Challenge #12 – Light Tuesday, Dec 2 2008 

The final challenge for the year. Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Think of how ancient civilizations felt when they finally began seeing light, longer, after six months of progressive darkness. The end of this month marks the solstice, winter in the Northern hemisphere and summer in the Southern. How we perceive light is basic to our experience as humans. It is the mechanism by which we first told time. The spectrum of visible light colors our world and that of the invisible is one way in which we mark energy transference. The lack of light is also basic to our experience as humans. In the dark, we cannot see and we either find freedom in the development of other senses or we fear the monsters that arrive with the dark. With the development of the Christian church, it co-opted many ancient festivals of light for its own holidays when it could not completely obliterate the celebration of those holidays by the new converts. We cannot escape the impact light has on our lives, and this is the perfect time to reflect on its presence. Oh, and don’t forget the light reading which may be all we can manage in this hectic time of the gift-giving holidays.

  • Festivals of Light
    • The Origins of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly
    • Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison
    • The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum
    • Celebrate Diwali by Deborah Heiligman and Vasudha Narayanan – Juv
    • The Hanukkah Anthology by Philip Goodman
  • Light Reading
    • The Book of Spam: A Most Glorious and Definitive Compendium of the World’s Favorite Canned Meat by Dan Armstrong and Dustin Black
    • Don’t Jump! The Northwest Winter Blues Survival Guide by Traci Vogel and Novella Carpenter
    • Winters’ Tales by Jonathan Winters
    • The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore
    • Christmas Unwrapped: Lighthearted Humor to Get You Through the Holidays by Scott Emmons
    • The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays by Joshua Piven; David Borgenicht
  • Winter Solstice
    • The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards
    • The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews
    • Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
    • The Winter Solstice by Shirley Toulson
    • Winter Solstice by Gerald Warner Brace
  • Light Science
    • First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Universe by Richard Preston
    • Light Years: An Exploration of Mankind’s Enduring Fascination with Light by Brian Clegg
    • The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe by John Boslough and John Mather
    • Ancient Light: Our Changing View of the Universe by Alan Lightman
    • Light and Dark: An exploration in science, nature, art and technology by David Greene
  • Light Titles
    • The Phoenix Lights by Lynne D. Kitei, Paul Perry, and Gary E. Schwartz
    • Light by M. John Harrison
    • Watch For The Light: Readings For Advent And Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Donne, Meister Eckhart, and T.S. Eliot
    • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein – YA
    • A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb – YA

Challenge #10 – Haunting Wednesday, Oct 1 2008 

In keeping with Halloween, October’s theme is “Haunting”. Now, you *could* load up with ghost stories, or you could suggest books that will haunt you long after you read them, good or bad. Horror books are always a prime favorite of this time of year, but maybe you want to include books in other genres that include traditional horror elements such as paranormal romances, urban fantasy, mysteries such as the Sookie Stackhouse series (now on HBO as the “True Blood” series!), and others. Some non-fiction horror can be found in today’s political climate if you’re in the US – market pro-Obama books to your conservatives and pro-McCain books to your liberals.  A definition of “haunt” from Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry:
1: haunt
Pronunciation: \ˈhȯnt, ˈhänt\
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French hanter, probably from Old Norse heimta to lead home, pull, claim, from heimr home
Date: 14th century

transitive verb
1 a: to visit often : frequent
b: to continually seek the company of
2 a: to have a disquieting or harmful effect on : trouble <problems we ignore now will come back to haunt us>
b: to recur constantly and spontaneously to <the tune haunted her>
c: to reappear continually in <a sense of tension that haunts his writing>
3: to visit or inhabit as a ghost

intransitive verb
1: to stay around or persist : linger
2: to appear habitually as a ghost

— haunt·er noun
— haunt·ing·ly \ˈhȯn-tiŋ-lē, ˈhän-\ adverb

  • Ghost Stories
    • Chicago Haunts by Ursula Bielski
    • The Dark: New Ghost Stories by Ellen Datlow
    • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell – YA
    • The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories by Michael Cox and R A Gilbert
    • Nightshade: 20th Century Ghost Stories by Robert S Phillips
  • Horror with ghosts
    • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
    • Haunting of Cambria by Richard Taylor
    • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
    • The Taken by Sarah Pinborough
    • Dead Souls by Michael Laimo
    • Bag of Bones by Stephen King
  • Stories that haunt you
    • The Memory of Water by Karen White
    • The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman
    • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
    • Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
    • The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
  • Stories that feature ghosts
    • Stardust of Yesterday by Lynn Kurland
    • The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
    • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – YA
    • Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
    • The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly
  • American politics
    • Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama’s Plan to Renew America’s Promise by Barack Obama
    • Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life by John McCain
    • Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics by Joe Biden
    • Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down by Kaylene Johnson

Challenge #7 – Independence Tuesday, Jul 1 2008 

Here in the United States, tomorrow is Independence Day (I’m writing the suggestions on the 3rd). Other major independence days celebrated in July are Burundi (Belgium), Canada (U.K.) and Rwanda (Belgium) on the 1st, Belarus (German occupation of Minsk) on the 3rd, Algeria (France), the Cape Verde Islands (Portugal) and Venezuela (Spain) on the 5th, Malawi (U.K.) on the 6th, Argentina (Spain) on the 9th, the Bahamas (U.K) on the 10th, Sao Tome and Principe (Portugal) on the 12th, Colombia (Spain) on the 20th, Liberia and Maldives (U.K.) on the 26th, and Peru (Spain) on the 28th. Revolutionary movements celebrated in July are France on the 14th (Bastille Day) and Belgium on the 21st. Stories of personal independence, especially coming of age stories, have been popular throughout the history of literature. Discover your personal meaning of independence!

