Take the Willa Cather Novel Reading Challenge 2012!

Willa Cather’s birthday was just a couple days ago (12/7) and since then I’ve been thinking about her life and her novels. Cather published 12 novels, 11 of which I’ve read. Shortly after I became a Cather fan some years ago, I decided not to read all of her novels immediately, but to ration them out so that I’d occasionally have a “new” Cather novel to enjoy. The only one I haven’t read is Shadows on the Rock. I’ve decided that 2012 will be the year to read it.
To celebrate the reading of this novel, I’m going to re-read all of Cather’s novels in 2012 and would like to invite you to read along with me.
The Challenge:
Read one Willa Cather novel each month in order of  publication from January through December 2012.
The Reading List:
  1. January: Alexander’s Bridge (1912)
  2. February: O Pioneers! (1913)
  3. March: The Song of the Lark (1915)
  4. April: My Ántonia (1918)
  5. May: One of Ours (1922)
  6. June: A Lost Lady (1923)
  7. July: The Professor’s House (1925)
  8. August: My Mortal Enemy (1926)
  9. September: Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
  10. October: Shadows on the Rock (1931)
  11. November: Lucy Gayheart (1935)
  12. December: Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940)
Guidelines for this Challenge:
1. Read all 12 of Willa Cather’s novels in order of their publication, one per month, from January 2012 through December 2012.
2. Sign-up/express your interest in participating in the comments section below. If you find this challenge after January feel free to jump in.
3. If you have a blog please post the badge/image on your site with a link back to this post for others to find.
How this will work:
1. I’ll write a post on the first day of each month reminding everyone what book is up for the month and will provide a little background or interesting information about the novel.
2. I’ll post my thoughts about the book on the third Monday of each month.
3. Share your thoughts each month about the novel–however brief or detailed–in the comments section of my post on the novel. 
4. If you have a blog, provide the link to the post that you write for your blog in the comments section for others to find. OR, if you don’t have a blog but post reviews on Goodreads, LibraryThing, or elsewhere, provide the link to your review in the comments section.
The Un-Rule for this challenge:
I’d love for more people to discover Willa Cather’s novels and their diversity. I hope you’ll join me in reading all 12 novels, but if you don’t have the time to commit to all 12, please feel free to join in for a few of the novels or even just one. My only request is that you read the novel in 2012 and not refer only to a past reading experience.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Cool Cather Links:
The Willa Cather Foundation — the mothership for Cather enthusiasts, an amazing resource.
The Willa Cather Archive — another fantastic resource, free digital texts of most of her novels, Cather scholarship, and much more.
Cather on Wikipedia — a quick intro/refresher on Cather.
Cather at Project Gutenberg — ebook downloads of several Cather novels.
Hope to see you in January!

Categories: Willa Cather

Tags: ,

45 replies

  1. Oh, I would really love to join you for all 12, but I just can't. I'll definitely join you for My Antonia, and perhaps 1 or 2 over the summer months. 🙂

    Great challenge!

  2. Thanks, Allie! So happy that you're interested. This is my first challenge so I'm not sure what to expect.

  3. Willa Cather is one of my absolute favorite authors. I am not good at reading by a schedule so I don't know if I can officially join in. I do have a goal to read or re-read at least 3 or 4 of her books in 2012 though I can't say when I will get to them.

  4. Willa Cather is an author I've always wanted to explore. I'm not sure if I'll be able to participate during the summer months, but I will definitely join in.

  5. Welcome aboard, Mrs. H and Whitney! I'm happy to have you both along for the reading of however many novels you can squeeze in!

  6. What a great new year's resolution for me! Count me in!

  7. I've read 4 of them already, but I'll try to read the ones I haven't.

  8. I'm in! This sounds great! Thanks for coming up with this!

  9. I read and loved Willa Cather's novels years ago. I have them on my shelves – in green Virago Modern Classics editions – and I'll try to reread some of them with you. I'd love to read them all, but too many other books are calling my name.

  10. Hey Chris! I know next to nothing about Willa. But, I've always liked a challenge! So, sign me up! I'll hang in there as long as possible! chris

  11. Wow, I'm excited that there are so many of you interested in Willa Cather! Welcome Katrina, Wendy, Kourtney, Fleur, and Chris!

  12. Looking forward to it! I posted it on fb and have three other friends who will also be joining us. Great idea!

  13. Excellent, kkhsmith! Welcome and thank you for spreading the word!

  14. Hello, Chris. 🙂
    I really enjoy Willa Cather, and I would love to join in (though I probably won't be re-reading “O Pioneers!” and “My Antonia”). This looks so great! Thanks for hosting it.

  15. Hi Silsbee! Thanks for joining in! I just vistited your blog and see that you're also doing the WWI challenge–I'm thinking about doing that one as well.

  16. Hey there, Chris! I've just signed up for your challenge. I'm not sure I can read more than a book or two, but I'd love to read them with everyone else! 😀

    Here's my post on this. 🙂

  17. It sounds like an interesting challenge to be part of. But I can follow on My Ántonia and then in summer months as well. I'm looking forward to it.

  18. Hi Chris – I've never read anything by Willa Cather so look forward to joining the challenge . Thanks for hosting and Happy Christmas!

  19. Welcome Risa, foodiebloger, and Cat! So excited to have you along for the reading!

  20. At sometime in my life I have read all of Willa Cather's works. To re read them will be a joy and I am sure I will find aspects that are new to me, as happens when one reads the same book at different stages in life.
    Count me in!

