Book Chat

2018 Reading Challenge: Q1 Update

via Modern Mrs. Darcy

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

One of these days I’ll start coming up with more creative post titles… but today is not that day, obviously. It feels like the first three months of the year flew by so, so quickly! I loved the motivation of a Reading Challenge last year, so I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy again in 2018. It’s not too late to join in… and you can still track your reading with MMD’s free printable kit if you’re interested – Get the free kit here!




I blogged about my plans for the challenge here, and today I’m sharing my progress from the first three months of 2018. Whenever I’m in a rut or can’t decide what to read next, this list really comes in  handy!

Read in Q1:

A book you can read in a day

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As short as it is, and even with its flaws, this book has really stuck with me. When a friend asks for advice on raising her daughter as a feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s response became this book. Her take on feminism also resonates with me, and her suggestions made me think more carefully about how I want to approach raising a daughter. I feel like we repeat a lot of feminist talking points in America, but in practice that doesn’t mean we are raising our children as equals. Even if it made me sad that she would have to spell out suggestions like “never speak of marriage as an achievement,” as obvious as it may seem, it’s still necessary.

Check out the full review here!

A book by a favorite author

After Many Years: Twenty-One “LongLost” Storiesby L.M. Montgomery, edited byCarolyn Strom Collins and Christy Wooster

Each of the short stories in this collection haven’t been printed since their original publications in magazines throughout the early twentieth century… and honestly, I’m not sure they needed to come out of oblivion. L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors, and I love the lesser-known novels she wrote for adults (The Blue Castle is my favorite!) in addition to the beloved Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon, so I was hoping that this collection would uncover some new insights, but many of her commercial writings lack depth. Some stories aged better than others, most of them set up one (well-trod) punchline, and only a couple really stood out to me. I already knew that Montgomery reused a lot of material, so many plot points or characters from her short stories also wound up in in the books that I know and love, which was interesting from an academic point of view but didn’t add much enjoyment to the reading experience. I wish I liked it more, but it was still comfort reading to visit her world.

Check out the full review here.

A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

A powerful memoir, from a heartbreaking perspective: a neurosurgeon on the verge of accomplishing everything he’s worked toward discovers that he has terminal cancer, and has to reconcile his extraordinary potential with the time he has left to live. There’s really no point trying to describe his musings on life and death, but I loved what he had to say. The writing is beautiful; it feels like he was meant to write this book, although I can’t help but wonder what he would have added or changed if he’d had more time. The epilogue, written by his wife, was especially poignant.

Full review here.

A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This one was tough to read but so worthwhile; even though I’ve grown up in the same country, I’ve had a completely different experience, and our expectations and fears for our children are heartbreakingly different.  I couldn’t help but feel defensive at first, reading as someone “who believes they are white” but I tried to focus on listening to his story and his truth. He writes with so much anger and sadness, and it’s completely justified. That’s the hardest part: everything he says is true, no matter how hard it is to read.

Full review here.

Currently reading:

A book that’s more than 500 pages

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


To Read:

A classic you’ve been meaning to read

I’ve had Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier on my eBook shelf for a while, and I keep hearing that it’s a thrilling gothic novel that doesn’t feel dated at all.

I also have Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh on my actual bookshelf, with one of those modernized illustrated covers that I’m not exactly sure I like, but I’ve heard enough people rhapsodize about the prose of the book and the epicness of the 1981 miniseries that I want to give it a chance.

A book recommended by someone with great taste

Obviously, I had to ask my friend Sommer for another recommendation, since she introduced me to the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy for the 2017 reading challenge and she’s always sending me great recs. She sent me a list (the day before she had a baby!) and I’m leaning toward The Book Thief but they all sound compelling for different reasons.

A book in translation

When I googled “books in translation” I stumbled upon this list by none other than the MMD blog, which I always trust. The Time in Between by Maria Duenas (translated by Daniel Hahn) jumped out at me because I know the Netflix series (I only made it halfway through the first season, mostly because I felt like I couldn’t multitask while watching since it’s in subtitles, but it’s really good!). I know a little of the story from the show and it combines a few of my favorite buzzwords: WWII, fashion, and secret codes.

A book nominated for an award in 2018

I try to read the Newbery award winner each year, which will be announced in February, so I’ll keep an eye out for that. I don’t usually pay much attention to literary awards, but I’ll be on the lookout for others too.

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection

This is a stretch for me! I’ll keep this category open if something comes up, but after hearing it mentioned on a recent episode of the Literary Disco podcast, my initial thought is to reread Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I remember loving the zany poems in elementary school but I have a feeling it will be an entirely different experience to read it as an adult!

A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller

Sounds like a good excuse to visit a local bookstore! I visited Parnassus Books for my birthday last year, so maybe I’ll make that an annual tradition. There’s also a new bookstore in Nashville called Her Bookshop that I’d love to visit too.

A banned book

I need to do more research for this category – after a cursory search online, there weren’t any books that stood out to me as a good example. So many books that were banned a long time ago (or even recently) are favorites of mine that don’t seem remotely shocking. I’m sure a good list will pop up around Banned Book Week, and in the meantime l’ll keep thinking about this one!

I read 4 books for the challenge, so I’m right on track! Let me know if I missed any great books that would fit into the challenge!


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