  • U.S. Independence Day
    • The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence (Library of America) by Various and John H. Rhodehamel
    • Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence by John Ferling
    • The American Creed: A Biography of the Declaration of Independence by Forrest Church
    • Founding Fighters: The Battlefield Leaders Who Made American Independence by Alan C. Cate
    • Britain and America Since Independence (British Studies Series) by Howard Temperly
    • The Declaration of Independence: A Global History by David Armitage
    • 1776 by David McCullough
  • Colonial Independence movements
    • The Independence of Spanish America (Cambridge Latin American Studies) by Jaime E. Rodríguez
    • Rebels and Informers: Stirrings of Irish Independence by Oliver Knox
    • Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire by Alex Von Tunzelmann
    • The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence by Martin Meredith
    • To Independence and Beyond: Memoirs of a Colonial Commonwealth Civil Servant by Peter Snelson
  • Revolutionary movements
    • The French Revolution by Owen Connelly
    • Sister Revolutions: French Lightning, American Light by Susan Dunn
    • A Concise History of the French Revolution by Sylvia Neely
    • The Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1906-1911 by Janet Afary
    • The Pursuit of Glory: The Five Revolutions that Made Modern Europe: 1648-1815 by Tim Blanning and David Cannadine
  • Fiction with independence themes
    • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
    • 1921 : The Great Novel of the Irish Civil War by Morgan Llywelyn
    • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (YA)
    • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Coming of age (YA friendly)
    • Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal snogging by Louise Rennison
    • The Giver by Lois Lowry
    • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    • Born confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
    • The astonishing adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

Challenge #5 – Mother Thursday, May 1 2008 

This month’s theme may seem a little obvious for those in the U.S., but I had to be reminded that Mother’s Day was this month by looking at one of those ubiquitous holiday calendars. Luckily I’ve already taken care of my present for my mother. Whew! As usual, there’s a wide-range of books you can read to incorporate into the challenge, though it may take a little effort. Some of the ones I’ve thought up are: books on the joys of being a mother/grandmother, the trials and tribulations of becoming/being a mother, famous mothers, fiction where mothers/grandmothers are a central theme, Mother Earth, and someone with mother issues.

  • Mothering humor
    • Belly Laughs: the Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy
    • Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-be by Rebecca Eckler
    • Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession by Erma Bombeck
    • The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit by Jill Conner Browne
    • You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman : Diary of a New (Older) Mother by Judith Newman
  • Mother biographies
    • The Autobiography of Mother Jones by Mother Jones
    • A Simple Path by Mother Theresa and Lucinda Vardey
    • Teta, Mother, and Me: Three Generations of Arab Women by Jean Said Makdisi
    • A Remarkable Mother by Jimmy Carter
    • A Woman of Uncertain Character: the Amorous and Radical Adventures of My Mother Jennie (Who Always Wanted to be a Respectable Jewish Mom) by Her Bastard Son by Clancy Sigal
  • Mother fiction
    • Sweet Love by Sarah Strohmeyer
    • Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter
    • A Boy in Winter by Maxine Chernoff
    • The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
    • White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  • Mother Earth – ecology/environmentalism
    • An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
    • Extinction: the Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species by Paul R. Ehrlich Anne H. Ehrlich
    • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared M Diamond
    • Gaia’s Revenge: Climate Change and Humanity’s Loss by P H Liotta; Allan W Shearer
    • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • Mother issues
    • Freud on Women : a Reader by Sigmund Freud and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl
    • Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
    • Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher
    • The Woman Who Gave Birth To Her Mother by Kim Chernin
    • Oh No! I’ve Become My Mother by Sandra Reishus

Challenge #4 – Beauty Tuesday, Apr 1 2008 

In my neck of the woods, April is the true start of spring as the weather is finally hitting over 50 degrees as the high on a regular basis, the trees are greening, and the scent of freshness fills the air. The world around me is waking like Sleeping Beauty after the dark dormancy of winter. This month’s challenge is to read about beauty. Maybe you read a book of poetry you find evokes beauty. What about reimaginations of the tale of Sleeping Beauty? Music and art are routinely noted as beautiful expressions of the soul. Do you find a certain public person beautiful either in face and form or soul? Maybe the beauty industry and what constitutes “beauty” fascinates you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is the meaning in the books you read.

  • Poetry
    • The Beauty of the Beast by Jack Prelutsky and Meilo So (YA)
    • When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple by Sandra Martz
    • The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats
    • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
    • Ontarian Beauty by Christopher W. Herbert
  • Biography
    • Savage Beauty: the Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
    • Cybill Disobedience by Cybill Shepherd
    • Greta Garbo: a Life Apart by Karen Swenson
    • Dark Lover: the Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily Wortis Leider
    • Dalai Lama: Man, Monk, Mystic by Mayank Chhaya
  • Sleeping Beauty
    • Sleeping Beauty trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) **Mature situations/themes
    • The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer
    • Sleeping With Beauty by Donna Kauffman
    • Sleeping Beauty by Phillip Margolin
    • Briar Rose by Jane Yolen and Terri Windling (YA)
  • Art
    • Art in the Modern Era by Amy Dempsey
    • Art 21: Art in the21st Century by Thelma Golden
    • Museum of the Missing: a History of Art Theft by Simon Houpt
    • Exploring the Invisible by Lynn Gamwell
    • Art: a New History by Paul Johnson
  • Beauty industry
    • The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
    • Beauty Junkies by Alex Kuczynski
    • Bellisima: Feminine Beauty and the Idea of Italy by Stephen Gundle
    • Imagining American Women by Martha Banta
    • The Power of Beauty by Nancy Friday
  • Beautiful titles
    • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (YA)
    • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
    • In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike
    • Miss Julia’s School of Beauty by Ann B. Ross
    • Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

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

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

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!