OWLs Magical Readathon in Review

The OWLs Magical Readathon was just what I needed in April: a way to channel my reading focus by giving me specific prompts to fulfill. Twelve of them, to be exact.

The readathon’s creator, Book Roast, has poured I can’t even imagine how much time and thought into the readathon’s conception. It’s modeled on the world of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, with one prompt for each magical subject (12 in all). Subjects are then paired with professions. Each participant chooses a profession, then completes the prompts necessary to enter his or her chosen field. In August, Book Roast hosts part two of the readathon, the NEWTs, during which participants have to read three books for each prompt, as is appropriate for the higher level exams, of course.

I chose “Hogwarts professor,” which meant I had to fulfill the prompts for Defense Against the Dark Arts (read a book set at sea or on the coast) as well as six additional prompts of my choice. I also chose “writer” as a back-up profession, which required History of Magic (read a book featuring witches and wizards), Muggle Studies (read a contemporary novel), and one other prompt of my choice. Because I always have to make things harder for myself, I decided I wanted to fulfill all 12 prompts. This way, I’ll be positioned to change my profession in August, if I so choose.

I will have my discussion of the books in my usual monthly roundup. For now, I’m want to share how I fulfilled each of the prompts. It was absorbing and fun to pair books with prompts while still reading the books I wanted to read from my shelves and for my research into reception of ancient Greek mythology.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

This YA fantasy fulfilled the Transfiguration prompt to read a book that features shape-shifting. In the novel, grimoires can turn into monsters, thus shape-shifting fulfilled.

Works and Days by Hesiod, translated by A. E. Stallings

I’ve been wanting to read the full text of Stallings’ translation for a while. Doing so fulfilled the Potions prompt to read a book under 150 pages. This lovely poem came in at 52, inclusive of introduction and notes.

Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, translated by Mirra Ginsburg

This title fulfilled the Ancient Runes prompt to read a book with a heart on the cover or in the title. It’s the one I struggled with the most. I could not find a single book in my collection that featured a visual image of a heart and only two that included the word “heart” in the title. Happily, one of them was Bulgakov’s heart-breaking fable, which has been on my reading list for a while.

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, translated by Anne Carson

Here is where we have a bit of a controversy. I thought that the Herbology prompt was to read a book whose title begins with an “I,” but actually, it was to read a book that begins with “M.” A combination of my poor eyesight and the font-style made me think the letter was an “I” in parentheses rather than what it actually was. By the time I realized it, it was too late for me to fit in another read. So I suppose that if I do change my profession in the August NEWTs Magical Readathon, I should not pick one that required fulfilling the Herbology prompt.

Nobody by Alice Oswald

Oswald’s Odyssey-inspired poetry collection fulfilled the Astronomy prompt to read the majority of the book while it was dark out. I read this short collection in one enthralling sitting, so no problem with this prompt!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J. K. Rowling

It felt fitting to reread at least one Harry Potter novel while participating in this readathon, so I selected one of my favorite titles in the series for the History of Magic prompt to read a book featuring witches and wizards.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

I’ve been meaning to read this for two Christmas seasons in a row, since it’s set at Christmas, and haven’t managed it. Apparently, I was waiting for just the right time: I needed to read a contemporary novel to fulfill the Muggle Studies prompt.

The Iliad: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Gareth Hinds

Hinds’ excellent adaptation fulfilled the Arithmancy prompt to read a book outside my favorite genre. I suppose I massaged this a little since Homer-related content is my favorite thing ever. However, I do not read many graphic novels and can probably count on one hand the number I have completed. In conclusion, I think it counts. What do you think?

Jason and the Golden Fleece by Apollonius of Rhodes, translated by Richard Hunter

I’d been in the mood to reread Apoloonius’ Hellenistic send-up of Homeric heroes for a while. Happily for me, this new-to-me translation fit the prompt to read a book set at sea or on the coast for Defense Against the Dark Arts.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faisal

The Divination prompt asked, appropriately, that we read a book chosen at random. I made a list of books I wanted to read off of my fantasy TBR, assigned each a number, and a random number generator landed on Faisal’s Arabia-inspired YA novel.

The Pale Dreamer by Samantha Shannon

I finished the third book in Shannon’s Bone Season series earlier this year and have missed her world. Fortunately, this novella, a Bone Season prequel, fit the Charms prompt to read a book with a white cover.

A Tale Without a Name by Penelope Delta

Delta’s fable fit the Care of Magical Creatures prompt to read a book with a beak on the cover. I had a surprisingly plentiful selection of books on my shelves to choose from, but this had been on my TBR the longest.

All in all, in addition to feeling focused and energized by this experience, I also read quite a few books from my personal and research TBRs. And I can’t ask for much more than that.

Did you participate in any readathons in April?


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