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Roommate Challenge 2012

December 17, 2011
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You may know that I moved in March. My new roommate is pretty awesome, but we tend to have space issues because she loves yarn and knitting about as much as I love books. This means that we have my books everywhere, and her yarn everywhere. (I know, super exciting household right! heh). We decided that starting January 1st we are going to have a friendly challenge:

Who can last the longest with no new purchases?!

(Yarn for her, books for me.) The exception is for events such as craft fairs (for her) or signings or conferences (for me) and other such events. She has also graciously allowed me use of the library for any books I require for projects. She is also allowed to buy new yarn to create presents.

The second part of our challenge is about clearing space. I got LibraryThing in 2008 and so started cataloging my books as of then. I can tell, looking back, that I have 47 books which I’ve owned since January 1st 2009. Liz has Tupperware containers full of old / iffy quality yarn that she’s had for years. So part two is:

Can I read my pre-2009 books before she can knit up all of her old yarn into blankets which she plans to donate?

It’s interesting looking through because you can really see how much more non-fiction than fiction I read back then, and how strongly focused I still was on business and social entrepreneurship (I graduated with my Bachelor of Business Admin in May 2007). I also clearly was really interested in development and how that tied to business. Most of these books I’ve picked up at least once or twice before and then set aside for some reason. Here are a list of the books I will have to read or officially abandon and give away:

  • Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen
  • The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  • Solutions for the World’s Biggest Problems: Costs and Benefits by Bjorn Lomborg
  • The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
  • Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R Barber
  • How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein
  • Common Wealth by Jeffrey Sachs
  • Broken Bodies, Broken Dreams: Violence Against Women Exposed by the United Nations
  • The Road to Martyrs’ Square by Anne Marie Oliver
  • The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by CK Prahalad
  • The Collapse of Globalism by John Saul
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Ethical Imagination by Margaret Somerville
  • Holy War: The Crusades and their Impact on Today’s World by Karen Armstrong
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Brief History of the Middle East by Christopher Catherwood
  • The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  • The Odessey by Homer
  • The Illiad by Homer
  • The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  • State of the Worlds Refugees by the United Nations
  • Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
  • Ending Violence Against Women: A Challenge for Development and Humanitarian Work by Francine Pickup
  • Beyond Access: Transforming Policy and Practice for Gender Equality in Education by Sheila Aikman
  • Reproductive Policy and Women’s Rights: Transforming Reproductive Choice by Ruth Dixon-Mueller
  • The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
  • The Challenge of Third World Development by Howard Handelman
  • Evaluation in the Human Services by Yvonne A Unrau
  • More Lost Massey Lectures by Bernie Lucht
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
  • Worldchanging by Alex Steffen
  • The Human Rights Reader: Major Political Essays, Speeches and Documents from the Bible to the Present by Micheline Ishay
  • The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • The Geography of Hope by Chris Turner
  • Appointment in Samara by John O’Hara
  • Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf
  • Hot Air: Meeting Canada’s Climate Change Challenge by Jeffrey Simpson
  • Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John H Mearsheimer
  • There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene
  • Nations and Nationalism by Ernest Gellner
  • Universities at Risk: How Politics, Special Interests and Corporatization Threaten Academic Integrity by James Turk
  • Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

Of course, Liz does have an advantage here as I believe some of these books are still in PEI, and some are in Toronto. Also, they are all paper books so if I have any long trips I won’t be able to take as many due to weight, and will have to stick to Kindle books, thus giving up challenge reading time!

But… what should I start with on January 1st??

44 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2011 8:06 am

    Ooh, that sounds like a good but tough challenge!

    Hahaha, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, somehow that sounds incredibly intimidating.

    As for the Book of Negroes, I own that one as well (in Dutch), want to make it a joint read?

  2. December 17, 2011 8:39 am

    I love this idea of a challenge. My roommate is moving out but we could have had exactly the same challenge with her not buying new clothes!
    Good luck!

    • December 19, 2011 9:23 pm

      Heh yes, lots of people buy lots of clothes you are right readingwithtea. Me, I think books are a better investment :) I can just stay in and wear pajamas right?

  3. December 17, 2011 8:52 am

    Everyone wins with this challenge! I haven’t read any of those books, but my son really liked The Art of War. Good luck!

    • December 19, 2011 9:24 pm

      Yes seems like it will be a fun one Kathy :) And glad to know!

  4. December 17, 2011 10:08 am

    Oh, lots of great books on your list. I love the idea of your read while she knits! I’d suggest starting with The Book of Negros for fiction or Klein, Sachs or Weisman for nonfiction. Good luck!

    • December 19, 2011 9:24 pm

      Great Gavin, thanks. Glad for the suggestions and will likely take your advice.

  5. December 17, 2011 11:07 am

    The Odyssey! Start with the Odyssey! I suppose, however, that it would make more sense to start with the Iliad… I love both. Good luck on your challenge!

    • December 19, 2011 9:25 pm

      Doesn’t the Illiad come first? hmmmm :) I am really scared of those two I have to say Trisha!

