Mar 20, 2009

Once Upon a Time III (and Classics)

It's here! The beginning of Spring marks the beginning of one of my favourite events in the book blogging world: The Once Upon a Time Challenge. This challenge is very special for me, not only because it celebrates my favourite kinds of books (fantasy, fairy tales, folklore and mythology), but also because it was the reason why I first started blogging.

I'm doing Quest the First, which involves committing to reading 5 books that fit into any of these categories. But I'm hoping to be able to read more, and I also hope to do at least a one Short Stories Weekend. I'm not going to decide just what to read now, but because lists are fun, here are some possibilities. Let's start with books from my TBR pile:
  • We Never Talk About my Brother by Peter S. Beagle - really looking forward to reading this one.
  • Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Challenge and Ratha's Courage by Clare Bell - the remaining books in the Named series.
  • Yggenie by C.J. Cherryh - final book in this intense Russian-folklore inspired trilogy.
  • Robin Hood by Antonia Fraser - I bought this book on my second day in Nottingham, the idea being to read it while I lived there. Almost two years later, hear I am, and the book is still unread. Insert disapproving headshake here.
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany - I can't believe I haven't read this yet.
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - Okay, enough with the blabbing, I promise.
  • The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll
  • The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles
  • Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Little Country by Charles de Lint
  • The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
  • Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson
  • Un Lun Dun by China MiĆ©ville
  • Here, There be Dragons by James A. Owen
  • Stockings of Buttermilk: American Folktales by Neil Philip
  • Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman
  • Gilgamesh the King by Robert Silverberg
  • Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith
  • The Complete Bone by Jeff Smith
  • Firebirds Soaring edited by Sharyn November
  • The Children of Hurin and Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien
There are more, but I'll spare you. And now, because I can't help the fact that a list of books is always more appealing if it includes books I don't have yet (I don't know why, but it's true. I am powerless before the lure of shiny new books), here are a few I don't have, but would love to buy and read for the challenge:
  • The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
  • Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente
  • The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
  • Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
  • Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
  • Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
And let's not forget e-books. I have the following on my computer:
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
  • Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt
  • His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • Spiritwalk by Charles de Lint
  • The Raven by John Lawson
Of course, in the end I might read entirely different books. But let's hope I at least get the TBR pile down some.

Another reason why I love the Once Upon a Time challenge is because it has an atmosphere of its own, which sets it apart from most reading challenge. First of all, it's very relaxed. There are so many different options, or quests, that you basically make your own rules. Secondly, it's basically a three-months long fantasy lovefest, and I'm all for that. And finally, it's very community-oriented. It's all about reading books you love together with other readers and discussing them and exchanging ideas. I was a brand new blogger when I first joined the first Once Upon a Time two years ago, and never for a moment did I feel I was doing it on my own. So if you're wondering if you should join, the answer is yes. Yes you should!

This reminds me: I still haven't posted my choices for my dear Trish's Classics Challenge. I picked them in my head and somehow thought I was all done. Sorry Trish! Between April 1st and October 31st, I shall read the following five classics:
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Howards End by E. M. Forster
  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
There. Should be fun.


  1. Ambitious lists, Nymeth! :] All of those reads sound very enticing. I'm looking forward to practically everything on there, since I myself haven't got a chance to read them yet.

    Have fun!

  2. I so love reading these lists! You could have gone on for pages and I would have happily sat and read it all. And you always have so many books on your lists that I've never even heard of! Of course, that means a lot more that end being added to the wish list...but that is the price we pay, huh? ;)

    You're so right about the atmosphere of this truly is special, and like no other.

  3. Your lists look great. :)

    Do you know which translation of The Three Musketeers you'll be reading? I just LOVED the Richard Pevear translation from a few years ago. I highly recommend it if you don't have another one already in place :)

    I *hope* to get to The Woman in White for this challenge. I have it on my Amazon wish list. I want to order it so badly but I've been practicing self-control....mostly.

  4. That is some list Nymeth. Good luck. I may end up reading Woman in White for the Classics Challenge too. I couldn't resist and ended up ordering it. Again, I have no control.

