I wasn’t going to do the PopSugar Reading Challenge for 2016, but I’ve been using Goodreads.com a lot more recently – and that means that I’ve also been participating in my favorite reading group there. The group’s 2016 challenge is this PopSugar Reading Challenge, so, I’ve decided to do it. It is always nice to have reading goals.
It was fun to find all the books I’d like to read for each item on the list. I don’t really believe I’ll read all these books in 2016, but I will give it a try. Finding the books was like being on a scavenger hunt. I used a lot of resources to find them. The lists at Goodreads were especially helpful.
So far I’ve read 22 of the books on my list. I started in April. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to complete the entire list so I’ll carry the rest of the books forward to next year. Overall, I didn’t read as much as I hoped I would, but I did manage to read a lot of books I otherwise wouldn’t have – so I’ll call this project a success.
1. A book based on a fairytale
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is a retelling of East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon, an old Norse folk tale. As a child I used to go to the Richmond Public Library (Richmond, California) where a school textbook was available that had this story in it. I read it obsessively, and then one day, it wasn’t there anymore. I was devastated. I can barely wait to read the retelling. My heart is involved. This will probably be on my next list of books to buy at Amazon. And the cover is awesome.
I finished reading this book in November. What a delightful story – based on a Norse fairytale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon – a favorite of mine, from childhood, and a blessing for all young teens that read this retelling. Jessica Day George really brought the characters to life.
2. National Book Award winner
I finished reading: The Wapshot Chronicle. This classic by John Cheever won the National Book Award in 1958. I was going to read something else, but switched to this one because my Goodreads Classic book reading group chose it for the group read for May 2016. Until then, I’d never heard of this book.
I listened to it via audiobook, and found it humorous at times, entertaining at others… though the non-reactions to the death of a driver startled me. I typically read / listen to audiobooks while out walking.
3. A YA bestseller
I want to read: The Fault in Our Stars, a book about a teenager with terminal cancer. This may sound depressing, but reviewers say this book is amazing and worth reading. It was published in 2012 so I’m late to the party.
4. A book you haven’t read since high school
I want to re-read: Up the Down Staircase because it is an amazing, impressive epistolary novel from the point of view of a New York high school teacher. I want to love the experience again.
5. A book set in your home state
Finished: Echoes From the Hills of Idaho. Ruth Butler grew up in the 20’s and 30’s on a farm on the Idaho side of the Grand Teton Mountains. Can you imagine a more beautiful place to be?
I finished reading this book on August 10, 2016. It is a sweet memoir of a woman who was born and raised in Idaho. This book covers her years from early childhood through junior high. The first 29 chapters take place in Idaho, and then there are a few chapters about traveling to temporary homes in other states.
6. A book translated into your native language
I want to read: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. It was already on my TBR list because I’d seen it recommended on another blog. I don’t know much about it. The author is Japanese, and several of his novels are now translated to English. People are raving about them and recommending them. I’m expecting good literary writing and some romance. I’ll write more about it later after I read through it.
7. A romance set in the future
I want to read: Shadow Over Avalon for no particular reason. Futuristic romances are really not my thing so I picked this from a list thinking it sounded somewhat better than others on the list. Wish me luck getting through this. Oh, maybe I’ll love it. You never know.
I reviewed this book: Shadow Over Avalon: A Sci-Fi Book Review
8. A book set in Europe
I want to read: The Book Thief. This book is sitting next to my reading chair, ready for me. I haven’t had it very long. I bought it in April when I purchased Where the Heart Is from Amazon. I’ve wanted to read it for a long time and it looks like my turn is coming soon. The story takes place in Germany.
Confession – I didn’t finish reading this one until October 7, 2017 – but it was well worth the time spent reading.
9. A book under 150 pages
I finished reading The Stranger. It is 123 pages. Seems short enough. And I love classics. This book was originally published in 1942 and the first English edition was released in 1946.
5/7/16 – Finished the book! It was a short but philosophically compelling story of a man who lived by fact and not by emotion. He went through life pleasing others without caring one way or the other about too many things. There’s much to learn and think about by reading this book.
10. A New York Times bestseller
I read Gone Girl. I chose this book for no reason other than that it is highly recommended. It is about a man whose wife disappears in Missouri. Interesting premise.
My short review… (a longer review should be posted soon)… this book was crazy. Maybe that’s because of the characters involved. The book is a page-turner, but not appropriate for people who don’t like to read about mature situations, or those avoiding bad language. I didn’t think any of that was gratuitous, however. The characters were portrayed perfectly. The story is compelling, and it tells a lot about truth or lack of it in a marriage situation.
11. A book that is becoming a movie this year
Finished: The Girl on the Train … I don’t even know what this is about, but I know everyone who reads it loves it. So I might as well too. Sounds entertaining.
The book was so entertaining I flew through it in only a few hours. It is a mystery with themes of adultery, pathos, and codependency. The narrative alternates between three women, all reporting to us in first-person narratives which are dated.
