2017 Reading Challenge Not Completed

challenge-2017-gribookI have a confession to make. I didn’t complete my 2017 Reading Challenge. And I did. Kind of.

Let me get this off my chest and explain what happened. Every year I set a reading challenge on Goodreads – been doing this since 2011 – and every year so far I have either completed it to the dot or gone over in the number of books I read. Some years, it was a tight race, still reading the last book on New Year’s Eve.  Other years I nonchalantly reached my goal sometime in late November.

This year, however, it was quite different. I noticed sometime in August that my goal of reading 65 books might not be reached. If being 19 books behind schedule was any indication, of course. I tried to catch up, although I refused to read shorter books or rush through books that asked for a slow and thoughtful read. Life got busy too and both my husband and I have been working on quite a few design projects, keeping us busy in the evenings and weekends – which is usually my reading time. By November, I knew for a fact that there was no way to catch up.

That’s when I changed my challenge on Goodreads from 65 books to 50 books.

I felt so bad about it, too! I know it’s not the right thing to do, but I also know that I didn’t do it to show off, or prove something. You know why I did it? Because I like how Goodreads keeps all your reads from a given year in a neat bundle. BUT ONLY if you’ve completed your challenge. I don’t care if you judge me or not, but keeping my books in a neat bundle matters a great deal to me. Enough to change my reading goals, that’s for sure.

I tried to make my peace with this and here’s what I decided.

I HAVE NOT COMPLETED my reading challenge this year. Obviously.  I do have it as “completed” on Goodreads – for the purpose of keeping things organized. I don’t have the satisfaction of knowing I achieved my goal, but I have read a good number of books and, more importantly, I enjoyed them. End of drama.

There. Now I confessed all of this, I will proceed with the list of 50 books I read in 2017.

Like every year, I am posting the list with links and ratings – extremely objective ratings – that are explained at the end of this article. I also give a bit of a bookish summary of the year, so read on after the last book on the list!

Non-fiction

Soul Keeping, John Ortberg *****
James: Mercy Triumphs, Beth Moore *****
Love and Respect, Emerson Eggerichs *****
She Reads Truth, Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams *****
Montessori From the Start, Paula Polk Lillard *****
One Simple Act, Debbie Macomber *****
The Elements of Eloquence, Mark Forsyth *****
Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis *****
Jesus: Why the World is Still Fascinated by Him, Tim LaHaye
The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson ****
Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon ****
It’s Not About Me, Max Lucado ***
Life is _ Judah Smith ***
Without Rival, Lisa Bevere ***
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson
The Story of my Life, Helen Keller ***

Fiction

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman *****
Wonder, R.J.Palacio *****
Leota’s Garden, Francine Rivers *****
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer *****
The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne *****
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks *****
The Girl Who Saved the Queen of Sweden, Jonas Jonasson *****
The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe, Alexander McCall Smith ****
The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, Aleander McCall Smith ****
Bertie Plays the Blues, Alexander McCall Smith ****
Where do I Go? Neta Jackson ****
Who Do I Talk To? Neta Jackson ****
Who Do I Lean On? Neta Jackson ****
The Hideaway, Lauren K. Denton ****
Mrs Queen Takes the Train, William Kuhn ****
Beneath the Night Tree, Nicole Baart ****
Dear Mr. Knightley, Katherine Reay ****
Lizzy and Jane, Katherine Reay ****
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, Katarina Bivald ****
A Wish for Christmas, Thomas Kinkade ****
Twelve Days of Christmas, Trisha Ashley ****
Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, Jenny Colgan ***
The Bronte Plot, Katherine Reay ***
The No. Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith ***
The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing, Tarquinn Hall ***
5-B Poppy Lane, Debbie Macomber ***
A Cedar Cove Christmas, Debbie Macomber ***
The Christmas Promise, Donna VanLiere ***
Trading Christmas, Debbie Macomber ***
All is Calm / All is Bright, Colleen Coble ***
Holy Night, Colleen Coble ***
Silent Night, Colleen Coble ***
An Irish Christmas, Melody Carlson ***
The Christmas Singing, Cindy Woodsmall **

Total: 50 books

Non- fiction: 16 books

Fiction: 34 books

Kindle: 40 books (someone give me access to a library, please – I miss paperbacks!)

Most Read Authors: Debbie Macomber and Alexander McCall Smith, with 4 books by each.

Book of the Year: Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg.

Discovery of the Year: Debbie Macomber is probably my “find” this year, although I probably heard of her before. I feel like I got to know the person behind the books a bit in her non-fiction “One Simple Act” and frankly, I find her quite wonderful! She seems to be one of those people I’d love to meet and be friends with in real life.

Suddenly, her books caught a certain charm that I haven’t noticed before. To me, the author’s character is just as important – if not more so – than their talent and skill. Looking forward to reading more of her heartwarming novels whenever I need a bit of a “comfort” read.

2017 To Read List: I have read 2 out 5 titles (complete list here) and re-read 2 out of 5 of my favorite books (complete list here).

Observations:
– I was on a Christmas novels spree this December and I read a whole 11 of them! My record so far. I also put together a list of To-Read Christmas titles, and you can check it out!

