Book Lists

Reading Challenge Update #9

I hate to say it, but I’m getting sick and tired of this reading challenge!! I’m finally only a few books away from the finish line and it feels like I’ve been trying to sprint through a marathon. I think being “told” what to read, even when it’s in broad categories, feels too much like school. Plus, I’m super competitive so I’m trying to get through this as fast as possible without enjoying the reading as much.

On the bright side though, I’ve read some books that I never would have picked up otherwise. Maybe this could be an every other year type thing? I’d also need to give myself more leniency to read books that don’t fit into a category!

At my last Reading Challenge Update, I had read through 37 categories. This time around I’m up to 43. So close!




I’m currently not reading anything for this challenge since my three books in progress don’t fit into the remaining categories (annoying…), so here are of the few of the books I’m planning to start soon…hopefully.

  • A graphic novel – Maus by Art Spiegelman. I’m pretty sure I read this for one of my college classes, but I’m eager to revisit the story. A son tells the story of his Jewish father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor.
  • A play – The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Despite being weirdly fascinated/horrified by the period of witch trials in American history, I haven’t read hardly anything about them.


CATEGORIES REMAINING:dark-question-3-1444328

These are a few of the categories I have left and have absolutely no clue what to read. Once again, suggestions are very welcome!!

  • A book based on a true story
  • A book set during Christmas



  • A book originally written in another languageA Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman. I’ll be recommending this one to every other reader I know. This novel is a rare treasure, equal parts funny and sad, but incredibly heart-warming. Ove will stay with you forever.
  • A book with bad reviewsAfter You by JoJo Moyes. Everyone knows sequels are rarely as good as the original and this follows the typical pattern. I enjoyed the book, but it’s hard to beat the emotions of Me Before You. Is anyone else planning to see the movie??
  • A book your mom loves7 by Jen Hatmaker. A pastor’s wife goes on a “mutiny against excess” by taking seven months to reduce seven categories of her life (money, food, clothes, etc) down to seven items. It’s an extreme undertaking to be sure, and she gets a bit preachy at times, but she also delivers some valuable insights about living a life focused on God and how our everyday actions and decisions can be used to glorify Him.
  • A book written by someone under 30Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. The second book in her Lunar Chronicles series, Scarlett is loosely based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. These are clearly young adult novels, but are still entertaining and keep you coming back for more.
  • A book with more than 500 pagesThe Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Rothfuss is hitting it out of the park with this series. I find the whole world he created and the people living in it fascinating. I’m eagerly awaiting the last book in the trilogy.
  • 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. I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would and was rooting for the two characters to end up together.
  • A book with antonyms in the title – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Not my favorite Liane Moriarty novel. I think the school mom drama was a bit too much for me. The plot revelations toward the end of the book helped, but not enough for me to recommend it.
  • A book that made you cry – The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I flew through this story about two sisters in Nazi-occupied France in a few days. It’s a great conversation starter. Join in on my discussion page here!
  • A book a friend recommended – Caught by Harlan Coben. A typical murder mystery that is definitely not my usual style. The ending was unexpected, but this just isn’t my favorite genre. If you’re into mysteries though, my friend highly recommends Harlan Coben!
  • A book published this year – Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. I can’t even remember where I first heard about this book, but I was excited enough to read it that I bought it new. Mistake. I never cared enough about the characters to enjoy it as much as I had hoped.
  • A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visitThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Another book that didn’t meet my expectations. The concept about a young German boy who befriends a Jewish boy in a concentration camp sounds intriguing, but it was a slow read. It is meant for a young reader, so I guess I should keep that in mind.
  • 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 trilogy – The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey. These books aren’t complicated or terribly well written, but I’m still reading them extremely quickly and dying to know how the story ends and what happens to the characters. Classic YA trilogy here.
  • A nonfiction bookOn Writing by Stephen King. A fantastic memoir/writing instruction manual that is packed with fascinating stories from Stephen King’s past and useful tips for any writer.
  • 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 popular author’s first book – 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 titleCocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham (pen name for Sophie Kinsella). 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 titleAnne 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. P.S. This box set is totally on my Amazon wish list : )
  • 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 dayBefore 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 couple.
  • 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 added 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 futureReady 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 bookWhy 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 initialsMurder 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 born (1989) – Number the Stars by Louis Lowry. 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 country (Australia)The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. 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.

I’m linking up with Life According to Steph for Show Us Your Books!

*Full Disclosure – I receive a small commission for any books purchased through the links above. Thanks for supporting my reading habit!


  1. I loved The Shining. It was the first book I read that I could not put down. I started it right before bed (not smart) and set it down to go to bed but couldn’t sleep, so I got-up in the middle of the night to finish it. Then I couldn’t sleep because I was so freaked out. And yes, the movie differences bothered me too! I also recommend the follow-up Doctor Sleep. It’s not quite as good but I still really enjoyed it. I’ve been meaning to read On Writing by King as I’ve heard so many good things about it too. I keep forgetting to add Ready Player One to my TBR but I’m going to do it right now!

    1. I tried to read it once when I was younger and got too scared! I was pretty excited to make it the whole way through this time. I’m already thinking about re-reading Ready Player One because I enjoyed it so much : )

  2. Book based on a true story: Evidence not seen by Darlene Deibler Rose, A woman’s miraculous faith in the jungles of WW ll. A very moving book you won’t soon forget.

  3. You mentioned so many great titles!! I am going through the Anne series and just finished Book 4 and started Book 5 yesterday. Such a delightful and hilarious series! I read 7 while getting ready to move cross-country, so it was good motivation to slim down on my belongings and look at what is important to me. It did get a bit preachy though. A Man Called Ove, One Writing, and The Nightingale are on by TBR list. I heard they are all fantastic!

    Here are my May reads:

    1. Thank you! I definitely want to go back through 7 and pull out a few of the quotes / bible passages to keep. Have fun with all those titles on your TBR list!

  4. I’ve read 13 of your 43 (and have 6 more on my TBR list) and did a similar challenge last year. Like you, I was sick of it by the end and ultimately failed (though does reading 58 books in a year count as failing?) My suggestions for your remaining categories: “Matchless” by Gregory Maguire (of “Wicked” fame) — a retelling of “The Little Match Girl” set at Christmas. (Bonus — it’s short.) The other is labeled by author Jenny Lawson as “A Mostly True Memoir”: “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” is laugh-until-you-can’t-breathe funny, and so good, I’ve sent it to all my girlfriends as gifts… One of them sent me a stuffed mouse (very much like the one on the book’s cover) for Christmas last year as a thank you for recommending such an awesome book (bonus: she’s a librarian who recommends it to all her patrons.)

    1. I completely agree that reading 58 books in no way counts as failing!! I’ve never heard of either of those books so I appreciate the recommendations. I’m definitely going to look up the Jenny Lawson one next time I’m at the library!

  5. Your intro made me laugh. I think it’s the season – it’s time to lighten up and relax in all areas of life. I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated to read also…but then I started What Alice Forgot and now I’m looking for any excuse to read!

    1. Ha thanks : ) I’m pretty sure I went a solid month only reading once or twice a week. Now I’m wrapped up in The Lake House by Kate Morton, though so I’m trying to finish that!

  6. If you liked The Shining you should pick up the sequel Dr, Sleep. It was really good – I read it on my own New England trip, which made it even better!

    1. I’ve had a few people recommend that to me now…might be time to give it a try. Love that you actually read it in New England!

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