2015 Reading Recap

Last year I took upon myself the challenge of reading 52 books (one a week) for Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge. How did I do? Well, I didn’t finish the challenge, but I accomplished a great deal of what I set out to do.

Overall I read 48 books, in more genres than I normally do. Sci-fi and YA are my personal favorites, and while a good deal of the books that I read fell into those categories, I found myself genuinely enjoying many books in other genres. A nonfiction book that I chose for the humor category A Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs stands out as one of my favorites. It not only made me laugh, but made me really think about how we pick and choose what rules to follow when it comes to religion, and what that says about who we are, and what kind of world we want to live in. This is not a book I would have picked up previously, but I’m so glad I did.

Being married to an English teacher, I’ve always felt pressure to read the classics. Don’t get me wrong- I love me some Shakespeare, and I’ve really enjoyed other classics like Dante’s Inferno, Jane Eyre, and The Great Gatsby, but I do find most of the classics really hard to get through. However, for the challenge I stepped up and finally read Frankenstein, and added Wuthering Heights to the list as well. Frankenstein was okay, but took me a real long time to get through. Wuthering Heights on the other hand bored me greatly. I started and finished three other books while trying to get interested in it. I find that the Victorian style of writing about someone’s life from start to finish is taxing on the reader. I’m much more used to (and fond of) the later point of attack that modern books tend to take. Not to mention that Wuthering Heights had multiple characters with the same name- I can’t stand that!

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Overall, I’m really happy with what I have accomplished. You can check out all the books I read and my ratings over on Goodreads.

I’m also excited to announce that this year I’m going to be attempting this again, along with starting an online book club with some friends. Popsugar’s list this year is only 40 books, but adding in the book club selections I’m up to 46. That gives me a totally achievable goal for this year.

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I’ve already checked one off the list- A book recommended to me by a family member: After the Cure by Deirdra Gould. I really enjoyed it, and it’s free for the Kindle!

Are you participating in a reading challenge this year? Have any suggestions for books I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

2015 Reading Challenge- Halfway There!

The two pieces of advice I have heard over and over again for people who wish to be better writers are as follows:

1. Write more

2. Read more

So, at the beginning of this year, I decided to really commit to reading more. And not just in terms of volume. I consume books at a really fast rate, but when I’m not thinking about it, I tend to gravitate towards the same types of books over and over again. Now, there is nothing wrong with reading in the same genre, especially because it gives me insight into what works and what doesn’t, but if I really want to push myself as a writer I would be dumb to ignore the plethora of other genres and authors out there. In the end we all have access to the same words right? It’s just about putting them in a different order.

I stumbled across this really diverse list of book suggestions from Popsugar over on Twitter and was interested at once. It had categories such as: “A book you were supposed to read in high school but didn’t” and “A book with antonyms in the title”. The categories seemed fun and not too specific, so I felt I was up for the challenge.

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In actuality, you have to read 52 books as one of the categories is a trilogy, so that evens out to one book a week for the year. I had a friend on Facebook who was able to complete a 100 book challenge last year, so I thought ‘hey- this will be a cakewalk! I read really fast, and what is a book a week?’. As I have come to find out, it is really easy to fall behind, and my reading isn’t very consistent. I tend to go through binges where I will read three or four books in a week, but then I only read one book in the months of June and July because I was busy visiting family for the summer. (more on those adventures here!)

As of September 1st, I find myself having completed 25 books, marking the halfway point (kind of) of the challenge. Due to the large amount of variety in options, I haven’t really felt restricted in my book choices, and have been able to read pretty much whatever I wanted, worrying about fitting them to a category after turning the last page.

The complete challenge list, with the books I have read so far crossed off.

Things are getting a little more difficult now, as I am having to search harder for books that fit the categories. (Anyone have a suggestion for a book set in Camden, NY? My hometown is seriously small!) I’m still having fun though, and Goodreads is more and more helpful when searching for books with specific characteristics.

The following is a list of the books I have read so far. You can also check out my bookshelf on Goodreads dedicated to the challenge for my personal ratings on each. I hope you find some new reading material here! There are some real gems in this bunch!

1. A Book you were supposed to read in High School – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
2. A Funny Book – The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
3. A Banned book – Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
4. A Book published this year- The Heir by Kiera Cass
5. A Memoir- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
6. A book with more than 500 pages- The Firm by John Grisham
7. A book that became a movie- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
8. A book with nonhuman characters- The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
9. A book by a female author- Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand
10. A mystery or thriller- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
11. A book with a one-word title- Younger by Suzanne Munshower
12. A book set in a different country- Animal Farm by George Orwell
13. A book a friend recommended- Raven’s Gift by
14. A book based on a true story- Night by Elie Wiesel
15. A book that scares you- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
16. A book you can finish in a day- Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm
17. A trilogy- The Selection by Kiera Cass
18. A trilogy- The Elite by Kiera Cass
19. A trilogy- The One by Kiera Cass
20. A book with a love triangle- The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
21. A book set in high school- The Second Ship by Richard Phillips
22. A book with a color in the title- Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
23. A book that made you cry- The Gemini Effect by Chuck Grossart
24. A book with magic- The Einstein Prophecy by Robert Masello
25. A book by an author you’ve never read before- Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

The next book on the list for me? Geek Love- a book published the year I was born. It was re-released as a ‘vintage contemporary’ (1989 is vintage now???) but I’m counting the original release for the purpose of the challenge.

Are you doing any type of reading challenge? Let me know about it in the comments below!