was a bestseller, or what. (I mean, of a book that was originally published in the 19th c.) Totally arbitrary list for a totally arbitrary reading challenge! :)

  2. I'm also clocking in at 32. Fun list! Some I've always meant to read, but haven't. Now's the time!

    1. Hooray! Really, you beat me, because I counted THE CAINE MUTINY, and I only read that just yesterday, before I decided to do the challenge!!!

  3. I've read 40 on the list and am intrigued by what I haven't read. My public school education was better than most, and we had to make a least one book report per month. I usually handed in 2 or more. I devoured the list from Jr. High on. We didn't have TV, books were a form of entertainment.

    1. I'd love to know the 13 you haven't read. I'm going to take a wild guess that "Bare Fists" made that list. Otherwise, if you have a copy of "Bare Fists," could I borrow it? :)


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