Saturday, February 11, 2017

Finding a good reading challenge is challenging

  I write a book column for Duplin Times in Kenansville, N.C. called the Book Nerd. This is my January column, which is about finding a reading challenge.

In 2016, I had every intention of doing a reading challenge but life managed to get in the way.
So for the last three weeks, I have looked at various reading challenges. But this year, instead of choosing and forgetting about it, I will proudly post it near my computer so I will see, remember and do it.
In 2016, I read about 25 books. I think it was a good number considering how busy my life is along with the sheer number of magazines I receive at home and from other people.
There are tons of reading challenges out there. I wanted a challenge but didn’t want to be frustrated at the end of the year.
This is the closest thing I can do to participating in a book club. This will help me make time to curl up on the couch or in my favorite coffee shop with a book.
After looking at various challenges, I narrowed it down to five. The “52 Weeks, 52 books” looked interesting with 52 different challenges. I can’t handle reading one book each week.
“The 2017 New Release Challenge Read” focused on books released in 2017. There are some good books coming out but I also want to focus on other years.
“The Foodies Read” would involve books about food and spanned across various genres. The challenges range from short-order cook (one to books) to cordon-bleu cook (more than 19). Again, I wanted to focus on various genres.
“The 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge” really piqued my interest. This had a choose-your-own-adventure reading challenge. I could chose between different checklists: Reading for Growth and Reading for Fun.
“Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge 2017” meant I could basically create my own challenge by deciding what genres I wanted to read.
Ultimately, I went for the 2017 “Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.”  I chose the Reading for Fun checklist. I love reading for fun. Those other challenges looked like a lot of work. I want to read for the sheer joy of reading.
• a book you chose for the cover: “The Outliers” by Kimberly McCreight
I checked this book out from the library without actually finding out what it was about because the cover was very interesting. Hopefully, I will be able to check this off the list in a few days.
• a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able: “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
I have heard so much about how this book will suck the reader into it.
• a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit: “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins
This is set somewhere in England.
•    a book you’ve already read: “The Help” by Kathryn Stacks
 This is one of my favorite books.
• a juicy memoir: “The Rules Do Not Apply” by Ariel Levy
The description of this book had me hooked: When 38-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.
• a book about reading: “Scratch: Writers, Money and the Art of Making a Living” by Manjula Martin
This is a collection of essays from some of the top writers such as Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed and Jennifer Weiner, who talk about the reality of making a living as a writer.
• a book in a genre you usually avoid (self help): “Wherever You Go, There They Are” Annabelle Gurwitch
This is book is about family, biological or those who become your family.
• a book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read: “Rushing Waters” by Danielle Steele
Yes, I read Danielle Steele novels. Don’t judge me.
• a book in the backlist of a new favorite author: “Reconstructing Amelia” by Kimberly McCreight
I discovered McCreight because of her chilling second book. This is her first book.
• a book recommended by someone with great taste: “Hunger” by Roxane Gay
My friend strongly suggested this or me. This memoir focuses on food, self-image and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.
• a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet: “Dreams of Gods and Monsters” by Laini Taylor
This is the final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I have read and own the first two in the series. I finally bought the third one and can’t wait to read it.
• a book about a topic or subject you already love: “Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger and More Graceful You” by Misty Copeland
 I have always loved ballet. For a brief time, I wanted to be a ballerina, but being height-challenged and having a lack of coordination kind of ended that dream.
The decision has been made and I think I have made 11 good choices.
Until next month, stay warm and keep reading!

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