What I’m (probably) reading for the 2017 MMD Reading Challenge

What I’m (probably) reading for the 2017 MMD Reading Challenge

The 2017 Reading Challenge is here! Today I’m sharing the books I’m thinking of reading in 2017.

In most categories, I share three titles I’m considering reading. (Lest you think I’m even nerdier than you thought, I’m not planning on reading every single title listed for this year’s challenge! I wanted to share my ideas, for my own sake and in the hope they’ll inspire you.)

I’d love to hear what YOU are thinking of reading in comments.

Not signed up yet? Do that right here. (When you sign up, you’ll also get your free reading challenge kit. That’s the printable half-sheet from the kit pictured in the above photo.)

Reading for fun: put the oomph back in your reading life

Reading Challenge 2017

A book you chose for the cover:
I’ll know this one when I see it, and you will, too.

A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able:
Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Redwall by Brian Jacques
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit:
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell
The Lost Book of the Grail: A Novel by Charlie Lovett
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

A book you’ve already read:
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck

A juicy memoir:
• Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
• The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr

A book about books or reading:
• Howards End Is on the Landing by Susan Hill
How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

A book in a genre you usually avoid:
• Columbine by Dave Cullen
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read:
• The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe by Anuschka Rees
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F—: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (I would have passed on this one because I don’t usually read books with &*%&! in the title, but I keep hearing this is fantastic)
• Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

A book in the backlist of a new favorite author:
• Little Bee by Chris Cleave
• The Mistress of Spices: A Novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
• Three Wishes: A Novel by Liane Moriarty

A book recommended by someone with great taste:
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic by Steven Johnson
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet:
Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin
On Love: A Novel by Alain de Botton
Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly

A book about a topic or subject you already love:
Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities by Ryan Gravel
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
• Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann

Reading for growth: stretch yourself in 2017

Reading Challenge 2017

A Newbery Award winner or Honor book:
• The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
• The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
• The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A book in translation:
• The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Beartown: A Novel by Fredrick Backman
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

A book that’s more than 600 pages:
• The Stand by Stephen King
• Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
• Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection:
Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling
Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

A book of any genre that addresses current events:
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (I’m reading this for a book club I participate in)
The Association of Small Bombs: A Novel by Karen Mahajan
City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence

An immigrant story:
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
White Teeth by Zadie Smith

A book published before you were born:
Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith
Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C. S. Lewis

Three books by the same author:
• I’m considering Wallace Stegner, Wendell Berry, and Jane Austen
• Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan novels would make a good choice for this category, as would any series you’ve been wanting to binge on

A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author:
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
• On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (autism)
• Check out We Need Diverse Books, and get more info on #ownvoices here

A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending:
Because I’ve heard many of you are unsure what to read for this category, here’s two books I enjoyed and one I want to read
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (want to read)
Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan
No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

A book nominated for an award in 2017:
This category is TBD, but I’ll be watching the Printz, Alex, Edgar, Pulitzer, Newbery, and National Book Award lists. (Any big awards I’m forgetting?)

A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner:
The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
Breathing Lessons: A Novel by Anne Tyler
Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout

What are YOU reading for the 2017 challenge? 

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148 comments

  1. Amy says:

    I need to have some fun in my life, so I’m taking the fun list.
    CHOSE FOR THE COVER – I’ll wait and see
    REPUTATION FOR BEING UN-PUT-DOWNABLE – 11/22/63 by Stephen King or Legend by Marie Lu
    SET SOMEWHERE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BUT WOULD LIKE TO VISIT – I know I’m behind in the Ladies #1 Detective Agency, so I’ll pick up one of those
    YOU’VE ALREADY READ – I’ll see what hits me
    JUICY MEMOIRS – Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
    ABOUT BOOKS OR READING – Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
    GENRE YOU USUALLY AVOID – I’ve got an anthology of short stories from NC writers.
    YOU DON’T WANT TO ADMIT YOU WANT TO READ – Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann or Lace by Shirley Conran (it’s been way too long since I’ve read a trashy novel!)
    BACKLIST OF A NEW FAVORITE AUTHOR – The Cuckoo’s Corner by Robert Galbraith

    RECOMMENDED BY A PERSON WITH GREAT TASTE – My sister has been finding awesome books for me since I was young, so a couple of her recommendations are Sisi or All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    YOU WERE EXCITED TO BUY OR BORROW BUT HAVEN’T READ YET – I’ve got plenty of options on my shelf.

    ABOUT A TOPIC OR SUBJECT YOU ALREADY LOVE – Oh, so many choices! I’ll see what hits me when the time is right.

  2. LadyWoman says:

    One of the most effective ambiguous/unreliable novels I’ve ever read was A nihilation, the first in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. It is CREEPY, though. Not all out horror, but it is a strange, suspenseful story. So we’ll done.

    Also, The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist. I recommend that one endlessly.

  3. Amy says:

    Little Bee was fantastic on audio. I don’t know if I would have gotten through a hard copy. (I listened about 3 years ago during a long drive from Tampa to Chicago.)

  4. Mary Hunt says:

    Redwall by Brian Jacques is wonderful. Be careful there are a lot of other books based on the Redwall characters. I love them all!
    I never realized The Westing Game is a Newbery winner! I read it along with a 7th grade English class I was interpreting many years ago. This year I will need some reading for enjoyment/escape, so I will take that one.

  5. Hannah says:

    I just discovered your blog this week and goodness I’m delighted with this reading challenge. Over the past few years I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading and kept thinking I’d pick up a book when life got a little more settled, but with a 9 yr old, 5 yr old, and two 2 yr olds, it’s going to be a while before that happens! Instead I’m diving in! Redwall certainly deserves that spot on the “un put downable” section; my husband is currently reading it aloud to our kiddos from the tattered paperback copy I’ve since elementary school.

  6. Greg says:

    DO you (or any of your readers) have any more thoughts on a book about books or reading? I can’t seem to find anything that interests me? Thanks.

  7. Kate says:

    Mistress of Spices is a must, I would like to reread Forever by Judy Blume. It was on a Do Not Read List at one time. Hamilton is going to be my BIG effort. I may get the audible if it is too unwielding.

    Discovering Modern Mrs. Darcy is the best site I found in 2016. It provides not only reading advice, but a great place to visit and feel welcome. Thank you so much, Anne(with an e)
    None of Green Gables is my favorite book and video❤️❤️❤️

  8. Noel says:

    You have some terrific picks on your list! I’ve read and love Wendell Berry and Wallace Stegner both; Never Let Me Go and Atonement were favorites a few years ago!
    I’m working on my list. So far in the fun category:
    Un-put-down-able: The Likeness, Tara French or A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    A book set somewhere I’d like to visit: Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerje Divakaruni or The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay
    A book I’ve already read: Winds of War, Herman Wouk, or When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    A Juicy memoir: The Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffeth
    A book about books: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
    A genre I usually avoid: H is for Hawks by Helen MacDonald or Another Man’s Mocassins by Craig Johnson
    Don’t want to admit I’m Dying to Read: Lady Cop Makes Trouble
    Or something by Jojo Moyes
    Backlist of a new favorite author: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny; or The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
    Recommended by someone with great taste: I’ll pick from one of Anne’s recommendations!
    A book I was excited to buy: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
    A subject I already Love: any new genealogy book

    In the Reading for growth, I would add
    current Events: Ghettoside by Jim Leovy or The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx or The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

    Whew!

  9. Brandyn says:

    Seriously stumped by “A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read”. I feel like I’ve eradicated all bookish shame – if I want to read it, I read it. Maybe I’ll just plug in a book a read on a whim when I have a back list of books I “SHOULD” read.

  10. Jennifer Sheridan says:

    I tweaked a few of the categories to fit books in my To-Be-Read stack.
    For Fun:
    Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
    The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
    Travels in Alaska by John Muir
    The Once and Future King by T. H. White
    The Marches by Rory Stewart
    Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    The Green Ember by S. D. Smith
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
    Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb
    The Floating Admiral by The Detection Club
    Journal Keeping by Luann Budd
    For Growth:
    The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    Beowulf
    Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
    poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Settle for More by Megyn Kelly
    It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
    three books by Gene Stratton Porter
    The Voice that Challenged a Nation by Russell Freedman
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
    The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

  11. Malvina says:

    Hi there, I’ve chosen the Reading for Fun List. And this should indeed be fun!
    A book you chose for the cover: THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS by Meg Waite Clayton
    A book with a reputation for being un-put-downable: BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty
    A book set somewhere you’ve never been to but would like to visit: IN THE BARREN GROUND by Loreth Ann White
    A book you’ve already read: DAVID COPPERFIELD by Charles Dickens
    A juicy memoir: ROUND IRELAND WITH A FRIDGE by Tony Hawks
    A book about books or reading: THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND by Katarina Bivald
    A book in a genre you usually avoid: DARK HORSE by Michelle Diener
    A book you don’t want to admit you’ve been dying to read: THE AWAKENING OF MISS PRIM by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
    A book in the backlist of a favourite new author: MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES by Fredrick Backman
    A book recommended by someone with great taste: THE ONE IN A MILLION BOY by Monica Wood
    A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet: WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE by Jayne Ann Krentz
    A book about a topic or subject you already love: WILD ISLAND by Jennifer Livett

  12. Libby H says:

    Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a fantastic unreliable narrator novel. I think NPR (or maybe it was just my local station?) had a segment on the unreliable narrator in the past year.

  13. Kari Ann says:

    The War That Saved My Life was recommended for my 8 yr old by an 8 yr old bookseller (there with her Mom) at a trip to Parnassus Books last summer. My daughter loved it. I should really read it as well!

    • Hannah says:

      I listened to this one on Audio. Well done!! A favorite and one of the better books I read this year…or listened to 🙂

  14. Joyce M says:

    I’m thinking I’ll be doing both. Last year was the first year a friend sent me this and so I finished 2016 and then started 2015! Some of these books suit more than one category plus some of those I’d have to buy may get swapped for library books, so there is very likely to be change.
    2017 – Fun
    a book you chose for the cover – Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes (Already just read – is that cheating?)
    a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able – Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
    a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit – The Orchid House – Phyllis Shand Allfrey (Have to get on with this as the trip is booked!)
    a book you’ve already read – Cry the Beloved Country – Alan Paton
    a juicy memoir – Something Fierce – Carmen Aguirre
    a book about books or reading – Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D. H. Lawrence – Geoff Dyer
    a book in a genre you usually avoid – The prince – Niccolo` Machiavelli (This covers several genres: history, politics, books my husband thinks I should read…
    a book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read – The Heartfix: An Online Dating Diary – Stella Grey
    a book in the backlist of a new favorite author – Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire – VG Lee (Reading this now and wishing there were some likeable people in it. Probably should wait and see.)
    a book recommended by someone with great taste – Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett (Recommended by my son.)
    a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet – According to Yes – Dawn French
    a book about a topic or subject you already love – The Wild Life: A Year of Living on Wild Food – John Lewis-Stempel

    2017 – Growth

    a Newbery Award winner or Honor book – Holes – Louis Sahar
    a book in translation – Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
    a book that’s more than 600 pages – A Man in Love: My Struggle Book 2 – Karl Ove Knausgaard (607 pages in hardback!)
    a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection – A Lover Sings – Billy Bragg
    a book of any genre that addresses current events – Outsider in the White House – Bernie Sanders
    an immigrant story – White Teeth – Zadie Smith
    a book published before you were born – The Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger
    three books by the same author – Rebus series – Ian Rankin (new to me so starting with book 1)
    a book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author – Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters (unless this should be more contemporary?)
    a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
    a book nominated for an award in 2017
    a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner – Let the Great World Spin – Colm McCann

  15. Dayna says:

    For big prizes I try to be international and always look at the Mann Booker Award and the Bailey Prize for Women’s Fiction as well. I also like science fiction and fantasy so I watch the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. Can’t wait to start working my way through my own lists. Thanks for the challenges; I’m going to try to do both.

  16. Jan says:

    I signed up for the reading challenge over this past weekend and have not received the kit as yet. Please check to see if I signed up correctly. Many thanks.

  17. linda says:

    My choices for Read for fun are:
    1. for the cover: THE GIRL IN THE GATEHOUSE by Julie Klassen/ THE END AT THE OCEAN’S EDGE by Colleen Goble.
    2.Un-put-downable: TBD
    3.place never been: ELENI by Nicholas Gage/THE SCENT OF WATER by Elizabeth Gouge
    4.already read: THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams/THE VELVETEEN PRINCIPLES by Toni Kaiten D’Antonia
    5. memoir: THE JOURNAL KEEPER by Phyllis Theroux
    6. about reading: THE PLEASURES OF READING IN AN AGE OF DISTRACTION by Alan Jacobs
    7. Genre usually avoid: THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien/ THE BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown
    8.dying to read: IN A PIT WITH A LION ON A SNOWY DAY by Mark Batterson
    9.new favorite author: THE HAPPINESS DARE by Jennifer Dukes Lee
    10. recommended:TBD ? 11-23-63 by Stephen King
    11. Excited to buy: TERROR ON TYBEE ISLAND by Deborah Malone
    12. subject or topic you already love: THE FRIENDS OF JESUS by Karen Kingsbury
    READING FOR GROWTH LIST:
    1. Newberry book: PRINCESS ACADEMY/THE MIDWIFE’S APPRENTICE by Karen Cushman
    2. book in translation; CHESS by Sefan Zweig/ The ALAPHBEt HOUSE by ?Adler
    3. 600+ pages: ANNA KARENINA by Tolstoy
    4. poetry, play/essay;: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST by Oscar Wilde/FELICITY by Mary Oliver
    5. current events: TBD
    6. immigrant story: TBD
    7. before I was born: MEGGY MACINTOSH by Elizabeth Janet Gray
    8. 3 by same author: MERE CHRISTANITY, THE PROBLEM OF PAIN, A GRIEF OBSERVD by C. S. Lewis
    9.own voices or diverse author: ESPERANZA RISING by Pam Munoz Ryan
    10. unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart
    11. nominated for award 2017: TBD
    12.Pultizer Prize or National Book award: BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson

  18. Claire says:

    This is my first reading challenge and I am very excited. I have alot of books on my TBR shelf and I will take categories from each list and see what books I have that fit into the categories. I think someone else here mentioned they were doing this – a great idea as I have vowed to buy no more books until I get through some of the ones I already have.

  19. Lindsey Back says:

    This is probably a bit late but I am catching up on emails from before the Christmas rush. I noticed that you have one of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s books listed…The Shadow of the Wind. Do you know that there are 3 books with the same characters? The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven. I read the Angel’s Game last and when I got to the end I wished I had read it first as it deals with events and people who appear in The Shadow of the Wind. I probably shouldn’t call it a series but they certainly carry on the story from book to book but jump backwards in time and focus on different characters who are linked in all three books. They are a really great read, I hope you enjoy them.

  20. Evelyn Cruze says:

    I need to have some fun in my life, so I’m taking the fun list.
    CHOSE FOR THE COVER – Drive Thru SA by Rich Bradwell
    REPUTATION FOR BEING UN-PUT-DOWNABLE – Vintage by Susan Gloss
    SET SOMEWHERE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BUT WOULD LIKE TO VISIT – Good Intentions by Marg McAlister
    YOU’VE ALREADY READ – Fanta C by Sandra Brown
    JUICY MEMOIRS – Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher
    ABOUT BOOKS OR READING – Kindle Buffet by Steve Weber
    GENRE YOU USUALLY AVOID – Half Bloods Rising by JT Williams
    YOU DON’T WANT TO ADMIT YOU WANT TO READ – Don’t Punch People in the Junk Kelly Wilson
    BACKLIST OF A NEW FAVORITE AUTHOR – Cowabunga Christmas by Anna Celeste Burke (She has had a very interesting life and you should have her on your show, Anne!)
    RECOMMENDED BY A PERSON WITH GREAT TASTE – Boom by Tom Brokow
    YOU WERE EXCITED TO BUY OR BORROW BUT HAVEN’T READ YET – The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katherine Bivald
    ABOUT A TOPIC OR SUBJECT YOU ALREADY LOVE – Writing Your Way by Julie Smith

    Now some of these could change or I could read more than the ones I’ve listed as I did for my 2016 challenge!! Thank you for this challenge Anne. My mom would do this for me each year and I have missed it since her stroke in December 1996! She was a teach for over 35 years and you can bet I had to read a lot of classis, but she challenged me to Gone With The Wind, too! The year I was 9 I read Nancy Drew, Susan Barton, book in our library’s junior room about various careers different women pursed. Thee next year when I was 10, She gave me GWTW, Agatha Christie, The Brontes, 3 Jane Austins, and The Scarlet Letter. I had to give her reviews so she could see I understood what I read! We also had some lively discussions!! I’m sad I don’t have Twitter to join some of your other readers.

  21. Teresa Dominie says:

    I’m kind of working on both lists and trying to decide on books. I’m new to this so: What does “A book in the backlist of a new favorite author” mean? How do I find such a title? Any responses would be appreciated. BTW, I love these challenges and it has really boosted my reading.

    • Brandyn says:

      A lot of times when we discover an author it’s something they’ve recently written. My example is “The Living” by Matt de la Pena published in 2013. So I’m going to go back and one of his early books “Ball Don’t Lie” published in 2005. There are so many books out there that recent books get more attention. It’s a way to find books from 10-20 years ago that might be a great fit for you.

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