Having recently discovered the phenomenon of book challenges on Blogger, I thought I might take one up. And what better one to start with than the "Chunkster Challenge," given my love of all things that go by the name "Chunky." I once developed a passion for Yorkie chocolate bars in Britain as a dual response to their advertising campaign: on the one hand I was spurred into rebellion by their assertion that the chocolate bars were "not for girls," and on the other I was intrigued by the fact that it described itself as not just any Yorkie, but a "Chunkie Yorkie," defying any delusions that those who ate it were slender and wispy of form.

But I digress. My point was simply that I really couldn't resist something called the Chunkster Challenge. And what is this appealingly named beast? It is a fairly forgiving, loosely conceived challenge, as Bookfoolery and Babble tells me: set yourself a group of "Chunksters" (books over 400 pages) to read between January 1, 2007 (today!) and June 30, 2007, and see how you fare. A complete set of rules can be found here.

So what chunksters will I be including in my challenge? To be honest, a number from the following list were books I was intending to read this year anyway, either for book groups or the "1001 Books You Must Read Before you Die" project:

1) Don Quixote, Cervantes

The chunkiest of all chunksters, which has long loomed windmill-like on my horizon.

2) Tristram Shandy, Sterne

Can I really claim expertise on meta-anything without having read this?

3) The Mysteries of Udolpho, Radcliffe

For my British Classics reading group. I have read "The Castle of Otranto" by Horace Walpole, but never this other most famous of all gothic novels.

4) Kafka on the Shore, Murakami

A touch of very recent literature. This will be my first full Murakami experience, although I read a couple of stories from "An Elephant Vanishes" after seeing Theatre de Complicite's luminous stage version.

5) The Famished Road , Okri

A leftover from my 2006 to be read list, and a belated read for my Literary Fiction reading group.

6) Something Rotten , Fforde

A light interlude, the most recent in Fforde's "Thursday Next" series of literary mysteries.

7) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall , Anne Bronte

The next read for my British Classics reading group, this may be the first "Chunkster" I undertake.

8) Suite Francaise, Nemirovsky

Another very recent book (in English translation, not in composition), this was among the best received fictional works of 2006.

9) Dirt Music, Winton

Another leftover from 2006 and the Literary Fiction reading group.

My goal will be to read one of these a month for the next six months, for a total of six out of nine completed. I will keep you updated on my progress....