Update – 2016 Reading Challenge!
- A book based on a fairy tale – The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
I finished this one pretty early this year. I was surprised at how much I liked it, especially since it was kind of hard for me to get into at first. I think the story was great; it was sort of a remake of Arabian Nights, I think. That part was cool. But I had a really hard time envisioning the story, and the descriptions were tough to follow from time to time. I want to read the next book in the series, because the story was so good, but I probably won’t.
- A National Book Award winner – Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
- A YA Bestseller – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
- A book you haven’t read since high school – Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I honestly didn’t even remember what Ethan Frome was about, although I remember reading it in high school. Now, after rereading, it’s one of my absolute favorites. It was so depressing! After reading this one, I immediately went and read another book by Wharton, The Age of Innocence, which had an equally dreary and amazing ending.
- A book set in your home state – Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Read this one already! I love everything Pat Conroy writes, and this was no exception. His stories are always so long, and usually cover decades, and I have a hard time sticking with it, but it was worth it. I love his descriptions of South Carolina.
- A book translated to English – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
- A book set in Europe – The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
I really enjoyed this. It wasn’t as sad and soul-crushing as Me Before You, but it was still a really good story!
- A book that’s under 150 pages – The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
- A New York Times bestseller – Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
- A book that’s becoming a movie this year – East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- A book recommended by someone you just met – Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
I loved this! I follow a ketogenic diet most of the time, which means I eat foods that are high in fat and low in carbs, keeping me in a fat-burning state called ketosis. Grain Brain provided research behind proving that sugar causes inflammation, leading to all sorts of illnesses and disease. It only reinforced my believe that keto should be a way of life!
- A self-improvement book – The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- A book you can finish in a day – Bossypants by Tina Fey
I had previously planned to read The Awakening by Kate Chopin, but changed my mind. I started it but just couldn’t get into it. I’d like to come back to it one day; I know it’s an important piece of literature, and I want to read it, but now isn’t the time. Instead, I read Bossypants. I’d been reading a lot of classics and wanted something lighter. I enjoyed this, and laughed out loud a few times. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling, though.
- A book written by a celebrity – Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
Oh, Lorelei. I so badly wanted to like this book just because it was written by Lauren Graham, but I didn’t. I mean, it was fine. But everything in it seemed like a trope, and it was all too predictable. The dialogue didn’t seem believable. Maybe I was too critical, though, because I expected more (or maybe I got exactly what I expected; Lauren Graham tends to play pretty ditzy characters, so maybe I expected the book to be crappy).
- A political memoir – Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Befell Smith
I enjoyed this, but it was tough to get through it. I guess this is true of any biography; there were some chapters that were great and some that I just had to force my way through.
- A book at least 100 years older than you – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens! Great Expectations! I had great expectations for this novel, and boy did it live up to them. Wemmick is now one of my favorite characters in the world, mostly because of the bridge story. “Choose your bridge, Mr. Pip, and take a walk upon your bridge, and pitch your money into the Thames over the centre arch of your bridge, and you know the end of it. Serve a friend with it, and you may know the end of it too – but it’s a less pleasant and profitable end.” Honestly, it was just a great story. Also, I still giggle every time I think of Trapp’s boy. “Don’t know yah!”
- A book that’s more than 600 pages – The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I thoroughly enjoyed this, even more than I enjoyed The Goldfinch. What a messed up group of people. What a messed up story. Just… wow.
- A book from Oprah’s Book Club – The Reader by Bernard Schlink
- A science fiction novel – The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen
- A graphic novel – El Deafo by Cece Bell
Originally, I’d planned to read a different graphic novel here, but they’re really hard to come by. I found El Deafo on the online library site, and enjoyed the heck out of it. It was silly and heartwarming, and I giggled my way through it.
