At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge (found here). She designed a two-track challenge giving her readers an opportunity to read for fun or read for growth with 12 challenges in each category.
Because I am reading 100 New Books in 2017 I thought it would be interesting to see if I could complete MMD's reading challenge for fun and for growth. I have been gradually "checking the boxes" in this challenge since its inception and I'm loving every minute of it. It truly is a challenge to stretch my literary repertoire through many of the titles I have selected for this challenge or even through the 100 new books I am reading.
It is the end of August and I firmly believe I will be able to meet this challenge even though I have one of the toughest in the challenge left still to read, a book that is more than 600 pages. I have completed 18 of the 24 book challenge, thus far. This is where I stand in the 2017 Reading Challenge:
In the reading for growth category, a book in any genre that addresses current events , I read the YA novel by Angie Thomas.
The Hate U Give. Other than reading the back cover and seeing the unbelievably well-received reviews by all walks of life I read without bias (except, I was hopeful for some insight on the subject matter) and with an open mind. It is possible. Truly.
I was blown - away.
While the Black Lives Matter movement inspired this novel, it is more about black lives living and loving and pursuing a good life. I loved the dialogue and felt it was true to life. I felt I was a part of the story, following along with Starr, the main character, and seeing black lives through her eyes. As I shared previously, my favorite, of so many great lines, "He was more than any bad decision he made," Bam! If you want to get an inkling of understanding out of Black Lives Matter, how black lives live, and racial tensions then read this book.
In the reading for growth category, a book recommended by someone with great taste, I read the Leif Enger novel,
Peace Like a River. Recommended to me by a friend and 30 year high school English Literature teacher in our local school system. Peace Like a River is her all-time favorite book and she uses it every year in her literature classes. From page one there is so much to pay attention to as Enger brings the fictional life of the scarred but breathlessly endearing Land family to life; and, compelling the reader to believe in miracles in the everyday just by being compassionate. Narrated by the middle child, Reuben Land, who has no trouble carrying the story to a crescendo so intense it too leaves you breathless. Loved this book from start to finish. My favorite character was Swede and her beloved poems. Definitely will hold a top spot in favorite books of the year.
In the reading for fun category, a juicy memoir, I read Rob Lowe's memoir
Stories I Only Tell My Friends. It was an engaging memoir of Lowe's life before and during his life as an actor. I particularly enjoyed those times he encountered stars, and how he encountered them, and the lessons he learned from them - before they were stars; some truly big name entertainment people. He's done some pretty stupid stuff in his life but he really grew up and is someone his mom could be proud of. Because I know he is a liberal and he is influenced heavily, by many I have little respect for, yet, I was pleasantly surprised at his respect for bi-partisan politics and politicians, truly inspiring that he appreciates hearing the messages from both party sides.
In the reading for fun category, a book in a genre you usually avoid, I read a YA dystopian-type novel by Marie Lu,
Legend. Actually first in a trilogy, I enjoyed the book immensely. It was fast-paced and intriguing, holding my attention; different from the Hunger Game series which I read aloud to my sons several years ago, and the Divergent series, but definitely within the YA genre I usually avoid because authors have the tendency to make 'kids' older than they are, or should be. In fact, after reading this book it spurred me on to give YA novels another chance.
In the reading for growth category, a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award, I read the Pulitzer Prize winning, brilliantly-crafted, astounding bestseller by Anthony Doerr
All the Light We Cannot See. Gorgeous! Exquisite! I adored every page from beginning to end of this skillfully written and truly believable literary masterpiece that primarily takes place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. I loved the short chapters told in alternating character voices that swiftly moved the story through time rather than laboriously moving through the 500+ pages. As I read I kept saying to myself, "the words Doerr crafted together are so beautiful! Every word is perfectly placed, perfectly stated." I felt like I was experiencing first hand, walking beside the characters, being drawn in to their experiences.
In the reading for fun category, a book about books or reading, I read The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. While I enjoyed the book pairings throughout the novel and the concept of a bookshop on wheels (like a food truck going from place to place or at a Farmer's Market offering) the unrealistic telling of what this book mobile looked like is hard to comprehend or believe.
In the reading for growth category, read three books by the same author, I read a new favorite author this year, David Balducci's, The Last Mile, The Innocent, and Zero Day. The Last Mile is the second book in the Memory Man, Amos Decker series which is a brilliant character and probably my favorite series of Balducci's.
Again, in the reading for growth category, a book in translation, at the beginning of the year and the first category fulfilled, I read Fredrick Brackman's, A Man Called Ove.
In the reading for growth category, a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection, I read Shauna Niequist's Bread & Wine. I also read Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner that would have most definitely fallen under an essay collection and truly worth your while.
...an immigrant story, I read A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. This was on MMD 25 great stories about the immigrant experience and I had already picked it up from Smile Amazon over a year ago, plus, it sounded wonderful. I was not disappointed!!!
...a Newbury Award winner or Honor Book, I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I read the book and was disappointed but I heard it is best in audio.
In the reading for fun category, a book about a topic you already love, I read Erik Larsen's, Isaac's Storm. What can I say? I'm a meteorologist who loves meteorology.
Again, in the reading for fun category, a book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet, I read Andy Weir's, The Martian. I had this on my shelf for quit some time before reading. Shame on me I even watched the movie before I read the book. But I'm glad I did because I was able to see the story and I think they did a good job on creating the movie.
...a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able, I read Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Very, very good read.
...a book you have been dying to read, it is no surprise I read the latest in the J. D. Robb In Death series, Echoes in Death. Robb's next book is out September 5 and I'll be at Walmart on September 5. I don't wait anymore for the paperbacks. I just don't. This past weekend I counted my In Death hardbacks, a total of 14 which means I've been reading the hardback books for 7 years versus waiting for the paperback.
...a book you have already read, I have actually read a couple: J.D. Robb's Naked in Death, the first in the In Death series with the idea I would start from the beginning, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis because I'm reading through the entire series.
...a book published before you were born I read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, originally published in 1934, almost 30 years before I was born. I pulled this title out because I saw the previews of the new Murder on the Orient Express movie coming out in November and I wanted to go see it - but not before I read the book.
...a book set somewhere you've never been but would visit I read Still Life by Louise Penny, set in the quaint town of Three Pines, Quebec. While I'm not headed to Quebec I am, however, taking a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada in November.
This leaves me with the remaining selections in the challenge that I have not read yet:
...a book you chose for the cover - TBD (because I'm still looking, although I've seen some great book covers)
...a book in the backlist of a new favorite author. Most likely I will read an older David Balducci book.
...a book that is more than 600 pages. Potential books in this category are Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen King's, 11/22/63, or Lonesome Dove. I already have the last three on my bookshelves so that said, I better get started if I have any hope of finishing before the end of the year.
...a book by an #ownvoice or #diversebooks author. Most likely I will read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, or One In a Million Boy by Monica Wood.
...a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending - probably, Code Name Verity.
...a book nominated for an award in 2017 - TBD