The 2012 Mixing It Up Challenge

NOTE TO BOOK LOVERS: Please scroll down to “My Plan” at the bottom of this post and give some suggestions.

I have been wanting to join a reading challenge for a while now and I think I finally hit gold at Musings of a Bookshop Girl.

Goal: To push reading boundaries and read from a variety of categories.

Challenge length: 1 January 2012 – 31 December 2012


  1. Classics
  2. Biography
  3. Cookery, food and wine
  4. History
  5. Modern Fiction
  6. Graphic Novels and Manga
  7. Crime and Mystery
  8. Horror
  9. Romance
  10. Science Fiction and Fantasy
  11. Travel
  12. Poetry and Drama
  13. Journalism and Humour
  14. Science and Natural History
  15. Children’s and Young Adult
  16. Social Sciences and Philosophy


  • Measuring Jug: 1-4 categories
  • Cupcake Mix: 5-8 categories
  • Mixing Bowl: 9-12 categories
  • Two-tier Cake: 13-15 categories
  • All the trimmings and a Cherry on top: 16 categories

My plan is to aim for a two-tier cake of 14 categories. Shouldn’t be too difficult. BUT please scroll through and help me with ideas – I am indecisive (or perhaps ignorant) as ever!

Classics: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Biography: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Cookery, Food and Wine: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (thanks to SolitaryDiner for the suggestion)

This ties in nicely with my New Year’s goals (coming soon!) so it would certainly do to read a lovely cookery book and make some of the dishes in it too. HOWEVER, I do not yet have any idea what it should be. Note, it should be cheap and easy – I’m a student! Ideas welcome.

History: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (thanks to both SolitaryDiner and Ellie for the suggestion)

One of my favourite fields, but the most difficult to find a book that grips me. I would prefer something on medical or South African history, and if I can keep it and it has glossy colourful pages even better. So I will have to search for something suitable.

Modern Fiction: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Graphic Novels and Manga: Orchid Volume 1 by Tom Morello

Crime and Mystery: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (this is already on my Summer TBR list)

Romance: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Science Fiction and Fantasy: Feed by Mira Grant

Travel: I am hoping to go to India for my elective at the end of next year, so I’m hoping I can find a nice book about travelling to India so I can be prepared.

Journalism and Humour: Well, I certainly should read a couple of funnier, less serious things. I’m pretty much stumped for ideas. (Hint-hint-nudge-nudge-bash-bash)

Science and Natural History: The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (thanks again, SolitaryDiner)

There are quite a few I am interested in, but I will have to see what my library has in stock. Purchasing books is just ridiculously expensive here. If you think about it, my textbooks are all about science, but nevertheless.

Children’s and Young Adult: I’m caught between some Dr Seuss books or Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I’ll probably do both.

Social Sciences and Philosophy: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins


  1. Oooh…enjoy the God Delusion. It officially pushed me over into the category of atheist. As for book suggestions:

    Humour – Anything by David Sedaris.
    Cookery – Can this include books about people in the food industry? I love Anthony Bourdain, and his book Kitchen Confidential was very entertaining.
    History – In the medical sub-genre, the Emperor of All Maladies was a fabulous book.
    Science – The Brain that Changes Itself was a really interesting neurology book.

    Good luck finding some interesting and relatively inexpensive books. If you lived closer, I would share some of my collection with you, but I suspect it would cost almost as much to ship to South Africa as it would to just buy the books.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I managed to find Kitchen Confidential and The Emperor of All Maladies, so looking forward to that!

      I’m a little skitish about God Delusion, but I think it’s time to read it.

      Yep, shipping costs would be atrocious; thanks for the thought though 😉

  2. Ellie says:

    Hi and welcome! And Happy New Year…

    Oooh, now, a challenge. Some recommendations and thoughts:

    I’ll definitely be interested to see what you think of the Steve Jobs bio. I’m in two minds about whether to buy it or not, not being much of a gadget freak myself. I’ll await your verdict! I also have ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ on Mount TBR, and FEED on my wishlist.

    Cookery – I don’t know if you have them there, but my more food-savvy (British) flatmates swore by Jamie Oliver’s ‘Naked Chef’ books. Quick, easy, cheap and adaptable. If Nigel Slater’s television series (and demand in our bookshop) are anything to go by, his books are great too.

    History – If you’re interested in medical history, ‘The Emperor of all Maladies’ (Siddhartha Mukherjee) has a great reputation. ‘The Medical Detective’ (Sandra Hempel) and ‘The Ghost Map’ (Steven Johnson) are both great books about the cholera epidemic in London and how one man, John Snow, finally worked out how it was spreading.