– I re-read quite a few of my favorites with the ICF Women’s book club (more about it later) and I found that the best books are even better the second time around

– I re-read quite a few books this year, whether for the book club or just because. Some I enjoyed much better at a second or even 4th reading (looking at you, “Wonder”!) while some lost a bit of its appeal.

– not much reading outside of my comfort zone, which is something that I will try to be more intentional about next year. Perhaps a memoir? Or one of my husband’s favorite spy novels?

– I get most of my fiction ebooks when I find them on a good sale. Which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best books, and I think I might change my tactic next year.

I will start with some strategic book purchasing plan. I’ll have to rely heavily on book samples so I get a feel for the books before I purchase it, too. Hopefully, that will translate into reading books I enjoy, rather than whatever I can find on the cheap.

Any suggestions here, from more experienced bookworms? How do I get and read more books I want without breaking the family bank?

Highlight: ICF Women’s Book Club – One of my favorite group of ladies! It has been a treat to meet with them every other Wednesday morning and discuss books over cake (made by Mary, who makes the best cakes!) and coffee. We read quite a few great titles, which I would heartily recommend: Wonder, A Man Called Over and Leota’s Garden. The book we’re reading now is The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan.

If you are a lady bookworm who reads in English and live in Chisinau, Moldova – do join us! Let me know in the comments if you want to know more about it!

How many books should I plan to read next year? I don’t want to be overambitious, like I was this past year. But then this is life, you never know how busy it will get and I am not going to bend over backwards to read an exact number. I have always read for the sheer pleasure of it and if anything, that is my goal for the years to come!

I will let you know what I decided, though. I’ll also put together a list of books I’d like to read in 2018, so please make sure you come back for the next post!

I’ve been documenting my reading challenges since 2011, and they’re all in a neat bundle (hehe) on Goodreads. Do check them out!

2016 Reading Challenge – 63 books
2015 Reading Challenge – 65 books
2014 Reading Challenge – 60 books
2013 Reading Challenge – 60 books
2012 Reading Challenge – 64 books
2011 Reading Challenge – 56 books

Goodreads also has a fun little statistics page called Year in Books – here’s mine, if you want to check it out: My 2017 Year in Books.

How many books have you read this year? Any good ones you’d recommend?

RATINGS explained:
*****  excellent
**** great!
*** pretty good
** will do when bored
* why did I waste time reading this?

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10 Christmas Books to Read in December

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Reading Christmas books is one of my favorite things to do in December.

It makes sense, when else would I read them? June? January? It’s just so fun to cuddle up in a blanket with a cup of tea or coffee, and read. Especially when it snows. Even if it doesn’t, there’s still something festive yet comforting about a good Christmas read.

How do you find those GOOD Christmas reads, though?
Every year, the challenge is the same. Most of the available titles out there are either Amish Romance or chick flicks. Nothing wrong with either, but you can only read so many of those before you simply cannot stomach another one. Maybe it’s just me.

This year, we’re also looking for a good Christmas book to read with our Women’s Book Club. Which is double the challenge, because we all read and enjoy very different kinds of books.

After doing some research, I came up with a list of titles that piqued my curiosity and will hopefully give us a good variety to pick from, for our December book club read. My criteria: lighthearted, clean and with a happy ending.

This list includes 10 book titles, with a picture of the book cover, a link to Amazon – most of them are great deals this time of the year! – a little comment about why I included it in this list and the description provided by Amazon.
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Books To-Reread in 2017

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Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are” is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread.
~ François Mauriac

This phrase stuck with me. Made me ask what books I read. Not many, turns out. I do have my excuses: I’m still young and I want to read as many books as possible, not waste time on something I already read.

Lately though, I’m drawn to old favorites. I noticed I keep quoting and referring to them, so they obviously made quite the impact on me.  It is time for a refresher and I have high expectations reading them the second time around.
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2016 Reading Challenge Completed

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I read a little over 60 books in 2016.

Granted, I had to sacrifice some sleep to read 4 novels in the last 10 days but I made it! Competitive? Not really. Terrified of the fact that if I don’t complete my challenge, Goodreads will not keep my 2016 books in a neat virtual bundle. This is probably some kind of OCD, but it sure is motivating!

Here’s the complete list, with links and ratings – entirely subjective, with rating explained at the end of this article – only reflecting my own personal opinion.

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My 2016 To-Read List

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At the beginning of each year, I put together a list of books I want to read in the months to come.

209 books  – that’s the exact number of titles that are currently on my to-read list on Goodreads, and that’s beside the ones on my Amazon Wishlist (easily another hundred is my guess). I’ve narrowed that list down to 9 books, which is not an easy task, considering. What will happen to the other 200 titles? Call me a hopeless idealist, but I still intend to read them all. Eventually!

That being said, here are the 9 books on my 2016 to-read list:

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2015 Reading Challenge Completed

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It’s that time of the year … when I celebrate completing my 2015 Reading Challenge!

I read 65 books this past year. Some were wonderful, some others – not quite what I expected. Some I read to grow wiser and some were read for a laugh or to wind down. Some were read together with a book club and some simply because I got them for free.  Many of these books were read on the Seoul subway, and a few I read in bookshops – both a first!

Here’s the complete list, with links and ratings – entirely subjective – only reflecting my own personal opinion, with 5 meaning “excellent”.

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