2017 Reading Challenge – The (Somewhat Annotated) Plan

In 2015 and 2016, I took the PopSugar Reading Challenge.  But really, I just read what I was going to read anyway, and looked at how the books fit, or didn’t, into the categories.  In 2017, I’m wondering whether a little bit of planning will take me a longer way.

(Also, I read Anne’s post about planning and thought it sounded wise.)
As best as I could, I picked 3 possibilities in each category PopSugar gave me, and had too much fun putting this list together over the last couple weeks of 2016.  Way too much fun.  I combed my Amazon wish list, my own bookshelves, and the titles of a ton of library books I’ve had to return before I could read them (I always take photos and keep them in an album in my phone so I remember to come back to them some day).  I left some categories completely up to Google.  And in the process, of course, my TBR list grew even longer than it already is.  And I grew so excited about where 2017 will take me in my reading life.
There are a lot of serious books on this list.  But there are also some comfort reads.  There are books for adults, for young adults, and for kids, because I read a mix of all three.  There are fiction and non-fiction books.  There are steampunk novels.  I didn’t even know what those were until I pulled this list together.  And there are Amish romances, but I’ll let you keep reading till you get to those.
I tried hard not to include duplicate authors, because although there are some whose backlists I am dying to get through, that’s not what a reading challenge is about.  There are, I believe, three or four exceptions to that self-imposed rule.
And so many of these titles have some sort of note like, “I never would have picked this up, but…” and I think that’s a great thing.
Cheers, dear readers, and of course, happy reading!
A book recommended by a librarian:
I don’t know yet, I’ll have to ask.
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A book that’s been on your TBR list too long:

Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome (Someone very special to me told me this was one of her favorite books TEN YEARS AGO.  It’s time.)
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (Haven’t loved anything except The Fault in our Stars, but this one sounds like my kind of thing.)
Quiet, by Susan Cain (Perhaps it will shed some light in what happens in the heads of my favorite introverts–my husband, SCL,and Cari Faye.)

