Back in 2006, when To the Ends of the Earth was published, so-called book blogs were barely a blip on the screen. Now they are truly a phenomenon. Since we finished The Fairest Portion of the Globe and have been getting ready for the release (next month!), I have been astonished to discover dozens of amazing book blogs hosted by intelligent and thoughtful individuals, with their own culture of comments, contests, and creative ways to make reading fun or even competititve. Some of these book blogs are in my blog roll on the right, but there are literally hundreds out there with their own idiosyncratic content and ideas. Check them out — they’re great places to discover the unexpected.
Many book bloggers are passionate about reading challenges. If you’ve never heard of a reading challenge (I hadn’t), the concept is simple. A blogger dreams up an idea, which can be straightforward (read five books by Nobel Prize winners) or off-the-wall (read 26 historical fiction books in which the first word of each title represents a different letter of the alphabet). I admit that when I first heard about reading challenges, I didn’t feel too enthused. They sounded a lot like book clubs, only with the added element of competition.
Me, I put book clubs right in the category of things that it seems like I ought to like, but don’t. I guess I just plain don’t like to be told what to read. And though it seems like I’d enjoy discussing books with other people, I usually don’t (with the exception of my own!). Maybe it’s because most book-clubby types focus on contemporary fiction, which I almost never find the time to read. I usually read books most people think are boring or downright weird, like biographies and history. Blame my mom for not taking me to counseling when she saw me checking out that 600-page biography of Thomas E. Dewey when I was in high school.
But Caribou’s Mom is hosting a terrific reading challenge that I can really get behind. “Reading for A Cure for Childhood Cancer” is aimed at raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, a renowned non-profit that funds research, state-of-the-art equipment and instruments, parent and patient care, and support for doctors at a number of leading pediatric hospitals. You don’t have read any certain type of book, and there are many ways to participate:
Cancer is a dreadful, difficult ordeal in itself, and childhood cancer has always seemed to me to be one of nature’s most crying injustices. Participating in an easy, fun, and painless fundraiser, doing something I would do anyway, seems like a no-brainer to me.
Are you an avid reader too? Shall we give it a try? Go to the Reading for a Cure page for full details on how to sign up. Since I read a lot of big tomes, I don’t read that many books in a year, so I am pledging a penny a page throughout 2010 for this cause. Wendy of Caribou’s Mom has promised some big events and updates throughout the year; I’ll keep you posted on that, too.