My reading challenge for 2014 is The 50 States Reading Challenge. It's fairly self-explanatory, but here are a few guidelines ("rules" sounds too strict; reading should be fun):
- The goal is to read as many books as you can written by authors from different US states.
- An author's state is the state in which he was born; Hemingway lived in Florida and Idaho, but he was born in Illinois.
- I prefer fiction, but non-fiction is also acceptable. Short story collections work too. Ask your local bookseller for suggestions; you might be pleasantly surprised.
Here are the achievement levels, based on number of states "visited" in 2014:
- Turn Off the Television: 1-5 states visited
- Homebody: 6-10 states visited
- Budget Traveler: 11-15 states visited
- Frequent Flier: 16-20 states visited
- Pathfinder: 21-25 states visited
- Lewis and Clark: 26 or more states visited
In a best-case outcome you would read 50 books, roughly one per week. If you don't think that even 26 is an achievable number, remember that's just one book every 2 weeks. And consider the following partial list of novelists and their home states:
- Ernest Hemingway - Illinois
- Tom Perrotta - New Jersey
- Mark Twain - Missouri
- F. Scott Fitzgerald - Minnesota
- John Dunning - New York
- Dan Jenkins - Texas
- Robert B. Parker - Massachusetts
- Marisha Pessl - Michigan
- Carl Hiaasen - Florida
- Stephen King - Maine
- Jim Butcher - Missouri
- John Steinbeck - California
- Dean Koontz - Pennsylvania
- Dashiell Hammett - Maryland
- John Grisham - Arkansas
- Sue Grafton - Kentucky
- Laura Moriarty - Hawaii
- James Thurber - Ohio
- Ray Blackston - South Carolina
- S.E. Hinton - Oklahoma
- Flannery O'Connor - Georgia
Keep in mind that each state only counts once; Mark Twain and Jim Butcher are both from Missouri, but if you read the entire Dresden series and Tom Sawyer it only counts as one state visited (even if you detoured into Kansas in between). But this also shows the flexibility of this challenge: fans of the classics and fans of Sci-Fi/Fantasy both have options in Missouri.
While there are no prizes for successfully completing this challenge, I can assure you that as a reader you will gain great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I may even post a list of the Lewis and Clark-level folks in a 2014 year end blog, if you send me your names.
Happy New Year, and happy reading.