my personal reading challenge

Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in good for the soul, Reading Challenge | 43 comments


There was a time in my life when I was reading 2-3 books a week. For pleasure.

That didn’t include the reading I had to do for work or school, which was often pleasurable, but not necessarily.

And then something happened, and I quit reading for pleasure. Other things required my attention, and I still had to read for work, so I kind of let that go. I’m knocking that out right now. I still have a lot of reading to do for work, some of it is good and fun, but most is very dry and academic.

I’m reclaiming my love of literature!

Right here! Right now!

I plan to read 25 books in what remains of 2015. That’s about a book every couple of weeks or so. Very do-able. In fact, some of you might think I’m low-balling based on my previous habits. Nope. I’m setting a goal I can handle, but there’s a twist. I’m going to qualify the books.

1. A totally gratuitous and vapid book that I’ll forget the moment I set it down after finishing it.
2. A biography.
3. A history book. Preferably American history because I’m weak there. The Catholic Drinkie’s Guide to Home-Brewed Evangelization by Sarah Vabulas
4. A book about music. The Inextinguishable Symphony by Martin Goldsmith
5. A book about an artist.
6. A book of poetry.
7. A book about prayer.
8. A science-fiction novel. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
9. A book about Catholic theology.
10. A book about writing. Madeline L’Engle {Herself} compiled by Carole F. Chase
11. A classic.
12. A New York Times best-seller.
13. A book in Spanish.
14. A romance.
15. A murder mystery.
16. A book about a Saint.
17. A book BY a Saint.
18. A book by a friend. A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac by Margaret Rose Really
19. A book about photography.
20. A book about science. Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man Who Invented the 20th Century by Sean Patrick
21. A book with a pretty cover. Yes, I’m going to judge it.
22. A book with an ugly cover. I’ll stay open minded.
23. A banned book. Hey. It’s me we’re talking about here.
24. A book that’s been sitting on my bookshelf, unread, for years.
25. A book you recommend.

I’ll come back here and review the book, and cross it off the list. Let’s see how far I can get. 🙂

Don’t forget to leave me recommendations in the comments. And of course, you’re invited to play along with me!


  1. #12 or #25 –The Paris Wife. yes, I love Hemingway and devoured this book!

    • Hemingway! I should give him another chance.

  2. I am so glad that you finally said, “Enough is enough” and made a plan. It’s so easy for us to let our little pleasures even before we realize it.

    • So true. I’m looking forward to it. But first, Downton Abbey. LOL!

  3. I love Isabel Allende! I’ll look for La ciudad de las bestias right away!

  4. Doesn’t fit nearly onto one of your categories, but “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything; A Guide to Jesuit Spirituality” by James Martin, SJ, is a great read on the approach to spirituality taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It’s not written by a saint or about a saint, simply the approach to knowing God as taught by a saint. I can’t say enough about how much I got out of reading Fr. Martin’s book.

    • well, then. I like Father James Martin…I’ll add it to my list!

  5. Hi Maria. What hard choices you’ve got to make! Have you read Janette Walls book? The Glass Castle? It’s an autobiography. Does that count?

  6. Maria, I love murder mysteries and there are several I’d happily recommend. However, a I recently enjoyed a series written by Susan Hill, an Engish author. Each novel is a stand-alone story but there is a thread which runs through from the first one which is entitled “The Various Haunts of Men”.

    • oh, that sounds quite interesting, just from the title! Thank you!

  7. I’d suggest Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

  8. I keep two books going at all times with one on the treadmill and one on the bedside table. And, thank heavens I’m done reading for work. 🙂

  9. great idea. you should read LIFE from Keith Richards. Its a biography, about an artist and about music… 😀 so lets say 3 books in one!

    • Oh my! I like that suggestion. A local radio station was reading excerpts. I’m sure they were picking out the most outrageous parts — but I’m in for covering several topics in one!

      • 😀 i shouldnt destroy your plans!
        its about 700 pages (could be so long like 3 books…)… and i read it on one weekend. its really really nice, but i have to say, i LOVE the rolling stones, so… 😀

  10. Great list, and what a terrific idea! Congratulations on posting it, as I am sure that will serve as a great prompt for the year 🙂


    • thanks! I’ve already picked up my first book…

      S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

      • Oh wow, and I thought the name “JJ Abrams” looked familiar (as in the filmmaker — last Star Trek, etc) — and looked at your link on Amazon, sure enough, it is. Looks super.

