Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Final List

Hey hey hey!!! I finally got my birch wood bookshelf finished! My beloved books no longer languish on the floors in disarray.

Even though 2016 is not officially over, I am officially going to be done with this reading challenge. I did not complete it but I did read some amazing books. The last few books I read between the last update and this one are written in green. The ones I never got around to are in red. I read 29 out of 40 books, and read 30 books overall in 2016. I did feel like some of the categories did not "fit" me so I think for 2017 I will make my own book challenge. If you are interested in what I read in 2016, check out below!

* = meh ** = decent *** = read it

1. Based on a fairytale- Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas *** based off of the fairy tale Cinderella, it takes a heroine who has been orphaned and turns her into an assassin, full of fairies and drama with some immature writing and character idiosyncrasies but I enjoyed it none the less

2. National Book Award- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: The Pox Party by Matthew Anderson *** a strange awful account of a fictional African prince who was sold to slavery with his mother while he was still in the womb and the life he lived as a science experiment, not five stars but one I would recommend

3. YA Bestseller- Magnus Chase by Rick Riodan *** if you like a fun, light headed punny YA series

4. Haven't read since High School- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens *** I have not finished it yet but man am I loving it.... exponentially more complex than I remembered, I think this is the book I seal in 2016 with

5. Set in my home state- failed. Boo. Know any good Floridian books?

6. Translated to English- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky *** a beefy book that took me several weeks to ingest but well worth the time to experience such a heart felt and melancholy story of love and choices

7. Romance set in the future- Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness *** this was the last book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, humans settle a new planet at the expense of resident aliens

8. Set in Europe- Girl Reading by Katie Ward *** a chronicle of various girls/women through snap shots of time, their stories, struggles, and always present, a book of some sort, the seemingly choppy short stories are tied at the end, a unique and enjoyable read

9. Under 150 pages- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman *** ok, 178 pages, but pert near 150, a thrilling supernatural tale that fully engaged the imagination

10. New York Times Bestseller- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak *** an orphaned child grows into her new family and learns to steal what she needs most in Nazi Germany.... books and friendship

11. Made into a movie soon- The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons *** alright, alright, maybe not soon but still in the works I think, an epic love story set in Russia during WWII, characters that dig under the skin and into the heart.... read this

12. Recommended by a new friend- Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart *** super cute story about an orphan boy and his Sherlockian deductive reasoning skills focused on finding a treasure and a few new friends along the way

13. Self-improvement- Redirecting Children's Behavior by Kvols and Riedler * I had to read it for work, but as a book from a parenting point of view it seems redundant, a lot of it seems common sense though I did like the "annoying phases" kids go through by age in the back just for peace of mind and "oh so that IS normal" moments

14. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Rowling, Thorne, Tiffany *** yes I loved it, yes it was only the bones of the books in the past but it still made me laugh and cry and be thrilled to learn more about Harry's story as a father

15. Celebrity authored- Fragrant by Mandy Aftel *** for the scent enchanted, Mandy educates and enthralls using the power of aroma, best if read while using her companion scent box of actual 
essences and absolutes and resins, she is absolutely a celebrity in the world of natural perfumery, heck Leonard Cohen comes to visit her (love that man)

16. Political memoir- failed. But in my defense, I was never going to read one. Ew.

17. 100 Years Older than you- failed. In my defense, Adam would say no such book exists. 

18. More than 600 pages- (I feel like most of them have been!) Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare ** it probably would have gotten 3 stars but it was just a bit too long and drawn out and I could predict who was behind the mayhem too easy, still a great new series that takes us back into the shadowhunter realm with returning characters, new ones and a cliffhanger in the end

19. Oprah Book Club Book- White Oleander by Janet Fitch ** weird, depressing, and could trigger yucky feelings, but still well written and thought provoking

20. Sci-Fi- Red Rising by Pierce Brown ** futuristic dystopian novel set on Mars, a bit like an other worldly Hunger Games, I plan on reading the rest of the series, though parts are a little hokey or strained

21. Recommended by a family member- failed. Though my sister gave me Lovely Bones.

22. Graphic novel- Loki's Wolves by Armstrong and Marr ** while not entirely a graphic novel, there are several illustrations throughout, giving it a graphic feel... a fun lighthearted Norse mythology based read that is a nice pallet cleanser after reading heavy material... looking at you Anna Karenina...

