I was lurking around one of my favorite book blogs Howling Frog Books one day and saw that next year Jean is hosting the most exciting challenge possible – Arthurian Literature Reading Challenge. I did a little jig right there on the spot and ran to Goodreads to browse my endless TBR pile for any Arthurian books I kept stashing over the years. Turns out I have quite a collection. I know, challenges are my Achilles’ heel and deadlines are my arrows. They always excite me at first, but then as more and more books pile up in my “must read or else” queue, the faster that excitement fizzles out. Still, I was looking for a good excuse to finally get to Arthurian lore. It is one of those topics in books that I always tell myself to get around reading, but somehow never pick up. This year I even had two (!) modern novels on my TBR: The Mists of Avalon as well as Once and Future King, but somehow I just ran out of time to crack them open. Hopefully this neat little challenge will motivate me to remedy my lackluster track record.
- Challenge will run from January 1 — December 31, 2014.
- Sign-ups are open until November 30, 2014.
- To sign up, grab the button, write a post, and comment below. Include the link to your sign-up post for it to count. Keep track of your reading and write a wrap-up post when you’re done, which you will submit at the end of the year. I’ll follow your blog, and you follow mine, and we can discuss as we read!
- Books chosen for this challenge can overlap with other challenges.
- Books can be translated into the language of your choice, though if you are game for trying out some Middle English or Old French, go for it!
- Arthurian “cousins” count. If you wish to read up on Tristan and Iseult or Parzival, or go haring off after the Fisher King, feel free.
- It is OK to read something pretty tangential that still deals with the Arthurian tradition, such as Charles Williams’ War in Heaven. If you can make a reasonable case for it, go ahead. Still, I’d like to keep the main focus on the medieval works.
- I have categorized works by date into Old (pre-1800), Modern (1800-1950), and Recent (1950+). If you wish to read Recent works, that’s fine, but you must read more Old and Modern works than Recent. No reading all of Mary Stewart (great as she is) and nothing else! Don’t worry, quite a few works are short and not difficult to read.
Levels will consist of:
- Page: read 2 works, one of which may be Recent.
Squire: read 3 – 4 works. One may be Recent and one must be Old.
Knight: read 5 – 6 works. Two may be Recent and one must be Old.
Paladin: read more than 6 works. Two may be Recent and two must be Old, unless you include a non-fiction work (see Bonus).
- Bonus achievement: read a non-fiction work analyzing Arthurian literature.
I will start with Squire category and see where it takes me. I’m glad that the challenge focuses mainly on older works since I haven’t had any exposure to the original tales of Arthur beyond the introductory medieval literature book I read last year. It will also set me on my way with my goal to read more pre-1600 lit next year. Win-win. But here’s my list:
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Unknown
- Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
- The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
The challenge is of course designed to go on for a whole year, which surely takes the pressure off. But I might compress the timeline for myself and do a themed month or spread the books across one of the seasons. My main goal is of course not to lose the books out of sight and eventually run out of time as it usually happens with long-term projects. If all goes well, who knows, maybe I will upgrade myself to a Knight or even a Paladin!