I have found the perfect way to tackle my reading goal for 2017: a book challenge! I’m participating with 5 other people to add a bit of fun competition, but would love to have more of my friends do this with me.
The challenge: read a book every two weeks that adheres to the following criteria:
1. A book you read in school.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
I read The Giver in the 9th grade in Mrs. Galyon’s freshman English class, and was in awe of Lois Lowry’s ability to engross the reader so deeply into the world she created. I cannot wait to revisit this book.
2. A book from your childhood
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
I cannot tell you how many times I read this book as a youngling. It was one of the first chapter books I ever mastered.
Talking animals + music = the perfect book for me. And I remember there was a child in the book named Applegate, whom they all called “Wormy Applegate,” which I thought was hilarious.
3. A book published over 100 years ago
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Published in 1726. I’m not sure if I read this one when I was younger or not, but I did suffer through the catastrophic failure of a movie starring Jack Black. I am more than confident that the long-enduring classic novel will be better.
4. A book published in the last year
At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier, the author of my favorite book, Girl With a Pearl Earring, released this in January of 2015. What I love about all of her books is a) the amount of research the does to paint an accurate portrait of the periods in history she writes about and b) how she manages to humanize and close the gap between us and these figures, who lived hundreds of years ago. The majority of her stories are about characters who meet or are involved with famous figures in history, and this one features Johnny Appleseed as a supporting character. How cool is that??
5. A non-fiction book
Marilyn Monroe by Barbara Leaming
Norma Jean Baker, or as she was later known, Marilyn Monroe, has always held a special place in my heart. Her magnetism and sultry visage belied a naive women just wanting to be loved and accepted. This particular biography uses primary sources such as letters from Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, John Huston, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams, Darryl Zanuck, Marilyn’s psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, among others, whereas others rely on secondary sources to tell her story. I can’t wait to dive in.
6. A book written by a male author
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Heralded as one of the best action and adventure novels of all time, Robinson Crusoe has been on my list for ages.
7. A book written by a female author
Mozart’s Sister by Rita Charbonnier
I’ve always been fascinated by imagining what the friends and family members of people of world renown throughout history must have been like and what they went through. We more often than not get countless books and movies about the big boys like Mozart, but he had a family, too! This book marries my love of researching these people with historical fiction.
8. A book by someone who isn’t a writer
Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
I was on the fence about including this book in this category. Whereas former child star Mara Wilson (that’s Matilda, y’all!) has spent the last few years KILLING it on her blog and Twitter, she has not published a book until now. I’ve wanted to read this since it was published last year, so I’m excited to have the opportunity now. I will more than likely be writing another blog post about it once I’ve finished it; I relate very strongly to her.
9. A book that became a film
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Now is as good a time as any to see what the fuss is all about! I have heard really great things about this book. I look forward to reading it, then checking out the movie starring Eric Bana and my girl, Rachel McAdams.
10. A book published in the 20th century
1984 by George Orwell
Who knew that back in 1949, Orwell would be so right about what would happen in the future? We live in strange times. Can’t wait to cross this classic off my list and cringe about how eerily similar this Orwellian dystopia is to the media-obsessed 21st century.
11. A book set in your hometown/region
Haunted Dalton, Georgia by Connie Hall-Scott
This book was written by a local author whom I have met on a number of occasions through Dalton Little Theatre and marketing her Ghost Tours and Haunted Pub Crawls in Downtown Dalton. I’ve heard bits and pieces about haunted locales in my hometown, so this will be a really fun read. I’ll probably save it for around Halloween time!
12. A book with someone’s name in the title
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Anyone who knows me is aware of my obsession with Alice in Wonderland! This is really neat, because I didn’t know that one of my favorite authors, Gregory Maguire, wrote this until today. Maguire (who wrote Wicked, the novel on which the Broadway musical is based) specializes in taking these familiar stories and twisting them in a very bizarre yet intriguing way. He has a very distinct and unique writing style that takes a bit to get used to, but I am never left anything but entertained after finishing his books. I would highly recommend his Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (an alternative take on the Cinderella fairy tale) and Mirror Mirror (in which Snow White meets the Borgias).
13. A book with a number in the title
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Another classic I’ve always wanted to read!
