2015 Reading Challenges

I’m pondering trying some reading challenges this year. It’s not that I don’t read a lot – I hit 169 this past year, although I usually average about 110), but I’d like to broaden my reading scope a bit. So, playing up the Librarian part of my title, I included a GoodReads widget in my sidebar, and will see if I can successfully track two reading challenges here:

Nonfiction Challenge – I’m choosing to enter at the Seeker level, 11-15 titles: SUCCESS! 12 nonfiction titles completed.

1. The Secret History of Wonder Woman (done, 2/6)

2. Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine (done, 2/3)

3. When Books Went to War: Books That Helped Us Win World War II (done, 5/25)

4. Start a Revolution: Stop Acting Like a Library (done, 10/15)

5. Always on Sunday: Ed Sullivan, An Inside View (done, 1/25)

6. Pioneer Girl, The Annotated Autobiography (done, 2/1)

7. Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It (done, 6/15)

8. How to Be a Heroine: What I Learned From Reading Too Much (done, 3/15)

9. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (done, 1/11)

10. No Drama Discipline (done 2/8)

11. Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature (done, 1/15)

12. 1939: The Making of Six Great Films from Hollywood’s Greatest Year (done 4/15)

and the TBR Pile Challenge, to knock off some of the 95 titles living on my To Be Read Shelf: DONE! I read four books in the final 3 days of December, ha.

1. At Home, A Short History of Private Life (2010) (done, 1/24)
2. The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride (2009) (done, 12/31)
3. Through Lover’s Lane: LM Montgomery’s Photography and Visual Imagination (2007) (done, 10/15)
4. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (2007) (done, 5/30)
5. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England (2008) (done 12/29)
6. Must Have Done Something Good (2008) (done 1/20)
7. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street (2008) (done 9/20)
8. Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey” (1968) (done, 12/30)
9. Jamestown (2007) (done 12/29)
10. Dreaming of Dior: Every Dress Tells a Story (2009) (done, 2/14)
11. Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley: A Guidebook of Mankato Places in the Betsy-Tacy Series (2002) (done, 3/28)
12. Janie Face to Face (2013)  (done, 3/15)

1. White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickenson and Thomas Wentworth Higgenson (2008) DNF: Boring
2. To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine (2011)
3.  Twilight at the World of Tomorrow : Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War (2010)                                                           4. The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, the Californian and the Night the Titanic Was Lost (2009)

Hmm hmm hmm. That’s a lot of history, which is not exactly broadening my scope! But it’s all history I’m interested in? Geez, what other kind of nonfiction IS there? I have a clear narrative bias happening here. I maybe need to investigate this more – although at least the nonfiction challenges doesn’t ask for a list of titles up front, so that list can change throughout the year. Anyone have any non-narrative nonfiction recommendations?

To balance all that history, I’m also going to try for the Eclectic Reader Challenge: Success!! This was actually really fun, and only some of them were hard to find ideas for.

  1. Retellings (of fairytale, legends or myth): West of the Moon (done 1/11)
  2.  A book set in a country starting with the letter S (Scotland): Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle (done 6/26)
  3.  PI Crime (fiction featuring a private investigator): Mr. Kiss and Tell (done, 2/8)
  4.  A novel published before you were born: Time and Again (done, 6/9)
  5. Contemporary romance: The Daddy Audition (done, 6/17)
  6. Fiction for foodies: Better Than Chocolate (done, 12/10)
  7. Microhistory (Non Fiction): One Summer: America 1927 (done, 3/15)
  8. Science Fiction set in space: Captain Marvel (done, 2/23)
  9. Sports (Fiction or Non fiction): Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek (done, 9/19)
  10. Featuring diversity: Revolution (done 1/11)
  11. Epistolary Fiction: Unusual Chickens for the Extraordinary Poultry Farmer (done 6/8)
  12. Middle Grade/YA Adventure: Chasing Secrets (done, 9/13)

I think the hardest of those, for me, will be sports, ha. The rest are things I’d probably stumble on, but this will make me a little more intentional.


December 2015 update: Success! 36 challenge books completed. And then there’s the other 250 books I read this year, because who would have guessed that I’d stumbled into a brand new genre and fall head over heels in love with graphic novels? That was a brand new direction for me, one that opened up a lot of genres and new experiences, so I guess I didn’t need the challenges after all. But they were fun to do, and I think I’m going to try them again. Even the To Be Read one.

15 thoughts on “2015 Reading Challenges

  1. The problem is that most of the bestselling non-fiction are either memoirs or political screeds. I liked Lawrence Gonzalez’ book about United Flight 232, but that’s still history, albeit recent.

    Malcom Gladwell writes really good non-fiction. “The Tipping Point”, “Outliers”, etc.


  2. I have the Audible version of Joe Navarro’s in my queue – haven’t yet got to it but will since I’m out walking more. I highly second the recommendation by the other commenter regarding Malcolm Gladwell’s books. Rarely do I re-read (or re-listen as I’m a big audiobook fan) books…but I’ve gone back to all the Gladwell books again & again.
    Same with Levett & Dubner’s “Freakonomics”. Seriously entertaining, & engaging & informative look at how economics plays such a big role in just about everything. I’m totally hooked on their podcast series as well. One of the best still being the episode entitled “The Upside of Qutting”.


  3. It’s always fun to see reading goals 🙂

    Foodie book: have you read Julie and Julia? I bet there are others in that genre that would be equally delightful.

    Non-fiction: I haven’t had the capacity this year to read fiction, as silly as that sounds, so browsing the non-fiction shelves has been part of my weekly library trip. Do you count books that you just flip through, not digesting every words? So then, crafting books and cookbooks might be good additions… other non-fiction ideas could include self-help, I think you’ve read the same Brene Brown books as me, but on that line of general uplifting psychology 🙂


    • I haven’t, that’s a good idea. And I hadn’t considered quilting or cooking books. I think they would count, I should see if there are any ones that catch my eye! Thanks for the ideas, girlie.


  4. My non-fiction reading has definitely skewed toward kid-related themes, but one that was really interesting (and not so specific to parenting a toddler) was Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. It goes through a series of scientific studies on siblings, praise, education, motivation, etc. from babies through teens in a very readable way. 🙂


  5. Oh, I absolutely adored the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. It is a gem!

    I dabbled my toe into reading challenges last year and liked them so much I’m currently participating in three (one of which I host). I will not promote it here unless you say that’s okay… I genuinely just wanted to share the encouragement and love of book challenges.


    • I’ve been waiting years to read it and I have no idea why I’ve never managed to actually read it! I even had the ebook borrowed from the library at one point and still no. Oops.

      I’m intrigued by the challenge angle – I mostly read for work (kidlit and YA) or to avoid work (romance), so the idea of broadening is appealing. What’s the challenge you host?


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