What I’m (probably) reading for the 2019 Reading Challenge

The 2019 Reading Challenge is here! Today I’m sharing the books I’m thinking of reading in 2019.

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 checklist and planning sheets. Plus we’ll stay in touch throughout the year with tips and encouragement to help you meet your reading goals.

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

A book you’ve been meaning to read

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan. Authors with great taste have raved about this one, which I’ve had on my shelves for years.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I’ve started—but never finished—this sweeping novel, which I brought home with me from an MMD Book Club book exchange.
The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty. I’ve heard rave reviews about this relatively new release, which is part personal memoir, part culinary history.

A book about a topic that fascinates you

Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability by Aimi Hamraie. I love books about urban planning; this book is about the need to explicitly design an environment everyone can function in.
Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley. I have this checked out from the library right now.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean. I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet. I’m seeing this nonfiction work about a real-life 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Public Library pop up on many of your best-of-2018 lists.

A book in the backlist of a favorite author

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson. I’m close to being a Joshilyn Jackson completist, but this 2010 hardcover remains on my shelves, unread.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I’ve adored Cleave’s more recent work, but still want to read this 2009 novel (which I hear is a real punch in the gut).
What Now? by Ann Patchett. After several readers recommended this one in the same week last summer, I picked up a copy at a Chicago used bookstore.

A book recommended by someone with great taste

The Line That Held Us by David Joy. My husband discovered David Joy last fall and raced through all his work; Joy’s words on his own work at a book festival this fall made me want to read this even more.
This House of Sky by Ivan Doig. Jim Mustich urged me to read this on our 1000 Books to Read Before You Die episode of What Should I Read Next.
FKA USA by Reed King. A Houston bookseller, who had just finished reading a galley, told me this dystopian June 2019 release deserves a place on my reading list.

Three books by the same author

Kent Haruf: I love his work but have only read a handful of his titles.
N.K. Jemisin: Fantasy isn’t my go-to genre, but Jemisin’s writing makes me want to eat it up.
Jhumpa Lahiri: Again, I love her work but have only begun to explore it.

A book you chose for the cover

I included this category in the challenge because I wanted to prompt readers—including myself—to read at whim and take a chance on unfamiliar books. We’ll see what catches my eye in the year to come.

A book by an author who is new to you

Miriam Toews: this is the first category I completed, from an author whose work I know relatively little about. I finished her forthcoming novel Women Talking, which I hear is not-quite-typical for her work, on January 5.
James Baldwin: Despite his literary and cultural significance, I’ve not yet read Baldwin’s work. I’m planning to begin with The Fire Next Time.
P.G. Wodehouse. Would you believe I’ve never read a Wodehouse? Enough said. (Tell me where to begin?)

A book in translation

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve long been intimidated by the length of this Russian classic, but the vast number of MMD Book Clubbers who have read it—and raved about it—in the past year or two make it feel less daunting.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I keep putting this on my list, because I keep not reading it! Again, the length is intimidating.
Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna by Mario Giordano. I’m looking forward to the second book in the Auntie Poldi series, written by a German novelist about a spunky widow living by the Italian sea.

A book outside your (genre) comfort zone

The Stand by Stephen King. The premise intrigues me, readers say it’s terrific—but I don’t do scary, so I’m scared of this one.
How Proust Can Change your Life by Alain de Botton. I hardly ever read philosophy, and I know nothing about Proust, but I’ve heard this is worth the (perceived?) stretch.
Spinning by Tillie Walden. I hardly ever read graphic novels, but readers with great taste say this graphic memoir about competitive figure skating—and all that life entails for a teen—is superb.

A book published before you were born

The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch. I’ve never read Murdoch, but I’ve been assured this highly readable 1978 Booker Prize winner about a highly unlikeable protagonist is worth my time.
• Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.I’ve had a beautiful copy on my shelf for a really long time.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. How did I miss reading this in high school? If I’m not careful, all my kids are going to read it before I do. 

What are YOU reading for the 2019 Reading Challenge? (If you’re not on the list, click here to sign up!)


Leave A Comment
  1. Marcy says:

    I began Wodehouse with a collection called “The Most of P.G. Wodehouse”! 🙂 I think it’s a great place to begin, though I haven’t read enough outside of that collection to be an authority! As I recall it has a bunch of short stories and one… either novel or novella. It’s the kind of book you’ll start compulsively reading aloud to the people around you, and some phrases might slip into your family’s vernacular. The story “Goodbye to All Cats” especially, oh my goodness.

    • Betsy says:

      I second _The Most of P.G. Wodehouse_. Hilarious and the short stories format allows you to read one at a time between other, longer works (not that there are any, um, “longer” works on your list… 🙂 ).

    • Stefanie Nordstrom says:

      I’ve been told you can really start Wodehouse anywhere. I bookclub friend of mine handed out her series to each of us saying it wouldn’t matter where we began. I was handed #7 The Code of the Woosters… still sitting on my shelf!

    • Robin in New Jersey says:

      I was going to ask whete to begin with Wodehouse. Looks like this book will be the one. Thank you for the suggestion!

  2. Joan Odean says:

    I, too loved War and Peace. Pick the translation you read carefully. When I read it, I was living in Moscow (really), purchased the 20-hour BBC DVD and the Cliff Notes. I would read the novel chapter by chapter, stopping to watch the video and read the notes. Perhaps this is cheating, but I really got so much out of it.

    • Samantha says:

      I like this – giving yourself time (and outside resources – no shame in Cliff Notes as long as you’re also reading the book!) to absorb and consider each chapter. Great idea for tough books.

      • Joan Odean says:

        I’m sorry. It was quite a few years ago when I read it. I just don’t remember. But I do know that the version I read did not have anglicized names, unfortunately! I made my own chart of characters and underlined extensively in the copy of the book I read. But then, after awhile, I was “into” the story and did not need to extensively cross-reference while I read. Bottom line: it is a wonderful book but the more you take your time reading it, the more you will enjoy it. Recently, a good friend of mine was going on a long car trip and she went to the library to pick up an audiobook to help pass the time. One of the books she considered was War and Peace! I really hooted at that — I cannot imagine anyone following more than five minutes listening to W&P cold turkey.

    • Tonya Morrison says:

      I too love this idea. I’ve been putting off war and peace forever and this process intrigues me.

      Thanks for sharing

    • Martina Koeva says:

      “War and Peace” is my favorite book! I thought James Mustich’s essay in ‘1,000 Books to Read Before You Die’ really captured the spirit of the book and why it’s so extraordinary. When I first encountered it and fell in love with it, I read it in translation in another Slavic language and I would also recommend selecting the English translation quite carefully. From the choices in English, I like one of the most recent translations – Pevear/Volokhonsky – probably the best.

      If you decide to also watch/follow the adaptation of the book while reading, I would recommend going back to the Russian version made in the 60s. The most recent BBC adaptation really lost much of Tolstoy’s vision, poetry, and philosophy, which is just too bad! I had waited with such anticipation for it.

      • Joan Odean says:

        The BBC production I watched was made in the 1960s and was Anthony Hopkins first starring role. The latest version of W&P on film (with Lily James) was beautiful but did not go into nearly enough detail.

          • Martina Koeva says:

            Thanks, I should check it out, I have never seen that one – I’d love to see if I like it better! The Russian one I mentioned is directed by Sergei Bondarchuk and it was made in 1966. And yes, I agree with you on the latest version (the one with Lily James/James Norton), not nearly enough detail. Also, not nearly the same spirit as the book.

