My 2015 Reading Challenges-Introduction and 1st Quarter Progress!

I usually like to publish this post in late December or early January, but that just didn’t happen this year. I’d considered scrapping it altogether (since this post is probably really only important to me) but decided against it since I like seeing the rationale behind each challenge I chose to tackle at the end of the year. So for 2015 I’m combining the “beginning of the year” post with a “first quarter” update. Better late than never!

Note: you can click here to track my progress toward these challenges throughout the year.

My 2015 Reading Challenges:

Challenge #1Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate

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Why I’m joining:

A consistent reading goal of mine is to read more classic literature. I’ve participated in this challenge for the past two years now, and I’ve found it helps me hone and prioritize the classic literature I read every year. Obviously I’m not off to a great start in 2015, but I have plans to read a few good classic books soon!

Requirements to complete the challenge:

1.  A 19th Century Classic — any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic — any book published between 1900 and 1965. 

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author.

4.  A Classic in Translation.

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel — a single work of 500 pages or longer, regular-sized print.  This does not include omnibus editions combined into one book, or short story collections. 

6.  A Classic Novella — any work shorter than 250 pages.  For a list of suggestions, check out this list of World’s Greatest Novellas from Goodreads.

7.  A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title.

8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic.

9.  A Forgotten Classic.  This could be a lesser-known work by a famous author, or a classic that nobody reads any more.  If you look on Goodreads, this book will most likely have less than 1000 ratings.

10.  A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that’s considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author.

11.  A Classic Children’s Book.

12.  A Classic Play.  Your choice, any classic play, as long as it was published or performed before 1965.

Challenge #2What’s in a Name, hosted by The Worm Hole

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Why I’m joining:

This will be my third time participating in this challenge. I love the idea of trying to plan my reading around words in the book’s title. It’s been fun the past two years, and I don’t expect this year to be any different!

Requirements to complete the challenge:

1. A word including ‘ing’ in it (The Time Of Singing, Dancing To The Flute, Lex Trent Fighting With Fire) My examples are verbs but you can of course use other words.

2. A color (The Red Queen, White Truffles In Winter, On Gold Mountain)

3. A familial relation (Daughter Of Smoke And Bone, Dombey And Son, My Cousin Rachel) By all means include in-laws, step, and halves.

4. A body of water (The River Of No Return, Black Lake, Beside The Sea)

5. A city (Barcelona Shadows, Shanghai Girls, Under The Tripoli Sky)

6. An animal: The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

Challenge #3Around the World in 12 Books, hosted by Giraffe Days

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Why I’m joining:

One reason I started this blog (nearly 3 years ago!) was to become a more well-rounded reader. I think reading books set in locations very different from my own is a large part of this package. Plus, I love “arm-chair traveling”–it’s a cheap and fascinating way to learn about the world!

Requirements to complete the challenge:

I am signing up for the “Seasoned Traveler” level, or I hope to read at least 12 books set in a different country (excluding the United States).

1. The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (Sweden)

2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (South Africa)

3. Three Junes by Julia Glass (Greece, Scotland, US)

4. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness (England)

5. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (Italy, US, Scotland, England)

6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (England)

7. Rick Steves’ Germany 2015 by Rick Steves (Germany)

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Challenge #4Books in Translation, hosted by The Introverted Reader

2015 Translation

Why I’m joining:

I read somewhere recently that only a small portion of books are translated into English and sold in the United States. Then, I looked through my own collection and was startled to realize how few of my books were actually translations to English–I always thought I had a pretty well-rounded collection! Therefore, I decided to make a concerted effort this year to read more books that were translated to English from the author’s native tongue.

Requirements to complete the challenge:

I am signing up for the “bilingual” level, or I hope to read 7-9 books translated to English from another language.

1. Ripper by Isabel Allende (translated from Spanish)

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Challenge #5The Eclectic Reader, hosted by Book’d Out

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Why I’m joining:

I had a good time working through this challenge in 2014 and I came super close to completing it (if only I had found a graphic novel I wanted to read). I have high hopes for this year, and have a good idea of what I want to read for each category!

