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Reading Challenge Update #6

To all my Northeast readers, I hope you survived the massive snow storm and got a lot of reading done while huddled indoors! I know I certainly did. I ended up finishing two books and started a third one over the weekend. Based on that progress, I figured it was about time to give you all an update on the reading challenge.

By the way, I just stumbled on the 2016 Reading Challenge. I’ll be starting that challenge once I finish the current one.

Here’s where I currently stand (26 books read, 24 to go!):



  • A book with more than 500 pages – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I finally decided to give up on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Over the past month, when faced with a choice of what I felt like reading, I almost never picked up Jonathan Strange, so I decided to call it a day. I’m immensely pleased that I finally started Outlander instead. It’s been three days and I’m 3/4 of the way through…I don’t want it to end!

I realize it’s surprising that I am only reading one book at the moment. There was a perfect storm of factors influencing this situation: finishing two books this weekend, becoming consumed with Outlander, and being on hold for ebooks from the library. I’m hoping to remedy the issue this week with a trip to the real library.


  • A book from your childhood – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I guess this could also fall into the category below, but I needed a children’s book that I’ve never read before, so here it stays. I don’t really know why I haven’t read this yet, especially since I studied French in high school and college, but I’m looking forward to getting started.
  • A book originally written in another language – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This novel was originally written in Swedish and was introduced to me through the What Should I Read Next podcast. From what I’ve heard, you’ll experience the full range of human emotions reading about the old curmudgeon.
  • A book you started but never finishedBrave New World by Aldous Huxley. Dystopian novels always hold a certain allure for me and I started this one day last year when I was visiting Jay, but never finished it since I forgot to bring it back home with me. I liked the first 30-ish pages, so I’m looking forward to finishing.
  • A book by an author you’ve never read before – The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Another historical fiction novel set during WWII in German-occupied France. This novel focuses on the separate paths of two sisters as they navigate their lives in the war-torn country.
  • A book published this year – Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. This book tells the story of a father who kidnaps/takes his daughter from their home, tells her that civilization has been destroyed, and builds a life for them together in a remote cabin in the woods. She eventually discovers evidence of the outside world and unravels the deceptions she’s lived with her entire life.



