Pollyanna’s Reading in Wonderland Challenge

Lyda here. I’ve been reading about other people’s reading challenges, like the TBR Challenge that I read about here on Lisa’s blog, and Annie’s What’s In A Name Challenge. And for the ambitious, this 2008 Olympics Challenge (205 countries, 205 books). If I’d known about some of these in January, I might have joined up. Not the 205 one, though. I do have limits. That’s not what he said.

‘You don’t know much,’ said the Duchess, ‘And that’s a fact.’

So, having missed the bus (again) – mind that bus, what bus, splat! – I thought, why not come up with a reading challenge of our own?

Ours will be a little… different…


So many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.

What did you expect? Normality?


The semi-rules:

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

* Start anytime. Start today. Start this summer. Start last January – sort of time-travel reading – and include books you’ve already read this year.
* Read the books in any order you want.
* If you have a blog, write about what you’re reading for the challenge, and link to this post. Thanks!
* Post a comment to let us know you are giving it a shot, and let us know how it’s going.
* If you are doing another reading challenge or three, or reading for school or any other reason – those books can count toward this challenge too.
* One book can count for more than one challenge. Just explain why it meets the criteria for more than one category. If you never read historical fiction, and you read one that is about a country you know nothing about, that can count for both #1 and # 12. And if it was banned (#11), and later made into a film (#6), and talks about food (#4) – well, ya’ll get the idea.
* Whether you finish all 13 assignments in six months or a year or two years doesn’t matter. Stretching the little grey cells, that’s the point.
* Skip one or more of the challenges if you must. What am I, your English teacher?

The Challenges in absolutely no particular order whatsoever

1. ‘…at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’: Read a fiction book in a genre you don’t usually read. Here’s a list of genres – Oh, look, erotica… hmmm… Plays and poetry books count too. Ask a friend who reads that genre, or a librarian, or just wander into a new section of books or the New Arrivals section in the library.

Dip your toes in a new pond.

2. “Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,” the Mock Turtle replied, “and the different branches of Arithmetic—Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”: Read a non-fiction or how-to book about a new topic. Choose something that you are curious about, something that is really far from your current life, work, college major, and hobbies. According to Dr. Amen, this is very good for your brain. Here’s one list of 100 best non-fiction.

3. How doth the little crocodile”: Read a biography or autobiography about someone whose life is/was vastly different than yours. Or, read a history book or historical fiction about a completely different time or place.

4. “Well, if I eat it, and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door: so either way I’ll get into the garden, and I don’t care which happens”:  Read a book that includes food. You could read a cooking or travel book. Or a fiction book with recipes like “Fried Green Tomatoes At the Whistle Stop Cafe” or “Like Water for Chocolate.” Or a book that mentions food a lot, or has food as a plot point or part of the title. Here are some suggestionsHowever, definitely NOT one of these books. Eww. Or maybe the book has the characters eating somewhere unusual. “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe“, perhaps?

Now try some of the food from the book. You can cook it, buy it, or eat out. If you’re going to the above-mentioned restaurant, please take us with you. We know where our towels are.

For the uber-ambitious: Get your friends to join you for a literary potluck. Everyone can bring or make their dish – and let everyone know what books the food inspirations came from, of course! A Wonderland themed tea party would be fun, but be careful with those magic mushrooms, ya’ll!

5. Alice thought the whole thing very absurd, but they all looked so grave that she did not dare to laugh: Read a book that’s just for fun. This could be anything – a historical romance, a cosy English mystery, P.G. Wodehouse, lighthearted non-fiction, a classic Erma Bombeck, complete and utter porn – whatever. Anything that makes you happy.

Yes, you could choose a wonderful literary masterpiece. Or you could read a trashy romance novel. Go ahead. “I had to read it, Pollyanna made me.”

6. ‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’:  Find a book that has been made into a movie. Read the book. See the movie. In whatever order works for you.

7. The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo:  Read a classic book you’ve never read and always meant to. Here’s a list and another list and yet another to give you some ideas.

8. ‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter. ‘You must remember,’ remarked the King, ‘or I’ll have you executed.’:  Re-read one of your all-time favorite books. Remember all over again why you love it. Blog about it so we will all want to read it too.

9. ‘And what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’ :  Read a children’s picture book. If you don’t have any small ones in your life to share their books with you, go to the bookstore or library. Find a picture book that really appeals to you and read it. I highly recommend you don’t skip this one. There are some amazing picture books out there. Try this one for some good pig-licking fun.

10. “Oh my fur and whiskers!”:  Read a children’s or young adult book. It can be something you loved as a child, or one you’ve never read. Great books can get missed because they are considered kid’s books.

11. “After a fall such as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling downstairs!”: Read a banned or challenged book. There’s a list here. And there are more here.

12. ‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’: Read a book from a different country and culture. The author can be from a country you have never visited. The book can be translated from a different language. The book can be set in a country you have never visited. If you read a lot of books from one country, for this category, read something different. So I need to read something that isn’t English.

13. “Curiouser and curiouser!”:  Read another book, any kind, any genre, anything. Something you’ve read a million times or something you’ve never read. Here’s a whole list of lists of books. Read what strikes your fancy. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry. Self-help. A knitting book. A funny knitting book. A funny semi-knitting bookA knitting cartoon collection.

A zombie preparation guide. Whatev.

At last the Dodo said, ‘everybody has won, and all must have prizes.’

Give yourself a prize. You’ve earned it.


17 thoughts on “Pollyanna’s Reading in Wonderland Challenge

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