What is it?
The A to Z Reading Challenge is simple. You have one year to read 26 books, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. I am not sure where I saw this challenge, but decided to adopt it for myself. And I just decided I want to do it twice; this would be a really fun picture book challenge.
Come up with a list of 26 titles, starting with each of the letters of the alphabet. Can be any type of book you want: novel, anthology, graphic novel, novella, poetry, nonfiction, children's book. I'm not judging! My list is mostly novels, with a scattering of short story collections and non-fiction.
Once you have your list, you can start reading. I'm going to wait and start in January. Order is not important. You can read from A to Z, or cross them off in whatever order you are feeling. Pacing should be about two books per month, or one book every two weeks.
I'll keep updated on the sidebar what letter and title I am currently reading. You are welcome to read along with me, or at your own pace. Here is my list on Google Drive.
Where to find books?
Start by looking at your own bookshelves. Are there any books you own and have been meaning to read? Next, check your wishlists, library lists, and Goodreads 'want to read'. Ask your friends, ask social media. You can ask for general suggestions, certain genres, or specific letters. You may find a great recommendation you wouldn't have considered on your own.
If you have trouble finding a title for a certain letter (like X), there are lists on Goodreads!
I am buying one book for this challenge (Xanadu anthology, older book, had to buy used). The rest are coming from my own collection or from the library.
Picture Book Challenge
This is just a fun bonus challenge. I'm not going to get a list of these in advance, due to the nature of my job; I will see plenty of picture books as I work at the library. 26 titles, again starting A to Z, but all picture books. I'll track these on a second tab on my sheet. Later in the year, as my list starts filling in, I may need to look for specific letters, but I'll start by picking up whatever grabs my attention. I'm a sucker for pretty covers, especially on picture books.
Let me know if you're going to do either (or both) of the challenges. I already have my main titles, but feel free to recommend picture books. I'm always happy to recommend books as well, so don't hesitate to ask!
T. Kingfisher is the nom de plume for Ursula Vernon for her adult fiction. Kingfisher once stated that, regarding The Raven and The Reindeer, she was "kind of worried that no one who isn't familiar with the source material will find this story even remotely readable". I have to disagree. Though I am familiar with some of the basic elements, I have yet to read the original Hans Christian Anderson tale (I will be doing so before our official discussion). I found The Raven and the Reindeer to be very steeped in fairy tale and accessible at its basic elements.
We have talking animals, shapeshifting, witches, wise women, and romance. There is a bit of gore, but not that graphic. The main character, Gerta, loses her best friend Kay when he is taken by the Snow Queen. Determined to rescue him, she begins to quest north. She gets the help of animals, particularly a talking raven named Mousebones, and gets wisdom and lore from elderly women along the way. And she is hindered by the elements and, of course, other people.
Gerta is very relatable. She is transitioning to woman-hood, still figuring out how she fits into her own body and the world around her. I love that on her quest to save her friend she also finds herself. The world is big and wondrous compared to her little town.
My favorite character is Mousebones. He has all the best dialogue. I quote one of my favorite passages below. There are a lot of great lines in the book and I had to stop and share some aloud or write things down. It was a joy to read. It's also not a long book, so it went quickly. So bundle up warm and dive into this wintry book. I hope you join us in our discussion in The Enchanted Garden Book Club.
"Do you have a name?" asked Gerta.
Mary W. Jensen. Author, poet, gamer, library shelver.
A to Z