Requirements to complete the challenge:

1. Retellings The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

2. A book set in a country starting with the letter S: The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (Sweden), Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Three Junes by Julia Glass (Scotland)

3. PI Crime (fiction featuring a private investigator)

4. A novel published before you were born

5. Contemporary romance

6. Fiction for foodies (fiction featuring food/food related business)

7. Microhistory (Non Fiction)

8. Science Fiction set in space

9. Sports (Fiction or Non fiction)

10. Featuring diversity: See Challenge #6 below!

11. Epistolary Fiction: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

12. Middle Grade/YA Adventure

Challenge #6Diversity on the Shelf, hosted by My Little Pocketbooks

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Why I’m joining:

I was looking for new challenges to try and this one quickly caught my eye. This is a statistic I’ve never tracked in my reading before, and I’m curious to see how many books featuring a person of color I will read this year!

Requirements to complete the challenge:

I am signing up for the “3rd shelf” level, or I hope to read 13-18 books that are written by or are about a person of color.

1. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

2. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

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Challenge #7Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Chunkster Reading Challenge

2015 Chunkster Challenge 2

Why I’m joining:

Two years ago I noticed I was shying away from long books in the pursuit of reading a larger number of books. This sort of made me sad because I had always prided myself on reading any book that interested me regardless of how long it was. So I joined this challenge last year, and ended up reading 13 “chunky” books! I have set my sights a bit lower this year since 2015 will likely be a busy year for me, but I’m still looking forward to reading some great long books!

Requirements to complete the challenge:

In this challenge, the goal is to read a book that is 450 pages or more. I will attempt to read 10 chunksters in 2015.

1. Ripper by Isabel Allende (496 pages)

2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (625 pages)

3. Rick Steves’ Germany 2015 by Rick Steves (1040 pages)

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Personal Reading Goals:

I will try to read 52 books in 2015. Of these 52 books, I’d like at least 10 to count toward finishing The Big Read List and/or 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.

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Well, there you have it! Hopefully I didn’t set my sights too high this year!!!!

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My 2014 Reading Challenges: How did I do?

At the end of every year, I like to look back and examine how successful (or unsuccessful) I was at completing my yearly reading goals. In addition to being a time for me to nostalgically remember the great books I read over the year (and the disappointment in the duds), I also use these “year in reading” posts to re-examine my reading selections and habits. Other than the joy of connecting with other book bloggers and learning of (even more) great new books to read, this process of consciously chronicling my reading habits is one of the things I value most about having this blog. I can tell how much I’ve grown as a reader since I started blogging in April of 2012–the proof is in the difference in my reading lists! So with that being said, I hope you’ll forgive me dear readers for looking back at my 2014 year in reading (for the next two posts)…even if it is February.

As you’ll see below, I finished almost every reading challenge I set for myself in 2014. It was a stretch sometimes to get  all the right books read at the right times, but overall I really enjoyed it. Note: Click here to see how my 2014 Reading Challenges compared to my 2013 challenges.

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 My 2014 Reading Challenges–How did I do?

Challenge #1–Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate

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Why I Joined (as per January 2014):

“I really enjoyed participating in this challenge in 2013 (even though I was one book short of completing it) and look forward to reading more great classic literature in 2014!”

How I did:

Requirements to complete the challenge:

1. A 20th Century Classic: The Call of the Wild by Jack London

2. A 19th Century Classic: Middlemarch by George Eliot

3. A Classic by a Woman Author: My Antonia by Willa Cather

4. A Classic in Translation: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

5. A Wartime Classic: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Optional Categories:

1. An American Classic: White Fang by Jack London

2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller

3. A Historical Fiction Classic.

4. A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series.

Takeaways:

I successfully completed this challenge in 2014 and even managed to read a book from the optional categories! My favorite book I read from this challenge would have to be Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Although it is epically long and was written nearly 150 years ago, it still felt very modern and I related to many of the situations in it. It’s definitely a book I want to re-read someday.

Overall, this was still one of my favorite reading challenges and I will definitely attempt to tackle it again in 2015. I like this challenge because it not only encourages me to read more classic literature, but it also helps guide me to different classic literature that I might never get around to reading otherwise.

Challenge #2What’s in a Name, hosted by The Worm Hole

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Why I Joined (as per January 2014):

“I really enjoyed this challenge in 2013, and am looking forward to tackling it in 2014 as well!”

