Book Lists

Reading Challenge Update #7

After three straight days of spring-like weather here in the Northeast, it’s not hard to believe that it’s been almost a month since our big snow storm and my last Reading Challenge Update!

If you’re still searching for a reading challenge to start this year, here is Pop Sugar’s 2016 version of the one I’m currently using: 2016 Reading Challenge.

I’ve made decent progress over the last month and have read a total of 30 books (technically 31, but that last one is the first book in my trilogy, so I’m going to be honest and not really count that until the whole trilogy is finished…ok I realize that was a longer explanation than anyone really needed).




  • A book with antonyms in the title – Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. This novel tells the story of a father who 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 for so long.
  • A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visitThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. A book for young readers about the nine year old son of a German officer who runs a concentration camp. The boy ends up befriending one of the Jewish kids inside the camp…at least that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’m over halfway through and still waiting for that side of the story.
  • A trilogyThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Aliens have invaded Earth and decimated the human population through a series of “waves.” A few teenagers are fighting to stay alive and get their world back. It started a bit slow, but I was hooked by the end and am eager to get my hands on the second book.
  • A book published this yearThe Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. Yes! I found a way to include Bill Bryson! He is an all-time favorite author of mine and I was thrilled to discover he was releasing a new travelogue this year about Britain.
  • A nonfiction bookOn Writing by Stephen King. I’m recommending this to every reader I know and getting a lot of strange looks in return, but I can’t get enough of it!! It’s especially fascinating if you are a fan of his and have read at least a few of his books. It’s half memoir and half writing instruction manual but both parts are delightful and are chock full of anecdotes, criticism, and solid life lessons.


  • 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 languageA 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 by an author you’ve never read beforeThe 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 classic romanceA Room With A View by E.M. Forster. A young English girl meets two men while on a tour of Italy and must choose between them.



  • A book you started but never finishedBrave New World by Aldous Huxley. I’m always up for a dystopian novel, but this didn’t draw me in and hook me like others have. I found the most interesting parts were descriptions of the human manufacturing process and the rules for their society.
  • A book with more than 500 pages – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. First of all, I must warn you this book is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of sex, rape, and violence and it’s pretty explicitly described. However, I still tore through it and am waiting impatiently for the library to get me the second book! At the heart of the book is a fascinating story of a woman who is thrown into an unfamiliar time and must adapt to stay alive. It brings up questions of loyalty, right vs wrong, and what lengths you go to save those you love.
  • A book with a number in the title – Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham. Typical chick-lit about three best friends with vastly different lives. It was fairly predictable and not one of hers that I’d recommend.
  • A book you own but have never readThe 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 charactersCinder 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 triangleThe 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 Pulitzer Prize winning bookThe Road by Cormac McCarthy. A novel about a man and his son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The writing was shockingly simple yet the content of the man’s musings still went over my head. I enjoyed the plot and found the ending terribly sad yet hopeful.
  • 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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