  11. I also used to read a lot of books for pleasure. Left doing that due to many other commitments. This year picked up reading once again. I love thrillers and mysteries. I m sure you must have read Dan brown’s novels. I like reading him. Jason Bourne trilogy by Robert Ludlum is my another all time favourite. I was once in love with Jason Bourne. Lol

    • same for me. I read the Bourne Identity in high school and then proceeded to read every Ludlum novel I could get my hands on. It was insane!

  12. Great idea!

  13. There is so much reading to do just to keep up with the latest advances in science and health, world news and events, how to guides for tech toys as well as manuals and papers for keeping up in your chosen field of work. It is so sad we loose sight of reading for joy. I should stop browsing the web and finish reading that Amy Tan novel.

    • I love Amy Tan. The internet can be a black hole.

  14. I am not so familiar with literature… but I do love to read. And like you, I have recently begun reading again. I recently finished reading ‘David and Goliath’ by Malcolm Gladwell and an Agatha Christie – Partners in Crime. A gripping murder mystery that I remember reading in school was ‘And then there were none’. I would suggest ‘Pride and prejudice’ for a classic. But something tells me you would have read it already! ‘The city of Djinns’ by William Dalrymple is a travel book on my city. I liked it a lot!
    Whichever books you do choose, I wish you happy reading!

    • Thanks! I wish you well, too. And you reminded me of how much I enjoyed Agatha Christie when I was young. I loved Miss Marple.

  15. 40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. Strictly speaking, it’s #14 and #25. But it’s much deeper than simply #14.

  16. What a great idea! Yes, I agree with you. Our lives have taken us away from the enjoyable things due to the commitments and stress we all live in, in the information age. I have so many books on my shelf that I have either started and not finished or just haven’t read. I have been forever saying I ma going to read this book now, and it hasn’t happened. Great goal! Here’s to your reading journey for 2015! Cheers!
    Here are a few books I like and will energize your spirit. “Walking A Sacred Path, Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool”, by Dr. Lauren Artess. Also, one of my favorite books, “The Light Shall Set You Free”. Then for your book on science, you may want to try “The Holographic Universe”, by Michael Talbot. And then there is “The Power of Now”, by Eckhart Tolle. Enjoy any of them. They are all interesting!

  17. What a great challenge to set yourself 🙂
    I set myself a goal to read all 40 Discworld novels (Terry Pratchett)… but I didn’t give myself a time limit and so far (it’s been since June 2014!!!) and I’ve only read 2. *Blush*
    Going to hit the follow button up at the top and eagerly await your reviews of your books!

    • oh my — well I might add one of those to my list of possibles!

  18. What a great idea! I love that you set a list of TYPES of books, rather than simply book titles. I have to agree with two suggestions that previous commenters have listed: Pride & Prejudice and The Glass Castle. I used to think that novels by Jane Austen and other 19th century female writers would be too “girly”, since I love spy novels and mysteries and things like that, but Austen’s work are amazing for their wry humor and strong female characters. The Glass Castle will make you appreciate your own life SO MUCH, without being depressing. It really shows us how much a person can overcome. As for a book about writing, I loved Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott. Also, for classics, I love anything by Charles Dickens. He describes people and events like no one else. OOH, and The Count of Monte Cristo is really fun! However, I have to admit that I’ve “read” a good many books by listening to them in the car on long trips. There is a site called where you can download classics (in the public domain) that volunteers have recorded. Only rarely have I found a poor recording on their site, and there’s usually a substitute recording available. Thanks for this great inspiration to get back to reading!

    • Oh, and for romance or books you can put down and forget about (or not!), I’d suggest anything by Nora Roberts (the ones that mix supernatural stuff and romance are good, or trilogies that take place in Ireland or other interesting places) or the wonderful Bridget Jones series.

      • for a moment I thought Nora Ephron, whom I absolutely adored!

    • oooh! I’ll have to read The Glass Castle then. The others I’ve checked off, first as a youth, then as a lit prof. Thanks!

  19. Yes, love Nora Ephron! So sad that she passed away. You’re a lit professor! I feel goofy now for suggesting any classics, but I really (re)discovered some of them as an adult. Thanks for your reply!

    • dont feel goofy. One day before I die I will actually read Moby Dick and Grapes of Wrath. Today is not that day.

      In fact, it’s not that year. It might not even be that decade 😉

      • Lol!


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