How I did:

Requirements to complete this challenge:

1. A reference to time:Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

2. A position of royalty: The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

3. A number written in letters: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

4. A forename or names: Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende, Stella Bain by Anita Shreve, Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, My Antonia by Willa Cather, and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

5. A type or element of weather: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Takeaways:

I still love this challenge because it is both unique and an actual challenge to complete. It has also had the added benefit of getting some long standing “to-read” books off the shelf and into my hands. I’ll definitely do this challenge again in 2015.

It’s a 3 way tie for my favorite books from this challenge: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Maya’s Notebook, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Challenge #3Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner

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Why I Joined (as per January 2014):

“Audio has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy a good book. I’m looking forward to seeing how many I can tackle in 2014!

How I did:

I hope to listen to more than 25 Audio Books.

I listened to 30 audio books in 2014. In the interest of saving some space, you can view the full list here.

Takeaways:

Now that audio is such an established medium in my reading habits, I don’t really feel like it was that difficult for me to complete this challenge. It definitely helped me get into the audio groove in 2013, but I don’t think it’s stretching my reading “muscles” anymore. However, I do still think the number of audio books I read is an interesting statistic and therefore will continue to track it in 2015.

Since I listened to so many good audio books last year it’s REALLY hard to pick a favorite. Or even 3. So I’m not even going to try right now. 🙂

Challenge #4New Authors Challenge, hosted by Literary Escapism

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Why I Joined (as per January 2014):

“I enjoyed tracking all of the new authors I read in 2013, and look forward to exploring at least 25 new-to-me writers in 2014!”

How I did:

I am signing up to read books from 25 new authors.

I read books by 47 “new to me” authors in 2014. In the interest of saving some space, you can view the full list here.

Takeaways:

Like the audio book challenge above, the majority of the books I read now are from “new to me” authors. I think that signing up for this challenge two years in a row definitely encouraged me to seek out new voices, but again this habit is now so ingrained that it’s not really a challenge for me anymore.

Since the number of “new to me” authors basically encompasses my entire 2014 reading list, I don’t think I’m going to even try to choose a favorite.

Challenge #5The Eclectic Reader, hosted by Book’d Out

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Why I Joined (as per January 2014):

“I like to think of myself as someone who attempts books outside of their comfort zone, but admittedly there are a few genres in this challenge I’ve never attempted (namely graphic novels). So, I think it will be fun to try some of these–maybe I’ll find a new favorite!”

How I did:

Select, read and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books:

1. Award Winning: The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo,  Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Insurgent by Veronica Roth, Allegiant by Veronica Roth, World War Z by Max Brooks, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

2. True Crime (Non Fiction): In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

3. Romantic Comedy: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

4. Alternate History Fiction: World War Z by Max Brooks

5. Graphic Novel

6. Cosy Mystery Fiction: The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

7. Gothic Fiction: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

8. War/Military Fiction: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

9. Anthology: Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner R. Dozois

10. Medical Thriller Fiction: Cut to the Bone by Jefferson Bass

11. Travel (Non Fiction): The Longest Road by Philip Caputo

12. Published in 2014: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Takeaways:

This was an awesome challenge and I got exactly what I hoped for out of it. Even though I didn’t finish it (I still haven’t read a graphic novel) I definitely read some books I wouldn’t have otherwise. I will definitely be attempting to complete this challenge again in 2015.

The biggest pleasant surprise was the anthology! In the past, I avoided collections of short stories because I thought just as soon as I got attached to a character or story it would be over. I was also afraid that in a big collection (like Dangerous Women) there would be like one good story and 20 medicore ones. Luckily this wasn’t the case for Dangerous Women, as there were many stories I liked and a couple that I loved. The positive reading experience has inspired me to put more collections of short stories on my “to-be-read” list!

Challenge #6Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge, hosted by Bookmark To Blog

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Why I Joined (as per January 2014):

I didn’t really give any specific reasons in the original post, but I assume it was because it was similar to the “What’s in a Name?” challenge (i.e. challenge #2 from above).