23. Published in 2016- The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater *** the last book in the Raven Boys Cycle, which I totally became engrossed within the pages of, there are elements of witchcraft, psychics, ley lines, paranormal, people who can dream things and pull them out into reality, and the story of four friends, five if you count the ghost

24. Protagonist with your occupation (teacher)- The Ghost in Love by Jonathan Carroll ** a unique book that straddles paranormal Stephen King with good vs evil quirky Dean Koonz

25. Summer Setting- Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver *** three separate, but ultimately connected women spend the summer avoiding love but with unexpected results 

26. Book & it's prequel- (so technically two books?) The Book of Speculation and "The Mermaid Girl" by Erika Swyler *** I am still not sure if I read them in the right order, "The Mermaid Girl" is obviously the prequal but I also feel like it would have been equally effective if read last, a more in depth review is here 

27. Summer Setting- The Sibyl in Her Grave by Sarah Caudwell ** I am only halfway through this one but it takes place during midsummer in the UK, and it is actually #4 in a series about a female detective type and it is totally out of character for me to start a series with a book other than the first but it seems to stand alone pretty easy, it is a quick mystery read and I love anything British 

28. Comedian author- failed. Wanted to read Amy Poehler's book. 

29. Dystopian- Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood *** mind twisting story along the lines of Animal Farm but resonates powerfully for me as a woman

30. Blue cover- Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli ** a great story for young people about the power of peer pressure and how subtle or forceful it can be

31. Poetry- Hurricane Dancer by Margarita Engle *** a short story about hispanic slaves and pirates and native tribes and their war with one another for freedom written in poetic style

32. First book spied in bookstore- failed. Found Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon, but never got around to it.

33. Classic 20th Century Novel- failed. What classic lit should I read?

34. Checked out from the library- Queen of Shadows by Sarah Maas *** this is part of the Throne of Glass series and carries on with the heroine's tale, this is not the final book but the next to last, the final book is out in September

35. Autobiography- failed.

36. Road Trip- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova *** ok, so not a teenage carefree road trip but many, many road trips, and flights, and train rides across Europe to search out a multi-generational quest to rescue someone from.... Dracula, if you enjoy Dracula, you may well love this

37. Culture unfamiliar- failed.

38. Satire- failed.

39. Island setting- Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta ** a fast paced but semi-predictable fantasy story of a kingdom torn apart by greed and a curse, must read for fantasy fans

40. Guaranteed to bring you joy- failed. Wanted to re-read Harry Potter.

Did you do a reading challenge this year? Will you do one next year? What are reading? Any recommendations?


  1. You read a ton of books! I read many books for work, but barely read for pleasure outside of internet things. I need to do that more. I read a good novel while camping this summer: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I listened to Patti Smith read her book "M Train" while driving over Spring Break - it was good, but I preferred "Just Kids" because I love the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe. If you haven't read "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi, it's a great graphic memoir.

    1. I will definitely look into "Persepolis" and "M Train" has popped up a few times when looking for a new book to read. Thank you for the recs! Oh! "Zeitoun" will go on my list too. Is "Just Kids" a book as in with a story line? I love getting inspired by awesome photography. I am always wanting to stretch myself. I bet it is difficult to log much book time that is for pleasure only. I felt that way when I was in school. I feel like I am trying to catch up for lost time while getting my degrees. And raising toddlers. That period of time was book dry too. When I am old and grey (hopefully) one day I want my nose to be stuck in a book as much as possible.

  2. 30 is a great read # and an amount I could probably handle. I see more tbr's come through the library than I will ever be able to read. I'm a rather slow reader and have to be totally engrossed to read daily. I do listen to audio-books on my commute and knock a lot out that way. Do post your reading challenge and maybe I'll join you, no promises though bc my reading habits are such that I have to be in the mood to read a type of novel and I read a lot of memoirs and non-fiction.
    It's funny, I also read The Ocean at the End of the Lane this year. I found it too unsettling that those events happened to the boy though, and it didn't live up to my expectations. I probably just wasn't in the right mood. My 100 years older than I am book has been Les Miserables for the last two years, I'm about 750 pages in, but have 750 more to go!

