52 Week Reading Challenge

If you follow my blog at all regularly you know I read-- A LOT.  So when I saw the 52 Week Reading Challenge put out by Natural Beach Living I knew this would be a perfect way to get myself to read lots of new genres and books.  I knew I'd have no problem reading 52 books (in fact I read more than 80 book this year!) but wasn't sure I could actually find a book for each category that I could actually get through. 

1.  A book being made into a movie this year--Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys I knew I just HAD to see the movie as soon as it came out!  I LOVED this book.  I read a lot about World War II and while I have heard so much about the German concentration camps I could not believe that I had never heard about the Russian work camps.  In this book a young Lithuania girl and her family are taken away the Russian police and forced to work in camps in Siberia-- for 10 years!  If you read this you must read the author's note too; I learned so much about a part of history that no one seems to talk about.

2.  A young adult novel-- To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han-- I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed this book!  I ended up going on to read the next two books in the series.  Laura Jean has always written a "good-bye" letter to those boys she has had a secret crush on... never intending for them to actually get mailed out!  When they do a series of events unfold that she just isn't sure she's prepared to deal with; especially with her older sister and mother figure away at college.

3.  A New York Times bestseller-- First Comes Love by Emily Griffin-- Josie and Meredith have never been the closest of sisters but the death of their brother really blew their family apart.  Now they are both in their 30's and struggling with major life choices and changes. As the anniversary of their brother's death looms closer they must confront one another and decide once and for all if they really put their love for one another first or if jealousy and misunderstanding will drive a further wedge between them.

First Comes Love: A Novel by [Giffin, Emily]

4.  Recommendation from a friend-- Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty First Century by Jessica Bruder-- My sister suggested I read this non- fiction book about the assorted retirees who can not afford to live in retirement so they've taken to the road in RV's, Vans, and even modified cars driving from various short term jobs to others trying to combine retirement with some work to keep themselves afloat.  It was heartbreaking, eye- opening, and I just could not help marveling at the perseverance of these hard workers.

5.  A picture book--  I quite literally read picture books each week with my boys as part of our homeschool curriculum so for this list I had to pick one that I just LOVED and it was so hard! We read so many wonderful books.  One of my favorites was The Fish House Door Set on an island off the coast of Maine, this book shows us how family mementos end up being priceless.

6.  A graphic novel-- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle's-- I really did not enjoy the book mostly because I felt like the story line was a bit hard to follow and quite far- fetched.

7.  A book with a number in the title-- Look Alive Twenty- Five by Janet Evanovich-- I have always loved the Stephanie Plum series and could not wait for this latest book to come out in November.  It did not disappoint! Stephanie and Lulu are up to their usual antics and this time they're put in charge of a local deli while trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of the deli managers.

8.  A Fantasy novel--  The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor--  I was dreading reading a fantasy novel since it's not really my favorite but I really enjoyed the Daughter of Smoke and Bones.  Enough so that I looked into the next book in the series too.

9.  A book originally written in a foreign language-- Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren was originally written in Swedish and since I had never read the story I thought that might be a great fit for this category.  I chose to make it our family read aloud and honestly?  we didn't enjoy the story very much at all.

10.  A book based on it's cover-- The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher-- I thought this was going to be a suspenseful book and while it wasn't all that suspenseful I really enjoyed the plot twists and all the family drama.

The Silent Wife: A gripping emotional page turner with a twist that will take your breath away by [Fisher, Kerry]

11.  A classic-- To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee-- I vaguely remembered reading this book when I was in high school and since I had received it a few years ago as part of a book exchange I thought this challenge would be the perfect time to sit down and re-read it.  I enjoyed it and was surprised that I had retained so little from my first reading.

12.  A self help book-- The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking-- A great little book that quickly goes through the various aspects of Danish living known as Hygge. I read it over the winter as I was trying to find that cozy, happy aspect of living.  I just hate winter and often end up feeling blue waiting for spring to arrive.

13.  A book published this year-- Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer- I just love Thayer's books and they always make me wish I could just pop on over to Nantucket.  In this book Alison can not wait to merge her family with her soon to be husbands.  But she wasn't counting on a step daughter who is openly hostile to her, a step son that flirts relentlessly with her daughters and most of all she was not prepared to learn about her daughters' own struggles to keep their marriages going.

A Nantucket Wedding: A Novel by [Thayer, Nancy]

14.  An audiobook-- This was another category that was so easy for me.  My boys and I listen to audiobooks all the time in the car.  We almost always have one going. This year we listened to all the Gregor the Overlander books.