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A book of letters:
Last Days of Summer, by Steve Kluger (Wooden Nickels read this and loved it.)
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell (I’ve started this a zillion times and never gotten very far.)
Dear Mr. Knightly, by Katherine Reay
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An audiobook:
Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin Manuel Miranda
In the Country We Love, by Diane Guerrero (Started.  Got distracted, see below.  Need to finish.)
Harry Potter, by JK Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Gooplet and I have already listened to the first 2.)
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A book written by a person of color:
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon (My literary internet circle is obsessed with this book.  The new Eleanor and Park?  Have to read.)
Between the World and Me, by Ta Nehisi Coates
Changing my Mind, by Zadie Smith (Have been wanting to try one of hers for a while, and I think I’ll start here.  Ever since I read American Housewife, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, I’m super into collections of essays and short stories.)
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A book with one of seasons in the title:
Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright
Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (This has nothing to do with autumn.)
The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
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A story within a story:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (I’ve never seen it.  I mean read it.  Both, actually.  I am living in a pop-cultural black hole here, so this is probably the one I should pick.)
The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Adieh (Honestly, this doesn’t look like something I’d reach for, but I do know a real live young adult who loved it a lot.  So maybe.  Maybe.)
Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke
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A book with multiple authors:
Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick (This made The Nerdy Book Club’s list of best middle grade fiction of the year, and I need more middle grade novels in my life.)
Click, by 10 authors!
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
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An espionage thriller:
(This category is so out of my comfort zone, so power to me if I actually get one read. Two possibilities is plenty–I couldn’t find a third I was truly excited about.)
The Chemist, by Stephenie Meyer (I mean, she wrote Twilight, so maybe I’ll like this?)
The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
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A book with a cat on the cover:
Thought for sure I’d be scrambling to find something in this category that excited me, but I want to read all three of these a lot.  Pumped about that.
Maeve’s Times, by Maeve Binchy (Reading Maeve Binchy is like coming home.  I love her.)
Whittington, by Alan Armstrong
Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
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A book written by an author who uses a pseudonym:
Another category where I couldn’t get excited about a third option.  So two will do.
All the Wrong Questions Series, by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
The Cormoran Strike Series, by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen (Karen von Blixen-Finecke)
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A best seller in a genre you don’t usually read:
The Martian, by Andy Weir (It’s about time.)
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (I hear it has great 80s references, and that might be what pulls me through.)
Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch (Every time I see this author’s name, I think of Barty Crouch, from Harry Potter. That has nothing to do with this actual book.)
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A book about a person with disability:
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison (And then I can watch the series on Netflix!)
Say What You Will, by Cammie McGovern
Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Have started it twice.  Sometimes I think that means I should leave well enough alone.  Stop trying to make it happen; it’s not going to happen.  We’ll see.)
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A book involving travel:
The Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell (Started it last year and got distracted with other books.  Gotta get back to hygge-ing these chilly months up!)
Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson  (Love his observations on the quirks of daily life.)
The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson (See above.)
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A book with a subtitle:
Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, by Mara Wilson (I love that she wrote a book.  Hand me Mara over Lauren Graham and Anna Kendrick’s books anyday.)
The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude, by Margaret Visser (Always room for more gratitude.)
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A book published in 2017:
TBD, but I do have This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, on preorder thanks to the What Should I Read Next podcast, and heard about The Garden of Small Beginnings, by Abbi Waxman, on my beloved From the Front Porch podcast.
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A book involving mythical creature:
A Wind in the Door, by Madeline L’Engle (Pretending that this would be a new one, because I probably read it in 1994.)
Something from The Chronicles of Narnia (I have only read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I’m sure at least one of these has another mythical creature in it.  Or maybe Mr. Tumnus makes another appearance.)
City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (BookTubers love YA lit, and they overwhelmingly love Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  Worth a try, perhaps?)
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A book you’ve read before that always makes you smile:
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (This book is brilliant.  Last year was the first year in 9 years I haven’t reread it, and I missed it.  And it made me realize it might be my favorite book of all time.)
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin (I.  Love.  This.  Book.  And it’s in line with much of what I’m looking for in my life in 2017.)
My Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett
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A book about food:
Only in Naples, by Katherine Wilson (Give me all the foodie memoirs; especially the ones set in Italy.)
Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl (I read her novel this summer, but I know non fiction is her sweet spot.  Pun absolutely intended.)
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A book with career advice:
The Most Important Thing, by Avi (I have this from the library.  I dream of reading all 7 stories in one sitting.  I imagine I’ll sob uncontrollably.)
Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, by Paul Bloom (In putting this post together, I sought recommendations from everywhere.  So much so that I don’t remember where this one popped up on my radar.  The author is arguing that babies are born with a sense of morality, and even the beginnings of a sense of justice.  Babies?  Really?  I’m in.)
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A book written from a nonhuman perspective:
Pax, by Sarah Pennypacker (Saw this on a lot of “Best of…” lists for 2016, so this should be good.)
A Nest for Celeste, by Henry Cole
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (Always wish I would read more classics.)
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A steampunk novel:
Had no idea what steampunk even was, and PopSugar realized a lot of people didn’t either, so they gave us this.  All my picks come from their list.)
Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger
Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
Spare and Found Parts, by Sarah Maria Griffin
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A book with a red spine:
Saving Red, by Sonya Sones (I don’t know if this has a red spine, but it has “red” in the title, and red on the cover, and I love Sones’ books, and I was crazy excited to see this new one.)
The Romeo and Juliet Code, by Phoebe Stone
Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton (Started this as soon as it was published and then I stalled out.  Definitely want to finish now that Glennon’s story has a new chapter.)
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A book set in the wilderness:
The Thickety, by J.A. White
The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown (Kidlit that seemed to make a lot of favorite lists in 2016)
To Stay Alive, by Skila Brown (This is a novel, told in verse, about the Donner and Reed parties, on their westward journey.  I love this period of historydeborah
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A book you loved as a child:
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls (Have not revisited this one since my fourth grade teacher read it aloud and I fell in love with it.  And I never listened during read aloud.)
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (Sigh.  Favorite.)
Matilda, by Roald Dahl (Forever and always.)
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A book written by an author from a country you’ve never visited:
Before We Visit the Goddess, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Even more so after hearing Anne tell me it’s a novel told through a series of short stories; see Episode 48.)
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
Forty Rooms, by Olga Grushin (The idea here is that a woman’s life takes place in 40 rooms over the course of her life.  A kitchen where she learned to cook, a dorm room that was the scene of her worst break up, you get the idea.  This book follows a woman through those rooms.  Love that idea, and that perspective.)
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A book with a title that’s a characters name:
Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
Veronica Mars, by Rob Thomas
Juniper, by Kelley and Thomas French (This one is going to be tough, but the true story sounds incredibly compelling.  This couple–award winning journalists–had a daughter at 23 weeks gestation.  Shivers.)
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A book set during wartime:
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (I’ve started this one before, but oh, do I struggle with any book that takes longer than about 3 days to read.  But, oh, how I love the movie, in all its grandeur.)
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
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A book with an unreliable narrator:
This is going to come across snootier than I mean it to sound, but I have read all the Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Luckiest Girl Alive, insert title with “Girl” in it here that are so popular right now.  So I went in a different direction with this category.
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (I don’t know if I can stomach this one, but I’ve always wanted to try the tale.)
Wuthering Heights, by Charlotte Bronte
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk (Shudders just thinking about it.)
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A book with pictures:
The Man in the Ceiling, by Jules Feiffer
Lumberjanes, vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke Allen (Going with a graphic novel is to be expected here, and this is the series everyone was talking about last summer.)
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A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you:
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds (There is a whole lotta drama about this publishing of this book, that I didn’t realize was happening.)
You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson (Yes, I know it’s a series of essays, and thus, she is not really a character.  But I want to read it, and this is my list, so.)
The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata (I loved Kira, Kira, and then never read any of her other titles.  This is a past National Book Award winner, so perhaps the next place to go?)
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A book about an interesting woman:
The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner (In addition to a fascination with Amish culture, see below, I am endlessly intrigued by Mormons and their faith.)
It’s What I Do, by Lynsey Addario (Was eyeing this when it came out, and, like so many other books, it slipped off my radar.  Note to self: read this!)
A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard
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A book set in two time periods:
The Muse, by Jessie Burton
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton (I’m not entirely sure, but I think all of her books switch between two time periods.  And I’ve been meaning to read one of hers.  She’s one of those authors that Target pretty much discovered, which I think is awesome. Anything that gets people reading is a great thing.  This was her book that sold like hotcakes there.)
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg (I’m not sure this is a true dual timeline novel, but then again, the category doesn’t say a dual timeline novel, does it?  I’ve always wanted to read this tale of life in the south, even more so after I heard someone gush about the way Fannie Flagg writes about food.)
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A book with a month or day of the week in title:
The Wednesday Sisters, by Meg Waite Clayton
Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim
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A book set in a hotel:
Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia
A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster
The Inn at Rose Harbor, by Debbie Macomber (Have never read any of hers and I have a friend who is devouring them.  This looks like such a perfect, frothy, summer read.  Though my life’s dream is to own a bookstore with SCL, running an inn sure sounds charming too, no?)
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A book written by someone you admire:
Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier (This woman took the Babysitters Club Books and turned them into such high-quality graphic novels.  My admiration for her is through the roof.)
A Circle of Quiet, by Madeline L’Engle (Madeline L’Engle, I mean, come on!)
I Thought it Was Just Me, by Brene Brown (I don’t know if I admire Brene Brown, because I’ve never read anything of hers.  A whole lot of the internet admires her, though.  I somehow missed this title, and it sounds like it’s for me.)
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A book becoming movie in 2017:
Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers (Have read the first, but the movie is supposed to be based on more than just that piece of Travers’ series.)
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (Loved the Patchett I read this summer.  Bring on more!)
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A book set around a holiday not Christmas:
A lot of what I could find here were mysteries and romance novels.  I don’t really read those, though I’m not opposed to picking up a bodice ripper.  Stay tuned to see where I get with this category.
The Children of Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren (Okay, so, yes, it takes place during Christmas, but also, New Year’s, so I’m counting it as another holiday entirely.)
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The first book in series you haven’t read before:
Still Life, by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Gamache Series)
In the Woods, by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad Series)
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House Series)
A book you bought on trip:
I don’t usually buy books on trips.  Stay tuned.
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A book recommended by an author you love:
What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell (Recommended by Gretchen Rubin on What Should I Read Next, and here.)
Our Town, by Thorton Wilder (R.J. Palacio works this play into her book, Wonder, and she says she thinks every high school should have to put it on.  I don’t need a stronger recommendation than that.)
First Light by Charles Baxter  (Jodi Picoult recommends it here.)
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A bestseller from 2016:
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub
Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum
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A book with a family member term in title:
The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
Confessions of a Slacker Wife, by Muffy Mead Ferro
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A book that takes place over a character’s life span:
Up a Road, Slowly, by Irene Hunt (In my on-going quest to attack and cross things off of every list ever written, I want to read all the Newbery winners.  And this is one that has just never appealed to me.  So 2017, you’re my year!)
Hitty, Her First 100 Years, by Rachel Field (see above comment)
The Social Animal, by David Brooks
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A book about an immigrant or refugee:
The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez
Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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A book from a genre/sub genre you’ve never heard of:
Okay, so I have heard of this genre.  But I’ve never read anything in it, and thinking about it makes me go, “Wait, what?”  Amish.  Romance.  Yep.  That’s a thing.  How romantic is Amish romance?  Growing up I read one Danielle Steel novel, and one Nora Roberts.  And that’s all the romance I’ve seen.  But Amish culture fascinates me and I have so many questions (and assumptions) about this genre.  So don’t judge me dear readers, but damnit, I’m reading one.  Maybe three!  I imagine I’ll be cracking up the whole time.  Or maybe I’ll love them and never read anything else ever again.  Here are a few that Goodreads deems acceptable.
The Thorn, by Beverly Lewis (I can’t even with that cover.)
The Choice, by Suzanne Woods Fisher
An Amish Buggy Ride, by Sarah Price
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A book with an eccentric character:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (This made the rounds years ago, when it came out, and I never picked it up.  Rereading the description makes me think there are serious echoes of Holes here, and that’s an all-time fave.)
The Children, by Ann Leary
Look Me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison (This is a memoir, so he’s not exactly a character, but I’ve wanted to read this since it came out…..nine years ago.  Robison was always quirky growing up, and it wasn’t till he was 40 that he was diagnosed with Aspergers.)
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A book that’s more than 800 pages:
Let’s be serious.  I doubt I need even more than one book in this category.
Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon
Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
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A book you got from a used book sale:
Island House, by Nancy Thayer
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann D. Wyss
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A book that’s been mentioned in another book:
All of these are mentioned in The End of Your Life Book Club, which I love, love, loved.  I’d love to make my way through all the books mentioned.
The Color of Water, by James McBride
Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (I started this book, and it is so stunningly beautiful.  But it’s slow, pretty writing, which doesn’t make for fast reading, so I dropped it.  Need to come back.)
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A book about a difficult topic:
Columbine, by Dave Cullen (Heard about this on an episode of Sorta Awesome, and apparently the story a lot of us know from watching the news unfold in real time, is not the truth of what happened at Columbine.  I’m intrigued.)
The Girls Who Went Away, by Ann Fessler
Global Mom, by Melissa Dalton Bradford
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A book based on mythology:
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, by Rick Riordan (Norse gods!  My people!)
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (Also, have you seen this?  I couldn’t figure out an empty category in which to place it, so I’ll just leave it here for you.)
The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood (Love the idea here; telling the story of the Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective.)
All pictures are from Amazon

3 thoughts on “2017 Reading Challenge – The (Somewhat Annotated) Plan

  1. I read Far From the Tree and it was life changing…I think I walked around for about a month this summer telling everyone I ran into to read it—if you need a vote for motivation on a giant book, this one totally has mine!

    • Oh my gosh, this is such a vote of confidence. I found it for $1.00 at the Bethesda Library, so it’s in my possession. But I’m so used to finishing books quickly. Maybe I’ll start it, and keep my other, light fiction going at the same time.

  2. Pingback: 2017 Reading Challenge, an Update | a glass of milk

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