2017 Reading Challenge

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Reading Challenge 2017

It’s time for another reading challenge!

I never finished Modern Mrs Darcey’s 2016’s reading challenge. I did read books that weren’t on my original list. Though, once Phoenix was born, I found myself entrenched in books on how to get Phoenix to sleep. If I had a moment to read, I chose to sleep instead. The newborn fog has lifted and so I’m forging ahead with finishing 2016’s list along with a whole new set of books for 2017!

I combined a few categories from Anne’s 2016 and 2017 list for my new 2017 reading challenge! In typical Catherine fashion, my selections run from classics to historical fiction to memoirs (so many memoirs) to parenting books. My plan is to mix reading physical copies with listening to books on audio because, hello, I spend hours breastfeeding a week.

As the year progresses, I update and cross off any book I finish.

But first, my 2017 list!

#1: A book published this year |

2016 Pick: Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly
After reading The Nighingale and The Girl You Left Behind I can’t get enough of historical fiction set during The Great Wars. Lilac Girls sounds right up my alley!

2017 pick: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

I read Roxane Gay’s New York Times best-selling essay collection, Bad Feminist, a few years ago. She’s Lena Dunham, except older and more experienced or maybe Lena is the younger, more flighty Roxane. From what I know, Difficult Women, comprises previously published short stories on, you guessed it, “difficult women.” I think it’s a fitting book, especially in the year of the “nasty woman”.

#2: A book you can finish in a day | Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingles Wilder

Last year, for this category, I read Anne of Green Gables. In keeping with a childhood favorite, I’ve selected Little House on the Prairie. I loved the whole series as a child but it’s been years since I dove into life on the prairie with the Wilders.

#3: A Book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able | Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I’ll need a few easier reads this year. Re: #11.

#4: A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit | The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Emma wrote the bestselling novel, Room. I haven’t read Room, but I watched the movie (that counts, right?!). The Wonder, set in Ireland, follows the story of a young girl, who stumbles into a village, claiming she has survived solely for months eating only manna from heaven.

#5: A book in the backlist of a new favorite author | Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr

Immediately following the birth of his twins the famed author, of All The Light We Cannot See, receives a prestigious writing award which ultimately lands him a stipend to write in Rome.

#6: A book chosen by your spouse |

2016 Pick: The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Jordan started asking me to read this book as soon as he was in chapter one! His dream is coming true.

2017 Pick: The Complete Stories by Flannory O’Connor

I enjoy using these challenges to read from authors I should be more familiar with but for whatever reason have brushed past. Last year I finally read Ann Lamott.

#7: A book about a topic or subject you already love | The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old by Harvey Karp

I so wish I would have read The Happiest Baby on the Block before Phoenix was born (I read it when he was three months old). I think it would have eliminated discomfort for Phoenix and stress for me during his early weeks. It’s hard to believe Phoenix will be a toddler by the end of 2017 so, in an effort to get ahead, I want to educate myself on the next phase of parenthood.

#8: A book about books or reading | The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Memoirs and essay style writing comprise more than half of the books I read in a year. I love gleaning life advice from other people sharing their  stories. Mary is credited as being the modern influencer of memoirs.

#9: A book you previously abandoned | Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

One of my favorite radio shows/podcasts is NPR’s Fresh Air. Besides Terri Gross’ interviews she also has a number of rotating staff who review music, movies, television and books. Maisie Dobbs was one of those books reviewed by Maureen Corrigan (though actually it was in reference to an anniversary edition). I immediately requested it from the library, but, like what often happens with library books, I had to return it before I finished.

#10: A book you own but have never read |

2016 Pick:  Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

It’s embarrassing how much I love Jane Austen’s storytelling but haven’t been able to finish any of them! I blame this partially on my book copies having too small of a print. My eyes aren’t great. Haha!

2017 Pick: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Likewise, I have watched Pride and Prejudice numerous times and on several occasions started to read the book, but I still have never finished it. It’s time.

#11: A book that intimidates you |

2016 Pick:  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The subject matter doesn’t intimidate me but I tend to get lost with foreign names and places so this might need to be an audiobook!

2017 Pick: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I might be completely torturing myself, but since we have begun watching the miniseries, War & Peace, I thought why not stick with Tolstoy and read War and Peace.

#12: A book you’ve already read at least once (2016) | I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron was a smart and funny story-teller and not just in her fictional screenplays. She wrote two memoirs and they are excellent. I suggest listening to the audio versions as Nora is the narrator.

#12: A book chosen based solely on its cover (2017) |  The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson

Last summer, while browsing our local bookmobile, I noticed The Summer Before the War right away. I love historical fiction, but the hardcover is extra-large so the cover stood out! Did you all know there isn’t a standard size for hardcover novels? The attendant said it actually makes shelving books challenging.