How I did:

In this challenge I will attempt to read one book each month whose title includes one or more of the key words for that month:

Jan- Angel, Secret, Clock, Black, Day, Wild: The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Feb- Her, Life, Night, Red, Dark, Island: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Mar- Forever, Inside, Storm, Sky, Flower, Stay: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

Apr- Star, Light, Never, Princess, Break, Clear: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

May- Dawn, Death, End, Lost, Beautiful, And: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Jun- Color, Beyond, Found, Place, Grave, Road: The Longest Road by Philip Caputo

Jul- Crash, Ship, Prince, Whisper, Sun, Of: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Aug- Forgotten, Down, True, Run, Danger, Me: True Believers by Kurt Andersen

Sep- Number, Take, Shadow, Ice, Who, After: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Oct- Ocean, Blood, Still, Out, The, Fate: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Nov- Into, Sound, Blue, House, My, Last: My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Dec- Kiss, Fire, Ruin, White, Promise, Infinity: The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

Takeaways:

I finished it!!!! This one really required me to plan ahead, but I found I enjoyed the challenge of trying to find just the right book to read every  month. Although I really enjoyed this challenge, I don’t think I’ll participate in 2015 since I’m already 1.5 months behind.

Challenge #7Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Chunkster Reading Challenge

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Why I Joined (as per January 2014):

“In this challenge, the goal is to read an adult or YA book that is 450 pages or more. I like the idea of this challenge because it encourages you to read longer books. In 2013 I was so focused on trying to read 52 books, that I avoided reading anything that was too long. This year there are no set levels for this challenge, so I will attempt to read 2 chunksters in 2014.”

How I did:

1. The Pact by Jodi Picoult (497 pages)

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (512 pages)

3.  Middlemarch by George Eliot (794 pages)

4. Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner R. Dozois (736 pages)

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth (487 pages)

6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (525 pages)

7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (544 pages)

8. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin (784 pages)

9. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (560 pages)

10. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (544 pages)

11. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (487 pages)

12. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (546 pages)

13. Duty by Robert M. Gates (640 pages)

Takeaways:

I totally exceeded my own expectations with this challenge. I intend to set the bar a little higher for myself in 2015.

Personal Reading Goals:

I will try to read 35 books in 2014. Of these 35 books, I’d like at least 5 to count toward finishing The Big Read List and/or 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.

How I did:

1. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

2. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

3.  Middlemarch by George Eliot

4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

5. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

6. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

7. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

8. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

9. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

10. Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

11. The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

12. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

13. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Takeaways:

Again, I exceeded my expectations here. Many of the books on this list were among my favorites from 2014, which I think speaks to quality and relevance of the books off these lists for me.

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Coming soon: A more general 2014 year-in-reading wrap-up (with statistics!) and the 2015 reading challenges I’m hoping to complete!

My 2014 Reading Challenges

After the fun and mostly successful run I had with my 2013 reading challenges, I’ve decided to continue on with some 2014 reading challenges. In fact, this year I signed myself up for a few NEW reading challenges. I’m crazy I know, but bear with me as I attempt to explain away my insanity.

Last year was my first full year of attempting any sort of reading challenge and I really enjoyed it. I loved the thrill of trying to arrange my reading list to meet these challenges and discovering books that would count for multiple challenges. Throughout the year, I also liked seeing the progress I made toward the challenges…it made me feel like I was accomplishing meaningful goals in my reading life. Of course all of these things are true and are part of what motivates me to continue on in 2014, but at the end of the day I recognize that I am someone who just really likes lists and challenges. Thus, I am continuing on with the insanity…at least for this year.

My 2014 Reading Challenges:

Challenge #1Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate

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Requirements to complete the challenge:

1. A 20th Century Classic

2. A 19th Century Classic

3. A Classic by a Woman Author

4. A Classic in Translation

5. A Wartime Classic

6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You 

Optional Categories:

1. An American Classic

2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller

3. A Historical Fiction Classic.

4. A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series.  

I really enjoyed participating in this challenge in 2013 (even though I was one book short of completing it) and look forward to reading more great classic literature in 2014!

Challenge #2What’s in a Name, hosted by The Worm Hole

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Requirements to complete this challenge:

1. A reference to time (Eleven Minutes, Before Ever After)

2. A position of royalty (The People’s Queen, The Last Empress, The Curse Of The Pharaoh)

3. A number written in letters (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Tale Of Two Cities)

4. A forename or names (Rebecca, Eleanor & Park, The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D.)

5. A type or element of weather (Gone With The Wind, Red Earth Pouring Rain)

I really enjoyed this challenge in 2013, and am looking forward to tackling it in 2014 as well!

