One of the highlights of my 2016 blogging year was participating in the Reading New England Challenge hosted by Lory of Emerald City Book Review. I read 12 books from specified categories, including one from each New England state.
I only started book blogging the previous September and was still getting the lay of book-blogging land when I saw the announcement for the challenge. I thought it would be a good way to read some classics I’d missed along the way.
I could not have chosen a better first challenge. Not only did I finally read Little Women and The House of the Seven Gables, I forced myself to read a horror novel and a book by someone I’d never heard about. I even bought a map of New England to track where the books were set!
One of the benefits of doing a challenge like this is being introduced to writers with whom you are unfamiliar. If you were to tell me when I started one of my favorite experiences would be reading the aforementioned horror story, I would have called you daft. Or, that The Country of the Pointed Firs, a book by an author I’d never heard of would end up my favorite book of the challenge, I’d have been stunned. But both are true. I will be reading more of H.P. Lovecraft next year (during daylight hours, of course 🙂 ) and I have already read a short story by Sarah Orne Jewett (“A White Heron”) that was beautiful.
Other highlights for me: “Our Town,” Little Women, getting to know Nathaniel Hawthorne through The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance, discovering one of my favorite films “The Haunting” was based on a book, The Haunting of Hill House and enjoying it as much as the film, and while I had mixed feelings about A Separate Peace I now know why a close co-worker finds it to be his favorite book.
Thank you, Lory, for all the work you put into this. It was a great experience with lasting effects!
Here is what I read:
January: New Hampshire
A Separate Peace John Knowles
The Blithedale Romance Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Country of the Pointed Firs Sarah Orne Jewett
April: Poetry and Drama
Our Town Thornton Wilder Thornton Wilder
The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson
Hawthorne Henry James
Little Women Louisa May Alcott
September: Rhode Island
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward HP Lovecraft
October: Speculative Fiction and Mystery
Looking Backward Edward Bellamy
The Three Weissmanns of Westport Cathleen Schine
December: Readalong or free choice
Summer Edith Wharton