  5. if this were anyone but you I'd be shocked at the amount of books.. but it's you! lol...

    I am always glad to see Here there be Dragons on others lists .. I've read the 3 Owens has out and await number 4.. they are all really good!!!

  6. In which I do some blabbing:

    You haven't read A Great and Terrible Beauty, yet? I really like that trilogy! When I first started blogging I read little to no young adult books (that's changed) but I loved Libba Bray. She's not for everyone, though. I haven't made much of a list, but a lot of what you have on your list could easily be on mine. Un Lun Dun was pretty good, too. I read that at some point and time.

    You also really should read His Majesty's Dragon. That's a really good book! I have Palimpsest on my TBR pile. I really should read the other book I have by her first, though.

    And, my god I can't stand Gregory Maguire's writing. Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister was okay, but every other thing I have tried to read by him I have thought was horrible! What is it with me and popular authors? I am really rather critical of them...

    Okay, I'm done now.

  7. Orchidus: Just to clarify, it's a list of possibilities, not of books to actually read in 3 months. I haven't yet reached that level of insanity :P

    Debi: That's part of the charm of this challenge, I guess :P TBR down, wishlist up.

    Becky: Yes, that's the one I have! I got it recently - couldn't resist it even though I already had a Wordsworth Classics edition of the book. But the Richard Peaver translation sounded so much better. And I'm bad at practising self-control :P

    bermudaonion, thank you.

    Dar: A common problem, it seems :P My library has The Woman in White, but it's a book I'd like to own. What to do, what to do.

    Deslily: As I was telling Orchidus, I'm not THAT crazy :P It's a pool, just a pool. I'm really looking forward to Here, There Be Dragons!

    Kailana: You know your "blabbing" is always appreciated! I won A Great and Terrible Beauty in a giveaway last year and I'm looking forward to reading it. I've heard it can be all dramatic, but that can be fun if I'm in the right mood :P I've read a few short stories by Catherynne M. Valente and sadly they didn't quite work for me, but I really WANT to like her, so I'll try this. I love the premise of the book. And hopefully after that I'll move on to her Orphan Tales. All I've read by Maguire was Wicked, which I loved. I like his writing a lot, but I guess I can see why not everyone would :P

  8. I am going to join this too - I love your list - I am going to have to think about what books I want to read.

  9. Ooh, definitely read The Little Country -- that is an excellent de Lint book. I have Son of a Witch, too -- considering reading it next up! I've read Wicked and one or two others by him, didn't love the others, but I liked Wicked enough to give the 2nd one in the series a try. I will certainly be drawing some inspiration from your list!!

  10. Oh, The Perilous Gard is a lovely book. I highly recommend that one. And it looks like we downloaded some of our ebooks from the same places as I have most of those ones too. But rather than going straight to Spiritwalk, I decided to put Moonheart on the list and start with a reread.

  11. My mouth was hanging open while I read your list! Nymeth, you're making my list longer! *laughs* You have a great list. Happy reading!

  12. I'm joining OUaT too! Love your list, the longer, the better. :D

  13. Ooh, you've got a nice pool. Tigana - my favourite book ever! Flora Segunda - one of my 2008 favourites! Swordspoint - one of my 2007 favourites! Bone - one of my favourite graphic novels! Son of a Witch - another particular favourite! Water, which contains one of my very favourite short stories! Scads of other great titles!

    And I'm really looking forward to your review of Robin Hood, assuming you get to it soon. I didn't know Antonia Fraser had written about him.

  14. Wow, that's a great list. You know how I feel about Un Lun Dun, but Tigana is one of my most favourite books. It's a beautiful story, and I hope you enjoy it. :)

  15. That is a ridiculously long (but very good) reading list. :) I will sit in anticipation while you choose and read... I like your classics list, too; I'm reading Woman in White, also, and I'm quite interested in reading it...

  16. I love your classics choices! I'll be reading Woman in White, too. :)

  17. You picked some good ones for the Classics Challenge! I'm excited for you to read The Woman in White!

  18. Now, you see, I feel so much better about the length of my list now! :P

    This is going to be so much fun!