  3. Heidi Benson says:

    I combined your challenge with Stephanie Howell’s and the Pop Sugar one, then selected 30 books from my shelves. Your criteria are as follows:
    3 By the Same Author: Pet Semetary, The Shining & Doctor Sleep (King)
    Favorite Author Backlist: Dragonfly in Amber (Gabaldon)
    Chosen for It’s Cover: Enchanted Islands (Amend)
    Been Meaning to Read: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (Rooney)
    New to Me Author: Melmoth (Perry)
    Published Before I Was Born: Persuasion (Austen)
    Book in Translation: My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (Bachman)
    Fascinating Topic: Stiff (Roach)
    Recommended: A Million Junes (Henry)
    Outside My Comfort Zone: The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood)

  4. Elizabeth Whittaker says:

    If Stephen King intrigues you but you don’t do scary, you should read Hearts in Atlantis. Really good, and for me it was a page turner.

    • Tanya says:

      A couple of years ago, one category in this challenge was a book recommended by a librarian. I don’t read scary at all (I live alone) so I was appalled when my librarian wanted me to read Stephen King. She had me do Hearts in Atlantis and I loved it.

  5. Erika says:

    Backseat Saints and Of Mice and Men are both AMAZING, you should definitely read both of those. The Library Book is also on my TBR for the challenge. I would love to know what your final reads for last year’s challenge were!

  6. Cathi Kern says:

    I’m sure you already know this, but fair warning- The Line That Held Us is very gory (I read mystery and true crime regularly, and this was gory in a way largely new to me).

    Happy Reading Challenge, Anne!

  7. Hannah says:

    a book you’ve been meaning to read : A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

    a book about a topic that fascinates you : The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

    a book in the backlist of a favorite author : Sisterchicks on the Loose! by Robin Jones Gunn

    a book recommended by someone with great taste : Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

    three books by the same author : I’m finally joining the rest of the world in reading the Harry Potter books

    a book you chose for the cover : Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    a book by an author who is new to you : A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

    a book in translation : The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    a book outside your (genre) comfort zone : 1984 by George Orwell

    a book published before you were born : David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

    I’m excited to participate this year!

    • Heidi Benson says:

      I’ve read all but the Gunn and Kline (it’s waiting on my Kindle.) Excellent choices! Most people haven’t read any Lewis outside the Narnia series and don’t realize he wrote on so many other topics. If you like audiobooks, Richard Armitage reads “David Copperfield” and it is wonderful.

    • RobinfromCA says:

      The unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite books ever! I would suggest the Penguin Classics translation as it is less “choppy” than others. Whoever translated did a great job.

      Love your list!

      • Hannah says:

        Thanks! I’ve been meaning to read The Count forever, but it’s definitely intimidating and it’s definitely the longest book on my list this year. It’s one of those books that I secretly think is one of my favorites even though I haven’t actually read it. Haha! 2019 is the year!

    • Amy says:

      This is such a great list! David Copperfield is on my list for this year, too. I hated Dickens SO MUCH in school, but after falling in love with A Christmas Carol as an adult, I’m ready to give him another try. Sarah Clarkson recommended this a great starting point, but it’s so long. I’m a little intimidated.

      • Hannah says:

        I read A Tale of Two Cities last year and Great Expectations in 2016; loved both of them so Dickens is becoming a little less intimidating to me, but I know what you mean. I hope we both love David Copperfield this year!

    • Jill K. Porco says:

      Mere Christianity is a great way to get to know Lewis’ basic beliefs. The Problem of Pain is thought-provoking at the very least. In short, I like his stuff, that said, I read the Narnia books when I was younger. I would get more out of them now though I suspect.

    • Laura says:

      You picked a bunch of ky favorites! Lewis, Betty Smity, David Copperfield, The Count of Monte Cristo, Orphan Train! You’re going to have a good year.

  8. Marcia says:

    Here is my 2019 Reading Challenge list:
    a book you’ve been meaning to read: Columbine
    a book about a topic that fascinates you: Team of Rivals ( I love presidential history and books about presidents and their wives)
    a book in the backlist of a favorite author: Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War (I read a lot of non-fiction, and last year I read two books by Philbrick, both of which I enjoyed immensely.)
    a book recommended by someone with good taste: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (often mentioned by MMD when talking about favorite books)
    Three books by the same author: Cold Earth, Thin Air, Dead Water – all from the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves
    a book you chose for the cover: waiting on that one
    a book by an author who is new to you: Killers of the flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
    a book in translation: War and Peace
    a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
    a book published before you were born: Testament of Youth (1933)

    • Tamara says:

      I completed the Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War last fall and was amazed by the treachery of the Pilgrims a far different and more factual account of the beginnings of this country than “history” in grade school. Killers of the Flower Moon is one of the best non-fiction books I have read! I was drawn in immediately. Enjoy!

    • Elizabeth says:

      I loved Team of Rivals. It was one of my top books in 2017. The portrait of Lincoln, especially, was both moving and inspiring. I hope you like it!

  9. Jean says:

    I loved The Library Book! I know for sure I’m going to read The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker for my book you picked because of the cover, because it’s such a pretty cover! I also think for my 3 books by the same author I’m going to read 3 by Emily St. John Mandel. I adored Station Eleven and have been meaning to read her backlist for ages; now’s the perfect time!

  10. Lisa Jones says:

    I’m a huge Murakami fan, so I definitely think IQ84 is worth your time! Little Bee is fantastic, and of course you should read (the rather short) Of Mice and Men right away, though I prefer East of Eden if we’re talking Steinbeck — it’s like a juicy soap opera of a novel. James Baldwin’s novel Giovanni’s Room was the first book I finished in 2019, and it was stunning. I’ve made it a goal to read everything he ever wrote. I highly recommend the documentary about him, called I Am Not Your Negro.

  11. Tyna Woods says:

    I really liked Stephen King in my early twenties (no longer read him). The Stand IS good, but the cover above makes me cringe.

    • Tracie says:

      King was my favorite author before I was expressly warned not to read Horror anymore . I just wanted to add that The Stand is not scary scary, just intriguing IMHO. If you don’t do scary but want to read King, the Green Mile may be a good choice as well.

  12. Kirsten says:

    Wodehouse is a great palate cleanser, and the collection “the World of Jeeves” is entertaining enough to read straight through, but also fun to read a few in between other, heavier readings. Jeeves and Bertie are great characters and their relationship is clever, but their world is full of hilarious side characters as well. I moved from there to his novels.

  13. Kassie Joslin says:

    Gap Creek! Of Mice and Men! Two you should definitely enjoy. Of Mice and Men can be read in an afternoon. I just read Gap Creek this summer and it was a favorite of my year.

  14. Andrea Graves says:

    I find I approach my reading challenge lists quite differently – I select the books I want to read (mostly from the library) and then see which challenge categories I’ve filled with the book once I’ve finished reading it. So, except for my library holds list, the year is fairly open-ended – so far.
    Though for three books by the same author, I might read Rosemary Simpson’s Gilded Age Mysteries. I am reading What the Dead Leave Behind now. There are three books in the series, so it works.
    The Library Book was excellent! I loved it.

    • Debbie says:

      This is my approach, too. And I’m doing a few challenges just for fun, which allows me to double dip. It’s not cheating if I say it’s not, right? lol

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I do the exact same thing! I never know far in advance what I might want to read at the time or what is available. I am also determined to read the books I already own that I have not read.

  15. Stacey C. says:

    A Fine Balance and 1Q84 are both great books! I’ve enjoyed both. Killing Commendatore is on my translated list (I can’t always get into Murakami’s works, but having enjoyed 1Q84, I always want to try some of his other works.) I read War and Peace several years ago – it took me a while but worth it!

    • Jenny H says:

      I enjoyed Killing Commendatore overall – worth reading – but it doesn’t warrant the length in the same way as some of his other longer novels do…

  16. Sandra Ohs says:

    What are the good translations of War and Peace? It is my must read this year, and I do have one version on my kindle already, but maybe it is not a good one…

    • Austin says:

      I’m currently about 200 pages into the Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky translation of War & Peace and I’m loving it!

      Small warning: they leave the French dialogue in the text and translate in footnotes, which can slow you down, but it also means you know when the characters are speaking French and not Russian (I’m not sure how other translators handled this).

      Good luck with your reading!

