I’m doing the ThemeQuest Reading Challenge!

So I’m running this reading challenge. And so I’m kind of automatically in, right? And since I made up the thing, I’m thinking I should participate at the “Theme Supreme” level, at which I vow to read 10 books, at least 3 fiction and 3 nonfiction. I’m game!

Below… my draconian rules for the challenge:
“Here’s the deal:

Choose one word you want to focus on during 2010—your “theme” for the year.

Usually it will be a word related to improving one’s life—words such as happiness, balance, simplicity, creativity, abundance, serenity… or come up with your own!

Then—read books related to that word.

Choose your level of participation:

THEME THING: Read 5 books related to your theme—at least 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction.

THEME MANIA: Read 7 books related to your theme—at least 2 fiction and 2 nonfiction.

THEME SUPREME: Read 10 books related to your theme—at least 3 fiction and 3 nonfiction.

1. The challenge runs from January 1 – December 31, 2010.
2. Participants may join anytime before December 31.
3. Re-reads and overlaps with other challenges are fine.
4. Audiobooks count!
5. No need to list your books beforehand, and no need to write reviews.
6. Create an intro post linking to this blog.
7. Then sign up here via Mr. Linky (below), using your intro post’s address. Please use this style: blog name (theme word); e.g., Unruly Reader (balance)
8. Add a Comment to this post, telling us your theme word and your level of participation.”

So — my theme word for 2010 is “balance.”
As in “life/work balance” primarily, but also things like actually having a sense of balance (which I practically ain’t got–I’m darn wobbly on a bike) and maybe ecological balance. We’ll see. The year is young. (Actually, the year isn’t even born yet.)
This page will be my home base for my own reading in the ThemeQuest Reading Challenge. I’m ready to start now!

2/14/10 – An update from the silent blogger: I’ve just finished reading my first book about balance. It’s a novel called The Balance Thing by Margaret Dumas, and I don’t think I’ll write an entire posting about it because, while it was a perfectly good chick lit book, I doubt it will be memorable to me. One thing that I liked and disliked in equal parts: the main character is completely obsessed with her job and was kind of lukewarm about her love life throughout much of the book. It was refreshing that a female character was permitted to value her work so highly, but it also made her darn annoying because she was mighty clueless about Life.

In other ThemeQuest news, I’ve been working my way through The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey for weeks now. Am continuing to slog through. Which sounds like I’m whining and disliking the book, which is not true. I’m whining and liking the book.
2/24/10 – Another update on my progress: I’ve begun reading an accidental “balance” book:Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health by Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar. Accidental only in the sense that I didn’t expect it to be about balance. But, what do you know? You look for balance, and lo and behold, you find it everywhere.
Still working on the 7 Habits.
3/26/10 — Finished the 7 Habits! Even wrote about it.
5/1/10 — Finished reading Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay. I don’t have too much to say about it, which sounds all negative but isn’t. It was a good pep talk kind of a book, and that’s always a good thing. Also, it was right on target with the whole life/work balance thing.
7/11/10 — Finished reading my 6th book for this challenge, which is also the 5th nonfiction book. Must read some fiction! Anyway, Coming up for Air was another excellent pep talk / serious action steps kind of book. The idea I found most compelling was the “relative value of another hour”–in which a person asks herself: Would this hour be more valuable spent at work or at home? Also, the idea of setting a departure hour from work, and then aiming for that hour in a very deliberate way (which has the added benefit of increased productivity). Another excellent feature of this book is that the author begins each section with a relevant quote, and the quotes were very well-chosen.
8/28/10 — 7th book completed. More nonfiction! I read

168 Things: You Have More Time than You Think by Laura Vanderkam, which was a combo of “Shame on you, thinking you have less time than anyone else!” and pep talk along the lines of “You actually can do the things you dream of doing!” As a frugalista, I had to question some of the suggestions in this book that are intended to save a person valuable time but actually cost a person valuable dollars. Instead of hiring someone to do my housework, I prefer reframing those tasks as “I like cooking!” and “I wonder how fast I can dust the entire downstairs?” The things I took away from this book are: I should watch myself to find out what timesucks are happening, and then take action to limit them. (Yes, I just set a timer for this session on the internets.) Cut out the stuff that doesn’t add value! Also, Vanderkam suggests developing a “List of 100 Dreams.” I’m half tempted to do so. It sounds dangerously close to a “bucket list” (a phrase that makes me want to spit tacks), so I’m still resisting it. Also, I have to confess that I don’t really think I have even 50 dreams to list. I wonder if this means I’m a slacker?

Have begun book #8, and It Is Fiction.

12/5/10 — Finished book #8, and it was Nonfiction. Yes, I’ve bailed on 3 fiction books since I last checked in. Just can’t make it happen. So, I’m going to cheat.


You heard me.

I’m going to count a fiction book I read earlier in the year, which, in retrospect, dealt with balance in life. So I’m going to add Summer Blowout by Claire Cook to my list.
It’s my challenge, and I’ll cheat if I want to!
Gotta say: This Theme Supreme level is kicking my you-know-what.
12/19/10 — The outrageous cheating continues. I’m just putting it out there, you know? I just was making sure all was well in my reading challenge world, as the year-end approaches, and I just realized I needed three fiction books. For pete’s sake. So I’m designating A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff as one of the balance books, because it has themes of balancing work, friendship, and love, and also balancing the past and the present. I’m almost done with a nonfiction book, which I expected to be the 10th book of the challenge. I think I shouldn’t’ve included such specific rules. I’m chafing against them!
12/20/10 — Finished The Future of Success by Robert B. Reich, which was meant to be book #10. Whew!
Books I’ve Read

1. The Balance Thing by Margaret Dumas (fiction)
3. Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health by Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar (nonfiction)
5. Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay (nonfiction)

Coming up for Air: How to Build a Balanced Life in a Workaholic World by Beth Sawi (nonfiction)

7. 168 Things: You Have More Time than You Think by Laura Vanderkam (nonfiction)


Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense by Scott McCredie (nonfiction)

11. The Future of Success by Robert B. Reich

2 thoughts on “I’m doing the ThemeQuest Reading Challenge!

  1. I could have joined this challenge in November & December & my theme could have been "Dystopian literature about organ donation!" Ha!

    That said…hmmmm. This is interesting. I'll bookmark this & think on it. I'll be back to let you know what my theme will be!

  2. Elisabeth,
    Am smiling big about "dystopian literature about organ donation" — that would be an inspiring way to begin a year! Or, in your case, round one out.
    Look forward to hearing your theme —

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