  19. You put my list to shame, you do! (Not that this is a bad thing.)

    Tigana! I loved that book. I really should add it to my pool. (It's a reread and with 150+ never before read books I'm loath to add rereads. I added LotR, though, so I should be able to unguilt myself over adding Tigana. Somehow.)

    I haven't read The King of Elfland's Daughter either, if it helps, although I did read several other of Dunsany's stories...

    The post itself is lovely too. Thank you for sharing that about yourself. ^-^ It's so lovely to hear how such challenges are special for people and everything I've read only makes me look forward to tomorrow even more!

  20. hi Ana,
    I have been wanting to read THE WOMAN IN WHITE for ages, maybe I will this year. Everybody raves about this book on both sides of he big pond

    Have a wonderful week-end

  21. NICE list! I am SO excited about this challenge. I missed it last year. I still need to make a list. I will probably spend the weekend pulling books out of piles and laying them all out where I can see them :o)

    Guess what?? Two new books came home with me last night: The Last Unicorn and Lonely Werewolf Girl!

  22. Once again, thanks for the nice comments. Reading your post makes me so happy because it means that I've been successful in setting something up that has taken on a life of its own and helped build a community, which is more than I ever hoped for and is now all I really want it to do. A reading lovefest that turned into a lovefest of readers. It is great!

    Amazing list, as always. Children of Hurin! Such a dark but wonderful read! Several others that look fantastic.

  23. That's a fantastic list of books, Nymeth! I'd join the challenge, but I'm still working on my first two ever. Maybe next year. I can't wait to hear what you think of the rest of the Ratha books. I have to admit I didn't like Great and Terrible Beauty, though... so much that I didn't finish. Right now I'm reading Emma. It's in the middle. Interesting enough to keep me going, but not really grabbing me yet.

  24. Wonderful list, Nymeth. The Little Country is delightful. Charles De Lint set it in Mousehole and in the very street where I spent some of my childhood, so it was quite a weird experience reading it.

    And Howard's End is superb... the film is as well. Recommend both and look forward to your reviews.

  25. I love your lists, Nymeth, and look forward to your reviews!

  26. Oooh, Hexwood! You should read that! DWJ dedicated that to Neil Gaiman and it's a fun, fun, totally DWJ story :)

  27. I think I'm finally ready join some more challenges. Definitely Once Upon a Time and probably the Classics. You have some great choices on your lists. There's a couple of those sitting on my shelf. This is a good time to get to them.

  28. have fun with the challenges nymeth! great list :O)
    I'm a Tolkien fan.

    And for the classics challenge, Their Eyes Were Watching God sounds really good. I want to read it someday.

  29. I choose Tigana and His Majesty's Dragon. You knoooow you want to! ;)

    Seriously, Tigana broke my heart. SO GOOD. Friends tell me one of his other books The Lions of al-Rassan is even more likely to rip your heart out and chunk it to some hungry alligators.

    Man, reading challenges. So tempting, but I can never manage them. I'm jealous you can do it!

  30. Oh have a lot on there that I've never heard of before! I'm in trouble :p And the ones that I have heard of that you're reading sound really good! I'm so excited!

  31. I am powerless before the lure of shiny new books. I chuckled at this one. I'm so with you. I believe a lot of booklovers have this same sentiment. LOL

    That's a GREAT list of books. Now, I pretend I haven't seen them so that I won't go on a book buying spree. Very dangerous.

  32. Okay, so I just finished Black Hole. What a strange book! I liked it, but I only skimmed your review because I didn't want to know too much about it. I think that meant that I mostly had forgotten what I was in for! I have too many books running around in my head, so I get them all mixed up until I actually read them. I think it is a book that will stick with me for a while!

  33. Man, even your list makes me tired! How you do it, I'll never know.

    I've given you an award over at my place. Do stop by and pick it up, would you?


  34. Good list! I hope you get a chance to read Girl Meets Boy, I'm working my way through the Canongate myths at the moment. Enjoy!

