". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

I can't believe I'm doing this. Seriously, I can't. In 2015 I will celebrate my eight-year blogiversary. In all that time, I have avoided any hint of anything remotely resembling a reading challenge. I have written here in the past about my struggles with reading. My former status as an English teacher notwithstanding, in the last 20 years (basically since becoming a mom) I have found it increasingly difficult to read material of serious length or depth, family readalouds excepted. I think the reasons are varied but primarily include motherhood-induced attention deficit as well as the advent of electronic communication and social media. Both have contributed to my declining ability to concentrate on anything at all for more than about thirty seconds, much less 350 pages.

The last few years, however, have seen an improvement in my ability to stick with and finish a book. I'm still not reading as much as I would like or as much as I used to, but I'm reading again. So against my better judgment I'm going to assign myself a reading list this year. Unlike some of my friends whose lists number 50 or more, I have decided to aim low: more than one book per month, but less than two. The list below consists of titles that have either been on my to-read list a long time or have been suggested or otherwise made known to me in the last few years. They are grouped by category.


1. Unbroken, Hillenbrand. Already started.

2. Night, Elie Wiesel

3. The Failure of Sex Education in the Church, Bartlett

4. The Eternal Woman, Gertrud von le Fort

5. The Seven Deadly Virtues, Hemingway et. al.

6. Orthodoxy, Chesterton

7. Studies in Words, C. S. Lewis

8. Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars, Camille Paglia

9. My Bright Abyss, Christian Wiman

10. Bondage of the Will, Luther

Children's literature:

11. The Princess and the Goblin, MacDonald

12. The Marvelous Land of Snergs, Wyke-Smith. "I should like to record my own love and my children's love of E. A. Wyke-Smith's Marvellous Land of Snergs." - J. R. R. Tolkien


13. Looking for Alaska, Green.

14. Les Miserables, Hugo. Backup plan if I hate Les Mis: Anna Karenina, Tolstoy. Backup plan if I hate Anna: nothing.

15. Alas, Babylon, Frank

16. Cry, the Beloved Country, Paton

17. The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury

18. Robinson Crusoe, Defoe

19. Pudd'nhead Wilson, Twain. Or maybe Roughing It. Something by Twain.

20. Lord of the Rings, Tolkien. What can I say? Tried it many years ago, but didn't get through the first book. I am not a huge fan of fantasy. But so many of the people I love, love these books. I like the movies. I think I need to try the book(s) again.

In addition, 2015 is apparently the year of the re-read (who decides these things, anyway?) So to keep the reading gods happy, here are two re-reads, one that I loved and one I didn't.

21. A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle. A childhood favorite.

22. Pride and Prejudice, Austen. I read it many years ago and didn't enjoy it enough to read any more Austen. But so many of my friends love Austen that I think I need to give Lady Jane another try. We always tell our kids they have to try the foods they don't like periodically because maybe their taste buds have changed. Well, maybe my reading taste has also changed. Or maybe I'll still not understand the passion some of you have for Austen. We'll see.

Also this year I will be getting my first ever review copy of a book! More on that later. And I hope to read my daughter's novel, but first she has to finish it. Disclaimer: I reserve the right to stop reading anything on this list if after giving it a fair chance I find it doesn't pull me in. Life is short. Books are aplenty. Reading should be a joy, not a chore. Besides, I'm not in school anymore and don't have to read anything I don't want to. So there.

Feel free to make suggestions for future reading lists, or additions to this list in case I get through it (miracles can happen!) and need more.


Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving said...

I've gotten much better about stopping books that I don't like because, as you said, life is short and books abound! Good luck with your reading list! I'm an avid reader but with the birth of my son, 9 months ago, my reading of 100 plus books a year (yes, I was one of those), was quickly cut in half. I still love to read but it's much harder to find the time now! Here's to more reading (for me as well) in the new year!

Anna Mussmann said...

If you didn't love Pride and Prejudice, you might want to try a different one. Emma is more "literary" in a sense, and I appreciate it more and more as I age, although it was less appealing to the teenage-me.