12. A book recommended by someone you just met
I finished reading: The Museum of Extraordinary Things. I got this recommendation on GoodReads from another participant in the PopSugar Reading Challenge. It is a perfect recommendation. I recently another book by Alice Hoffman and loved it, so I was excited to get into this earlier book.
This is a compelling page-turner, which at times is more horrifying than I’m really comfortable with. The characters were odd and interesting, and I gave it five stars at Goodreads.
13. A self-improvement book
I finished Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer – who played the lead role in the movie, War Room. It is about how to improve your prayer life.
Fervent was an easy-to-read book about Christian prayer life aimed mainly at women.
If I have time this year, I’d also like to finish this book: How to Read a Book, a classic book about the art of reading. Always fascinating.
14. A book you can finish in a day
I loved the book. It is a quick read. I listened to an audiobook and it was about a five hour time investment. Definitely worth the experience, especially for writers.
15. A book written by a celebrity/someone you look up to
Julia Cameron – I love her books.
16. A political memoir
I looked at a lot of political memoirs before I decided to read: Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings. Most political memoirs are by or about politicians (not my favorite topic) but I came across this adorable memoir about a girl who spent her childhood split between Los Angeles and Cuba, at the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Bingo! I’ll read it.
Update – I finished reading this at the beginning of 2017.
17. A book at least 100 years old
Finished via Kindle: Jane Eyre. I consider it very embarrassing that it took me so long to read this classic. I definitely wanted to accomplish this in 2016. Jane Eyre has been on my TBR list a long time.
Finished 8/30/16 – and now I miss it so much. Wonderful novel… just dreamy.
18. A book that’s 600+ pages
Finished: Dune. I chose to read this book merely because I already owned the audiobook. Sci-Fi isn’t my favorite genre, but most of what I’ve read, I liked. I recently discovered I’ve read sixteen out of one hundred books on the Amazon editors’ list of 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime. I was surprised to get to sixteen! I should write about it on this blog one of these days. Some of those books are my favorites of all time. Hmmm… maybe I like Sci-Fi more than I think I do. Anyhow – Dune – I wish I’d read it 35 years ago when I first had a copy… but no……. I was too busy doing “other things.”
This novel was so hard to get into – because no help was given to get used to the environment, people, or terminology. The author drops you off in the middle of an extremely odd culture where many words aren’t explained. But I survived. It took 12 days to get through this 604 page book.
19. A book from Oprah’s Book Club
I decided to read Where the Heart Is because it was a book group selection for April 2016, for one of my favorite reading groups at Goodreads. It was the Oprah’s Book Club book for December 1998. It is set in Oklahoma, a special state for me because my mother was born there in Sand Springs, just outside of Tulsa.
I finished this book on May 22, 2016. It took over a month to read because it was a bit slow, and a few other books distracted me from it, such as The Stranger and Wuthering Heights. It was easy for them to get my attention because I had Kindle copies of them so they were my bedtime reading. However I had a paperback copy of Where the Heart Is and I find reading paperbacks much more challenging. I usually don’t read them in bed because of logistics issues, so I have to set aside time from my busy days to devote to them. I finished reading this book on a rainy Sunday afternoon… a good way to spend my day of rest.
The characters in Where the Heart Is were mostly sweet and lovable, with the exception of a few villains along the way, most notably, the baby’s father, Willy Jack Pickens, who got a lot of well-deserved bad luck in exchange for his low-life ways. The main character, Novalee Nation, the mother of his child, was unfailingly kind and loving though she made a few bad decisions now and then.
The story meandered and wandered… it reminded me of some of the novels I’ve written. I think this book taught me the value of plotting. It seemed to be mostly a panster effort. The author said she knew what the beginning and end would be but the rest was all formulated as needed. I’ve written that way. I understand.
It is a huge contrast to a tightly plotted work I recently read, Gone Girl, which I believe must have been extremely well-planned in advance to have told the layered story the author produced. Reading these two books back-to-back was a good learning experience for me. I liked Where the Heart Is for the slice of Oklahoma life that it is. It is definitely a refreshing look into middle-American small-town life.
20. A sci-fi novel
I’m planning to read Ready Player One. Wish me luck. I’ve heard it is good.
21. A book recommended by a family member
I’ve got my mother to thank for recommending this one. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman is a deep, heart-involving novel about women living in Masada in 70 AD. (review soon)
This is the first Alice Hoffman novel I’ve read. I actually listened to an audiobook. I loved the narrators. The book is told from the points-of-view of four women whose lives brought them to Masada for a final show-down with the Romans.
22. A graphic novel
I want to read: Blankets. I chose this from a list of graphic novels on GoodReads. They were mostly about superheroes. This one is not about superheroes, which is why I chose it. I’ve never read a graphic novel before.
23. A book that was published in 2016
I want to read: It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond … a new book by Julia Cameron for we who are of a certain age, if you know what I mean. I will probably order this one after I’m done reading Walking in This World.