  35. I forgot to ask: is that the original Robin Hood???

    I think I might find that hard to read without seeing E. Flynn as Robin Hood lol

  36. I love shiny new books too! Your list is awesome. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on these books. I'm doing the Classics Challenge but I'll have to think about OUAT challenge, even though fantasy is a fave genre of mine!!

  37. Some super books on your list!! The only one I have read is The Little Country, and I loved it. In fact, that is actually the one book that brought me in to reading fantasty today. Scary, isn't it??

  38. I'm so glad your list is so long! Now I don't look quite so over-achieving (providing I actually read them all)! *happy dance* You're joining the Classics challenge too! I haven't picked my books yet..2 weeks to go....I like to live on the edge....mostly because I can't decide what I want to read now that I've loved Middlemarch :-D

    As for your fantasy list, lovely dear Nymeth, how do you find these books that none of us have heard about? Though I have to say that I want to read His Majesty's Dragon (heard good things about this), Blood Engines, Magic For beginners (I'm sure I have this but I can't find it anywhere), I have heard of the Perilous Gard and Flora Segunda and can't find any copies!!! - I do own Swordspoint. whew! lol and Peter S Beagle of course - we share this on the challenge - and I have read the King of Elfland's Daughter but it was like 18 years ago and I can't remember much, so I'm going to have to find a copy again! It was good, I recall that, very good......and Robin Hood goes right onto my TBR list. Oh, I have read Little Country and Forgotten Beasts of Eld - one of my favourite Patricia McKillip books, due for a reread - so I'm not hopeless here! yaay! Everything else must be added.....that Hexwood I've been meaning to get and haven't found it.

    Fabulous list, I think from all your comments you know we are all drooling and checking out Bookmooch etc to see what we can find. You're my heroine, Nymeth!!!

    lol now I'm going to go finish Watchmen so I can get started on my library ones for the challenge before they are due back.

  39. Great list! I'm joining this challenge too :)

  40. Interesting list! I would encourage you to read Libba Bray and Naomi Novik. I read Valente last year and really enjoyed it, but my library doesn't seem to be buying the next one which is disappointing!

  41. Scrap Girl: Looking forward to seeing you list!

    Miss D: I've heard nothing but good things about The Little Country. Can't wait to read it :)

    Kerry: It definitely does sound like a lovely book! I should have included Moonheart. I won it in a giveaway recently and I'll definitely be reading it first.

    Vasilly: As Claire said, he longer the better :D I like having room to choose :P

    Claire: Exactly :D

    Memory: I wonder who's partially responsible for those books being part of my pool :P

    Maree: It's funny, until recently I hadn't heard of Tigana, but now it's everywhere and everyone recommends it.

    Melissa: I probably won't even read half of them, but I like having room to choose :P

    Amanda and Laura, I'm really looking forward to The Woman in White!

    Bart: Either we're all normal or we're all crazy :P And it is!

    libritouches: You know, I should have included a couple of re-reads too. I've been neglecting my favourites with all the new books I keep hearing about, but sometimes I miss them. I've read a few of Dunsany's short stories too, but time to read this classic! And thank you for your kind words :)

    Madeleine: So have I! I hope you're having a great weekend yourself.

    Terri B: I'm glad you're joining the challenge this year! It's so much fun. And hooray :D I hope you enjoy both books. They are lovely.

    Carl: I'm glad to have made you happy :D Seriously, you couldn't possibly have done a better job with this challenge.

  42. Jeane: There's an option that lets you complete it with only one book! Come on, you can do it :P I look forward to your final thoughts on Emma.

    Cath: That's so cool that you lived where the book is set! But strange too, I bet. Will keep the film version of Howards End in mind!

    Robin, thank you and likewise!