Challenge #3Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner

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To complete this challenge, you must choose your “level” and read/listen to the specified number of Audio Books. I am signing up for Married, or I hope to listen to more than 25 Audio Books.

There are five levels to the challenge

  1. Flirting-Listen to 6 Audio Books
  2. Going Steady- Listen to 12 Audio Books
  3. Lover- Listen to 25 Audio Books
  4. Married-Listen to more than 25 Audio Books
  5. You Define the Relationship- Create your own challenge (choose your own name and level starting as low or going as high as you’d like)

Audio has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy a good book. I’m looking forward to seeing how many I can tackle in 2014!

Challenge #4New Authors Challenge, hosted by Literary Escapism

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I am signing up to read books from 25 new authors.

Requirements for completing the challenge:

  1. The authors must be new to you and, preferably from novels.
  2. Pick to read either 15, 25 or 50 new authors. It all depends on how fast you read and how adventurous you want to be.

I enjoyed tracking all of the new authors I read in 2013, and look forward to exploring at least 25 new-to-me writers in 2014!

Challenge #5The Eclectic Reader, hosted by Book’d Out

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Select, read and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books:

1. Award Winning

2.True Crime (Non Fiction)

3.Romantic Comedy

4.Alternate History Fiction

5. Graphic Novel

6. Cosy Mystery Fiction

7. Gothic Fiction

8. War/Military Fiction

9. Anthology

10. Medical Thriller Fiction

11. Travel (Non Fiction)

12. Published in 2014

I like to think of myself as someone who attempts books outside of their comfort zone, but admittedly there are a few genres in this challenge I’ve never attempted (namely graphic novels). So, I think it will be fun to try some of these–maybe I’ll find a new favorite!

Challenge #6Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge, hosted by Bookmark To Blog

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In this challenge I will attempt to read one book each month whose title includes one or more of the key words for that month:

Jan- Angel, Secret, Clock, Black, Day, Wild

Feb- Her, Life, Night, Red, Dark, Island

Mar- Forever, Inside, Storm, Sky, Flower, Stay

Apr- Star, Light, Never, Princess, Break, Clear

May- Dawn, Death, End, Lost, Beautiful, And

Jun- Color, Beyond, Found, Place, Grave, Road

Jul- Crash, Ship, Prince, Whisper, Sun, Of

Aug- Forgotten, Down, True, Run, Danger, Me

Sep- Number, Take, Shadow, Ice, Who, After

Oct- Ocean, Blood, Still, Out, The, Fate

Nov- Into, Sound, Blue, House, My, Last

Dec- Kiss, Fire, Ruin, White, Promise, Infinity

Challenge #7Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Chunkster Reading Challenge

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In this challenge, the goal is to read an adult or YA book that is 450 pages or more. I like the idea of this challenge because it encourages you to read longer books. In 2013 I was so focused on trying to read 52 books, that I avoided reading anything that was too long. This year there are no set levels for this challenge, so I will attempt to read 2 chunksters in 2014.

Personal Reading Goals:

In 2013 I read 47 books, so for 2014 I will try to read 35 books. Of these 35 books, I’d like at least 5 to count toward finishing The Big Read List and/or 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. Generally speaking, I want to lower the overall total I’ll attempt to read this year so that I can read a few longer books that I avoided in 2013 (since I was trying to 52 books). Realistically, I’m also going to be very busy this year slogging through graduate school so I don’t want to feel too much pressure to finish these personal goals. Regardless, I’ve set the bar high so it’ll be fun trying to reach it!

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What are your personal reading goals or challenges for next year?

My 2013 Reading Challenges: How Did I Do?

Well it’s that time of year again–the time to tally up the results and see if I completed all my reading challenges or not!

This was my first year participating in any kind of reading challenge, so I wasn’t sure how I would do or if I would like it. On the whole, I really enjoyed trying to complete the variety of challenges I signed myself up for. Five challenges was definitely a reasonable number of challenges to start with, and also provided good diversity in my reading. Most of the challenges I choose were pretty open-ended (like the New Authors Challenge or the Audiobook challenge), and I think this really helped keep me going when I was feeling discouraged about my progress in other challenges (i.e. Back To The Classics). For 2014 I will sign up for a few more challenges than I did in 2013, but I will still participate in the majority of these because I enjoyed them so much.

