Challenge #3 – Craft Saturday, Mar 1 2008 

Here in the United States, March is National Craft Month. Now, the purpose of this month is to get you to more involved in a hobby, generally creating something. As a knitter, a writer, and a librarian, I love the many meanings behind the word “craft”. Want to learn a new craft? Check out a book on it from your local library. Read a biography of a master craftsman, say John Barrymore and Katharine Hepburn in acting, Frank Lloyd Wright in architecture, Henry Kissinger or Madeline Albright in diplomacy, Arthur Miller in playwriting, Alphonse Mucha in the Art Nouveau movement, Martha Stewart in all-around crafting, or even Tony Hawk in skateboarding. Maybe a master is writing about their craft. If you love a good novel, you’d be surprised at how often crafts come up in fiction. Think about crafty characters, both fictional and real. History turns your crank? Craft guilds have had enormous impact on cultures throughout the world. Why not read a book you think is an excellent example of the craft of writing? “Craft” has so many connotations, you can go wild with all the books you can read!

  • Fiction featuring crafts
    • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    • Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
    • The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
    • Folly by Laurie King
    • Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
    • How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto
    • Born in Fire by Nora Roberts
    • Larceny and Old Lace by Tamar Myers
    • Sins and Needles by Monica Ferris
    • Fiction with Crafts, Hobbies, etc. Booklist from Fiction_L
  • Biographies
    • John Barrymore, Shakespearean Actor by Michael A. Morrison
    • Madame Secretary by Madeline Albright
    • Kate: the Woman Who was Hepburn by William J. Mann
    • Tony Hawk: Professional Skateboarder by Tony Hawk and Sean Mortimer (YA)
    • The White House Years by Henry Kissinger
    • Being Martha by Lloyd Allen
    • The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship by Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman
    • Arthur Miller: A Playwright’s Life and Works by Enoch Brater
    • Alphonse Mucha by Sarah Mucha
  • Master crafters writing about what they do
    • Yarn Harlot: the Secret Life of a Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
    • Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger
    • Spinning the Semantic Web by Tim Berners-Lee, Dieter Fensel, James A. Hendler, and Henry Lieberman
    • Chanel by François Baudot and Coco Chanel
    • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Craft guilds in history
    • Craft Guilds in the Early Modern Low Countries: Work, Power And Representation by Maarten Roy Prak, Catharina Lis, Jan Lucassen, and Hugo Soly
    • The Striking Cabbies of Cairo and Other Stories: Crafts and Guilds in Egypt, 1863-1914 by John T. Chalcraft
    • The Weaver’s Craft: Cloth, Commerce, and Industry in Early Pennsylvania (Early American Studies) by Adrienne D. Hood
    • The Guild State: Its Principles and Possibilities by G. R. S. Taylor, Dr. Roger McCain, and Anthony Cooney
    • Guilds, Trade And Agriculture by Arthur J. Penty

Challenge #2 – Heart Friday, Feb 1 2008 

Ah, February. The month of Valentine’s Day. Some say Hallmark Holiday, others a perfect time to express the heat between lovers during the cold, cold months of the Northern Hemisphere. One way or another, February 14th means “love” to millions around the world. I say, why stop at love? Why not include the symbol of love, the heart? Find your local romance genre lover and ask her, or HIM, for suggestions. Lots of genre books have a romance as a subplot, if you prefer other genres. Read a history of surgery, namely open heart surgery and heart transplants. If someone shows great courage, don’t people say the person “has heart”? Maybe you want to read about legendary lovers, fictional or real. Maybe you want to give a vampire book a try? They’ve got that blood-lust thing going on and the heart pumps blood. Read an author, or about a topic, you love. Like last time, lots of ways to think about the heart here!

  • Romance
    • Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
    • Something About Emmaline by Elizabeth Boyle
    • Beyond a Wicked Kiss by Jo Goodman
    • Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon
    • Crooked Hearts by Patricia Gaffney
    • Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    • Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
  • Other genre reads with a romance subplot
    • Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn
    • High Country Fall by Margaret Maron
    • Blood Lies by Daniel Kalla
    • Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews
    • The Icarus Agenda by Robert Ludlum
  • Legendary Lovers
    • The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
    • Heloise & Abelard : A New Biography by James Burge
    • The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel by Margaret George
    • The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by J. Bedier and Hilaire Belloc
    • Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Medicine
    • Journey into the Heart: A Tale of Pioneering Doctors and Their Race to Transform Cardiovascular Medicine by David Monagan and David O. Williams
    • Every Second Counts: The Race to Transplant the First Human Heart by Donald McRae
    • The History of Cardiology by L.J. Acierno
    • History of the Disorders of Cardiac Rhythm by Berndt Luederitz
    • King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery by G. Wayne Miller
    • Partners of the Heart by Vivien T. Thomas
  • Books with “Heart” in the title
    • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
    • Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
    • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    • Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point by Elizabeth D. Samet
    • The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss
    • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
    • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
    • Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (YA)
    • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
    • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

Housekeeping #3 Sunday, Jan 20 2008 

For the librarians among us.  If you are looking to get a head’s up e-mail of the upcoming challenge around the 15th of the month (ex. February announced on the list around January 15th), please e-mail me at bamchallenge{at}  The reason you would be requesting this would be to prepare for programming, displays, etc.  Include in your request: your name, position, and the name of the library you work for.  You must agree to not reveal the challenge theme before the first of the month.  If I find out you have revealed the theme early, you will be immediately removed from the head’s up list.  If the list grows to more than 15 people, I will move it to an announcement-only/moderated Yahoo! group list.  Any questions?