    1. I also second the above rec for Persepolis, eye-opening and thought-provoking.

    2. 30 was good. Not too much, but not too few. I found as I get older I need to be hooked too, in order to read it fast. I will see what I can come up with! Memoirs are fun for me but non-fiction is hit or miss. I tend to crave escapism.

      I was sad for the boy but it was a cool little read. I had no expectations as I had never even heard of it, but my boss loaned it to me to read and I enjoyed it. I have never read of watched Les Miserables but I hear it is pretty melancholy. I will check it out though. I love a well written tragedy. It is hugely popular so it must be good!! But seriously. 1,500 pages?!? I thought Pillars of the Earth was big at 800 pages! Oi! How long does it take you to read?

    3. You've never experienced Les Mis! Well, if you ever need anyone to recite the entire songbook to you-give me a holler. I also love good tragedy and torment:P
      How long does it take me to read? Um, it completely depends on #1 how engrossed I am in a book, #2 How busy I am with other obligations #3 How much daylight is available for my fave reading spot, sitting on the glider on my deck. If I'm motivated by a challenge, I'd probably do well.

  3. That book shelf is lovely! did you free form make it? Or did you get pieces already assembled?

    Anyway - love the book challenge. You read some great stuff. I loved Anna Karenina and read that like three times in high school. Have you noticed it's similarities to Madame Bovary? I don't know what was with my HS brain that I was attracted to that book so much. It seemed cathartic somehow.

    I liked the Historian a lot. My son gave me that when he was a boy. Picked it out all by himself. He was so proud of himself!

    Are you going to do a book challenge in 2017? I've never done one and would like to.

    1. Thank you Doreen! I Googled DIY Bookcase and something very similar popped up in the images. I could not find any instructions but I figured it couldn't be too hard to make. I measured how big I wanted it then bought the boards in that size and painted and sanded them. Then I estimated how many birch logs I would need and bought them online. They were the most expensive part of this project at about $100 for four logs shipped. Then my father-in-law and husband but the logs then used a nail gun to assemble the shelf. <3

      I loved Anna Karenina too! And YES it did have many parallels to Madame Bovary! The same seeking of greener pastures to the destruction of all involved. Poignant.

      How cool that he picked that out for you. It must hold even more magic due to that. I very much enjoyed The Historian and could see myself reading it again in the future. It is one I will keep handy for sure.

      I am! I am thinking of making my own and posting it here. I would love to have you join me. I will even make a space for a "magical" read. <3

    2. I would love to be part of your read challenge! I'll look for that blog.

      And thanks for the info on your shelf. I am so impressed. You could totally sell those or a kit... It is just so cute. Want!

      Love to you!

    3. Thank you! I am working on it now. One will definitely revolve around magic. <3

      Awww you are too kind.

  4. Hey, great looking shelf! And as always, I love the colour of your walls - it's a touch more vibrant than the colour in my apartment, but very close. And what a load of! Impressive reading list. I don't think I read two books this year, something I aim to rectify in the new year. Weirdly enough, with blogging and online reading, I probably read more quantitatively than I ever have, but just not novels, which I miss. Got into a rut of chick lit there for a while that never really solidified as my thing, and once that I was over I failed to replace it with anything. I think I could probably use some of the titles on this list as a jumping off point!

    1. Ugh, load of BOOKS. Yeesh.

    2. Thank you! Sometimes I worry that we pick way too bright colors for painting walls but then when it is done I love it so much I don't care anymore. I figure when we sell the house whoever comes after us can re-paint. I used to love chick-lit, it is what got me hooked on reading when I was a teen, but once I found sci-fi and fantasy, it was hard to go back to Harlequin and Fabio. But I do like to mix it up a little. That is why I enjoy reading challenges. Keeps me from reading the same old, same old. I can get into Dystopian ruts easy if I don't mix it up.