  21. I'd love to join the challenge!

  22. Hi, Mary Ann. I enjoy re-reading novels I've enjoyed as well. Sometimes it's like discovering an entire new novel. Welcome!

  23. I learned about the challenge through the Willa Cather Foundation and am looking forward to re-reading her novels. I visited her hometown of Red Cloud, Nebraska, several years ago and enjoyed seeing the settings of many of her books and stories.

  24. Hi, Mike. I was thrilled to see that the Foundation heard about the challenge and included it in their email the other day. I love Red Cloud and the surrounding landscape. The banner picture at the top of this blog was taken at the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie when I visited last March. So happy to have you on board for the challenge!

  25. I will be reading Alexander's Bridge in January.

  26. I have always loved O Pioneers! and My Antonia and can't wait to read some of her other works!

  27. Every couple of years I go to Red Cloud to visit Willa Cather's hometown. I'll be there this year sometime as a part of the challenge.

  28. I am looking into these books and really want to join! Thanks

  29. I have at least 5 others that are reading and doing the challenge with me. Shared it with my friends here http://wendyshat.blogspot.com/2012/01/bookmarks-books-book-clubs-reading.html Thanks!

  30. Thank you for hosting this challenge. I want to join and am looking forward to a year of Willa Cather.

  31. Alexander's Bridge was lovely, I thought. Some wonderful passages that are indicative of how Cather's writing develops in her subsequent books. Characters not as developed as in later books, but a good start, especially for what is more of a long short story than a novel.

  32. Welcome, Lydia! I hope you've had a chance to read Alexander's Bridge.

  33. I loved reading Alexander's Bridge again. I had to laugh that I had JUST read it in November. But I promise, I re-read it, finishing on Jan 31. Of course I'll be picking up O' Pioneers for February, but meanwhile, I was recaptivated by Cather's use of primrose and yellow to describe Hilda in Bartley Alexander's first meeting with her again after seeing her perform. I know many people, such as Poy above, describe how Cather's writing develops (and it does!!!), but I'm singularly impressed with her even in Alexander's Bridge. Fabulous re-read.

  34. I loved reading Alexander's Bridge again. I had to laugh that I had JUST read it in November. But I promise, I re-read it, finishing on Jan 31. Of course I'll be picking up O' Pioneers for February, but meanwhile, I was recaptivated by Cather's use of primrose and yellow to describe Hilda in Bartley Alexander's first meeting with her again after seeing her perform. I know many people, such as Poy above, describe how Cather's writing develops (and it does!!!), but I'm singularly impressed with her even in Alexander's Bridge. Fabulous re-read.

  35. I wrote this great post about loving Alexander's Bridge (which I had just finished reading in November, but re-read for this challenge–finishing Jan 31), but it disappeared. Please allow me to re-mention how much I enjoyed the primrose and yellow in Bartley Alexander's new first time seeing Hilda after watching her performances repeatedly. Cather was wonderful with her words from the beginning.

  36. Just finished rereading Alexander's Bridge. I had on hand a 1977 edition with an introduction by Bernice Slote. The introduction made me appreciate how much more was in the book than I realized when I first read the story years ago. All I had remembered was that there was an affair and a bridge collapsed. The internal and external conflicts of Alexander created a more conplex character than I had remembered. I was also prompted to look up the incident of the collapse of the Quebec bridge in 1907 and was impressed by how skillfully she used the incident to set the scene for for her story.

  37. Home today from a three day hospitalization and utilized the confinement to read O Pioneers. I enjoyed it probably more than when I first read it. One can tell she was already a skilled writer by the time she wrote this. Not all the characters are lovable, but they are all real and memorable.
    As I recall, the only marriages that work in her stories are those between friends and have a calmness about them; those of passion or youth are doomed. I may have misremembered but I am going to take particular note as I read about her descriptions of marriage. On to Song of a Lark and looking forward to it.

  38. Her characters really are memorable, aren't they? I was really struck by one of the not-so-loveable ones this time, Frank Shabata. In the past I just despised him, but this time I understood him a bit more. Hope you are feeling well, Mary Ann!

  39. I hate when that happens! I've been having problems commenting on people's comments–they've been disappearing and reappearing, but I think the problem is sorted out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm curious about your reading it November–it's not a book many people stumble across.

  40. I only just found your challenge so, obviously, I'm not going to be able to follow the rules. But I will definitely join the un-rule challenge! I'm absolutely in with you in April and June!

  41. Glad you're here, Lisa! Rules are fun, but reading some Cather is the important thing. 🙂

  42. Greetings from Twentynine Palms, CA. During a recent visit, my daughter picked a book off the shelves of a collection left behind by the former owner of my parents' house when they purchased it in 1952. It was the original 1940 Knopf edition of Sapphira and the Slave Girl. “I love Willa Cather,” she said, and I felt chagrined that I had never read any of her work. Daughter didn't read the book, but today I picked it up off the coffee table just before lunch and couldn't put it down until I had finished it. Willa is amazing! Not only that the story is engrossing and the characters very real, but also that the small, 1 to 2 sentence descriptions of landscape or natural elements capture so exquisitely a moment or experience that evokes so much. So, enthralled, I googled Willa Cather and found this site and this challenge. I guess I'll work my way backwards from December!

  43. Hi Ann! What a great way to experience Willa Cather for the first time. Thank you for sharing your experience. I love everything about Cather's novels as well–the plot, the characters, the power of her deceptively simple writing. You are in for some great reading!

What do you think? Leave a comment and let's talk!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: