The 2020 Reading Challenge is here! Today I’m sharing the books I’m thinking of reading for the challenge in 2020.
In most categories, I share three titles I’m considering reading. I won’t read all of these, but wanted to share my ideas, for my own sake and in the hope they’ll inspire you.
If you haven’t joined this year’s reading challenge, it’s not too late. Enter your email below to join and we’ll immediately send you your free Reading Challenge kit with your checklists and bookmarks. Plus we’ll stay in touch throughout the year with tips and encouragement to help you meet your reading goals.
Let’s take another look at the Reading Challenge categories before we dive in to what I’m contemplating reading this year. I’d love to hear what you are thinking of reading in comments.
We’ve chosen ten categories—for twelve books—because that’s far more than the average reader reads in a year, but few enough to let you choose those titles with care. Those categories are:
- A book published the decade you were born
- A debut novel
- A book recommended by a source you trust
- A book by a local author
- A book outside your (genre) comfort zone
- A book in translation
- A book nominated for an award in 2020
- A re-read
- A classic you didn’t read in school
- Three books by the same author
A book published the decade you were born
• The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch, as discussed in this episode of What Should I Read Next.
• The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, a book I’ve been meaning to read for years.
• Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, another What Should I Read Next recommendation.
A debut novel
I already completed this category! I read Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin, a debut novel coming on February 18.
We’ll publish a blog post later this year with lots of good debut novel recommendations.
A book recommended by a source you trust
• The Crofter and the Laird by John McPhee. I love McPhee’s writing but haven’t read this one about his time in Scotland. My Scotland travel buddy Dave Humphries recommended this to me on a soon-to-air episode of What Should I Read Next.
• Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber, recommended by my friend Mel Joulwan.
• Little Bee by Chris Cleave, a novel by my husband’s maybe-favorite author. (Listen to Will talk about his favorite books in this episode of What Should I Read Next.)
A book by a local author
It’s up to you to define “local” in a way that makes sense for where you live.
• A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton. Grafton died in 2017 but for years she lived nearby here in Louisville. (She feels very local to me!)
• Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard. I met Hannah at the Kentucky Book Festival in 2018; she teaches creative writing an hour away at the University of Kentucky.
• A Small Porch by Wendell Berry, whose farm is less than an hour from Louisville. I bought this poetry collection a few years ago, and have dipped in and out of it but haven’t read it in its entirety—yet.
A book outside your (genre) comfort zone
• A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna. I’m reading this first installment in a YA fantasy series right now.
• The Line That Held Us by David Joy, a book I’ve been told is considerably more gritty than what I typically read.
• The Line Between by Tosca Lee. Reviews say this book “blurs the line between science fiction and terrifying real science” which does NOT have my name on it, but I love Tosca so I’m going to try it.
A book in translation
This is the trickiest category for many readers. Please check out this post featuring 20 wonderful books in translation; I assure you we’ll update this post in the coming months with 2019 and 2020 selections.
I already completed this category: I read The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde, as translated from the original Norwegian; it was the first book I started this year. But I want to put more recommendations in your hands now, so please check out these three books in translation I intend to read this year:
• Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. The premise of this Japanese novel reeled me in: it takes place in a nondescript Tokyo coffee shop where you can order coffee and go back in time, but but only for the amount of time it takes the coffee to cool.
• Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, a highly-recommended memoir published by Europa Editions, one of my favorite publishers of books in translations.
• The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry, a book on my actual bookshelves that I’ve been meaning to read for years, also published by Europa.
A book nominated for an award in 2020
We’ll definitely give you a great blog post or two about this year’s award nominees. In the meantime, check out this quick overview of 11 important literary awards.
• The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, because it’s our January MMD Book Club selection. (I usually read these selections once before I choose them and again with our members.)
• The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow, our February MMD Book Club selection. This could also qualify as my book by a local author, as Alix is a fellow Kentuckian.
• The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher, just because I want to. (Listen to me describe why I love it in this short episode of One Great Book.)
A classic you didn’t read in school
• Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I’ve read plenty of Steinbeck, both in school and out, but never this one.
• Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, because I’ve been meaning to for a decade now.
• My Ántonia by Willa Cather, ditto the above.
Three books by the same author
This category is a commitment—and that’s one of the reasons we included it. This year I’m considering reading …
• James Baldwin, because I keep hearing such good things about so many of his works, and I’ve been meaning to for years.
• Elizabeth George, because she writes mysteries and writes about the writing life.
• Kent Haruf, because I love what I’ve read but have three more to go.
• And I have to tell you that with the publication of my third book, Don’t Overthink It, in March, you could now read my books for this category!
What are YOU reading for the 2020 Reading Challenge? (If you’re not on the list, click here to learn more and sign up!)