“That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit.” Amos Bronson Alcott
Anne Bogel is heading up a 12-book challenge this year, and anyone can participate. She set smart parameters – enough structure to push readers beyond the comfort zone with flexibility for individual tastes.
I like the idea of committing to the challenge and think it will help me stay on track to complete my reading goal of 40 books in 2016. Here’s how I plan to check the challenge boxes month by month:
A BOOK THAT WAS BANNED AT SOME POINT: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I’m jumping right into the challenge with this true crime classic. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and snagged it pretty quickly from my library’s e-book hold list. A bit of trivia: apparently when Truman Capote went to Kansas to research the Clutter family murders, he took his friend Harper Lee with him.
A BOOK PUBLISHED THIS YEAR: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. I’m #2 on the library hold list for this latest novel from the author of Olive Kitteridge, one of my all-time favorite books. To be released January 12, 2016.
A BOOK YOU’VE BEEN MEANING TO READ: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. I keep hearing about this book and am anxious to read it, as prison reform and death penalty issues are things I care about.
A BOOK YOU CAN FINISH IN A DAY: The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner. I’m eager to read Jessica’s tips for making the most of each day.
A BOOK THAT INTIMIDATES YOU: Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. Descriptions of the book include the phrases “experimental style” and “one of the most difficult works of fiction in the English language.” Challenge accepted.
A BOOK YOU’VE ALREADY READ AT LEAST ONCE: Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher. One of my all-time favorite historical fiction novels – I’ve read it about five times already, but it’s been a while since my last re-read. This will be my reward for getting through Finnegan’s Wake.
A BOOK YOU PREVIOUSLY ABANDONED: A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Mary Ann Glennon. I started this book years ago but was sidetracked and abandoned it until now. All 12 Amazon reviews indicate that it’s very good – maybe I’ll be the lucky 13th.
A BOOK YOU SHOULD HAVE READ IN SCHOOL: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I took a philospophy class on The Brothers Karamazov when I was an undergrad at Boston College, and it was one of my favorite courses. I’m looking forward to reading one of Dostoyevsky’s shorter works this time.
A BOOK RECOMMENDED BY YOUR LOCAL LIBRARIAN OR BOOKSELLER: Shakespeare Changed My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates. This is one of the books up for discussion at my library’s evening book group (which I don’t attend). I think ministering to prisoners through the arts is a good thing, and I can’t wait to read Bates’s memoir.
A BOOK CHOSEN BY YOUR SPOUSE, PARTNER, SIBLING, CHILD, OR BFF: It by Stephen King, recommended by my husband Dave. I like a good horror story, and this is supposedly one of the best.
I’m hoping Dave will trade recommendations with me and read King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft this year. It was one of the best books I read in 2015.
I’m also going to read a book recommended by my Dad: The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie, described as “The story of four modern American Catholics who made literature out of their search for God.” Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor, and Walker Percy. Not a bad bunch.
A BOOK PUBLISHED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN: The Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories. Edited with an Introduction by Dorothy Abbott and Susan Koppelman. Although this volume was actually published in 1991 (10 years after I was born), every story in it was published within the time period of 1820 to 1974, so I say it counts. I love short stories, and I can’t wait to read some classics by Richard Wright, Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, and many others.
A BOOK YOU OWN BUT HAVE NEVER READ: Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks. My mom found a box of my books in the basement recently that included some treasures. I’m not sure where I got it (maybe a library book sale?), but I’m glad it turned up. From the back cover: “Crafted from the ruins of war and the indestructibility of love, Birdsong is a novel that will be read and marveled at for years to come.” We’ll see, but it looks promising.
That’s my plan for the MMD 2016 Reading Challenge. I’ve left a couple months’ cushion at the end of the year in case I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. And I’m not above changing my book picks as the year goes on. It’s not too late for you to join the challenge too. Here’s to a year of good reading!