The Rewards of Accepting a Challenge

flowers-coverAs a frequent user of our local library, I enjoy taking part in many of the programs offered. So I was delighted to see a new one crop up. The Adult Reading Challenge encourages people to read in a genre or field they wouldn’t normally choose. The first month, September, was dedicated to Science Fiction or Fantasy. I never, ever read SF. It was a genuine challenge from my point of view, and I was eager to get started. But, what to read? Should I just pick something from the New Book shelf? Or try one of the traditional giants, like Heinlein or Herbert? Or what about our home-grown star, Octavia Butler, whose papers now reside at The Huntington Library? Then, at a bookstore, I noticed the classic Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and saw that it had won both a Nebula and a Hugo, both awards given for Science Fiction. It was also the basis for the movie Charly, I checked the library catalog and they had a copy.

Put aside the fact that I sobbed for an hour after I read the last lines. This book is now in my top ten list of best novels ever written. And I never would have picked it up without the Adult Reading Challenge. Sure, there are prizes and incentives. But the value for me was being semi-forced to read a book that I never would have gotten around to otherwise and that has enriched my life. So, thanks to whomever came up with this idea. It worked for me.

About Lida Bushloper

writer and poet
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6 Responses to The Rewards of Accepting a Challenge

  1. Stephanie Vitale says:

    Lovely!  Well done!S.P.S. A curious mind wants to know why you chose the mama/baby animal pic that appears at the top of your blog page.


  2. Carolyn Swadron says:

    And the best part is, if you were watching Jeopardy last night, you’d know that the answer to the clue was “Flowers For Algernon”!

    What a timely discovery!



  3. Lida, I rarely read fantasy or science fiction, but your reaction to this book has me thinking I should read it! BTW, I finally got an update about you from Goodreads in my email this morning.


    • Hi, Jan, I also rarely read SF or Fantasy, which is why the challenge was perfect for me. Part of the problem is how to categorize some fiction. I understand Margaret Atwood has in the past preferred “speculative fiction”, but has recently begun to accept SF. Most libraries and bookstores don’t have a separate “speculative fiction” area, so Atwood ends up in “Fiction”, which is where I found my library’s copy of Flowers For Algernon.
      I have no plans, however, to read more SF.


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