    • Hannah says:

      I haven’t actually read War and Peace, but I read the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina this past year and thought it was excellent so I would second Austin’s recommendation. 🙂

    • Barbara Solarz says:

      Amor Towles recommends Pevear and Volokhonsky as translators of Dostoevsky, and indeed they have translated all the major Russian novels, including War and Peace, Anna Kareniba, and Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago.

  17. Jaime says:

    I am attempting this challenge based on what already exists on my unread shelf – unless there are some duds hiding in there – I should have most of it covered. Here’s what I’m thinking:
    a book you’ve been meaning to read: The Woman Who Died A Lot (Fforde)
    a book about a topic that fascinates you: Southbound (Letcher) because I have a random obsession with the Appalachian Trail.
    a book in the backlist of a favorite author: Turn Around Bright Eyes (Sheffield)
    a book recommended by someone with good taste: The Middle of Everywhere (Pipher)
    Three books by the same author: Water Witches, Midwives, Sandcastle Girls (Bohjalian)
    a book you chose for the cover: A Large Expanse of Sea (Mafi). Confession – I chose this book because the author is gorgeous, though the book cover is pretty too.
    a book by an author who is new to you: The Dispatcher (Jahn)
    a book in translation: Not sure yet…
    a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: Under the Banner of Heaven (Krakauer).
    a book published before you were born: Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury, 1953)

  18. Stephanie says:

    Oh man, all three books on your A Topic That Fascinates You category look…well, fascinating. Especially the one about disability access. That’s something I’ve always been thoughtful of, but now that it’s more personal, I might want to delve a little deeper into the topic!

    I don’t have any specific books picked out for the challenge yet; I was planning on going through each month and seeing what I’ve read and what fits into the categories of the challenge. Summer is when I’ll start tackling specific categories (like the three books by a single author one!).

    I think you’ll enjoy Madame Bovary. I too had a beautiful copy on the shelf for years, and I was always intimidated by it, but it’s extremely readable and I found myself surprised by how very much I liked it. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it! 🙂

  19. Tina says:

    P. G. Wodehouse is one of my favorite authors of all time. I’d recommend starting with Carry on, Jeeves or Meet Mr. Mulliner. I also highly recommend them on audiobook. Jonathan Cecil narrates most of them and he’s brilliant. It adds so much more scop to the characters and the language. I’m also going to read War and Peace this year.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I completely agree with listening to P.G. Wodehouse on audio. Jonathan Cecil is the best! His voice is so wonderful. My personal favorite Wodehouse is The Mating Season, but I think it’d be fun to start with the above suggestions or with The Inimitable Jeeves. That one is more like loosely connected short stories, I think.

      • Tina says:

        Very true. I was undecided as to which I should suggest first because I do so love Bingo Little! All of those are hilarious.

  20. Jennifer Maynard says:

    After my dad told me that Lonesome Dove is his all time favorite book and he has read it 3 times, I am determined to read it for him. Hopefully I will love it as much as he does.

  21. Jennifer says:

    My parents asked for no Christmas gifts this year, knowing that my siblings and I are all stretched financially. We all wanted to “give” them some things though, so we got creative. I printed out the MMD reading challenge and shared it with them and I look forward to seeing what they chose to read and talking about books with them all year!
    My ideas:
    A book you’ve been meaning to read: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    A book about a topic that fascinates you: probably a book about running or meditation
    A book in the backlist of a favorite author: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
    A book recommended by someone with great taste: Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy)
    3 books by the same author: Kristin Hannah, probably Firefly Lane, The Nightingale and The Great Alone
    A book you chose for the cover: TBD
    A book by an author that is new to you: TBD
    A book in translation: War and Peace (?!)
    A book outside your (genre) comfort zone: will probably either be a graphic novel or sci fi
    A book published before you were born: TBD

  22. Cindy says:

    Is the MMD printable reading journal (from 2015) still available? I would love to print one out. Have you done a reading log more recently?

  23. Mary Neglio says:

    I can’t wait to start this challenge. Here are my choices:
    A book you been meaning to read:
    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    A book about a topic that fascinates you:
    The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

    A book in the backlist by your favorite author:
    The Angel Tree by Lucinda Riley

    A book recommended by someone with great taste:
    Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

    Three books by the same author:
    An Interrupted Love Story
    By Billy Wood Stuart

    A book you chose for the cover:
    Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

    A book by an author who is new to you:
    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    A book in translation:
    The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker

    A book out of your comfort zone:
    The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls

    A book published before you were born:
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

    • The Glass Castle is one of my all time favorite books. I reread it regularly. And my daughter just read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and highly recommended it, so I’ve added it to my list.

  24. Cat says:

    I read my first Wodehouse in 2018, starting w the Code of the Woosters, and it was great! There’s also a hilarious TV series on YouTube for after you read, called Bertie and Wooster. Enjoy!!!

  25. Danielle says:

    I’ve not read any Iris Murdoch, but I read the memoir written for her by her husband, Elegy for Iris. It was fantastic. I have a habit of underlining words I don’t know, and ended up underlining a Large (!!) number of words.

  26. Kat says:

    For Stephen King you could also read The Dead Zone. Still scary, so meeting the outside your comfort zone criteria, but a different scary and not as long as The Stand (so you’re not scared as long – obviously you have no problem with long books 😉 It’s my favorite of his that I’ve read so far so far. I also find I like a lot of King’s book recommendations. I also have The Library Book on my list. I’ll be reading John Connolly’s Samuel Johnson books either for backlist or three by the same author. His Charlie Parker series is a favorite of mine. Still pondering the rest because that’s half the fun of a reading challenge!

  27. Brandyn says:

    I’m currently reading Kristin Lavransdatter and technically I could count it for 10 of the 12 categories:) I’ll probably use it for the Book in Translation category.

    • Claire says:

      I’m reading Kristin Lavransdatter too and am 80% finished, but struggling to get to the end. Does it get better? This is one of those books that I think would be more effective if it were shorter. The paperback is over a thousand pages.

        • Kara Middleton says:

          Yes, it’s a trilogy. If one book were over 1000 pages I’d pass, but I’m reading the first book, The Wreath, for a women Nobel Prize winners challenge. I’m intrigued!

      • Caroline says:

        I read it last year, and sorry, I don’t think it gets “better” before the end. It just carries on as it did all along. An interesting book, but a slow one.

      • Brandyn says:

        You’re way farther than I am – I’m still in book 1 (The Wreath). Right now I’m trying to not pressure myself to finish and just enjoy the experience, but if I’m struggling I’ll take a break after book 1.

    • Danielle says:

      It’s the one I’m planning for “in translation”, but if I read the whole series, it will go in the “3 books by the same author spot”. If I find another book for “in translation”, I will put it in the “before you were born” slot….lol

      • Brandyn says:

        Those are the 3 most likely for me as well. I really struggle with books in translation so that’s most likely. Odds are I’ll read three books by a single author without even trying, but definitely keep it in mind just in case.

  28. Penny says:

    A Fine Balance has been my favorite book since I happened to pick it up in my high school library over a decade ago. I highly recommend it. It’s heartbreaking but so real.

  29. Sarah J Askins says:

    I loved “The Line That Held Us” so much, but fair warning, parts of it are hard for an HSP(just read quickly through them).
    Also, if you read Madame Bovary, read the Lydia Davis translation because it is the best translation that merges the story and the poetry of the language.

  30. Laura says:

    I just read Spinning this weekend for the Book Outside your Comfort Genre category and really enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. I felt like it was missing some depth or maybe enough backstory as to why she started skating in the first place. But it was definitely an interesting read.

  31. Mary says:

    I’ve never read Wodehouse, either! I have one on my TBR for this year.

    I think you will really enjoy The Library Book, Anne — I think it might be one of my favorite nonfiction books I read last year.

    As always, thank you for inspiring my reading life!

  32. Beth Akins says:

    The Fire Next Time is good. I read a few James Baldwin last year. I adored Little Bee.
    I haven’t filled out my pages I downloaded from you yet but the photo of my 2019 stack is on my Instagram page artcricket2.

  33. Elise says:

    Anne, I hope you read and enjoy The Sea, The Sea! Iris Murdoch is unique – I’ve never read anyone who portrays the world in quite the way she does. It always feels a shade or two off of true realism, without becoming magical realism. Her world always sucks me in. I really enjoyed The Sea, The Sea. The Green Knight was another favorite for me.

  34. Ann says:

    I’m a high school English teacher and just finished teaching Of Mice and Men again…each time I find a new focus. This time I noticed how tightly written it is. There are absolutely no wasted words. My confession is that I’ve yet to read Jane Austen! This is the year!

    • Leni says:

      Jane Austen is unfairly typecast as a romance writer. There is so much to focus on in her books, the romance is just the surface plot. You will love her. The prose is excellent and so is the social criticism. She is one of my favourites, and one of the few authors whose books I read again and again. Which reminds me, I am due a re-read of Northanger Abbey this year. 😀

  35. Leni says:

    I’m still working on my selection, but I have a few options ready:

    Book I’ve been meaning to read: “The Blade Itself” by Abercrombie (so many friends have raved about this series!) or “Nights at the Circus” by Angela Carter (I love her short stories, and for the longest time have meant to read one of her novels).

    Book in back list of favourite author: “The Other Wind” by Ursula K. LeGuin (not just a fave author, but a fave series and I’ve never read the final book) or one of the few books by Neil Gaiman I still haven’t read (maybe some Sandman, I’ve only recently started reading those and his other graphic novels)

    A Book rec by someone with great taste: Whenever the Spouse recs something I end up loving it. Currently he wants me to read “The Glass Books of the Dream-Eaters” by Gordon Dahlquist.

    3 Books by same author: Probably “Kindred”, “Parable of the Sower”, and “Parable of the Talents” by Octavia Butler, but I might also go for a random trilogy.

    Author that’s new to me and book published before I was born will be easy. I love 19th Century British literature, and I’m sure to read several such novels in 2019. The remaining genres I need to think about. Actually, I still haven’t read any Wodehouse either! Perhaps this is the year?

    Would just like to add in the end that yes, “The Sea The Sea” will be worth your time, and James Baldwin is fabulous and heart breaking.

  36. Jamie Rabourn says:

    I have read the Cooking Gene by Micheal Twitty and would highly recommend it. I don’t generally read personal memoirs but this one was so fascinating that I couldn’t put it down.

  37. Leslie says:

    Hello. I have been reading Ann B. Ross’ Miss Julia series, and have thoroughly enjoyed each book, and laughed also. I am currently reading number 16, and this is a Southern Steel Magnolia type of character I’m Miss Julia.

  38. Maria Ontiveros says:

    I have two lists. The first is a book to read in print or on my kindle. The second is to listen to on my audible.
    Meaning to read: Less; Last Ballad
    Fascinating: not that I could tell; there, there; killers of the flower moon
    Backlist: silver sparrow; gods of Alabama
    Recommended: homegoing; educated
    Cover: time in between; widows of malabar hill
    New author: I’ll be your blue sky; queen of hearts
    Translation: perfect nanny; daughter of fortune; big green tent
    Comfort zone: nimona; the hate u give
    Before born: Anne of green Gables; end of the affair
    Same author: hunting hour/burning ridge/crossing colfax and Louise penny books

    • Dawn says:

      Love your list! I read several of these last year and you will LOVE “I’ll be your blue sky”! I read the “perfect nanny” for the book in translation last year and couldn’t put it down. I didn’t like the ending…it left me hanging/wanting more information.

    • Caroline says:

      “There There” was really good–compelling, thoughtful, sad. “Educated” was another interesting read, but I do prefer “The Glass Castle” in this sort of genre. I enjoyed “I’ll Be Your Blue Sky” a lot and always enjoy Louise Penny’s series. You’re going to have a great reading time!

  39. Amy says:

    My planning guide (thanks for that, by the way!) is covered in notes and ideas for each category, but a few I’m really hoping to get to this year are:
    – The Wilderking Series
    – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
    – more books by Tana French
    – David Copperfield
    – When Calls the Heart (I only recently discovered the show is based on books!)
    Also, I’m making my way thought the list of Newbery winners. I’ve read about half so far, and would love to have read the whole list by the prize’s 100th anniversary in a few years, so I’m hoping to get through many of those books this year as well.

  40. Tami G says:

    This is my second year of actually having a reading goal and I’m excited to read lots of different genre’s. My goal is 35 books which is attainable for me as I’m not a slow reader but I often need to re-read because I miss things that come up later on in the stories.
    -A book about a topic that fasinates you: Trees so I chose The Hidden Life of Trees.
    -Three Books by the same author: Elizabeth Strout. I have already read the Burgess Boys, Olive Kitteridge and Anything is Possible. So I’m planning to read- Abide With Me, My Name is Lucy Barton and Olive, Again her newest release.
    -A Book in the backlist of a favorite author: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver who is one of my favorites. I have had this book for awhile so 2019 is the year.
    -A Book in translation: so this is new to me and I’m not sure so looked over recommendations from you all and its either The Librarian of Aushwitz (although I may need a break from WWII books) or Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
    -A Book recommended by someone with great taste: don’t know yet but will get one from either by daughter or my sister
    -A Book outside of your comfort zone: Persuasion by Jane Austin
    -A Book published the year before you were born: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
    -A new author: Louise Erdich and her first book Love Medicine
    -A book you’ve been meaning to read: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (not sure about this one as I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and didn’t really enjoy it and have always meant to re-read it but will read this before I decide if I want to.
    -A book you chose for its cover: I’ll be your Blue Sky by Marisa De Los Santos
    The rest of my books will come from my Kindle that I’ve been meaning to read and from the stack in my bedroom as well that mostly encompasses various horsemanship authors.

  41. Tamara L Gandt says:

    You will!!! Once I started Lonesome Dove I couldn’t put it down…I don’t know if anyone else has this happen when they finish a great book but I was really depressed afterwards that my journey with the characters were over. So I read the prequels to this book which were written in a different style to me. To me Lonesome Dove was McMurty’s capstone! The mini-series wonderful as well but read the book first.

    • Alison R. says:

      Lonesome Dove was my pick for a book over 500 pages for 2018 MMD Reading Challenge! I never read westerns and I loved it!

  42. Becky says:

    Thanks to Gingers comment about doing non-fiction for the challenge I’ve decided to read only Great American Reads titles for the challenge. I’ve already conpleted one (cover-Hitchhikers Guide…) and overlap with Anne on The Stand

  43. Linda says:

    My intro to Woodhouse was A Damsel in Distress, which is not a “Wooster and Jeeves” book. It was brilliantly funny! I try to force it upon anyone who asks for a recommendation for a light and enjoyable read. I try to force it upon people even if they DON’T ask for a recommendation…:)

    • Cara Duncan says:

      My intro to the world of Wodehouse was also through A Damsel in Distress, and from there I’ve lost count of all of the wonderful novels read… (he wrote almost 100 I believe!) My favorites are still A Damsel in Distress, The Man with Two Left Feet and Other Stories, and all of the Jeeves and Wooster novels!

  44. Kylie says:

    If you’re want to do a Stephen King book but don’t like scary (I’m with you there!), try his book Sleeping Beauties! I loved it!

  45. Glenda Wright says:

    I’m not officially joining the challenge but I plan to read the Louise Penny Gamache books one after the other. I’m going to try again to read Harry’s Trees. (Had a hard time with that one). The Hate U Give. A Spy on the Bus (check this out!). Catching up on Brene Brown’s books. Reread Present Not Perfect by Shauna N. I want to read at least one classic I skipped reading in school. More history. More biographies. I want to read ONE sci-fi or fantasy book. Maybe Station Eleven.

  46. Jody Hamilton says:

    I read The Stand by Stephen King for the first time this past summer and loved it (I read the extended version). The scary part is not so much horror but that the premise of the novel could actually take place. I’ve recently read the Bill Hodges Trilogy (fantastic) and The Outsider (which brings back a beloved character from the Hodges Trilogy) by King and loved them all, too.

    Here’s my list for the 2019 challenge;

    a book you’ve been meaning to read: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    a book about a topic that fascinates you: Heist Society by Ally Carter (The Long Con)
    a book in the backlist of a favorite author; 11.22.63 by Stephen King
    a book recommended by someone with great taste: Strangers on A Train by Patricia Highsmith (by Louise Penny)
    three book by the same author: The Grub and Stakers Move a Mountain by Charlotte MacLeod
    three books by the same author: The Grub and Stakers Quilt a Bee by Charlotte MacLeod
    three books by the same author: The Grub and Stakers Pinch A Poke by Charlotte MacLeod
    a book you chose for the cover: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
    a book by an author who is new to you: Other Wise by Mary Lou Bagley
    a book in translation: Us Against You by Fredrik Bachman
    a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood (poetry)
    a book published before you were born: Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell (1934)

    • Kimberly Gill says:

      I also read The Stand last year. I actually read the abridged version and listened to the unabridged version. I totally agree – it is not gory, but bothersome because it could happen. This is my mom”s favorite book and she has begged me to read it for years. As usual, mom is always right. It was really good!

  47. I plan to read War & Peace for a book in translation. And right now, for a book outside of my (genre) comfort zone, I’m reading Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair. So far, it’s interesting; I’ll be curious how I feel when I get farther along. I have 3 Joshilyn Jackson books to read before I become a completist (and then her new one out later this summer), so those may fill the 3 books by the same author. I try not to put too much pressure on myself and just pick up books when I’m in the mood, but I always enjoy the MMD Reading Challenge.

    • Laura says:

      I think Fforde gets better as the series progresses- Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots are my favorites so far.

  48. Anneke says:

    Before I read the other comments (and get fresh ideas), my current plans for 2019 reading challenge are:
    — Book I have been meaning to read: On Turpentine Lane by Lipman. (I have had it forever, & liked another book by this author. Don’t know why I haven’t made time to read this one.)
    — Book by an author new to you: Chemistry by Wang and/or Essex Serpent by Perry.
    — Book about a topic that fascinates you: Red Notice by Browder. Everyone has said that this book is a real eye opener about Russian intrigue.
    — Book on the backlist of a favorite author: AND
    — Three books by the same author: Books by Tana French and/or Louise Penny and/or Donna Leon. (Probably will read three of each!)
    Book recommended by someone with great taste: Ordinary Grace by Krueger. A good literary friend wants me to read it.
    — Book in translation: Elegance of a Hedgehog by Barbery. This book also would qualify for the recommended by a person with great taste category.
    — Book outside your comfort zone: The Stand by Stephen King (on NPR great reads list, but I don’t like horror stuff) or Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez (Have mean meaning to read, but don’t do much magical realism, which I think this is.)
    — Book published before you were born: Cold Comfort Farm by Gibbons. I am pretty old, but this one is older! And I heard it was funny. (I loved the movie.)

  49. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Wodehouse. Eeks. And I consider myself well-read! Whoops. I’ll have to check him out. I got kind of burned out on reading challenges after doing several back-to-back challenges but I think I will do a couple of your categories! I’ve been meaning to read A Fine Balance so I think 2019 will be the year that I read that! I hope you love Of Mice and Men. It’s such a great book that really stays with you.

  50. Lindsey Bloodworth says:

    Oh I LOVE Of Mice and Men! I didn’t read it until I was an adult either, and I used to teach it in 9th grade English because it’s short so even my reluctant readers got hooked quickly. As soon as I told them that George was making fun of a mentally disabled Lennie early on, they immediately had strong feelings one way or another! It’s kind of odd to recommend such an old text for young, reluctant high school readers, but the kids just LOVED it year to year.

    This list also gave me lots of great ideas! And a push to finally read a graphic novel my husband has begged me to read for years now. Now that I can count it as “genre outside my comfort zone,” the changes of my reading it just went way up! He’ll be thrilled! 🙂

  51. Brooke says:

    The Stand isn’t really a scary book. I know many people who avoid his work because it is classified as “horror”. (I’m not implying this is what you are doing or have ever done, by any means.) It’s too bad because his work transcends that genre and the stories he tells are so worth reading. I hope you go for it and enjoy this book as part of your 2019 reading! The audio book version is quite good as well.

    • Shirley Garcowski says:

      I agree. He writes characters and thought-provoking plots. Forget the ‘horror’ label. He is an excellent writer and doesn’t always get his due.

  52. Ruthie says:

    I read How Proust Can Change Your Life last year, and I enjoyed it very much. There were a few chapters about 2/3 of the way in that I thought dragged a bit, but the first half to 2/3 was wonderful! Yes, very worthwhile. I also enjoyed Botton’s book Love.
    Thoroughly enjoyed the WSIRN episode with Jim Mustich, and have added This House of Sky to my TBR list, but Hartley’s FED UP is tops on my list.

  53. Janice Cunning says:

    I just finished The Library Book and found it fascinating. A Fine Balance is also on my list as I always meant to read it. Carol Shields is my favourite writer and I realized I only read her novels so now I am reading her Collected Stories. I picked The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for the book published before I was born.

  54. elizabeth says:

    _The Line That Held Us_ by David Joy was my first read of 2019 and it was fantastic. I thought he told a delicate, dark story so well! I am already eager to get to his previous works.

  55. Stephanie says:

    I absolutely love Gap Creek and Of Mice and Men. I also love The Stand. It is probably my favorite Stephen King book (if I had to pick one which I hate doing!). It is on the low end of the “scary scale.”

    I am a small library director and I have challenged my patrons to join in so we shall see what kind of participation I get!

  56. Lisa says:

    The fact that I’m Australian has definitely influenced my choices!
    – A book you’ve been meaning to read: The Girls (Emma Cline)
    – A book about a topic that fascinates you: Columbine (Dave Cullen)
    – A book in the backlist of a favourite author: What Alice Forgot (Liane Moriarty)
    – A book recommended by someone with great taste: There There (Tommy Orange)
    – Three books by the same author: Nine Days, The Fragments, Addition (Toni Jordan)
    – A book you chose for the cover: Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton)
    – A book by an author who is new to you: Scrublands (Chris Hammer)
    – A book in translation: Britt-Marie Was Here (Fredrik Backman)
    – A book outside your (genre) comfort zone: Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)
    – A book published before you were born: The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

  57. Christie says:

    Anne, I’m happy to see This House of Sky on your list! I live in Bozeman, MT and after your interview with Jim Mustich I visited my local bookstore (The Country Bookshelf) to pick it up. When I mentioned Ivan Doig’s name, the bookseller had the book in my hand before I even finished stating the title. I love that! I started it immediately and read all afternoon 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what you think.

  58. Julie Sawyer says:

    I’m currently reading “The Fly Girls” as my book about a topic that fascinates me. Haven’t chosen others yet!

  59. Rachael says:

    Love doing your reading challenge! Here’s my tentative list for 2019:

    a book you’ve been meaning to read The Power Naomi Alderman
    a book about a topic that fascinates you Patient H.M. Luke Dittrich
    a book on the backlist of a favorite author Good Omens Neil Gaiman
    a book recommended by someone with great taste Persepolis Maryjane Satrapi
    three books by the same author The Broken Earth Trilogy N.K. Jemisin
    a book you chose for the cover Children of Blood and Bone Tomi Adeyemi
    a book by an author who is new to you An American Marriage Tayari Jones
    a book in translation My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante
    a book outside your genre or confort zone Lonesome Dove Larry McMurty
    a book published before you were born Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe

  60. A Fine Balance looks good. I just finished The Girl Who Chased the Moon, my book exchange selection, and think I’ll use Sarah Addison Allen for my three books by the same author category. I loved it!

  61. Caroline says:

    Almost finished reading “Red Notice” by Bill Browder. It’s a true story that reads like a novel. When I heard it was about finance, the stock market, political intrigue and a Russia I didn’t think it would be for me. I was wrong. Once you start reading you won’t want to pit this book down.
    Another surprisingly excellent book is “the Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel. It’s a true story of a hermit in Maine who was arrested several years back for burglary. He lived completely alone in the Maine woods for 27 years and his story makes one think about the meaning of solitude and the labels we tend to put on people. I read this in two days and I’m a slow reader.

  62. Christine from Australia says:

    Another Australian, which also influences my list. I’ve put two under some categories.
    a book you’ve been meaning to read – Michelle de Kretser, ‘The Life to Come’,
    a book about a topic that fascinates you – Clare Hunter, ‘Threads of Life: a history of the world through the eye of a needle’
    a book in the backlist of a favourite author – Zadie Smith, ‘On Beauty’; Kent Haruf, ‘Plainsong’, ‘Eventide’, or ‘Benediction’
    a book recommended by someone with great taste – Robyn Cadwallader, ‘Book of Colours’
    a book you chose for the cover TBD
    three books by the same author – Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy
    a book by an author who is new to you – something by Rumer Godden
    a book in translation – Audur Ava Olafsdottir, ‘Butterflies in November’; Emile Zola, ‘Germinal’
    a book outside your (genre) comfort zone – CLR James, ‘Beyond a Boundary’ (a book about cricket! But, I am assured, much more than that)
    a book published before you were born – Mary Shelley, ‘Frankenstein’; Katherine Susanna Pritchard, ‘Coonardoo’

  63. Jennifer says:

    Oh Anne…where to begin. I love Joshilyn Jackson soooo much (it borders on stalking). You simply must read the David Joy. Don’t delay! I am definitely reading his back catalogue. I must have some P.G. Wodehouse in my life, but struggle to find the ones I want. I want to start at the beginning!
    Love everything you do…keep it up!

  64. Eileen says:

    I’m thinking of fantasy for a book outside my genre comfort zone. Since it’s not what I typically read I’d like to find a book that’s not too “hardcore fantasy” if that makes sense. I don’t like zombies, vampires, etc. Just thinking of something with a different world or something like that, nothing crazy. 🙂 Any suggestions?

    My second year doing the challenge, I had fun last year!

      • Eileen says:

        Thanks! I read The Hobbit years ago, it was okay. I then tried to start the LOTR trilogy but I could not get into it. I’ve also tried Harry Potter and didn’t really like it. It’s going to be a challenge finding a fantasy I like I think. 🙂 I might have to rethink it but I want to try!

        • Lee Ann says:

          Let’s see…maybe something with a female protagonist? Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede is a YA book, but it’s delightfully witty and fun.
          Maybe something like His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik would appeal to you. It’s the Napoleonic Wars with a dragon air force.

    • Kara says:

      I am with you. Fantasy is definitely outside my comfort zone, and people have recommended The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It’s supposed to focus more on people (and aliens of all sorts), their personalities and relationships among each other.
      Also, I’ve been told, and I will read this for one challenge or another, to read A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, by Alex White. It too is the first book in a series, and also supposedly focuses on human and alien personalities and relationships. Hope this helps!

    • KatS says:

      Try Neil Gaiman’s Stardust or Neverwhere or Good Omens. Or Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. No zombies or vampires. All have roots in a recognizable world, so they aren’t *too* far out there.

  65. Lee Ann says:

    Start Wodehouse with The Code of the Woosters. It’s delightfully funny.
    Did you ever finish The Passage? If you got through that, you shouldn’t have a problem with The Stand, which is much less scary.

      • Rayana says:

        This my first year doing the challenge. Just found out this web page and podcast, two weeks ago. LOVING BOTH.As for a book in translation I started War & Peace and I joined the subreddit ayearofwarandpeace. They all started reading it, January 1ST one chapter a day.Most chapters are 4 pages long, so not too challenging.

  66. Frances says:

    I started P.G.Wodehouse with “My Man Jeeves” because it was on a 100 books bucket list poster, and I’m a publication order purist. It was awesome and hilarious.

  67. Caroline says:

    I love reading these lists. I’m very interested to hear what you think of “Madame Bovary”–I know it’s considered a great book, but I HATED it with a passion. Lots of other books here that I’ve loved or enjoyed, though, and lots of great new ideas.

    • KatS says:

      I *loathed* Madame Bovary -you are not alone! (Although we may be the only two based on my very unscientific survey 😉

      • Karen says:

        I didn’t like it, either. Or maybe it was just the main character. I thought Emma Bovary was an unlikable character and completely unsympathetic.

  68. Shannon says:

    Around this time last year, I discovered your What Should I Read Next podcast, and it was a game changer for my reading life. I’ve always been an avid reader, but in 2018, I set a book reading goal for the year, and also began to track the books I read for the year. The Reading Challenge looks like a fun next step for my reading life, and here is the beginning of my book list to start working through the challenge:
    Outside my genre – Station Eleven (I tried a Dystopian selection – The End We Start From – in 2018 after a recommendation from the Front Porch podcast, and it really was not a book for me. After hearing Anne recommend this all year, I’m excited to give this one a try!)
    Published before I was born – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
    Book in translation – Aunt Poldi and the Sicilian Lions or War and Turpentine
    Book I’ve been meaning to read – The Winters (I loved Rebecca as a young adult – can’t wait to read this retelling of the story.)
    3 books by the same author – Ok, since I’ve been listening to you, Anne, I keep going back in my mind to my youth when I would spend most of my free time reading. I loved books like The Boxcar Children, Heidi and Anne of Green Gables. I haven’t revisited them since that time, so I think for my 3 books by the same author, I’m going to read 3 L.M. Montgomery books. Anne of Green Gables is a must-read. I’m still on the fence (and would love suggestions) about which other two to read.
    Topic that fascinates me – I think You’re Wrong, But I’m Listening. Politics and grace are two topics that fascinate me. Putting these concepts together in a book for the masses – that encourages me!
    I’m still working on ideas for the other categories. Can’t wait to work through all of these during the challenge! What a gift for 2019!

      • Karen says:

        Agree about Jane. The Blue Castle is good, too. If you’re looking for a three-fer there’s always the Emily trilogy: Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily’s Quest. For the longest time all I knew was Emily Climbs, which my aunt found for me at a used book sale. At the time only the Anne books were still in print. It was Emily who inspired me to keep a journal.

    • Shirley Garcowski says:

      Loved Station Eleven. And the ‘sequel’ to Anne of Green Gables books, not written by original author obviously since new book, was surprisingly good–back story on Marilla.

  69. LuAnn Braley says:

    I’m hesitant to put this here, but I have never read a Jane Austen book! *ducks* Never fear, there are 2 on my list this year, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

  70. Kim C says:

    Being from Canada, I was happy to hear you mention one of our own, Miriam Toews. To experience Toews at her best, read A Complicated Kindness or All My Puny Sorrows.

  71. Sue Baum says:

    Anne, I cannot recommend A fine Balance enough! Out of the hundreds of books our book club has read, it is definitely in the top 5. I also plan to read House of Sky based on the 1,000 books podcast. For the book before I was born I plan to read either Dickens or Dorothy Sayer.

  72. Carey Stancil says:

    1Q84 is on my list. My boys read it and loved it. They are both Murikami fans. I am a huge Joshilyn Jackson fan and have all of her books! I recently read your latest book and LOVED it so much! I actually purchased a few copies for friends.

