Somewhere in May or so, I was handed a reading challenge for 2015, and I thought ‘hey, why not?’ and I’ve been slowly chipping away at it ever since. I wasn’t strict with myself, I didn’t quite finish and I bent some rules, which I’ll note below. But I got quite far, so I thought I’d share with you, as well as some cursory notes from me! I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks on my commutes and car trips, so I noted those that I found particularly good as well.
This was fun! Because I wasn’t being strict, I didn’t feel any pressure from it, and I started out with one book per prompt, but then decided if they applied to multiple prompts, then so be it. It didn’t really change any of my reading choices, except giving me a little incentive to finish books that dragged on a bit (Handmaid’s Tale, I’m looking at you), and inspiring me when I was in between books.
1. An author you’d never read before: (14 new authors by my count, I won’t bore you with a list)
2. A book that takes place in your hometown: (None of the books I read took place in my state, much less my hometown.)
3. A banned book: Persepolis, Slaughterhouse Five, Handmaid’s Tale have all graced the list of frequently banned books.
4. A book originally in another language: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Originally published in French. This was a re-read; I loved it the first time 10 years ago, and I still love it now)
5. An LGBTQ book: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Non main character Tiny Cooper is truly the shining star of this book)
6. A book written by someone under 30: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (This is surprisingly difficult to verify, but this was his first book and he looks really young, so… I’m counting it.)
7. A non-fiction book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
8. A book with non-human characters: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. (Featured some dragon characters. This was a truly excellent audiobook.)
9. A classic romance: North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Also a re-read. I love this book, and I am moderately obsessed with Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Mr. Thornton. Hand me my fan, ladies, I feel a swoon coming on.)
10. An author of the opposite sex: John Green, Gary Schmidt, Kurt Vonnegut, etc.
11. A mystery or thriller: Heist Society by Ally Carter.
12. A book longer than 500 pages: Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas.
13. A book that became a movie: Paper Towns by John Green (I didn’t see the movie though. I heard mixed reviews. Anyone want to weigh in? Also: listened to the audiobook of this, which was pretty good.)
14. A funny book: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (Totally recommend, I loved this. Can’t wait to read her newest!)
15. A book with a number in the title: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (My first Vonnegut! So much funnier and more surreal than I expected. I listened to the audiobook, which was excellent and read by Ethan Hawke)
16. A book published this year: Ms Marvel Vol 2-3 are the only titles published this year that I read. There’s several titles I’m very excited to read published in 2015, but they keep getting de-prioritized for other titles.
17. A book with a one word title: Attachments, Winger, Unraveling, etc.
18. A book you own but never read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (I’ve been meaning to read this for quite awhile, as it has been a noted influence on many things I love. I had a really really difficult time being so immersed in the head of a protagonist I wanted to slap out of inaction for the majority of the book. That having been said, the atmospheric creepiness was wonderful, and this did end up being a book where the end justified the means, and that isn’t something I say very often.)
19. A graphic novel: Wicked + the Divine, Ms. Marvel, Lumberjanes (I actually read scads. September inadvertently turned into a graphic novel month for me!)
20. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. (I actually don’t remember which assigned books I skipped out on, so I just assigned this one a ‘classic’!)
21. Based on a true story: El Deafo by Cece Bell. (Wonderful mid grade graphic novel based on the authors experiences growing up deaf but desperately wanting a normal childhood.)
22. A friend’s recommendation: Several!
23. A memoir: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
24. A play: N/A
25. A trilogy: Raven Boys, Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Not technically a trilogy, but I counted three in the same series as pretty much the same thing. I adore this series. The final volume will be out in March, and I am looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures. Oh, the audiobooks for this series are seriously wonderful.)
26. A retelling: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress by Marissa Meyer (Based off of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. Really fun series, and the final book was just released, but I couldn’t remember many details, so I had to re-read! Listened to the audiobooks, which were very well done!)
27. A book you can finish in a day: Any of the graphic novels were easily finished in a day.
28. A sad book: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard and Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Anderson gets major props for handling tough subjects delicately and beautifully)
29. Pulitzer Prize winner: N/A
30. An author with the same initials as you: Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston (shockingly difficult to find an author with the initials EJ! Haven’t tested if this is hard in general, or if I just have a less frequently used combination of letters)
31. A book set in the future: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner. (I love this series, the third one was just released, and I went to a signing by the authors at the beginning of the month!)
32. A book that came out the year you were born: A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I really liked this! It was a bit difficult for me to get immersed in, as the style automatically holds the reader at arm’s length, but once I got used to that, this was quite interesting. Definitely a different version of ‘dystopian novel’ than that phrase currently connotes.)
33. A book with magic: Kiss of Deception, The Raven Boys (and sequels)
34. A book of poems: N/A
35. A book with a color in the title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.
36. A book with a protagonist of color: Ms. Marvel, This Shattered World, and if you count memoirs Persepolis and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Accomplished: 32/36 ~88%
Not every book I read fell into one of these categories, so there are a few titles on my goodreads 2015 shelf not mentioned here. I may finish another book before the end of the year, but I sincerely doubt any of them will check off another category from this list. I really enjoyed having the structure of this challenge to encourage my reading habits, so I found another one for next year. I might prioritize some of the prompts that are similar to the ones I missed this year, but other than that, I don’t plan on changing my approach.
Did you read any great books this year? Anything I should definitely check out?