Are you joining a reading challenge this year? If so, share your list (or blog post) in the comments so other’s can get new book recommendations!

“This was written as part of a writing prompt. Do you like to write? Or do you want to get back into the writing habit? Or do you want to start a writing habit? Do you like to reflect? And also think forward?”

Then come join in #reverb!

21 thoughts on “2017 Reading Challenge”

  1. I’m in the same boat with you! I did so little reading last year, and much of it was related to baby sleep. I’m already off to solid start with reading this year, and I think it’s because I have enough energy to stay awake and to choose reading over other things. You have so many good picks here! I’m not following a reading challenge, but on my to-read-soon list are The Wonder (and Room) and Four Seasons in Rome. I’m in the middle of Dark Matter right now and it is CRAZY good!

    1. I think I’ve heard of Dark Matter but I’m not sure what it’s about. I’ll add it to my Goodreads library. I’m looking forward to the day when I know I won’t be woken up as much at night and I can prioritize even more reading.

  2. I have tried to make my way through “Anna Karenina”…good luck! Tolstoy (and Jane Austen) are both difficult to read in this modern day. I have decided I have to be in the right mood to tackle that prose.

    I still haven’t read “All the Light You Cannot See” and it is still hanging around on my to-buy list. I really need to make that happen this year! I have Lilac Girls on my list, too.

    I would love to re-read my Little House books! They were so dear to me in my childhood, as was the show. I read Melissa Gilbert’s autobiography and really enjoyed it. The show really defined her upbringing, so it was interesting. I bought “Pioneer Girl,” which is Wilder’s annotated autobiography, but I’m sure it will take forever to get through; it’s a huge coffee table book and the annotations really distract and take you down rabbit holes…but it’s good!

    1. I’m almost finished with listening to War & Peace so I think I’ll listen to Anna Karenina too. Hopefully it’ll “read” easier. I forgot Melissa had an autobiography. I’m going to add it to my Goodreads list. I LOVED the television show and watched it almost daily. #homeschooled

  3. I still have my battered box set of Little House books – LOVED them as a kid! Dr. Zhivago was the last book I just couldn’t finish – so many names plus each character seemed to have a nickname as well. The audio didn’t help me on that one.

    1. Oh no! Usually audiobooks help in those cases. I’m hoping I can get through both Tolstoy but I won’t torture myself over it. I have battered copies of Little House too though they are all at my parent’s house.

  4. Yes, yes! Jane Austen! And I love that Tolstoy is listed for both of the books that intimidate you – I’ve never read him and would totally put the books in that category too. My mom did Anna Karenina by starting with audiobook, and then switched to reading herself once she got really into it, and she said that’s really helpful. Oh and Four Seasons in Rome is so great. His writing is fabulous, and you’ll also really appreciate the reflections on parenting in the baby stage.

    And I had so much fun reading your list that I’m convinced I need to do this reading challenge too. I’ve thought about it – I already read a ton of books every year, but I’m so escapist in my reading that I like to just pick what I’m feeling like reading at the moment. This is really starting to make me like the idea of planning a little more in my reading life though. Though if my spouse picks I’m going to have to put up with the fact that I’m going to finally HAVE to read Malcolm Gladwell. (Who I like – I just don’t like giving up reading time to nonfiction!)

    1. That is such a good tip from your mom. I’m almost finished with War & Peace on Audio and about halfway through I could have switched to book form.

      I read other books but there are so many books, classics in particular, that I easily forget I want to read. My husband mostly reads nonfiction too. I can handle it in small doses but I’m not a huge business/self-help book reader either.

  5. What a great challenge!

    Anna Karenina is a slog… I’m not gonna lie.. but it’s SUCH a great story!

    Also Austin is my fallback whenever I can’t decide what to read, but I’ve never actually read Sense and Sensibility (all the others though)

    I haven’t decided on a reading challenge this year. I have a few on my list, and try to keep it alternating between fiction and non fiction.

    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

    1. I’m hoping by listening to Anna Karenina on Audio I’ll make it through. I saw the movie a few years back and enjoyed the story. I’m quite ashamed that I’ve never made it through any Austen books. Sense and Sensibility is my favorite movie too.

  6. I plan to do 25 books this year but I think I’ll exceed that. I made a list as well but I haven’t reached 25 yet. Will look into that Anthony Doerr book. I liked his storytelling style in The Shell Collector so it’ll be interesting how he writes a memoir.

    1. Did you read All the Light We Cannot See? This memoir is written from when he was writing that book.

      I hope to exceed my list too. Hopefully, Phoenix will begin sleeping through the night so I have a little more energy for reading. haha

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