About a year ago, I committed to doing an A-Z reading challenge: 26 books, one for each letter of the alphabet. And lo, I have finished it.
- A: The Astrological Moon by Darby Costello
- B: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
- C: Circe by Madeline Miller
- D: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
- E: Elemental Divination: A Dice Oracle by Stephen Ball
- F: First and Last: A Devotional for Hestia by the editors of Bibliotheca Alexandrina
- G: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
- H: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years by James Kacian, Phillip Rowland, Allan Burns (eds.)
- I: Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day by Carl F. Neal
- J: The Just City by Jo Walton
- K: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
- L: Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich
- M: Metamorphoses by Ovid
- N: No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin
- O: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
- P: Pandora’s Boy by Lindsey Davis
- Q: Quadrivium: The Four Classical Liberal Arts of Number, Geometry, Music, & Cosmology by John Martineau (ed.)
- R: The Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone
- S: The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic by Mike Duncan
- T: Tarot Compendium by Sasha Graham (ed.)
- U: Untold Tarot: The Lost Art of Reading Ancient Tarots by Caitlín Matthews
- V: Villanelles by Annie Finch (ed.)
- W: The Wisdom of the Middle Ages by Michael K. Kellogg
- X: The Phobia of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
- Y: Your Tarot Your Way: Learn to Read with Any Deck by Barbara Moore
- Z: Zeus: A Journey Through Greece in the Footsteps of a God by Tom Stone
It was the normal run of books for a year: loved some, liked more, made it through a few of them on willpower alone. While I didn’t find a book with a title that started with X, I didn’t have to resort to “Ex-“. Most of those books were first reads. I reread three books (J, V, and Z) because I didn’t want to buy books just to get my missing letters when part of the point of this challenge was to work on my TBR pile! And the rereading had value too, because why else hold onto these books after their first reading unless I was going to reread them at some point?
After deciding to read 26 books for the alphabet, I realized that some books on my TBR list have titles that start with numerals. So I extended the challenge by one book to cover that possibility. I then managed to misplace the book I was reading for #. I’m sure it will turn up again eventually, but I’d rather read it calmly and finish it next year rather than try to cram it in this late.
It’s tempting to do this challenge again in 2019, and I haven’t yet ruled out the possibility. I picked up the latest edition of Vogue Knitting a few weeks ago, so I already have one of my hard-to-find letters in hand. But there’s some appeal in finding a new challenge. Whatever challenge I choose, I want to read books that I’ll enjoy. I get that a challenge is supposed to be challenging (!), but there’s a fine line between moving out of your comfort zone for new experiences and forcing yourself to read something you genuinely dislike. But there are all sorts of reading challenges out there, so it might be nice to go in a completely different direction in 2019. We’ll see.