As round about now is the time that everyone seems to be making resolutions, I thought I’d chime in with the Shelf’s reading challenge for this year – The Oddity Odyssey! Excitingly, we already have a number of takers who have committed to veer off from the middle of the road to take a walk on the odd side in their reading this year. Join us, won’t you?
In case you missed the original post about our challenge, here’s the information again, plus a little anecdote about how one strange little book inspired this whole escapade.
Let’s start with the anecdote. So I was wandering around the local library and I happened upon this cheery little picture book tucked away in a section for confident young readers….
Who Burped? by Ohara Hale
Amused as I was by the belching snail, it took me a moment to notice that this was a board book. A board book in a section for big kids.
It took me another moment to notice the little “Picture NF” tag on the cover. This was a non-fiction book? Well, thought I, that explains why it is with the books for big kids. This must be an illustrated, informative tome on the scientific specifics of the noble burp.
So I opened it.
And was confronted with this…
Again, amused as I was by the cheeky illustrations and chuckle-worthy banter of the book’s inhabitants – the snail is making that comment in response to another creature explaining that one might cover one’s mouth during a burp – it took me a further moment to reach the conclusion that this was probably the least informative non-fiction title ever composed. And shortly thereafter, having read the book, considered the librarians’ choice of shelving and label, and compared these factors to my extensive knowledge of book-reading, I came to the following conclusion:
“Well, that’s odd”.
And thus the Oddity Odyssey was born!
Cool story, eh?
Now unfortunately, as I read this one before the official start of the challenge, it can’t count towards my total, but I have high hopes that Ohara Hale will come through with the goods for me in one way or another. I’ve already got my eye on the latest release by this author. Here it is:
That’s got to be a winner, don’t you think?
Now that I’ve whetted your appetite, here are the challenge particulars again. We’d love you to join in!
*Challenge participants will select a challenge level and attempt to read a particular number of books within the oddity categories listed below.
* Challenge participants can decide how they will attack the challenge. Participants can try and read books across all categories, or they can pick just one (or a small selection) of categories to focus on. It’s up to you how you want to indulge the oddity.
*Challenge books can include any genre and any age-range. So any books, from picture book to adult fiction are perfectly fine. Non-fiction is fine also. Audio books? No worries!
*Creative interpretation of the categories is encouraged. This challenge is all about finding books that are odd FOR YOU!
*To join this challenge, simply comment with “I’m in!” and what level you would like to aim for. Feel free to create a post on your blog, twitter, Facebook or wherever telling everyone what level you’ve chosen and include link back to this page so others can join in!
* Challenge participants can add the challenge button to their blogs if they wish. The code is available in the sidebar of this blog.
1. Books with an odd TITLE:
Perhaps the book has the word “odd” (or “strange”, “weird” “unusual” or any other odd synonym) in the title. Perhaps the title is really unexpected (“Christmas Trees for Pleasure and Profit” for example). Perhaps the title is in a foreign language. Maybe the title has an odd number in it. However you want to interpret it, select a book with some sort of titular oddity.
2. Books with an odd AUTHOR:
Maybe the author is writing under a pen name. Maybe the author used to be a tour guide in the Amazon before taking up writing. Maybe the author is writing out of their genre or age-range for the book you’ve chosen. Maybe the author has the word “odd” (or strange or weird or any other odd synonym) in their name. This category is ripe with opportunity for those prepared to do a little research.
3. Books with an odd SUBJECT MATTER:
This could be as simple as reading some books in a genre you don’t normally read, or haven’t tried before. Or you could really branch out and use this category to explore some brave new literary worlds. This category could include new twists on familiar themes such as retellings, or books based on genre mash-ups.
4. Books with an odd LANGUAGE ELEMENT:
Here we’re talking about anything to do with language. Books that are written in languages that are not your own (including translations), books written in verse or stream of consciousness, wordless books, books heavy on wordplay…basically anything language-related that sets the book apart from the ordinary herd.
5. Books with an odd SETTING:
Again, this can be as broad as you like. It may be an odd setting in that it’s a real setting you’ve never visited, or it could be a setting that’s totally imaginary. Maybe it’s our world but not as we know it. Perhaps it’s set in a time not our own. However you choose to interpret it, this is all about time and space that’s slightly left of centre.
6. Books with an odd CHARACTER:
Guinea pigs that fly stunt planes. Librarians with werewolf-ism. Bearded ladies. Conservative politicians. This category probably provides the most fertile ground for successfully embracing oddity.
Remember, participants are free to work with books across categories, or to restrict themselves to one or a few categories. It’s up to you how deeply or broadly you wish to immerse yourself in the odd.
1 – 3 Books : Occasionally Offbeat
4 – 6 Books: Common-or-Garden Weirdie
7 – 10 Books: Strikingly Strange
11 – 15 Books: Freakishly Fervent
16+ Books: Audaciously Odd
Being the creator of the challenge, I have naturally chosen to go for the Audaciously Odd level. That’s a little more than one book per month.
Totally do-able. Totally.
Join in! Or tell your oddest friend and get them to join in!
Until next time,