  73. Terry says:

    Meaning to read: Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
    Topic that fascinates me: Days Without End, by Sebastian Barry
    Backlist of favorite author: The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
    Recommended by someone with great taste: Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
    Three (in this case four) by the same author: The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell, consisting of Justine, Balthazar, Mount Olive and Clea
    Chosen for the cover: Queen of the Night, by Alexander Cher
    By an author new to me: Written on the Body, by Jeanette Winterson
    Outside my comfort zone: Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
    Published before I was born: Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster

    • Shirley Garcowski says:

      Life After Life is one of my favorite reads. Very thought-provoking. Makes you think. Be sure to read the other 2 associated books once done.

      • Terry says:

        Thanks, Shirley.

        For anyone on this site who hasn’t read Lonesome Dove, it should really be on your list in one of these categories! For me, it was an overlooked book that I read this year. I didn’t want it to end.

  74. Toni says:

    I am reading The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, The Passage by Justin Cronin, Nana by Emile Zola and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley?

  75. Jeannette Tulis says:

    here is what is on my WTR shelf for 2019 that fits your challenge (some of my picks fit in multiple categories)
    a book you’ve been meaning to read: The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartín Fenollera
    a book about a topic that fascinates you: Seven Flowers and How They Shaped Our World by Jennifer Potter
    a book in the backlist of a favorite author: The Speckled Bird by Augusta Jane Evans Wilson
    a book recommended by someone with good taste: On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior
    Three books by the same author: Scent of Water, City of Bells, Gentian Hill (Elizabeth Goudge)
    a book you chose for the cover: A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside by Susan Branch
    a book by an author who is new to you: Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
    a book in translation: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
    a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke ( I do not really like fantasy or mashups)
    a book published before you were born: nearly all of my picks for next year fit this category! Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  76. Barbara Solarz says:

    I am a newly retired English teacher, and this is the first time I have the time and leisure to read for pleasure and participate in a reading challenge. So excited and happy to be doing this. I invite your responses and comments!

    +A book I’ve been meaning to read: The Idiot (Dostoevsky)
    +A book about a topic that fascinates you: The Witches (Stacy Schiff)
    +A book in the backlist of a favorite author: The Other Queen (Phillipa Gregory)
    +A book recommended by someone with great taste: 3 x Cain: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, Double Indemnity (James M Cain, recommended by Frank Colerius of The Librarian is In podcast).
    +Three books by the same author: Thomas Cahill
    -Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why tge Greeks Matter
    -Mysteries of the Middle Ages and the Beginning of the Modern World
    -Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World
    +A book you chose for the cover: The Clockmaker’s Daughter (Kate Morton)
    +A book by an author who is new to you: The Queen of the Night (Alexander Chee)
    +A book in translation: The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
    +A book outside your (genre) comfort zone: Palaces of the People (Eric Klinenberg) (Sociology)
    +A book published before you were born: Brideshead Revisited (Waugh)

    • Christine from Australia says:

      That’s a very interesting list, Barbara. Hope you enjoy ‘The Name of the Rose’; I certainly did.
      I too found that after retiring I had a lot more time to read – and it’s good to be a bit more organised about it. When teaching you don’t have the time!

  77. Cathy says:

    As far as The Stand goes, I first read the edited version about 35 years ago in high school. It is very suspenseful and I really liked and reread it several times over the years. As an adult I read the rereleased version with previously edited portions put back in. It was better in some ways, but there is a horrifying rape scene included in the newer version that I really, really, hated. Also several of his books are not so much horror as suspenseful and you may enjoy them. The Dead Zone, Firestarter and 11/22/63 are all very good.

  78. Amy Louise says:

    Great list Anne! I’m also going to read Susan Orlean’s The Library book – it sounds absolutely fascinating. I’m also keen to read more Sarah Moss this year – I’m absolutely loving her memoir, Strangers in Iceland, and I have three of her fiction titles on my shelves waiting for attention. I’d also like to read Colsen Whitehead’s Zone One, which is a little outside my comfort zone in terms of genre. I thought The Underground Railroad was excellent though so I figure Whitehead’s writing will be wonderful whatever the subject!

  79. Tanya says:

    This might be “out there” for some people but before Rick Riordan started with his young adult mythology books like The Lightning Thief, he wrote detective novels set in San Antonio, Texas. These are real backstory books if there ever were any!

  80. Jinjer says:

    A lot of the books on your list sound really good! Thank you for the fun Reading Kit! I hope I can stick with a challenge for once and actually finish it. LOL

  81. Shirley Garcowski says:

    You MUST read The Stand. In my opinion (and I think I’m his biggest fan), it is Mr. King’s best. Most times, reading his work, is like a religious experience, because, by his characters and plot, you wonder how you would react and respond. Would you come up short? Would you put self before the whole? I’m really not conveying how his work impacts me, and this work, because of the topic, truly was spiritual. Be sure to read the extended, revised version. And then start reading his other works, as well as his son’s, Joe Hill, who, I dare say, is as good as his father and affects me just as deeply.

    • Caryn Albrecht says:

      I appreciate this so much! You put into words what I’ve always felt and not known how to describe about The Stand, The Dead Zone and in some respects even Cujo (which is a Stephen King book I absolutely I DID NOT like ;-(

      I feel like King helps us see “what we are” and “what we can be” His characters have deeper feelings and motivations than many people might expect from a “horror” author.


  82. Sarah Capper says:

    Anne, I have a Baldwin recommendation for you. (Well, beyond the fact that first, yes, you definitely need to read him.) Instead of The Fire Next Time, which you should read on race, start with Giovanni’s Room. It’s more LGBTQ+-themed than race-themed, but it’s one of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read, and I’d compare it to Marilynne Robinson in terms of slow and beautiful (though much more tragic – but I think you can handle it even though I know you don’t love scary, gory, or things that might make you anxious). You won’t be able to stop thinking about it, and it’s a better intro to Baldwin’s work. The Fire Next Time is very good, but very, very situated in the particulars of the time period, and feels more dated given its nonfiction, epistolary style. Giovanni’s Room is also dated, but at the same time, somehow the issues still feel very relevant even if the degree is hard to imagine many parts of the US in 2019. It’s a book that will haunt you, but in a way you’re grateful for.

  83. Rose says:

    I was so inspired that I began War and Peace on Serial Reader. It has 235 issues, so I’ll be able to finish before the year is over. I read Little Women on Serial Reader last year and really enjoyed it.

  84. Melanie Ford says:

    The Library Book was a delight. If you are interested in buildings, there is a lot of interesting stuff in there too. I read Gap Creek a couple of years ago, and it was very forgettable….except for one scene in the first chapter that really bothered me. It actually bothered me more than anything I read in The Stand!

  85. Halie says:

    Before even seeing your list, I worked on mine last week (with your worksheets), and we have some of the same ones included. I’m especially excited for Little Bee, because I already own a copy I found at my favorite Little Free Library, so reading one off my unread shelf will feel especially gratifying.

    Some other “books I’ve been meaning to read” are Little Women (I only read the children’s version growing up), Phantom of the Opera (which will also count as a book in translation), and Twilight (I now own my late-Granny’s paperback book set, and I think it’ll be special to read those of hers).

  86. Courtney says:

    Goodreads needs to get on the ball and do a “pin this” like Pinterest- I get sooooooo many of my book recs from your blog or podcast- it would be nice to save it to Goodreads directly from here! Anybody got a hookup at Goodreads?

  87. Runa Haward says:

    So excited to see Building Access on your list! And that you are drawing attention to the issue. If it sparks your interest in disability rights, I’d recommend Too Late To Die Young by Harriet McBryde Johnson. It is an essay compilation. I think the author’s voice (funny, heartfelt, surprising, Southern) is right up your alley.

  88. Julie says:

    I have not attempted to read War and Peace yet. Someday, I hope. However, I heard a recommendation for a companion guide called Give War and Peace a Chance by Andrew Kaufman. You might consider reading that alongside War and Peace.

    • Christine from Australia says:

      Any of the Jeeves books are a good place to start; my favourite is ‘The Code of the Woosters’. Personally I’m less impressed by the Blandings stories. Perhaps it’s the pig!
      If you can get it in USA, the old TV series with Hugh Laurie and Steven Fry is great.

