2012 Obscure Books Challenge

Obscure Books ChallengeI said I wasn’t going to do this, and maybe I’m crazy, but you know, sometimes you just run with your ideas. I was looking at a copy of [amazon_link id=”143918271X” target=”_blank” ]A Moveable Feast[/amazon_link] that I checked out of my school library, and it had a list of Hemingway’s published books. Some of them I’d never heard of. I’m no Hemingway scholar, but I did teach American literature for a long time. It’s not shocking, I suppose that Hemingway wrote books I had never heard of, but it made me think. Hemingway was awarded a Nobel Prize and wrote many books that are now considered classics. It seemed strange to me that he had written these other books that received less notice, and I wondered if it bothered him that the books were not as well received as some of his others.

Most writers publish more than one book (Harper Lee is a notable exception). Not every book published by every writer is destined to become a classic. My book club chose to read George Orwell’s novel [amazon_link id=”0156196255″ target=”_blank” ]Coming Up for Air[/amazon_link], which I had never heard of until it was suggested. Sometimes there is a good reason why a book doesn’t become well known, but sometimes pretty good books are either overlooked or overshadowed by their more well known cousins. Almost every writer who has published a classic has published several books that are less widely read.

So I created a reading challenge based on reading lesser known works by well known writers. It’s called the Obscure Books Challenge.

Guidelines? Well, the books don’t have to be books no one has ever heard of, but they should be less well known. For example, everyone has heard of [amazon_link id=”0743273567″ target=”_blank” ]The Great Gatsby[/amazon_link], and if people read only one of Fitzgerald’s books, it’s probably that one. But he wrote several others, including [amazon_link id=”0486289990″ target=”_blank” ]This Side of Paradise[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1743383843″ target=”_blank” ]The Beautiful and Damned[/amazon_link], and [amazon_link id=”0684830507″ target=”_blank” ]Tender is the Night[/amazon_link]. The first two appear to have entered the public domain and can even be downloaded for free on the Kindle. If you liked The Great Gatsby, but you haven’t read Fitzgerald’s other novels, perhaps this challenge will give you an excuse for doing so.

Or suppose you’ve read Mark Twain’s [amazon_link id=”0393966402″ target=”_blank” ]The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn[/amazon_link], but never heard of [amazon_link id=”1463710399″ target=”_blank” ]Pudd’nhead Wilson[/amazon_link]? I’ve read it twice. It’s not bad. It’s not Huck Finn, but it’s not bad.

If this challenge sounds like something you might want to try, head on over to the challenge page and sign up. You can post links to your reviews on the review page and be entered to win a giveaway each month. Giveways for each month will be announced on the review page so that you can decide whether you want the book in question and want to submit a review in order to be in the running for the giveaway. Note: the giveaway books may or may not be related to the theme. It depends on what I can get my hands on, so just keep an eye on the review page for details.

I am not going to go nuts and over-commit myself to my own challenge because I have already entered quite a lot of challenges that (if I’m honest) interest me more, but in the spirit of being a good host, I will participate at The Stranger level and commit to reading three lesser known books by well known authors. These are the books I plan to read:

[amazon_image id=”1743383843″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Beautiful and Damned – The Original Classic Edition[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0684865726″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]True At First Light : A Fictional Memoir[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0140434798″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Villette (Penguin Classics)[/amazon_image]

I already happen to have copies of The Beautiful and Damned and Villette, and I should probably read them. True at First Light intrigues me for several reasons. First, Hemingway was working on it when he died, and his son Patrick edited it and published it a little over ten years ago. Second, it’s set in Africa. I don’t know why I enjoy reading books set in Africa so much. I should read more of them. I think part of me wants to visit Africa, but I’m also a little afraid, particularly after reading [amazon_link id=”0061577073″ target=”_blank” ]The Poisonwood Bible[/amazon_link] (such a great book!). It’s a place of such extremes: vast deserts, tropical rainforests, animals that don’t live anywhere else. The third reason I want to read this Hemingway book is that it’s mired in controversy over whether Patrick Hemingway should have edited and published it. The reviews are really split. Seems people either love it or hate it. Sounds like it provokes a strong reaction. Plus it’s available at PaperBackSwap, so I don’t have to buy it.

If I find I want to add books to this challenge pile, I’ll do so later, but for right now, these three books look good to me.

No more challenges. And don’t you all go posting any interesting challenges that I feel compelled to join!