14. A book with a character with your first name
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This category was extremely, extremely difficult. Tanner is just NOT a common name (for men or women). After scouring the internet for awhile, my only options were:
- The Tanner Zane series, which is about “an upstanding Mormon with a secret cyber-hacking criminal past” (that’s straight from the dust jacket);
- The Tanner Novels (which I thought I liked the sound of, until I read the first line of the description of the series on Amazon, which reads: “Hired killer Tanner escapes from a Mexican prison and goes in search of revenge against the man who was to be his latest target”;
- “Judgement Day,” the story of an old man who suffers two strokes and dies with his head stuck between two spokes of a banister (thanks for those horrific flashbacks of almost crying in my sophomore college English class, Flannery O’Connor); or
- Gone Girl, which has a lawyer named Tanner in it. Though I’m not typically one to pick up psychological thrillers, I’ve read good reviews. We shall see!
15. A book someone else recommended to you
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
This novel was recommended to me by my friend Jennifer when she and I discovered that we both love Tracy Chevalier! I do love historical fiction about subjects of Renaissance paintings, what can I say?
16. A book with over 500 pages
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
I really loved The Da Vinci Code, so I’m looking forward to reading the sequel. In my recollection, Dan Brown’s books read very easily and I finished The Da Vinci Code quickly because I could not put it down. So this should be a treat!
17. A book you can finish in a day
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Because it’s less than 100 pages, and I haven’t read it in a long, long time! I’m excited to go back to it as an adult and see how I interpret it.
18. A previously banned book
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Civil War epic which is often cited as one of the most beloved novels of all time was banned by a California school district for the book’s portrayal of slaves in the antebellum South (because pretending it never happened is a great idea *sarcasm*) and for the immoral behavior of its heroine, Scarlett O’Hara. I’ve always loved about reading about the author, Margaret Mitchell, and how sassy and ahead of her time she was.
I debated putting this under the “more than 500 pages” category, because WHEW, it is a whopper. I enjoy the movie immensely, so I’m looking forward to reading this.
19. A book with a one-word title
Atonement by Ian McEwan
This book comes very highly recommended by my brother-in-law. It’s been sitting on my shelf for probably two years now. Sorry, Matthew! I’ll have it to you by…er…the end of the year!
20. A book translated from another language
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Translated from the original French. I know a good many people who consider this to be their absolute favorite book (or one of their favorites, like my husband). Very excited!
21. A book that will improve a specific area of your life
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This book was recommended by my very tidy and very dear friend, Jess. I cannot wait to get rid of all the things! (Within reason.)
22. A memoir or journal
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin has been a historical figure that has fascinated me throughout my life (what’s not to love about the guy that invented the power nap?!). I’m looking forward to reading his own words about his life and accomplishments.
23. A book written by someone younger than you
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
This category was also extremely difficult, because, believe it or not, there have not been a lot of successful authors that have published works recently that are younger than me. You can interpret the category two ways: younger than you are currently, or younger than you at the time they published their book. I chose to take it literally and enjoyed the challenge of researching!
24. A book set somewhere you’ll be visiting this year:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My second favorite book! Arguably one of the best American novels ever written, I am thrilled to be reading it again. It will be good research for when I direct the stage version this summer! Gatsby takes place in New York, where I hope to visit again ASAP to see my best friend.
25. An award-winning book
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Because I apparently want to cry. And cry. And cry.
And because Walker won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction for this masterpiece.
26. A self-published book
Miriamne the Magdala by JB Richards
This one was fun, because I got to research self-published or “indie” authors. Some of them sound really great…others…not so much. There are times when an editor and publishing house really come in handy! This book caught my attention because it’s historical fiction and imagines the early relationship of Mary and Joseph. I’ve never heard of anything like it before, so it should be an interesting read!
This reading challenge is a big task, but one I’m SO excited to start! I’m currently finishing up Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, which has been slow-going for me the last couple of weeks. I’m hoping to start this list next week. Will you join me in this challenge? Here are the categories again, so you can easily copy and paste them:
- A book you read in school.
- A book from your childhood.
- A book published over 100 years ago.
- A book published in the last year.
- A non-fiction book.
- A book written by a male author.
- A book written by a female author.
- A book by someone who isn’t a writer.
- A book that became a film.
- A book published in the 20th century.
- A book set in your hometown/region.
- A book with someone’s name in the title.
- A book with a number in the title.
- A book with a character with your first name.
- A book someone else recommended to you.
- A book with over 500 pages.
- A book you can finish in a day.
- A previously banned book.
- A book with a one-word title.
- A book translated from another language.
- A book that will improve a specific area of your life.
- A memoir or journal.
- A book written by someone younger than you.
- A book set somewhere you’ll be visiting this year.
- An award-winning book.
- A self-published book.
Comment below if you’ll be joining me, or with some books you’re wanting to read this year!