Challenge Accepted

I’ve always found I have a hard time keeping in touch with friends. No matter how close I think we are, I keep on keepin’ on, life keeps on rolling along and next thing I know, my BFF4EAE and I don’t even text anymore, when we used to do it on the daily (did I just say that?).

In the summer of 2010 I found myself opening a new chapter in my life – that of full time employment in a city wherein I knew not a soul.* I decided I would be proactive this time, and enter into an incredibly arduous, annoying and overwhelming challenge with my BFF4EAE: a race to see who could finish the BBC Top 100 Reads first (find list here The list, which has “100” books listed on it,** was (and is) intimidating, to put it mildly. It’s probably important to point out that this list is dated 2003.

This is how this whole thing went down:

Step 1: step-brother sends me an email that says “I’ve read X number of the books on this list, and most people have only read [really small number] of them – how many have you read?”

Let me tell you something about my step-brother (we will call him Magneto) – Magneto is super smart and a bit of a hipster (but don’t tell him that). He is one of those boys who majors in Math in university then gets recruited for a job in the trendiest city in the continental United States because he’s just that good. Then once he gets there he lives in the kind of historic building that sitcoms are filmed in with beautiful molding and hardwood, but doesn’t furnish it due to his minimalist tendencies. SO – Magneto sends me this email and I, being myself, think “PFFFFT I can beat yo’ number, foo'” (yes, I think in Broken GangstaSpeak, what?). Then the amazing happened…

Step 2: realize that I’ve read [slightly] more of the books than Magneto

OMFG gag me with a spoon, #amiright?! This had to be shared with the world. What else could I do? Posted it on FB, like a bauce.

Step 3: accidentally enter into a ridiculous challenge with Carmen

My BFF4EAE (henceforth “Carmen”) sees the post, responds with how many she’s read, and one thing leads to another. Naturally, our exchange lead to posturing and cat-calling, things were said, and I, being supremely brilliant, posted the words “Challenge accepted” thus entering us into a competition we had no idea would be so completely insane.


Here was the logic: keeping in touch is hard. Competitions are fun. Let’s have a race to see who can read all the books on The List first. This is a great idea. We’ll start a FB group for us to keep in touch about our reading, it will be like a private reading club and give us a reason to talk to each other more than semi-annually. Basic ground rules were set and away we went.

Fast forward to present day: the heat has died down on the Bookworm vs. Bookworm challenge. If you were to look on our FB group you would see many posts from me, and the rare update from 2 years ago by Carmen. It just looks like I’m the pathetic one trying to hold on. The challenge has for all intents and purposes fizzled out, and I’m sure that Carmen would agree to an armistice if I offered one. But here’s the thing: I’ve moved on from the simple competition of it. It’s evolved into a personal goal for me. So whether Carmen decides to join the race again or not, I will keep working my way through this list, because 3 years ago, I committed to this, and I want to see it through.

I started out at 26/145 (I think) and over the last few years I’ve worked that number up to 40. I’m working my way through Great Expectations right now. I’m hoping to do [at least] one post/book but we’ll see how this shakes out.

I’ve read off-list over the years, but not often. It will likely happen again. But since I don’t really have Carmen to share this with anymore, I’m sharing it with you, Blogosphere.

Some important caveats: I am new to blogging – I may turn out to be bad at it. I have been told that I am boring and/or annoying. I have been told that I’m not funny (though I beg to differ – I’m hilarious). Consider yourselves warned.

*turned out I did know one soul, and a visiting soul as well, but we’ll get to that later, maybe, if I feel like it.
**some of the books listed were actually series, or collections. For example, we negotiated “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” to mean his canon of plays, and excluding his poetry. All in our final list consisted of 144 titles.


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