Finished in April 2017 – better late than never! Actually, once I got started on this book, it was a race to the finish. I loved it.
24. A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
I want to read: The World According to Garp by John Irving. I’m looking forward to reading this. A few years ago I read his book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and it is one of my favorite novels ever. This book should be as good or better as it is a National Book Award winner (1980).
25. A book that takes place in the Summer
I want to read: One Day. All the action takes place on July 15… but in different years. It sounds like an interesting premise for a novel. Different.
26. A book and its prequel
I finished Anne of Green Gables on August 2, 2016. Anne is one of the most delightful characters I’ve ever met!
27. A murder mystery
I want to read: And Then There Were None. It has been a long time since I’ve read an Agatha Christie novel. A long, long time – like maybe, thirty years long. I see this novel being referred to as one of her best. I may have already read it – I don’t know because I didn’t keep track of all the Agatha Christie novels I read way back when. I’m looking forward to this reading experience.
Update – Finally read this in 2018…
28. A book written by a comedian
I want to read: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. I’ve wanted to read this ever since I first heard of it, when it was originally published. Nora Ephron isn’t actually a comedian. She was a screen writer – whose work included When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and Julie & Julia. This book is said to have humor in it… though perhaps it is more of a memoir. We’ll see. I did look for a “clean humor” book written by a comedian and couldn’t find one. Alas. I considered the I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken but it is not recommended for vegetarians and the recipes are the opposite of the natural foods I like to eat. Maybe I should read the I Hate to Housekeep Book instead. Too bad most of Peg Braken’s books are out of print.
29. A dystopian novel
Amazing book: The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve had this in my sights for about seven years. I now own a copy, the audiobook version. I will have this on my reading list before long.
This book practically read itself. A page turner about a woman trapped in a society taken over by a Christianesque female-subjugation cult.
30. A book with a blue cover
I want to read: Convictions – I have a copy of this book because a long time ago – I think it was 2004 – I wrote a NaNoWriMo novel called Far Out: The Journey to Oblivion. It has never been edited or published. After writing it, I searched Amazon and the internet to see if there were other books with similar premises set in the sixties, and I found Taffy Cannon’s book, Convictions. I still haven’t read it. Hopefully, this is the time.
31. A book of poetry
I want to read: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. I have a Kindle copy and will read it soon.
32. The first book you see in a bookstore/or online/or in the library
The Husband’s Secret. I picked this off a list at Goodreads a few days ago. I’ve also seen it at Amazon and it was on my TBR list.
Set in Australia… a novel about betrayal and learning to find peace with the past.
33. A classic from the 20th century
I’m currently reading: The Virginian. I’d like to know how the westerns got started. This book was the original western, starting the craze, or so I’ve heard.
Ah-mazing… a cowboy western romance with a literary vibe. And a classic. So cool.
34. A book from the library
I want to read: Last Stop on Market Street – winner of the Newbery Medal for 2016. How unusual it is for a picture book to win the medal, instead of a novel. It must be good. I chose this for my library book because it is such a problem for me to even get to the library (I have no car) I thought it would be good to pick a book I could sit and read while I’m there. Also, I am not motivated to purchase this book. I do, however, want to read it.
35. An autobiography
I want to read: A Long Way Gone… a memoir of a boy soldier in Africa. Or, maybe I should say, memoir of a man who used to be a boy soldier. I have this book and look forward to reading it.
36. A book about a road trip
I want to read: Blue Highways. When I looked for road trip novels I noticed this one. Good ratings. And it looks so, so good to me, I’ve already ordered it.
UPDATE: I finally read this book, from October 2017 through February 2018… see my video book review below.
37. A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with
I want to read: A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is the first book I ever put on my “want to read” list at Goodreads. I should get to it soon.
38. A satirical book
I originally chose: Good Omens because I have a copy, but was not totally sure I wanted to read it. Then my classic book reading group chose to read Babbitt, a satire about the middle class. I decided this is a much better choice since laughing about the apocalypse didn’t seem like something I wanted to do right now. I still might read Babbit because I like the premise – but I ended up reading Candide by Voltaire because I had a copy handy, and it has been on my TBR list for a long time.
Candide was short but pithy – except for the extreme lack of emotion. Bad stuff happens proving that all is not well in the world. Apparently that was an important issue during Voltaire’s time, after the horrific Lisbon earthquake of 1755.
39. A book that takes place on an island
– I want to read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I looked for island books and saw this listed, and was so happy. This book sounds so inviting. And now I know… Guernsey is an island in the English Channel, not just some location in far-away England.
40. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy
A great joy-inducing book: 30 Days to Becoming a Woman of Prayer.
I read this great devotional during October and November. The chapters are short enough to fill that space between journaling and Bible study. Very inspiring, and uplifting!
Here’s the link to the PopSugar Reading Challenge for 2016.