- A book published in 2016 – A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
- A book with a protagonist who has your occupation – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Originally, I’d planned to read Dead Poets’ Society, which I hadn’t even realized was based on a book at first. I thought it was only a movie. And I definitely didn’t know that Jane Eyre was a teacher! But I read it, realized that, and slipped it into this slot instead, because I can’t find Dead Poets’ Society anywhere anyway.
- A book and its prequel – Delirium and Annabel by Lauren Oliver
So, this may be where I cheat, or just willingly fail with this whole challenge. I read Delirium and I mostly enjoyed it. It was fine. But this category was hard enough to fill in the first place, and I just don’t care enough about the story to go back and read the prequel. Oh well.
- A murder mystery – Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
I put an Agatha Christie novel here at first. I feel like I should read something by Christie at some point in my life. But then I got an email from BookPerk telling me that I could download Pretty Girls for only $1.99, and I went for it. Holy crap, I love Karin Slaughter like you wouldn’t believe, and this was absolutely my favorite by her.
- A book written by a comedian – Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
This is another category with a different book than the original. I’d originally listed a Judd Apatow book, but I just wasn’t that into it. I remembered that I hadn’t read Mindy’s second book, and I found that it was available for download at the library. I loved it. She’s so funny, and the things she wrote were really relatable.
- A Dystopian Novel – 1984 by George Orwell
I’ve tried to read 1984 before, but couldn’t really get into it. I am so glad that I did. It was awful and amazing, all at once.
- A book with a blue cover – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
I didn’t set out to read this intentionally; I came across it, saw that the cover was blue, and thoughtWell, okay, then. It was fine. I was bored during a lot of it.
- A book of poetry – Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets by Caitlin Keegan
- The first book you see in a bookstore – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I mean, whatever. I didn’t really do the bookstore thing. I just found a book that didn’t already have a category it would fit into, and put it there. I felt like I should get some credit for slogging all the way through such a freaking boring book.
- A classic from the 20th century – Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
This was a re-read for me. I hadn’t read it for years and have heard so many people complaining about it lately. I wanted to see how I felt about Holden as an adult. Verdict? I still love it as much as I used to.
- A book from the library – Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub
Loved it. It was interesting to see how she dealt with her kids avoiding sugar in circumstances where she had little control, like at school.
- An autobiography – Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill
This was interesting! I liked learning about Scientology from the perspective of someone who was so involved in it, even as an adult. At the risk of sounding terrible, I have to say that the Scientology schools seem to be a bit lacking. I don’t think that Hill is the brightest person in the world.
- A book about a road trip – Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- A satirical book – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
So, I haven’t read this yet, but let me just say that it’s like, the millionth time I’ve tried to. I am determined to finish it this time!!
- A book that takes place on an island – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
So maybe this is cheating a little. But technically Manhattan is an island, right? I just had a hard time finding a book for this one. I started To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, but just couldn’t get into it.
- A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy – The Hours by Michael Cunningham
I definitely didn’t realize this book would ‘bring me joy’ when I started it, but it totally did. After reading it, I couldn’t figure out how to describe it. I still can’t.
- A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. I didn’t expect to not like it, but I really didn’t expect to connect with the character (male, teenage, Native American) as I did. But wow, it was good.
- A book that takes place during summer – We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
Whatever. This was fine. I don’t really remember it except that dude couldn’t really get a girl.
- A book recommended by a family member – A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
My husband suggested this, and it was amazing! It’s the story of a girl who is possessed by demons – maybe. Or maybe she just has severe mental health problems. Or maybe she’s faking it all to save her family. There’s a blog, a reality TV show, and an exorcism. It’s amazing.
I still have to decide which books to use for a romance set in the future. That’s a tough category, though! I might not fill that one. I try to be kind to myself and remember that the purpose of these challenges is simply to read more, and read outside your typical boxes. I think I’ve definitely done that so far in 2016! Here’s a list of the other books I’ve read, which didn’t really fit into any categories:
- Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
- The Teacher’s Billionaire by Christina Tetreault
- Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
- Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter
- Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
- This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
- The Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri