2015 reading challenge: the book list


Over the last couple years, I’ve enjoyed reading Modern Mrs. Darcy, a super-accessible books blog. I appreciate that she comes at books from the perspective of an enthusiastic reader, rather than the world of academia or criticism. I enjoy academics and critics a lot, but I also just like to read. When she announced her 2015 Reading Challenge, I really wanted to make my own list and participate but kept putting it off. Then last week, Jenna at Call Her Happy posted her own list and progress on the challenge, and I decided that since I still have over the half the year left, I should just jump in now and get reading.

I’ve put together my books for the challenge – obviously not everything I will read this year, but a pretty sizeable chunk of the next couple months in books for me. If you want to come along, the graphic below has the summary of the book categories and also is linked back over to Anne’s original post about the challenge.

2015-Reading-ChallengeSo without further ado…

a book you’ve been meaning to read
Big Girls Don’t Cry – Rebecca Traister

big girls dont cryRemember 2008? Me neither. So I need to finally read this book I’ve had for two years. And the timing could not be more appropriate. Hillary, feminism, and political parity. (With a glowing recommendation from my cousin Lauren.)

a book published this year
The Country of Ice Cream Star – Sandra Newman

the country of ice cream star

I saw this book in my friend Katy’s bag last week, and my interest was piqued. I only have the barest understanding of the premise, which is like… everyone dies in their early 20s of some mysterious disease and teenagers run the world. Okay, sure, I’ll try it.

a book in a genre you don’t typically read
Death Comes to Pemberly – PD James

death comes to pemberley

The last time I tried to read an Austenite sequel, I think I was a freshman in high school. It wasn’t good. But I’m under the impression that this one is enjoyable, at least, and has a better understanding of the characters than most. And I want to watch the miniseries, so I might as well give it a go.

a book from your childhood
A Wrinkle In Time – Madeleine L’Engle

a wrinkle in time

I really loved this book around the same time I was obsessed with The Dark is Rising series and a few others like The Perilous Gard, both of which I read over and over again (and I think are vastly underrated). But I want to revisit L’Engle, and potentially read some of the books in the series that I didn’t read – though I’m unsure which ones those are… so maybe I’ll just dive back into all of them

a book your mom loves
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

the kite runner

Here’s an embarrassing admission: I never read this book. Most of my mom’s favorites are now my favorites, too: The Good Earth, The Samurai’s Garden, Molokai, Memoirs of a Geisha… (She’s only met a few books set in Asia she doesn’t enjoy… cough cough Peony in Love.) And since this one is a modern classic that I’ve chosen to ignore for a decade, I’m going to finally give in and read it.

a book that was originally written in a different language
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

my brilliant friend

Another recommendation from my friend Katy. Note – books are actually a huge part of her job. She writes about them professionally, so you should probably be reading her and not this BUT don’t… stay here… hang out. Elena Ferrante is so mysterious and also so lauded and also so Italian, how have I resisted this long?

a book “everyone” has read except you
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

the book thief

Another one of these, “you’re kidding, right?” when I admit not to having read this. See also: The Kite Runner, My Brilliant Friend, Persuasion elsewhere on this list. Confession: I have lied and said I’ve read this. I have not read this book. I bet I will love this book and be kicking myself when I finish it for waiting so long. Will update you on this.

a book you chose because of the cover
The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton


Interesting, beautiful cover + Man Booker prize winner = sold.

a book by a favorite author professor
Love & Happiness – Craig Werner

love and happiness

I have only read one other book by Craig (A Change is Gonna Come), but he is a great college professor, super smart, and very insightful. Also, so is A Change is Gonna Come. His new book on love was cowritten with an Episcopal priest and covers a LOT of territory for a slim volume. He was kind enough to send me a copy, and I’m excited to read it.

a book recommended by someone with great taste
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

station 11

Jenna at Call Her Happy has this book on her reading challenge list and based on my love of her Five Faves link-up, I’m going to trust her on Station Eleven as well. Great Lakes region any time, any where (there’s a reason I adore The Art of Fielding beyond the wonderful story and writing).

I also have roughly 100 other recommended books to read from Kellie, including Everything I Never Told You, Dept of Speculation, Boy Snow Bird, The Unspeakable, and Going Clear. And Katy also has told me I must read How To Be Both. I am going to try to read all of these this year. Maybe.

a book you should have read in high school
Persuasion – Jane Austen


I think this is the only Austen I have neglected reading. I am shocked, SHOCKED, that 14-year-old Brigid let this pass her by, but after hearing a lot of mixed things about it semi-recently, it sounds like that may be for the best. I’m actually really looking forward to experiencing an Austen novel on a first read with adult eyes.

a book that’s currently on the bestseller list
Dead Wake – Erik Larson

dead wake

What’s the most scared you’ve ever been? Was it reading the end of Devil in the White City in the middle of the night in your windowless basement bedroom as a junior in high school and being so totally shocked and terrified that you needed to go sleep in your little sister’s bedroom upstairs with her? That might just be me. But I think because of that experience, I have been intrigued whenever I encounter a new Erik Larson book. Thunderstruck was meh for me, In the Garden of Beasts made me want to move to Berlin but also… a lot of other feelings. So I don’t know what to expect from Dead Wake. I am doing it as an audiobook because I’ve really come to enjoy the feeling of someone reading to me.

I’ll let you know how I progress with this list, if I change anything, if I abandon anything, etc. I will also be updating my Goodreads, so you can follow along there, too!

(Late to the game but linking up for the April WWRW and Modern Mrs. Darcy!)


11 thoughts on “2015 reading challenge: the book list

  1. Ooh I’m sharing this 🙂 So, tell me what you think of Station Eleven when you’re done!!! And Kite Runner is one of my mom’s faves too – I had to choose between that and Secret Life of Bees…maybe a mom thing?

  2. Love this idea! Let me know what you think of Big Girls Don’t Cry – I am thinking about rereading it before next year. Also – Book Thief. My favorite book of the past five years. Sobfest.

  3. I keep debating whether I should join this book challenge…! I just read Station Eleven and loved it. And I read Persuasion as an adult – I’m not sure I would have appreciated when I was younger. But it’s one of my favourite Austen books just slightly behind Pride and Prejudice.

    1. So many mixed feelings about Persuasion floating around! I can’t wait to read it.

      Station Eleven was excellent; it had so much going on but still felt unified.

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