So without further ado…

My 2013 Reading Challenges: How did I do?

Challenge #1 (Incomplete)Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much

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Requirements to complete the challenge:

1. A 19th Century Classic: Persuasion by Jane Austen

2. A 20th Century Classic: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

3. A Pre-18th or 18th Century Classic: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

4. A Classic that relates to the African-American Experience: Beloved by Toni Morrison

5. A Classic Adventure

6. A Classic that prominently features an Animal: Animal Farm by George Orwell

I got really close to finishing this challenge and know that if I had a few more weeks I would have finished it. Regardless, participating in this challenge exposed me to some great classic literature I might not have read otherwise…well this year at least. Honestly I loved every book I read for this challenge and don’t think I could pick a favorite!

Challenge #2 (Complete!)What’s in a Name, hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Requirements to complete this challenge:

1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title–Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

2. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title–Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

3. A book with a party or celebration in the title–Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title–The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

5. A book with an emotion in the title–The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title–Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This was so unique and was actually a bit of a challenge to complete. I enjoyed all of the books I read in pursuit of this challenge, but would probably pick either Bring up the Bodies or The House of Mirth as my favorites.

Challenge #3 (Complete!)Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner

2013-Audio-Book-Challenge

To complete this challenge, you must choose your “level” and read/listen to the specified number of Audio Books. I am signing up for Lover, or I hope to listen to 25 Audio Books.

1. Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

2. A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

3. Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

5. Matched by Ally Condie

6. Crossed by Ally Condie

7. The Twelve by Justin Cronin

8. The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

11. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

12. The Expats by Chris Pavone

13. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

14. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

15. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

16. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

17. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

18. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

19. The 500 by Matthew Quirk

20. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

21. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

22. I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

23. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

24. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

25. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

26. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

27. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

I completed this challenge and then some! Audiobooks have quickly become one of my favorite things to listen to, and they certainly help to up my reading numbers!

Challenge #4 (Complete!)New Authors Challenge, hosted by Literary Escapism

NewAuthorsChallenge2013

I am signing up to read books from 25 new authors.

1. Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

2. A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

3. Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

5. Matched by Ally Condie

6. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

7. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

9. The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

11. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

12. Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

13. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

14. The Expats by Chris Pavone

15. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

16. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

17. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

18. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

19. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

20. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

21. The 500 by Matthew Quirk

22. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

23. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

24. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

25. I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

26. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

27. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

28. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

29. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

30. Beloved by Toni Morrison

31. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

32. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

I like this challenge because it allowed me to track the diversity in my reading. Clearly, the majority of the books I read this year were from authors I was reading for the first time!

Challenge #5 (Complete!)This Isn’t Fiction, hosted by The Book Garden

This isn't Fiction Reading Challenge Button

Qualifying books for this challenge include any non-fiction book that is over 100 pages. I am signing up for the elementary school level, or I hope to read 10 books.

1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

3. Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

4. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

5. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

6. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

7. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

8. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

9. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

10. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

I really enjoyed this challenge! This is by far the largest number of non-fiction books I’ve ever read in one year. I was nervous initially that I wouldn’t be able to complete this challenge, but I actually found it surprisingly easy.

Personal Reading Goals:

My goal for 2013 was to read 52 books, and I will fall just short of that with a total of 47 books. Although I didn’t meet my goal, I still read two more books than I read in 2012! Additionally, I wanted to read 8 more books off of the  The Big Read List. Again I fell a bit short of this goal by only reading 3, but the books that I did read (Rebecca, Animal Farm, and Persuasion) were great books!

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Overall I had a lot of fun tracking my reading habits and trying to complete these challenges (and in most cases I did pretty good). I’m already excited to begin tackling the challenges that I’ve selected for 2014 (more on that soon)!

