2015 Reading Challenge
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

$7.99$2.99

Billed as a perfect choice for fans of Unbroken, this bestselling story about an American crew team seeking Olympic gold during the Depression has garnered nearly 2000 5-star reviews on Amazon. I fully expect this to be as compelling as any novel I read this summer.

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Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

“Lydia is dead, but they don’t know this yet.” That’s not a spoiler, that’s the opening line of Ng’s stunning debut. When this unexpected loss is discovered, the family begins to fall apart, and as they struggle to understand why it happened, they realize they don’t know their daughter at all. Ng’s use of the omniscient narrator is brilliant: she reveals what’s going on in her characters hearts and minds, allowing the reader to learn the truth of the tragedy, even if the family never does. An exploration of love and belonging, fraught with racial and gender issues. This is one that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Powerful, believable, utterly absorbing.

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The Martian: A Novel

The Martian: A Novel

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

When a deadly dust storm cuts their mission short, astronaut Mark Watney’s crew makes an agonizing decision to return to earth without him. They saw his biosigns go flat: they believe they’re leaving his body behind. But Watney is very much alive, and now he must find a way to survive on Mars, in a damaged station, with limited food and no communication. Next step: to cobble together a rescue plan. Think Cast Away, in outer space. Funny, thrilling, and surprisingly plausible.

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The Buried Giant

The Buried Giant

$10.99$5.99

Coming March 3. Readers with great taste are raving fans of Ishiguro's work. I'm looking forward to reading his new one, even though I still haven't read his best-known work The Remains of the Day.

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The Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock

$6.99

The first of many, many mysteries I would come to read in this highly addictive series published under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. This is one of the all-time bestselling children's books in English: it's sold nearly 3 million copies. The writing may not hold up on an adult's re-read, but I love the Nancy Drew series anyway: she's smart, she's brave, and she's the one rescuing her boyfriend, instead of the other way around.

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Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia

$9.993.95 (AUDIBLE DEAL)

At its core, this is a story about a beautiful friendship between two fifth grade kids who seemed so real that my ten-year-old self could hardly believe Jess and Leslie existed only on the page. I found myself wishing I had my own magical kingdom in the woods I could escape to, and I bawled my eyes out at the end. A moving, multi-layered story about the beauty of childhood and the searing pain of loss.

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Emily of New Moon

Emily of New Moon

$23.073.95 (AUDIBLE DEAL)

If you come to Montgomery's later, darker series expecting to find a second Anne, you're bound to be disappointed. Luckily, my grade school self had no such preconceived notions. These were the first books that I finished under the covers with a flashlight at 2:00 a.m. because I had to know where Emily's hopes, dreams, and disappointments led her.

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

$7.99$2.99

Habits can be built, and they can be changed. Duhigg explores the science that explains how in this readable book, and explains how to put these methods into practice in your own life. His methods and insights give you the know-how to put this information to use.

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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

$13.99

Tharp's life revolves around an arsenal of routines because, as she says, "a dancer's life is all about repetition." This conversational book is all about setting the bones—the day-to-day structure—of a creative life. (I only just found out she wrote a follow-up: The Collaborative Habit is on my to-read stack right now.)

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

$9.99$2.99

What you need to know: The New York Times called this modern classic "Hogwarts for grown-ups" and it's a hefty 1024 pages. Reading it is an investment, but you won't be sorry. (Or so I hear: it's on my TBR list.)

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Watership Down

Watership Down

A larger-than-life story about a brave band of rabbits in the English countryside and their quest for survival. A story of courage, loyalty, and bravery.

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The Hobbit

The Hobbit

My 6th grade son is currently reading this book in his English literature class. He wasn't excited about reading "that boring book." His 9-year-old sister said, "I'm glad I don't have to read it." One week later, they're fighting over it. That's all I have to say about that—except you don't have to be a grade schooler to enjoy this one. It's a classic for a reason.

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The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

Walls, a former New York gossip columnist, reveals the hardscrabble past she carefully hid for years in this family memoir, which centers on her charasmatic but highly dysfunctional parents: a father with "a little bit of a drinking situation" and a mother who was an "excitement addict," who moved their family all over the country, seeking the next big adventure. Walls spins a good story out of her bad memories.

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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

$19.955.95 (Audible Deal)

In this real-life medical drama, New York Post reporter Cahalan is hospitalized when she literally loses her mind. $1 million dollars worth of tests later, her doctors have no idea what's wrong with her—until her personal Dr. House joins the team and makes the diagnosis. Cahalan recovers, remembering nothing: she uncovered the material for this memoir by interviewing friends, family, and her medical team, reviewing her medical records, and watching hospital security videotapes of herself.

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Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day

Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day

$15.95$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

K2 is slightly shorter than Mt. Everest, but it's far more deadly: for every four climbers who have summited, one has died trying. In August 2008, a series of disasters—avalanches, ice falls, broken safety ropes—contributed to the deaths of a record 11. Miraculously, two Sherpas survived. This book chronicles the disaster from the Sherpas' perspective, and brings their fascinating history to life. A must-read for anyone who loved Into Thin Air. Riveting.

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Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

$11.99$1.99

I didn't think I was interested in the story of a racehorse, but after devouring Unbroken, I trusted Hillenbrand to take me on a remarkable ride, no matter the topic. She masterfully weaves together the stories of a knock-kneed racehorse and the three men who made him a champion: a bookish half-blind jockey, an eccentric trainer, and a limelight-loving owner. An incredible tale.

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Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew were stranded on the Antarctic ice for 20 months beginning in January 1915. Alexander's story (which is named for Shackleton's ship) is compiled largely from the journals of Shackleton's 27-man crew and contains jawdropping photos by the expedition's photographer. Spellbinding.

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The Great Short Works

The Great Short Works

If you want to get started with Tolstoy without reading War and Peace (1296 pages) or even Anna Karenina (864 pages), look no further. This compilation includes 8 of Tolstoy's finest short works (some longer than short stories), including The Death of Ivan Ilych, which many consider to be his best work.

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The Thing Around Your Neck

The Thing Around Your Neck

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Audible)

This short story collection by the author of Americanah was first published in 2009. In these 12 stories, the Nigerian author writes about America, exploring, as she says, "the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States."

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Family Furnishings

Family Furnishings

$12.99$4.99

Munro is the best—or perhaps the best-known—short story writer of our time. This collection, released last December, gathers two dozen of Munro's stories written between 1995 and 2014. Munro is unquestionably good at her craft: her realistic stories are poignant and piercing, which is why I find them difficult to read.

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Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone

I've heard to start this book with no preconceptions because the description doesn't do it justice. Suffice it to say that this novel has been recommended by fellow readers with great taste who describe it using my favorite adjectives: haunting, sweeping, gorgeous.

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Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (The Midwife Trilogy Book 1)

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (The Midwife Trilogy Book 1)

$23.955.95 (Audible Deal)

The book was published back in 2002 but the BBC series made it famous. I've heard wonderful things about the books and the movies, and I want to read the books first.

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The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You

$9.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

Real-life time management for the busy woman: a topic I'm always interested in, as are many MMD readers.

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Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning

$11.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Neil Gaiman is hit or miss for me: sometimes he's too dang scary. Despite that, I think I may tackle this short story collection, which I've heard lets you appreciate his range in a way his novel-length work can't.

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Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter needs a do-over, so she signs up for a notoriously tough wilderness survival course to prove that she can make it on her own. But then she finds out her kid brother’s best friend is joining her on the trip, wrecking her plans before she even gets to the mountains. Once there, Helen confronts a summer blizzard, a group of sorority girls, rutting season for the elk, and spin-the-bottle—yet she also discovers what it really means to be brave. A fun and light read that still manages to tackle some serious topics. If you love this, go back and read The Lost Husband.

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Almost Famous Women

Almost Famous Women

$3.99$2.99

Published January 6. This short story collection delves into the lives of women who are—as the title puts it—were almost famous: Oscar Wilde's niece, Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister.

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The Book Thief

The Book Thief

$9.99$2.99

"You are going to die," begins this 2006 novel. A fitting beginning to a story about hard things: a little girl and her family struggling to endure in WWII Nazi Germany. The characters are interesting and unexpected, right down to the unusual narrator. You'll see why this was an instant staple on school reading lists when it was published ten years ago, and why it has captured the hearts of readers from age 10 to 110. Beautiful, haunting, fascinating, hopeful.

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The Brothers K

The Brothers K

$13.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)

This one spent years on my TBR list, because so many friends with great taste called it THE best book they ever read. I'm so glad I finally read it. I don't remember what my expectations were about this book, but whatever they were, they were wrong. Duncan combines the Vietnam War, bush league baseball, Seventh Day Adventism, and family ties into an incredible, heart-wrenching story. The book is truly remarkable for the times when it reveals the deep joy present in a family's lowest moments.

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No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II

$11.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

I love Doris Kearn Goodwin's work, and this is no exception. (I'm with Ann Patchett on this, who calls herself "a DKG completist.") Publishers Weekly says, "No previous biography of a president has given so complete a picture of how private lives and political questions intersect uniquely for the residents of the White House," and it's so true. I learned so much about not only the Roosevelts (fascinating and sad) but also about our country's history during their lifetime, in an absorbing way. If you read Chernow's Hamilton and thought "I had no idea American history was so fascinating" and want a similar experience in a different decade, add this one to your reading list.

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Ursula, Under

Ursula, Under

Katherine Willis Pershey raved about this book, calling it "one of the best, most memorable novels she has ever read." She has terrific taste (meaning: taste like mine) and that's enough for me.

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