The 2018 Reading Challenge Season Has Begun

I had so much fun with my first year of reading challenges that I can’t wait for next year. I still have several challenges to finish for 2017, but I’m already planning for 2018. Last December I summarized all of my challenges in one post and tracked them all on one page. This year I still plan on tracking them on one page, but I’m going to write separate posts about each of the challenges, and right now I’m already up to nine challenges, not including the Les Misérables Read-along.

I’ll start with the reading challenge I’m hosting here at One Catholic Life, the Wild Wild West Reading Challenge. As I mentioned in the sign-up post, I have quite a few westerns on my TBR list. They got there because in my early years of teaching 8th grade literature I made it a point to try and learn as much as I could about several different genres. I researched them one at a time: science fiction, mystery, fantasy, westerns. I don’t care for horror or romance so I skipped them, but researching the other four genres was a great experience.

With each genre I wanted to know which books were considered the cream of the crop, the defining novels. This was around 1992, before the Internet made research as easy as typing “100 best…” into Google. So I would go the public library and spend hours trying to discover the best books in each genre. I usually started with the various genre-specific awards: the Hugo, the Edgar, the Spur, the Mythopoeic, etc. But I also found several books that helped, like Fantasy: The 100 Best Books, and The Armchair Detective Book of Lists.

For westerns I discovered The Mammoth Book of the Western, edited by Jon Lewis. The appendix includes Lewis’ personal list of the one hundred best western novels. I took his list, along with the Spur Award winners, as a foundation from which to begin building a library of westerns. Then I had the enjoyable task of finding them and reading them. There was ShaneThe VirginianThe Ox-bow IncidentRiders of the Purple Sage, The Searchers and many others, almost all of which I enjoyed immensely. But then I got interested in another genre, so the unread westerns that I had purchased way back when have since sat on my bookshelves like a bleached steer skull on the Nebraska prairie.

Steer Skull

The Wild Wild West Reading Challenge is going to help me finally read a genre that I have long neglected. There are several levels to this challenge, each of which awards readers with a different piece of western equipment, up to a total of ten: lasso, chaps, bandana, vest, saddle, horse, boots, spurs, six-guns and Stetson. My goal this year is to earn all ten items by reading ten westerns.

Here, then, are the ten westerns I aim to read in 2018:

  1. Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose
  2. Gunman’s Reckoning by Max Brand
  3. The Nameless Breed by Will C. Brown
  4. Cries from the Earth by Terry C. Johnston
  5. The Drifter by William C. Johnstone
  6. Hombre by Elmore Leonard
  7. Sackett’s Land (Sacketts #1) by Louis L’Amour
  8. To the Far Blue Mountains (Sacketts #2) by Louis L’Amour
  9. The Warrior’s Path (Sacketts #3) by Louis L’Amour
  10. The Montanans edited by Bill Pronzini

All of them are novels except Ambrose’s history of Meriwether Lewis and the opening of the west. The Montanans is an anthology of western short stories that I’m also reading for the Deal Me In Challenge (more on that in a future post). The books by Louis L’Amour are the first in his Sacketts Series. I am reading them with fond memory of my father-in-law, who passed away ten years ago and who loved Louis L’Amour and the Sacketts. He and I always had a friendly disagreement about who was stronger, the Sackett boys or Doc Savage.

2018 can’t come quick enough. But first I have 2017 challenges to finish, so off I go back to reading.

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

4 Responses

  1. just went to see your lists of all challenges, sounds like me a few years ago. I really enjoyed it a lot. Now, I try to focus on books on my TBR, and keeping time for new books coming up.
    I have a question: are you using wordpress for your blog? What’s the theme name?

  2. Good luck with all your challenges! I’m pulling back for next year but I do appreciate the motivation to push myself a little bit. I’m excited for the Les Miserables readalong, which will be something new and different for me!

    • Deacon Nick says:

      Thanks, I’m a little concerned that I’ve stretched myself too thin, but there’s still time to adjust before the new year begins. I’m starting to get the initial Les Mis posts ready, and I’m eager to get the read-along started.

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