My 2013 Reading Challenges

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” –T.S. Eliot

Since I am still relatively new to blogging, I wasn’t aware of the vast array of Reading Challenges (hosted by other book bloggers) that were available to me  until a few months ago. By then it was too late to join most of them, so I decided to make up for it in 2013 by joining several challenges! After combing through the interwebs for several days (whew…so many challenges so little time!), I’ve finally settled on 6 different challenges. I think these 6 challenges allow for good variety in my reading, and will expose me to new and different things. So without further ado…

My 2013 Reading Challenges:

Challenge #1Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much

BackToTheClassics2013

Requirements to complete the challenge:

  1. A 19th Century Classic
  2. A 20th Century Classic
  3. A Pre-18th or 18th Century Classic
  4. A Classic that relates to the African-American Experience – This can be an African-American author, or a book relating to slavery, civil rights, or African-American culture.
  5. A Classic Adventure
  6. A Classic that prominently features an Animal This can feature animal characters or animals in the title (real or imagined)

I’m participating in this challenge to continue my efforts to read more classic literature. Also, completing this challenge will help me knock off a few more books from The Big Read list that I’ve been working through for a long (long) time.

Challenge #2Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge, hosted by Reading with Tequila

BookBloggerRecommendationChallenge2013

To complete this challenge, you must choose your “level” and read the specified amount of books from the Book Blogger Recommendation List.  I am signing up for Level II, or I hope to read 10 books from the list.

The Levels:
Level I – Read 5 books from the 2012 Book Blogger Recommendation List
Level II – Read 10 books
Level III – Read 15 books
Level IV – Read 20 books
Level V – Read 20+ books

I am participating in this challenge because book bloggers are one of my favorite sources for new books and authors. Most of the books on this list have been on my TBR list for awhile, but I plan to check out some of the titles I haven’t heard of before!

Challenge #3What’s in a Name, hosted by Beth Fish Reads

What'sInAName2013

Requirements to complete this challenge:

  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title–example: Deep down True, The Girl Below, The Diva Digs up the Dirt
  2. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title–example: Loose Lips Sink Ships, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Breadcrumbs
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title–example: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title–example: Burning for Revenge, Fireworks over Toccoa, Catching Fire
  5. A book with an emotion in the title–example: Baltimore Blues, Say You’re Sorry, Dreams of Joy
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title–example: The Book of Lost Fragrances, The World We Found, A Discovery of Witches

I think this challenge is really unique, and I’m looking forward to trying to finish it!

Challenge #4Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner

2013-Audio-Book-Challenge

To complete this challenge, you must choose your “level” and read/listen to the specified number of Audio Books. I am signing up for Lover, or I hope to listen to 25 Audio Books.

There are five levels to the challenge

  1. Flirting-Listen to 6 Audio Books
  2. Going Steady- Listen to 12 Audio Books
  3. Lover- Listen to 25 Audio Books
  4. Married-Listen to more than 25 Audio Books
  5. You Define the Relationship- Create your own challenge (choose your own name and level starting as low or going as high as you’d like)

I really got into Audio Books this year! If I listen to Audio Books with about the same pace as I did in 2012, I should be able to complete this challenge!

Challenge #5New Authors Challenge, hosted by Literary Escapism

NewAuthorsChallenge2013

I am signing up to read books from 25 new authors.

Requirements for completing the challenge:

  1. The authors must be new to you and, preferably from novels.
  2. Pick to read either 15, 25 or 50 new authors. It all depends on how fast you read and how adventurous you want to be.

I think this challenge is interesting because it will expose me to new authors. It should also dovetail nicely with some of the other challenges I’m attempting to complete.

Challenge #6This Isn’t Fiction, hosted by The Book Garden

This isn't Fiction Reading Challenge Button

Qualifying books for this challenge include any non-fiction book that is over 100 pages. I am signing up for the elementary school level, or  I hope to read 10 books. There are 5 levels to this challenge:

  1. 5 Books – Kindergarden
  2. 10 Books – Elementary School
  3. 15 Books – High School
  4. 20 or more Books – College

Fiction is my one true reading love, but I really like to branch out and broaden my horizons. I find I learn more from non-fiction books, and they give me a different perspective on the world. Looking back at my reading lists from the past several years, I think 10 non-fiction books should be manageable.

Personal Reading Goals:

In 2012 I read 45 books, so for 2013 I will try to read 52 books. Since I’m done with my Ph.D. qualifying examination, it seems like I might actually be able to accomplish this. Of these 52 books, I would like at least 8 of them (one more than in 2012) to count toward The Big Read List. I’ve certainly set the bar high for 2013. Wish me luck!

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What are your personal reading goals or challenges for next year?