I usually approach my reading with equal amounts of planning and pantsing (as in “fly by the seat of my”).
I believe in reading at whim, but I also know the value of a good reading deadline. For the past five Januarys or so, I’ve made a short list of books I’ve been meaning to read for ages that I want to finally cross off my TBR list in the year to come, but that’s about it for my structured reading goals.
This year is different. I still believe in bookish serendipity, but I’ve already chosen my books for the 2016 MMD Reading Challenge, because ePantry is giving away two complete sets of my personal picks to two lucky readers.
I find choosing current and future reads to be equal parts fun and torture, but I persevered. These are MY picks for the 2016 Reading Challenge. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, and I can’t wait to hear what YOU are reading for the challenge.
I thought Kondo's previous book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was wacky and wonderful and fantastically motivating. I'm definitely afraid that this will be a rehashing of her first book, but I can't miss the opportunity to see for myself. This book just came out on January 5, 2016. (Don't worry about finding your own pick for this category: I'll share a list of more new books I can't wait to read in 2016 in the next few days.) More info →
I didn't hear of this short 1962 novel until a few years ago, and since readers with great and diverse tastes keep recommending it. I'm a little leery because it's decidedly creepy, and I don't like scary stories, but I'm trying it anyway because Shirley Jackson knows how to tell a story. At 146 pages, I can finish this in a day—but I've been warned to read it during daylight hours and not right before bedtime. More info →
Friends have been recommending this series to me for years, but as of right now the only book I've read by Alexander McCall Smith is Emma: A Modern Retelling. I heard the author speak at my local library last year: he was well-spoken, warm, and extremely funny (plus he wore a kilt, which certainly didn't hurt). I was intrigued by the numerous audience questions about his much-loved detective series and am eager to finally cross this one off the list in 2016. More info →
a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
Two local bookstore employees gushed about this 2013 debut when I hovered in front of it on the shelves. Marra's story is set in Chechnya during the Chechen Wars, in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. My booksellers warned me this New York Times notable book of the year is much too grim to be called an easy read, but it's worth it. Marra's interweaving stories reveal the interconnectedness of us all, and his unlikely resolution is surprisingly hopeful. Or so they say. We'll see. More info →
As a foodie memoir devotee, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Journalist Ann Mah moves to Paris when her diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment there. She's overjoyed at the opportunity until he's reassigned to Iraq for a year-long solo stint and must figure out life in Paris on her own. And so she does, one pain au chocolat and boeuf Bourguignon at a time.
This Pulitzer Prize winner has been on my radar for years, and not just because it's assigned reading for many. But it never occurred to me that I might actually want to read it for myself: I dismissed it as a book my western-loving grandfather would have loved, but would bore me to tears. But this past year this book has kept coming up in conversation, and now I'm genuinely looking forward to giving it a try. More info →
a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF
I asked my husband to choose a book for this category. I expected him to recommend a book about technology or business or maybe mountaineering, but he surprised me with this lesser-known classic by the author of The Little Prince. After some quick googling I couldn't be happier with his choice: National Geographic ranked this third on its list of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time, saying "this remarkable classic attains its high ranking here by soaring both as a piece of writing and as a tale of adventure." More info →
I've heard wonderful things about this classic, but I've never read it nor anything else by Edith Wharton. Readers often recommend Wharton in terms of Jane Austen because they both write about women's everyday life: she's been called the new Austen, the anti-Austen, a more sophisticated Austen, a more depressing Austen. It's time to finally read it and decide for myself. More info →
I've never read Angelou's memoir of her childhood in the American South in the 1930s in its entirety. This is a book I've been meaning to read for ages: the excerpts I've heard have been haunting and achingly beautiful. I'm considering doing this one on audio: Angelou narrates her own work, and she does it wonderfully. More info →
Several of you read this for last year's challenge as your book in translation, as it was originally published in Sweden. I started it at the beach last summer, and read just enough to see why it's often called "clever," "quirky," and "un-put-down-able." But our vacation ended before I finished the book, it was due back to the library, and I got distracted by the demands of post-travel laundry and back-to-school prep. Looking forward to actually finishing this one this year. More info →
This was my easiest pick: a friend gave me this book a couple of years ago and I have no excuse for why I haven't read it yet. I'm a huge Anne fan, and the reviews all say this prequel about Anne's life before she came to Green Gables is actually pretty good. I'm happy to have an excuse to bump it to the top of the list in 2016. More info →
There aren't many books that intimidate me anymore, but this 2004 novel is an exception: it's been called "as mysterious as a Zen koan" and that makes me nervous! It's also been called "unique," "interesting," and often, "indescribable." Several reviews on Goodreads simply say, "huh?" But the numerous rave reviews and a nudge from my local bookseller persuaded me to give this one a try. More info →
I adore Berry, who writes gorgeous, thoughtful, piercing novels. This is among his finest. I've been saying for years that I'm overdue for a re-read. I'm anticipating wanting to read all his Port William novels again after finishing this one. More info →
What are you thinking about choosing for the different challenge categories? What’s on YOUR 2016 reading list?