Challenge summary: I found this via a blog in BookCrossing, though I think it has quite a few incarnations. The goal was to read a book for each letter of the alphabet, times 2. New-to-you authors from A-Z and also titles from A-Z. I started in January 2006 and finished in September 2007. I'd hoped to complete it in a year, but I'm still pretty pleased with finishing it in under 2, given all the other things I was also reading.
My books: All 52 of them can be seen here.
The best book: Oh, there were some great ones... Off the top of my head, I'd say these are my top 12 (in no particular order; some have much literary merit, some are just very fun, some are both):
My Saucy Stuffed Ravioli by Cherry Whytock
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Love, Cajun Style by Diane Les Becquets
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin
A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke
Rococo by Adriana Trigiani
Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
The Wives of Bath by Wendy Holden
Any new authors?: So many! All 26 of the A-Z Authors, of course, and quite a few in the Titles, too.
New-to-me authors that I hope to read more of include:
Diane Les Becquets
Authors that I've read more of already (and I thank them for writing second books so quickly!) are Catherine Gilbert Murdock and Brad Barkely/Heather Hepler.
Book I could have done without:
Screen Legends - Had some interesting parts, but I probably would've stopped reading if not for the fact that I was desperate for a Y author. I'd already tried 2 manga Y-authors and just couldn't get into the manga mindset. (Sorry, manga fans, I just don't get it.)
Home Sense - Nothing wrong with it, I just don't normally read decorating books and I picked it just because his name started with X.
The Xenocide Mission - I'd actually had this on my TBR list for a few years because I wanted to read some boy-centred YA sci fi. But I didn't enjoy it much - I just couldn't keep track of the planets, the different creatures, the history. Probably not a bad book, but not my style at all.
The Year of Magical Thinking - This was for my book club, so I had to read it, challenge or not. As well-written as it was and legendary as Joan Didion is, it was much too sad for me. I am not a reader of sad things, if I can help it.
Books not finished: I did get to the end of Screen Legends, but I did eventually resort to skipping sections on people I had never, ever even heard of and didn't care to learn about. Everything else I read from cover to cover.
What I learned from this challenge: To stretch my reading horizons. Even if I didn't enjoy all the books, it was a fun way to experience a lot of variety. I actually had lots of fun slotting them into the challenge and finding contenders for the tricky letters - as my husband will tell you, I love to make lists! And, best of all, it got me interested enough in challenges to sign up for so many this year!
(Thanks to Book Haven and Eva for the questions!)