  6. December 17, 2011 11:09 am

    Um two of my all-time favorite, I read these when I’m depressed, books are on that list. The Odyssey and Paradise Lost. Start with those!!!

    Also, I loved Madame Bovary. Just sayin.

    • December 19, 2011 9:25 pm

      Huh, good to know you love them so much Amanda. Will try to get through them. hee hee

  7. December 17, 2011 12:02 pm

    Love the challenge, look forward t hear how it goes!

  8. December 17, 2011 12:14 pm

    Oh, I love that you and your roommate are engaging in this mutually beneficial challenge, and I hope that you win! It seems like such a neat thing to do! Perhaps I should find a buddy to create a challenge with!

    • December 19, 2011 9:30 pm

      Thanks zibilee, I hope I can do it too. You’re welcome to informally join in with us, Amanda of Opinions of a Wolf already did. heh.

  9. December 17, 2011 12:18 pm

    Interesting challenge. Would like to see how it goes and who wins the challenge.

    • December 19, 2011 9:32 pm

      Thanks Adura :) I will need lots of encouragement I think!

  10. December 17, 2011 12:41 pm

    Am I disqualified from suggesting if I’ve only read 8 of them to start with?! Would it help you feel less guilty if I admitted that I’m sure I have more than 499 books in such a state?! It’s a great challenge, though!

    Of those I have read, Naomi Klein’s smacked me up the side of the head; I was aware within a few pages that it was going to fundamentally change the way that I look at the world, and it did.

    With Alan Weisman’s book, I wasn’t aware of that at the time; I found it fascinating and thought it read like a novel (unlike Klein’s), but I had no idea how often I would find myself later thinking back to parts of it as I move around this city (especially underground)!

    Good luck with your list, and looking forward to hearing the results of your household experiments!

    • December 19, 2011 9:33 pm

      Hey that is 8 more than me Marie!! Also, this is only the pre-2009 books, I have hundreds more unread on my shelf. oops :) Glad to hear those two had such a big impact on you, looking forward to them.

  11. December 17, 2011 5:10 pm

    LOL that is a fabulous challenge! I would love to read your updates on how this challenge is progressing. Good luck!

    • December 19, 2011 9:34 pm

      Thanks Aths, I will try to remember to post about it often :)

  12. December 17, 2011 5:50 pm

    That’s going to be a tough one… good luck to ya! I will side on the practical end: start with the thin books and work your way through the longer ones. That way, you’ll be likely to speed through more, rather than less.

    • December 19, 2011 9:34 pm

      Thank you Lydia. That is a great idea, will be nice to finish a few off quickly :)

  13. December 17, 2011 10:13 pm

    Oh, let’s read The Book of Negroes together. I bet it will be a lot better than our other read…

  14. December 17, 2011 10:19 pm

    Love the challenge. It is fun to compete like that and it sounds like both of you have plenty to keep you occupied, even with no new purchases. Good Luck

    • December 20, 2011 7:46 pm

      Thanks Diane, we should certainly be kept busy for some time.

  15. December 17, 2011 11:01 pm

    The Odyssey AND The Iliad? Hahaha. Start with those! Good luck to you.

  16. December 18, 2011 6:47 pm

    Can I suggest getting rid of the Covey book now? i’ve never read it, but I had to take a class and watch his video for work. It was like listening to a cult leader.

    • December 19, 2011 9:37 pm

      Yeah I’m pretty sure it’s just going to weird me out Jill… I’ll read a bit but… yeah… thanks for the warning!

  17. December 20, 2011 9:15 am

    You HAVE to send me The Shock Doctrine if you don’t read it. I must have. Is it hardback? not that it matters but put my name on a stick note and press it on page 99. (I always put important notes in books on page 99.)

    And the Covey book shouldn’t be as bad as listening/watching him. The 7 things are good qualities to have but for you – you might already be in that choir. :)

    I want the Bovary book, too.

    • December 20, 2011 7:47 pm

      Ok Care, I think the page 99 thing is pretty funny but will try to remember to add that in when I get back to Toronto. Can certainly send it on to you when I finish, along with Bovary!

      Also… we’ll see about the 7 things book. Sounds scary!

  18. December 20, 2011 9:15 am

    sticky post it note!!

  19. December 22, 2011 3:24 pm

    I also encourage you to read The Shock Doctrine…I’m a huge fan of Naomi Klein and got so much from that book! I also LOVED Anna Karenina, so I must recommend that one as well :) I love this challenge idea…it is so cute!

  20. December 29, 2011 12:09 pm

    Wow. Impressive list. You’ve motivated me to give non-fiction more time. I will be watching you.

    • December 29, 2011 7:56 pm

      Thanks Nana. I’m a bit scared of the list to be honest :)


  1. Tentative Plans for 2012 « Amy Reads
  2. Plans for 2012 | Iris on Books
  3. DNF: The Road to Martyrs’ Square by Anne Marie Oliver and Paul Steinberg « Amy Reads
  4. December 2011 Reading Wrap-Up « Amy Reads

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