Smooth Criminals: A Reading Challenge

Ben over at Dead End Follies is hosting the Smooth Criminals Reading Challenge: it includes eight different categories, all related to crime, in an effort to bridge the gap between literary and crime. I think it's a great project and since there are so many acclaimed novels in this genre that I am unfamiliar with, I signed up right away.

After much deliberation, my choices for each category are as follows:

1. Hardboiled Classic: Raymond Chandler/ The Big Sleep

2. Noir Classic: James M. Cain/ The Postman Always Rings Twice

3. Prison Book: Margaret Atwood/ Alias Grace

4. Book written by a writer who did time: Jean Genet/ Our Lady of the Flowers

5. Book with psychopath protagonist: Joyce Carol Oates/ Zombie

6. Gothic Novel: Shirley Jackson/ We Have Always Lived in a Castle

7. Classic where the plot revolves around a crime: Richard Wright / Native Son

8. The "Why the hell am I doing this to myself?" book: Fyodor Dostoyevsky/ Crime and Punishment

If you are interested in a challenge that may help you diversify your reading diet, head over to Dead End Follies to read the rules and sign up.


    1. Jean Genet is a REALLY cool writer, Brenna. One of the few french writers that got to me. I like the Chandler too. The birth of hardboiled!

    2. Oh good to know about Jean Genet. I haven't read anything of his, but Our Lady of the Flowers sounds really interesting. Looking forward to the challenge!

    3. These look great. I really, really need to figure out some picks for this challenge.

    4. What a great idea for a challenge! (I also love the graphic made up for it.) Don't have time to participate myself but I am looking forward to reading about your pics. Have fun!!

    5. I laughed out loud at #8. You picked a lot of great books, and this sounds just like the kind of challenge Ben would host. It's a little too late for me to join, but I hope you all have fun. :)

    6. This sounds like a very fun challenge. In Cold Blood is one of the truly creepiest and most uncomfortable books I've ever read. I hope you enjoy it!

    7. Great list! We're both reading In Cold Blood, although in different categories :-)

    8. Good list! I hope to get mine up tomorrow.

    9. Wow, great choices!

      If it were me, I'd make the last one a much shorter book. Haha!

    10. OK.. How did I miss this? Also, you aren't showing up in my blog roll? Weird. Ok, so I'm headed over to Ben's page now to check out the information because even if I do really suck at finishing challenges I might just consider attempting to tackle. Have fun with number 8! I definitely enjoyed it but my social life suffered BIG TIME.

    11. @Daryln: The challenge starts on January 1st. You're more than welcome to join, I would love to have you onboard.

      @Kim: I'd love if you'd give it a shot.

      @Beth: Beth, I made it a short and sweet challenge so people wouldn't feel threatened to try it. I'd love it if you did.

    12. I had to mull this one over a bit, but I decided to do it. I copied Alias Grace from your list. It was between that and Papillon, but I've been wanting to read more Atwood.