Once Upon a Time... the Second!



Hurrah! Carl has revived the Once Upon a Time Challenge for a second go. I love a good annual challenge; it lends such a sense of stability to my reading life. This is why I am thinking of reviving the Unread Authors Challenge for a second go round later in the summer. At any rate, last year I had a rare challenge success with the Once Upon a Time Challenge, combining the fun with the virtuous to read Grendel, The Golden Ass, Something Rotten, Morphology of the Folktale, and A Wizard of Earthsea. All were delightful and rich with new knowledge, and I am now eager to plunge back in to my mountain of fantasy-tinged unread books.

To see the rules, or join the challenge, go to Carl's site. Here they are in brief:

There are three quests you can follow in your journey through the four relevant genres of fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

  • Quest 1: Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.
  • Quest 2: Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology.
  • Quest 3: Fulfill the requirements for Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The challenge runs from March 21, 2008 to June 20, 2008.

This year I am again going for Quest 1. Here is a short list of five, with a few alternates thrown in:
  1. Ovid Metamorphoses
  2. Octavia Butler Parable of the Talents
  3. Ursula K. Le Guin The Left Hand of Darkness
  4. Joseph Campbell The Hero with a Thousand Faces
  5. Susanna Clarke The Ladies of Grace Adieu
Alternates/Extra Credit:
  • Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • A Sudden, Wild Magic by Diana Wynn Jones
  • Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
  • The Complete Greek Tragedies: Sophocles II (Ajax, The Women of Trachis, Electra & Philoctetes)
I like to combine a little bit of classic(al) literature, a little bit of academic study, a little bit of self-defined genre fiction, and a little bit of mainstream borrowing of fantasy's trappings. I can barely wait till it begins!

9 Responses so far.

  1. Carl V. says:

    Welcome back, so glad to have you! I saw a theatrical presentation of Metamorphoses a couple of years ago that was just amazing.

    A good friend sent me that Joseph Campbell book not long ago and I may add that to my list as well. My list...still in my head at this point...is getting overwhelming just from all of you who've signed up so far today! :)

  2. I heard wonderful things about that production, Carl (the Mary Zimmerman one, right?). I wish that I had seen it!

  3. Chris says:

    What an awesome list! I loved The Ladies of Grace Adieu...it's like reading an old school fairy tale book. Really enjoyed it! Love that you have Ovid and Sophocles on your list too...nice touch ;)

  4. Nymeth says:

    I just love your list. I have been meaning to read The Metamorphosis for so long. I absolutely adore Ursula Le Guin, and even though The Left Hand of Darkness was a book I struggled with, in the end I found it very rewarding.

  5. Robin says:

    What a great list! I love that you included Joseph Campbell.

  6. I like that you added Sophocles and Ovid onto your list. I wanted to read Medea this year -- the urge just caught me. Maybe I could add some Greek plays into the (huge) mix.

  7. Thanks, Chris, Nymeth, Robin and Orpheus: hopefully I will have as much sticktoitiveness this year as I did with the last Once Upon a Time Challenge (when "The Golden Ass" was my classic choice and "Morphology of the Folktale" was my academic one)!

  8. Iliana says:

    Yay, you are joining in as well. I had so much fun with last year's challenge. One of my favorite books was Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I should read the next one. Hmm, I just put up my list but it's not set in stone :)

  9. tanabata says:

    Nice list and much more ambitious than mine. And thanks for reminding me about 'The Ladies of Grace Adieu'. I forgot to add it to my list of possibles.

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