Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Challenge Wrap-Up!

The end of the year brought the end of two challenges in which I was participating...and I'm happy to say I finished them both, right in the nick of time.

First, the Everything Austen hosted by Stephanie @ Stephanie's Written Word. This was the first ever challenge I signed up for, and I was pleased with my choices. Originally, I had intended to split the six requirements evenly between books and movies, but I quickly learned that I enjoy Austen much more on screen than on the page. Plus, my stack of books is never-ending and movies were faster to get through.

Originally I picked:
  1. The BBC's Pride & Prejudice mini-series
  2. Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley (to compare)
  3. Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway
  4. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
  5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (because I remember nothing about it from senior year summer reading)
  6. Austenland by Shannon Hale
I ended up doing these:
  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (the only book I read, and it was more than enough)
  2. The BBC'S Pride & Prejudice
  3. Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley
  4. Becoming Jane film
  5. The Jane Austen Book Club film
  6. Lost in Austen film/mini-series
I hadn't seen any of the films, and I ended up enjoying them all. The BBC's was just too classic to not like. The characters were perfectly cast, and I was entertained hour after hour. The other P&P was alright, as was Becoming Jane, but nothing too memorable. I looooved The Jane Austen Book Club, and I never expected to! I thought it had a great group dynamic and I loved how different all the characters were. Plus, Marc Blucas. Lost in Austen was equally as entertaining; so creative and witty! Those three hours flew by. Occasionally I've thought I should read all of Austen's novels just to do it, but I think this challenge told me it'd just be a waste of time. The books aren't going to stand out for me—it'll be the visuals of movie versions that I remember. Great challenge!

The other challenge I completed was my own: the Back To School Reading Challenge. I started this challenge mostly so I could re-read some of these great classics from high school that I remember nothing about. You know, those books you can easily discuss because most people have read them some point in their lives. I kinda rushed finishing this one with easy books I knew I had at home and could read over Christmas, so I never got around to reading anything completely new to me. I'd like to do that at some point, but with the constant influx of new books that I have, it might be hard to get around to.

For this challenge, I read:
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (last read in 1999)
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (last read in 2002)
  3. A Separate Peace by John Knowles (last read in 2000)
  4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (last read in 1998)
I was hoping to get something new and profound out of these books reading them the second time around but for the most part, I didn't. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn the first time I read it and it quickly became my favorite book ever, and it still is, so that one has kept it's magic. I think I had a bit of a deeper understanding of To Kill a Mockingbird this time around. I enjoyed it more as a standalone novel instead of having that mentality that it's "required reading." I read The Outsiders mostly just to refresh my memory on the story, but it's a pretty simple read. And A Separate Peace was more boring this time around. I know we had to analyze the hell out of in high school and I liked it then. It wasn't bad this time, I just didn't get much out of it when I didn't have to participate in open discussion about it every few chapters. I'd still like to get around to Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and a few others, but we'll see.

Be sure to read Sal's challenge picks on this blog and check out what the other participants of our Back To School Reading Challenge reviewed from the Mr. Linky on the original challenge post!


bermudaonion said...

Great job with the challenges!

colin said...

The most astonishing thing about THE OUTSIDERS is S.E. Hinton was only a teenager when she wrote it. I am still amazed at her ability to write such a simply and profound book.

And EAST OF EDEN is the way to go.

Kari said...

Colin, you know I've already read that one!

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

*swoon* colin firth as mr. darcy!

as for the 'back to school' challenge--i love it (and live it). each year i get to read dozens of classics and to make it more interesting for me, i bring in a variety of literary criticisms to compliment the reading. right now i'm working on 'hamlet' with my seniors, 'of mice and men' with my juniors, just finished 'a raisin in the sun' with my sophomores, and am in act i of romeo and juliet with the freshies. LOVE IT. :)

Salvatore said...

I have to say, that's a lot of Jane Austen to tackle. Well done for doing that. At some point I should finish out her books. Maybe that can be a goal for myself this year. Congrats on all the accomplishments!