Challenge #1 – Time Tuesday, Jan 1 2008 

It’s that time of the year. Ha ha. Okay, bad pun, but true. At the start of the new year, time is on everyone’s mind: the passing of it, past, present, future, planning how we will spend the new year with our lists upon lists of resolutions and goals. Heck, participating in the BAM Challenge may be one of your resolutions and it certainly is a time commitment. Time can be an abstract concept, or it can be one of the most precise measurements in the world. History is the study of the times of a place, historical fiction is set in a certain time, epics take place over time. Biographies are a way to immerse yourself in a specific time period and look at it through the eyes of the person living it. Your first challenge of the year: read a book involving time.

Random suggestions:

  • Time travel
    • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    • First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
    • When I Fall in Love by Lynn Kurland
    • Brasyl by Ian McDonald
  • Historical events, places and people
    • The War: an Intimate History, 1941-1945 by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns
    • The Hundred Years’ War AD 1337-1453 by Anne Curry
    • The Dynasties of China: a History by Bamber Gascoigne
    • The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs. Disraeli by Richard Aldous
  • Historical fiction
    • Annette Vallon by James Tipton
    • City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling
    • The Seanachie by Bob Huerter
    • Daughter of the Sun by Barbara Wood
    • The Religion by Tim Willocks
  • Fiction set in historical times (yes, there is a difference between this and historical fiction)
    • Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
    • Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
    • River God: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Wilbur Smith
    • The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
  • Epic fiction
    • The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough
    • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    • The Godfather by Mario Puzo
    • Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
    • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • The science of time
    • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
    • The Nature of Space and Time by Stephen Hawking
    • Travels in Four Dimensions: the Enigmas of Space and Time by Robin Le Poidevin
    • The New Time Travelers: a Journey to the Frontiers of Physics by David Toomey
    • A World Without Time: the Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein by Palle Yourgrau
  • Calendars
    • Mapping Time: the Calendar and Its History by E. G. Richards
    • Calendar: Humanity’s Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year by David Ewing Duncan
    • Empires of Time by Anthony Aveni
    • Marking Time: the Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar by Duncan Steel
  • Time titles
    • Five O’Clock Shadow by Genie Davis
    • Five O’Clock Lightning: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the Greatest Baseball Team in History, the 1927 New York Yankees by Harvey Frommer
    • Midnight by Dean Koontz
    • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
    • The One O’Clock Chop by Ralph Fletcher (YA)
    • The Two O’Clock War: The 1973 Yom Kippur Conflict and the Airlift that Saved Israel by Walter J. Boyne
    • No Girl Needs a Husband Seven Days a Week by Nina Foxx
    • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (YA)
    • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (YA)
    • The Worst Hard Time: the Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan
    • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Housekeeping #2 Thursday, Dec 27 2007 

Lots of questions and other logistical issues answered below 🙂

Q1. Do I need to follow a format for the reviews?

A1. Kind of. There is some information I will need in order to put together a “final” list for each theme at the end of the month:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre (ie. Fiction, Romance; Fiction, General; Fiction, Literary; Non-fiction, Science; Non-fiction, History; etc.)
  • Age level (ie. Adults, teens/YA, children)
  • URL of the review if not posting the full review in the comments

In the review itself, just talk about what you did and didn’t like about the book and how it related to the challenge.

Q2. Do audiobooks count as “reading”?

A2. Oh yes, they do. You can read whichever format is easiest for you: print, large print, audio or electronic.

Q3. Do I have to check back every month for the new challenge?

A3. While it would be really nice if you did, you can have the challenges sent to you one of two ways. Either subscribe to the posts using your favorite feed reader (ex. Bloglines, Google Reader, Netvibes, etc.) or have it sent to you by e-mail using an RSS forwarding service such as RSSFWD.

**UPDATE: I’ve switched around the RSS feed to Feedburner, though the original feed should still be working fine.  With putting the feed through Feedburner, there is now the easy option of having it sent to your e-mail.

Q4. Are we only allowed to read the books suggested in the challenge?

A4. As someone who has a poor history of actually reading books she was assigned in school, I would *never* presume to limit you! The books that will be listed in the challenges are suggestions only to get you thinking about the different ways a book can relate to the challenge. The relationship can be as superficial or as deep as you make it. If you need ideas, check out LibraryThing and do a tag search for the theme or by shelf name in Goodreads. Participants are also more than welcome to add their own suggestions in the comments.

Q5. Do I have to participate in every challenge?

A5. Again, while it would be really, really nice if you did, I know life has a way of sucking away precious reading time. Read what you can when you can. If you particularly like a past challenge, you can always comment later on in the original challenge post.

Housekeeping #1 Thursday, Dec 6 2007 

Wow.  Day two and we already have 16 people signed up and a library asking if they can steal the idea.

Housekeeping Item #1:
If you work for a library that would like to steal the idea of the BAM Challenge, please feel free to do so.  All I ask is you e-mail me at bamchallenge{AT} to notify me what you’re doing, along with a link to your library’s website (info about the program preferred).  Why?  I want the BAM Challenge to grow into a great resource, and by having programs profiled, libraries can learn from each other and adapt great ideas for local use.

Housekeeping Item #2:
Comments are moderated.  This is to ensure we don’t get nasty spam comments cluttering up the lists.  However, once you’ve had one comment approved any further comments you make should automatically go through.  So please, don’t post twice just because your comment doesn’t go through right away unless you have new information to add 🙂  I encourage you to comment in the Sign Up post to get your approval out of the way.

Coming in 2008! Wednesday, Dec 5 2007 

Welcome to the Book A Month (BAM) Challenge. Right around the first of the month, every month, we’ll be posting a theme. All you have to do is read a book that corresponds to that theme and post a review, either on your own website/blog and comment with a link to it or in the comments for the post itself. Pretty simple, right? This is perfect for those looking to fulfill their New Year’s Resolution of “read more books”. See you around January 1st!

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