  89. Marcie says:

    Ooh watch out for Little Bee. I consider myself a moderately-sensitive person, and this is one book that continues to haunt me years later, not in a good way. I can’t unread the ending, and it’s so so awful… I would recommend that you skip it.

  90. Shari says:

    Thanks for the ideas – and also to those leaving helpful comments, such as recommendations for translations of ‘War and Peace’. After using your very helpful sheets, I’ve decided on the following:
    A book I’ve been meaning to read: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
    A book about a topic that fascinates you: God is Good For You by Greg Sheridan
    Backlist book from a favourite author: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
    Book recommended by someone with great taste: Milkman by Anna Burns
    3 books by the same author: the first 3 novels in the Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante (I’m sure I’ll end up reading the 4th as well!)
    Book I chose for the cover: The Binding by Bridget Collins
    Book by an author who is new to me: The Quickening by Michelle Hoover
    Book in translation: War and Peace
    Book outside my genre comfort zone: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    Book published before I was born: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

    I can’t wait to get started!

  91. S says:

    If you are reading a graphic novel, please consider Hey Kiddo which is a memoir. So very good and my first graphic novel experience. I read it based on the urging of an independent bookseller and one of the other patrons.

  92. Erica says:

    I’m so pleased to see James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time on your list. I would encourage you to watch the documentary of Baldwin called, I Am Not Your Negro prior to reading this book. I did this and I’m so glad I did because I felt like I could hear his wonderful voice speaking to me the entire time I read his book. His cadence and quality of speaking are so rich that every sentence read is meaningful.

  93. Karen Heath says:

    I didn’t read Of Mice and Men when I was supposed to. Many years later I took my baby sister (10 years younger) to see the play when she was a freshman in high school. It flatened me! I started sobbing and couldn’t stop. Every single person was out of the theatre before I could move. That’s what I get for not doing my required reading! I think the 1000 Books …. Will be my reading challenge this year. I was gobsmacked by that particular podcast.

    • I just read Of Mice & Men for the first time last year and it flattened me, too!

      And in the middle of my messy-faced sobbing, I got so mad… It made me think, “THIS is why we need a social safety net in this country… None of this would have happened with good social support.”

  94. Linda says:

    I plan to do more browsing of the stacks in the library and reading what jumps off the shelves at me. I think I miss too many books that would benefit, grow, inspire me because I too closely follow lists. I also intend to stop reading books that I’m not connecting with, there are too many good books out there to waste my time on writing that isn’t helpful. I’d like to do a little re-reading (James Herriot, L.M. Montgomery, C.S. Lewis).

  95. Erin Henry says:

    Last year I finished the reading challenge in March so I’m going to try to go through it twice this year. My plans for the challenge are:
    “book I’ve been meaning to read” Little Fires Everywhere and The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut
    “Topics I find fascinating” theology so Original Blessing; science so Astronauts guide to the earth and AIDS so Voices in the Band
    “Backlist of my Favorite Authors”: Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris or the Rightmatist; Ray Bradbury’s I sing the body Electric or Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder or Earth Unaware.
    “Book recommended by someone with great taste”: Anne Bogel recommended What We Were Promised. My neighbor recommended Silver Linings Playbook and my friend from college recommended American War and Laurus
    “Three books by the same author”: Joslyn Jackson, N.K. Jemison or books in the Expanse series.
    “A book you chose for the cover” The buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro; the Sabbath by Abraham Heschel or the Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggerman.
    “Book by an author who is new to you” Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, Pema Chodron’s Places that Scare you or Erika Sanchez’s I’m not your Perfect Mexican Daughter.
    “A book in translation” 100 year old Man Who Climbed out a Window; the Vegetarian; Confessions by Augustine
    “A book outside your comfort zone” I don’t ususally read graphic novels, mystery or historical fiction so I chose Smile by Reina Telgarden; the Nightingale, and the 4th book in the Armand Garmache series.
    “A book published before you were born” I do not have many of these on my tbr list but I do have All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein; Man is Not Alone by Abraham Heschel or the Blatchford Controvereis by G.K. Chesterton

  96. Jackie says:

    I challenged myself to pick from unread books on my book shelves. Here are my choices:
    Meaning to Read: Guns, Germs & Steel
    Topic that Fascinates Me: Motherless Daughters
    Backlist of a Favorite Author: The Burgess Boys
    Recommended: The Grapes of Wrath
    Three books: Three of my Patrick O’Brian collection – Desolation Island, The Far Side of the World, The Mauritius Command
    Cover: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
    New to Me Author: The True & Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
    Translation: Anna Karenina
    Outside My Comfort Zone: William Wordsworth Collected Poetry
    Published Before I was Born: Cousin Bette

  97. Caryn Albrecht says:

    I agree with Sarah about IQ84. It is very engaging and I devoured it once I began. Additionally, I don’t like “scary” books either, and The Stand remains one of my favorite books for the good versus evil epic-ness. Both of these books are long but incredibly worthy reads!

    Enjoy them Anne!

    (and I’ll bet you can read Of Mice and Men in an afternoon 🙂

  98. Lois says:

    I read War and Peace last year and I was surprised at how enjoyable I found it. I used the Serial Reader app to read it and it gives you a serial every day so it’s much more manageable to read it in manageable bite sized pieces.
    I love, LOVE Wodehouse. Leave it to Psmith is my absolute favorite but he is best known for his Jeeves and Wooster series. https://honoriaplum.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/getting-started-with-bertie-and-jeeves-a-chronological-challenge/
    This article is super helpful to know where to begin with the Jeeves and Wooster series.

  99. amy says:

    Help! I tried to sign up for the challenge and the website thinks I already have, if so I can’t find my email. I’m sorry to bother but is it possible to resend? Thank you!

  100. Elizabeth Wallen says:

    Don’t be afraid of King’s The Stand. It’s an epic good vs. evil tale. Besides, I recall on a podcast you spoke about liking Station 11 for how you got to read how society fell apart. This is different from most dystopian novels. In most novels, the disaster whatever it is has already occurred. A good chunk of the beginning of the novel is the epidemic, it’s spread, how the major characters were affected and the collapse of society. I thought it was fascinating. Yes, there are scary parts, but I know you are a skimmer….or is that a skipper?

  101. Tracy Sherbrook says:

    Anne, you will be charmed to know that when I went on Amazon to look at the details of one of these books, the “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” section was entirely made up of your 2019 want-to-read book list! That’s the breadth & depth of your influence!

  102. Christie White says:

    Anne, I feel compelled to write & say THANK YOU for all you do to motivate & inspire others every day. My reading life has exploded since discovering your podcast a few years ago. (It really is magical how you “read” someone else & instantly choose not one but 3 books for them! At first, I thought your interviews were staged, I just wasn’t convinced someone could actually do that. Lol)
    This is the 1st Reading Challenge I’ve ever done. I’m a big Outlander fan & also love historical fiction & memoirs. But I wanted to branch out & I love to learn new things.
    So, the book I chose for “out of my comfort zone” was The Sun Does Shine by Ray Hamilton. I have always had trouble with stories of injustice. I am uncomfortable hearing of others who are treated unfairly or ridiculed or judged (those with disabilities, minorities, etc). So this was definitely OUT of my zone.
    Well, that book changed everything. Since that book, I have not stopped pouring through titles like Just Mercy, The Master Plan, An American Marriage, & have added dozens (from your blog) to my TBR. Next is Americanah.
    I want to say thank you, it’s the conversations you have with others & your creative insights on your blog that encouraged me to try something I was afraid of. And it has opened up a side of me I didn’t even know was there (or maybe I did, but was too uncomfortable to face). Sincerely, Christie

  103. Pamela A Milin says:

    Help! I have two weeks to finish the last two books. Any good suggestions for a book in translation and a book published before 1964? TIA!!! (Preferably short so I can finish and complete the challenge!)

    Pamela M.

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