  • A book you own but have never read – The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. This was a strange combination of time travel, interaction with book characters, and murder mystery. I liked it? I think? It is a series, but I’m still deciding if I want to continue on.
  • A book with a color in the title – Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery. One of my favorites from this reading challenge. I’m eager to start the next book and continue Anne’s adventures.
  • A book with nonhuman characters – Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Another recommendation from Modern Mrs. Darcy that I loved (she’s just the best). The first book in the Lunar Chronicles series follows a cyborg mechanic in a loose interpretation of the Cinderella story.
  • A book with a love triangle – The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes. Another typical Moyes novel, but slightly more appealing to me since the plot centers around handwritten letters and missed connections. I was often surprised by the plot twists and touched by the story overall. Worth a read if you’re a fan of hers.
  • A book more than 100 years oldGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens. Hmm, what to say about this classic. I honestly thought I would like it more than I did. I had high hopes from the author of A Tale of Two Cities, but never felt any sort of connection to the characters and thought the story was a bit boring.
  • A book you can finish in a day – Before I Go by Colleen Oakley. This was a page-turner about a young women dying of cancer who struggles with her relationship with her husband and the desire to find someone to take care of him after she’s gone. Not the deepest book, but you’ll want to find out what happens to the characters.
  • A mystery or thriller – Timeline by Michael Crichton. I admit…I’ve read this before which means I’m breaking my own rules a bit. However, I love Michael Crichton and this one has the extra appeal of time travel.
  • A banned book – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, banned in Georgia. It’s finally done!! Sheesh, this took forever to read. Parts of it were fascinating and parts were extremely dull. Can’t say I’d recommend it.
  • A book set in the future – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I just found out this is being made into a movie and couldn’t be more excited! I’m planning to reread this since I absolutely gobbled it up the first time and know I missed some nuances. I highly recommend this for anyone who likes a good treasure hunt/action story, 80’s pop culture, or video games and virtual reality.
  • A funny book – Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. If you like Mindy, you’ll like her writing. She makes reading feel like you and her are drinking wine on a couch swapping stories. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but charming and delightful.
  • A memoirGarlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read thus far on this challenge. It was a fascinating peek behind the curtain of a restaurant critic’s mind. Who knew nonfiction could be this interesting?
  • A book at the bottom of your to-read listA Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. I was thrilled to finish this book because it meant no more skimming through pages and pages of college student philosophizing. Let’s just say I wasn’t a fan.
  • A book of short storiesDifferent Seasons by Stephen King. Although technically a collection of novellas, I’m using it for this category anyway. I did end up liking the short story format and thought these were on par with the rest of his writing.
  • A book with a one-word titleRoom by Emma Donoghue. This book started a bit slow but it quickly changed course. I highly recommend it for the unique perspective on the outside world from a child that’s never experienced it.
  • A book written by a female authorWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I rearranged Mrs. Dalloway so I could fit this book into my challenge. Once again, Moriarty knocked it out of the park. An intriguing character study of how a person can change over the course of her lifetime and how it affects her relationships.
  • A book by an author with your same initials – Murder at Wittenham Park by R. W. Heber. Well, this was probably the best of my options (turns out the selection of authors with the initials R.H. is pretty slim), but it was still awful. Standard dinner party murder mystery weekend turns into an actual murder plot.
  • A book that became a movie – Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (The Hours is based on this book). This was sitting on my bookshelf, so I decided on a whim to make it my next work book. It’s one of those classics that I know I ought to read and so far it’s been a pleasant surprise. The sentences are long and descriptive, but not as hard to follow as Hawthorne’s…so, I think I have at least a vague idea of what’s happening?
  • A book with magicThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This book was another favorite and I’m thrilled that there are still two more in the series to get through!
  • A book that came out the year you were bornNumber the Stars by Louis Lowry (1989). I never read this in school and was eager to dive into another Lowry story. It’s a simple but heartfelt read and I finished it very quickly. I loved learning more about another country’s methods of standing up to Germany and how they sheltered Jews.
  • A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yetThe Distant Hours by Kate Morton. This was a bit of a struggle to get through. I was disappointed after my experience with Morton’s other books. There was the signature twist at the end, but it didn’t make up for my lack of interest in the plot or the characters.
  • A book that takes place in your hometown – A Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Fisher. This is exactly the feel-good novel you’d expect from Amish Christian Fiction. It kept my attention and had enough depth to keep it interesting.
  • A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’tThe House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. My only motivation for finishing this book was the fact that I’d get to visit the actual house on our New England trip. It was worthwhile for that purpose, since bits and pieces of the house matched the story. I probably give this less credit than it deserves, but I doubt I’d pick it up again.
  • A book that scares youThe Shining by Stephen King. I really enjoyed the book… and then watched the movie and was disappointed by how different it was.
  • A book based entirely on its coverAll’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St Amant. A cheery romance about a woman in her mid-20s who is entered into a TV cupcake competition by her close, male friend, who she then brings along as her assistant. As I began reading, it also became clear that this was a faith-based novel, which is an added bonus! A light, airy, and fun read!
  • A book based on or turned into a TV showWhen Calls the Heart by Janette Oke. The second season of this show just wrapped up on Lifetime. The show is loosely based on this book series, but at least captures the essence of a city girl who accepts a teaching job in the Canadian West in the early 1900’s. Needless to say, I adored both the book and the TV series.
  • A book set in a different countryThe Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, set in Australia. This novel drew me in quickly and I finished it in just three days. The highlight is the relationships among the large cast of characters and how their individual, sometimes seemingly immaterial, decisions impacted each other’s lives.


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