    Lightheaded: I know! I can't believe I haven't read it yet. And wow, answering your comment made me remember I actually dreamed about that book last night. I can't remember what the dream consisted of exactly, only that I was reading it and then I was in it. Odd :P

    Framed: Looking forward to seeing your lists for both challenges!

    naida: As am I :)

    Renay: I do want to :P I mooched Tigana recently and it's calling my name from the shelf (and by "shelf" I mean "book pile on the floor"). And I downloaded His Majesty's Dragon because of a recent post of yours :P

    Chris: We're all in trouble; that's the truth of it :P This challenge is ALL about trouble :P

    Alice: lol. It's a common problem, I know :P

    Kailana: lol, "strange" is probably the most common reaction to Black Hole. I really liked it, but it's got to be one of the strangest books I have ever read :P

    CJ: Thank you again! As for the list, I won't read them all :P Well, not this year anyway. Hopefully eventually I will.

    Mariel: Yes, so am I! I loved them all so far except for The Helmet of Horror, which I strongly disliked :P

    Deslily: It's a YA retelling, but I'm not sure how faithful it is to the original legend (if such a thing can be traced!)

    Staci: Come on, join OUaT! You know you want to :P If you pick "the journey" you can complete it with only one book!

    Stephanie: That's awesome :) My first fantasy book was The all started there.

    Susan: I really wanted to include Middlemarch on my classics list, but there are only so many 19th century chunksters I can take :P I WILL read it some day, though. You know, I can no longer remember how I first heard of most of those books. I should start keeping track of those things. And yes, do go finish Watchmen so I can read your thoughts on it :P

    Marineko: yay!

    Marg: That's too bad :( I hope they get it eventually!

  43. LOL--I haven't even made my own list for the challenge!! If that isn't sad, I don't know what is. I think you'll really like Woman in White--can't wait to hear what you think. I struggled with Howards End, but I think you'll fare a little better with it. I'm going to have to join the OUT 3, but my list unfortunately is going to have to be limited to books I currently own. :( Still on a dang book ban!

    Hope you're having a wonderful weekend, Nymeth!

  44. If you read His Majesty's Dragon (and like it, of course) I have a copy of Throne of Jade I'll mail you. :D

    Bribery! It is totally kosher

  45. Oh, you've got a lot of fun books to choose from, for both challenges. I'm looking forward to your reviews. :)

  46. Nymeth, I'm going to rely on your expertise in this genre, I'm an infant when it comes to Science Fiction/Fantasy and Folklore. However, I'm always ready to learn and expand! :) One of the books I've been meaning to read for quite some time is A Great and Terrible Beauty, so I may need to add that to my list as well. Also, I'm really entranced by Stephen Lawhead's writing on King Arthur. My son has the series, of which I've only read one, so I could choose to finish those as well. Ah, the whole world is opening up...

  47. Out of loads and loads of books you've mentioned here, I ama shamed to say I haven't read even a single one. But this is good database to refer to. Thanks Nymeth.

    I have Emma in my TBR pile though. I'll have to read that soon.

  48. Another challenge! How wonderful and oh so exciting!

    You've a great list there! I'm definitely looking forward to reading your reviews on them! :)

  49. I am so excited about the OUATIII Challenge. Please please please try and find time for Here, There be Dragons. I want to read your thoughts on it so much. I also hope you have time for Girl Meets Boy which I just bought for my mum for Mother's Day. I can't wait to start reading your reviews.

  50. You sure do have a lot of books to pick from. Happy reading!

  51. This is really a special challenge isn't it? I love it because I credit it with getting me to venture out into the fantasy genre which I never would go near (well aside from Vampires but those to me always felt more like horror).

    Wishing you lots of luck with your challenge - I've no doubt you'll be reading a lot of books! :)

  52. Trish: It's not sad! There's time still. I really look forward to seeing what you'll pick, though! And ah, book buying bans...I should go on one :P

    Renay: I will keep your very enticing offer in mind :D

    tanabata, and I look forward to yours :)

    Bellezza: If you need any recommendations just let me know, and I'll do my best to help! I still haven't read Lawhead's Arthur books, but a lot of people have recommended them to me.

    Violet: Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Emma. And nothing to be ashamed of!

    Rhinoa: You and me both :D Don't worry, Here, There Be Dragons is currently at the very top of my pile.

    Stephanie, thank you!

    Iliana: It's special indeed :) I hope I do manage to read many of them! They're all books I really want to read, so even if it's after the challenge I'll eventually get to them.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.