The 666 Challenge - not quite the end

Having a liking for annual reading challenges (they can often take you down unexpected pathways and persuade you to read books that you might otherwise have discounted), I took part this year in the 666 Challenge - the challenge? to read 36 books over the course of the year set in 6 countries on 6 continents. Continents being Europe, Asia, Africa, N. America, S. America and Oceania.

I opted for the easier option of judging the book's country by its setting (or in some cases partial setting), other 666ers on the Bookcrossing website went for the more difficult option of going by author's nationality.

The bad news is that I'm not going to complete the challenge by the end of the year, although I am going to carry it through into 2012. Good news is that I did manage to complete 3 continents (Europe, Africa, and Asia), came very close to finishing N. America (just 1 country short), am halfway through Oceania, and am having real problems with S. America.

So what did I find out this year through doing the Challenge? Well firstly, I find it impossible to keep to lists - I don't think any of my putative 666 reads that I put forward at the start of the year ended up being read as part of the challenge. Unsurprisingly (to me) I read a lot of books set in Europe, but I was astonished at how much I read is set in Asia. Africa proved to be easier than I expected, and Oceania not quite as bad as I'd feared.

What I did find very surprising when looking at my overall reading (not just that confined to 666) was how little I read set in the Americas, I was surprised to discover that I don't even read that much set in the States, and S. America has proved to be incredibly challenging.

Despite judging a book by its setting rather than by its author's nationalities a fair number of author nationalities were included in the tally so far with authors coming from the UK and the USA, as well as Iran, Libya, Iceland, Russia, India, and Botswana.

Some books I read because they happened to fit in with the challenge - Boris Akunin's The Winter Queen, and the wonderful travel/history book Nathaniel's nutmeg were both included for this reason having sat on my shelves unread for far too long. And thank goodness I did read them as they were both completely fabulous. None of the books I read for the challenge were dreadful (although I know that some 666ers had less than happy experiences), some I probably wouldn't have read if it wasn't for the challenge, and probably wouldn't read again although they weren't unpleasant reads at the time (Rose Tremain's The colour and Aravind Adiga's The white tiger would both come under this heading).

So I head into 2012 ready to tackle S. America, and finish off N. America and Oceania. The new challenge that I'm taking on for 2012 alongside finishing off 666 is very different. I've realised over the last year re-reading science fiction that I really enjoy the genre, indeed I'd forgotten how much I like it, so my aim for 2012 is to read more. In order to do this, and to cover some authors that I would otherwise have neglected, I'm going to be following Best Science Fiction Books list of multiple award winners choosing 4 books from each year group so making 24 books in all. Have a look at BestSFBooks website to get the idea. I'll be discounting any books I've already read, and am looking forward to tackling the 24 throughout the year. Watch this space....


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