2013 Reading Challenges

Since this is my first year as a blogger, and I started fairly early in the year, I decided to sign up for some of the reading challenges that are available on other blogs. There is so much out there to choose from, and I wish that I could do them all, but I decided to focus on a handful – something that I can accomplish but that will also challenge me. Luckily I can use the same book to fulfill multiple challenges! As I work through these challenges I will post my thoughts on my blog and will also include the list of books on this page.  Do you have any reading goals for this year?


Off the Shelf

The goal is to read as many books on your shelf as possible, those books that you haven’t started but that you had when 2013 started.  Since there are tons of books on my to-read pile that I’ve had for ages, this seemed like a good incentive to get me working my way through them!

I am choosing to participate at the Trying level, meaning that I am going to try to read 15 books that are sitting on my shelves right now!

What I’ve Read So Far:
Thomas Jefferson : The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout


The Classics

The challenge is to read classics (must have been published prior to 1980) this year.  There are no levels, but I am signing up to read 3 – they will probably mostly be rereads of great books that I read in high school or college that I have always wanted to read again.  It will be interesting to see what some “maturity” (ok – aging) will do to my perspectives.

What I’ve Read So Far:
Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
Call of the Wild by Jack London


Nerdy Non-Fiction – COMPLETE

The goal is to read more non-fiction books.  I largely read fiction (for a number of reasons I will probably carry on about at a later time), so this will be a great challenge for me.  I am signing up for the Geek level, with the goal of reading 4-6 non-fiction books in 2-3 different categories.

What I’ve Read So Far:
With or Without You by Domenica Ruta (Biography/Memoir)
Thomas Jefferson : The Art of Power by Jon Meacham (Biography/History)
The Thieves of Book Row by Travis McDade (American History/Crime)
I Am A Man by Joe Starita (American History)
Hothouse by Boris Kachka (Business/History)
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore (Biography/History)


Ireland Reading Challenge

Although I am Irish by marriage only, I love Irish authors and books that take place in Ireland, so this should be a fun challenge.  I am signing up for the Luck o’ the Irish level and will try to read 6 books for this challenge.

What I’ve Read So Far:
Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Screwed by Eoin Colfer
City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern


Southern Literature – COMPLETE!

Maybe it’s living in a climate where the winter seems to last too long, but I devour books that are set in the south.  I am signing up for the Y’all come back now, y’hear! level with the goal of reading 4 books for this challenge.  Given what I have already read, I will probably end up reading more than that, but that was the highest challenge level available.

What I’ve Read So Far:
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Dead, White, and Blue by Carolyn Hart
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank


What’s in a Name 6 – COMPLETE!

This challenge just seemed like a lot of fun to me.  The goal is to read a book that has the following in its title (for a total of 6 books):

  1. Up or down (or equivalent): The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
  2. Something you’d find in your kitchen: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  3. Party or celebration : The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
  4. Fire (or equivalent): Inferno by Dan Brown
  5. An Emotion: City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
  6. Lost or found (or equivalent): Loss of Innocence by Richard North Patterson
  • library

Library Books Reading Challenge – COMPLETE!

OK, so I signed up for this one because it will be pretty easy for me considering that I work in a library and most of what I read comes from the library.  The goal is to read books from your local library.  I am signing up for the Just Insert IV level with the goal of reading 50 books from the library.  I might have to add books to the list that I have read but not reviewed, but I am going to see if I can make it with just those I review…

What I’ve Read so Far (that I’ve blogged about):
1. Week in Winter  by Maeve Binchy
2. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
3. Uniform Justice by Donna Leon
4. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
6. The Bookseller by Mark Pryor
7. Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge
8. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
9. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
10. Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs
11. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
13. Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
14. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
15. The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee
16. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
17. One Shot by Lee Child
18. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
19. The Dinner by Herman Koch
20. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
21. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
22. Onion Street by Reed Farrel Coleman
23. Inferno by Dan Brown
24. Golden Egg by Donna Leon
25. Silken Prey by John Sandford
26. Dead, White, and Blue by Carolyn Hart
27. Screwed by Eoin Colfer
28. Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
29. Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz
30. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
31. The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
32. Beautiful Day by Erin Hildebrand
33. Angora Alibi by Sally Goldenbaum
34. Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle
35. 12th of Never by James Patterson
36. Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall Page
37. Close Knit Killer by Maggie Sefton
38. City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
39. The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern
40. The Thieves of Book Row by Travis McDade
41. The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
42. Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews
43. Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver
44. Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
45. The Last Word by Lisa Lutz
46. Bombshell by Catherine Coulter
47. Never Go Back by Lee Child
48. The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson
49. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
50. Storm Front by John Sandford
51. W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
52. Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
53. Hothouse by Boris Kachka
54. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore


Miss Dreamsville

dreamsvilleI didn’t realize when I picked the books that I would be reading this week that I would be immersing myself in the sixties.  I started with Ordinary Grace and was sent to a tragic summer in a small town in 1961.  Then I picked up Miss Dreamsville and found myself in Naples, Florida in 1962.  Not only are both books set in the 1960s, they are both told by the main character looking back in time.  In this case it is Dora Witherspoon, now 80, who is looking back at this turbulent time.

When Jackie (soon to become radio personality Miss Dreamsville) comes to Naples, Florida from Boston, she brings her Yankee ways and ideas with her and decides to start a literary society.  The members are a bunch of misfits – the divorced Dora, a woman who secretly writes sex articles for magazines, a woman convicted of murdering her husband, a black housekeeper, a librarian, and a gay man.  They share books, and experiences, as they grow towards acceptance of themselves.

“Maybe freedom means defining yourself any way you want to be.”

With the backdrop of the south in the 60s, the KKK, civil rights, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, combined with the idea of a group of outcasts finding themselves and friendship through the sharing of books, this book could have been great.  Unfortunately, it was only OK – a quick, light, and enjoyable read without a lot of depth.  The main characters were lightly sketched and other characters in the novel were almost non-existent in their characterization.  It was hard to tell whether or not I should like them – or whether I should even care.

I’m not saying that I hated it, I didn’t – it was entertaining – I was just disappointed.  The concept was there with an eclectic group of characters, a great setting, and plenty of opportunity for exploration of backgrounds, storylines, underlying issues, etc.  Unfortunately most of it seemed to be quickly glossed over and in the end it left me wanting.

Title: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society
Author: Amy Hill Hearth
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 272
Publication: Atria Books, October 2012