    Journalism and humour – ‘Notes from a Big Country’ by Bill Bryson – a collection of his amusing columns about life in America – is one of my favourites. Or go bookish with Nick Hornby’s columns about reading, collected in ‘The Polysyllabic Spree’ and ‘Shakespeare Wrote for Money’.

    Science and natural history – You’re right, they’re always so expensive! Fortunately my local library has a great selection, which always helps – hopefully you’ll find some intriguing choices at yours too! There are probably a few on my review archive if that’s any help for ideas…

    Good luck, and happy reading!

    1. Thanks so much for the suggestions! I managed to find “The Emperor of All Maladies” and I’m rather excited for it. I’ll look around for the others 🙂

  3. Hareem says:

    I’m a middle eastern girl and I have read many writers. As we say the ‘English’ writers (though we know many of them are not even English) have a completely different style and the ‘Desi’ (homie) writers have a completely different take on writing. You should give a read to South Asian or Middle Eastern writers. Though I have heard about English writers who wrote on our people too. Here are a few suggestions:

    The writing on my forehead by Nafisa Haji. (It speaks of Pakistani and Indian culture greatly)

    The girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Al-Sanea. (culture of Saudi Arabia)

    The Kite Runner and The thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hussaini. (I haven’t read the former one, though I have watched its movie. The writer is an Afghan.)

    Blessing by Bina Shah. (I totally love it)

    And ofcourse Kartography by Kamila Shamsie. (It’s considered a Masterpiece.)

    I hope you will take these into consideration. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Hareem! I have read both those books by Khaled Hosseini and they are actually some of my all-time favourites. I would love to try some of the other books you mention – hopefully I can find them at our local book stores.

  4. Let me second The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson: a bit of history, a bit of science (disease ecology! *faints from happiness*), a bit of biography. It’s a great one. That said, Emperor of All Maladies is on my TBR for the year, too!

    For India, if you can find it, I’d recommend In the Light of India by Octavio Paz. Paz was a Mexican poet as well as being a Mexican diplomat – he was the Mexican Ambassador to India from 1962 to 1968 (at which point he resigned from service in protest of the Mexican government’s shenanigans). It’s not the only book you should read about India, but it’s small and lovely and 100% worth your time. Most of the books I’ve read by Indians were American or British Indians and were often about being an immigrant or second or third generation, so I’m not sure they’re very relevant to your needs!

    I’d also recommend watching a couple of Bollywood movies. They’re super fun and can teach you a lot about Indian culture and values. I mean, take everything you learn with a grain of salt – media is obviously neither a mirror nor a window – but it’s probably the quickest way to familiarize yourself with Indian stories/values/etc. My favorite is Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. You could also go with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, the huge success of which helped popularize the new modern era of Bollywood films. There’s also Swades, which has the benefit of being slightly political. A hugely popular one from the last decade is Kal Ho Naa Ho… There’s also non-Bollywood Indian cinema – Rang de Basanti (SUPER political – I had trouble with this one, but it’s an award winner, so your mileage may vary), the Water/Fire/Earth series, Parzania (which might be hard to find, but a lovely movie about a Parsi family caught up in Hindi/Muslim violence. It has the best – aka scariest – mob/riot scene I’ve ever scene), Monsoon Wedding (the last of which was made for both international and Indian audiences, so might be especially accessible). Haha, sorry for the long list. In college I took a class called India and the Indian Diaspora Through Film, so I have lots of knowledge I don’t usually use! It all seems to have spilled on your blog, haha.

    1. No need to apologise, I value your advise! Thank you, I will certainly look into those books and the Bollywood movies (I’ve only ever watched Bride and Prejudice and Slumdog Millionaire, which were very Hollywoodized).

  5. elliepotten says:

    Yello! Just dropping by for a three-month visit to say hi and see how things are going – very well, I see! You’ve already read loads of the titles I’m interested in so I’m off to explore your reviews… I’m doing really badly with all my challenges so far, I’ve been tackling a big stack of library books instead and it’s put me way behind. Ah well, PLENTY of time to catch up yet, right? Happy reading until next time! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the visit, Ellie, hope you enjoyed 🙂
      Good luck, I’m sure the reading will catch up.

      1. elliepotten says:

        Fingers crossed! Just saw your new entry on the Linky too. I’ve cleared up the duplicate by deleting the new ENTRY, but copying the new LINK (to your MIU-tagged posts) across to your old entry so it’s updated with the new information. Did I explain that properly?! You’re still #41 on the list, rather than 60-something, but the link is now to your tagged posts, not here. That was a good idea btw – I was just getting all the information from your pingbacks down here in the comments section before! Much nicer to be able to read your reviews as I go… 😀

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