15.  A historical novel-- Salt to the Sea by Rupa Sepetys -- This novel follows four young adults as they are trying to flee war torn countries at the end of World War II as the Russians are beginning to battle the Germans back.  These four adults find themselves becoming friends and all end up on the same ship in the end.  I can't say more than that but the author's note in the back was really enlightening with bits of history that I had never heard about before about the role of the Baltic states and the Baltic sea in the war.

16.  A childhood favorite-- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett-- I enjoyed this book so much as a kid that I actually painted a scene from it to hang on my bedroom wall.  I had never thought to re-read any of my childhood favorites (other than to share them with my boys) and it was a lot of fun.  I still enjoy this simple story about an orphan girl who helps bring a whole house to life.

17.  A thriller-- I've Got My Eyes On You  by Mary Higgins Clark-- I just love Mary Higgins Clark!  Her books usually keep me guessing until the very end.  When Aline's sister is killed the night before she arrives home from London she is determined to help the local cops and her parents find her sister's killer but doing so puts her at risk too.

I've Got My Eyes on You by [Clark, Mary Higgins]

18.  A humorous novel-- Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner-- When Kate moved to the Connecticut suburbs from New York City to raise her children she soon found herself bored and not really fitting in with other moms in her neighborhood.  When she stumbles upon a dead body she decides to investigate and discovers that all is not nearly as perfect in suburbia as it seems.   I really enjoyed this book a lot.  While it is a murder mystery, I also found it quite funny at times.

Goodnight Nobody: A Novel by [Weiner, Jennifer]

19.  A book of poetry-- The Poems of Robert Frost-- I found this old and fragile book at our library.  I have always loved Robert Frost Snowy Woods poem and looked forward to reading some of his others.  I enjoyed and could really relate to "To the Thawing Wind."  I certainly feel that way each spring.  

20.  A historical memoir-- I tried really hard to read Galileo's Daughter: A historical memoir of Science, Faith, and Love but I had a hard time getting into it. I think I would have really enjoyed it had Galileo's letters not been destroyed.

21.  A book set in your state-- The Last Mrs. Parrish --  This story is told in two parts from two different perspectives.  Amber is jealous of the Parrish life and plots to become the next Mrs. Parrish but all it not as it seems in the Parrish household.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by [Constantine, Liv]

22.  A Newbery award winner-- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry-- This children's book about one family's experiences during World War II while living in Copenhagen taught me a lot about how the Danish people helped keep their Jewish population safe during a time when many Jews were executed.

Number the Stars by [Lowry, Lois] 

23.  A coming of age book-- The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah-When Leni's dad comes home from Vietnam after bring a prisoner of war he's just not the same and after drifting from town to town her family relocates to a remote spot in the Alaskan wilderness. Sadly the dark days of winter make her dad's PTSD worse and the family struggles even with the help of their new neighbors and friends.

The Great Alone: A Novel by [Hannah, Kristin]

24.  A romance-- Change of Heart by Jude Deveraux --This book was actually two romances in one!  In the first short story a boy and his best friend plot to find a husband for his mom so he can go off to college.  In the second part of the book that same boy is being reunited with his best friend after 20 years apart.  He's always been a little bit in love with her and is unsure how to get her to fall in love with him.

Change of Heart (Edilean series Book 9) by [Deveraux, Jude]

25.  A children's novel- My boys and I always have a chapter book going that we read aloud together.  One of my favorite books that we read this year was The Flashback Four; The Titanic Mission by Dan GutmanFour Boston children have been recruited to travel back in time an capture pictures of historical evens but when they go back in time to capture the sinking of the Titanic they find themselves stuck and unable to zap back to present day.

Flashback Four #2: The Titanic Mission by [Gutman, Dan]

26.  An inspirational novel-- Shelter In Place by Nora RobertsWhile most people may not think of a book about a mass shooing inspirational, I just loved  that this book focused mainly on the survivors of a mass shooting and how they moved on from the tragedy.  It was a great book and I just could not put it down. 

Shelter in Place by [Roberts, Nora]

27.  A book about adventure-- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed- After watching the movie with Reece Witherspoon I wanted to give the book a try as I typically enjoy the books even more than the movie.  This book did not disappoint and I read it in just two days!  Trying to overcome her poor life choices since the death of her mother Cheryl decided to load up a pack and hike the Pacific Coast Trail.

28.  A book written by a deceased author-- I was so sad to hear of Anita Shreve's passing and as I just love her books I knew I had this category covered.  Rescue by Anita Shreve did not disappoint! The story of an EMT who falls in love with one of his rescues.  They marry, have a child, and years later it all falls apart.

Rescue: A Novel by [Shreve, Anita]

29.  A sequal-- P. S I Still Love You by Jenny Han-- In the sequal to the first book Laura Jean finds that loving and letting go aren't always easy.

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before Book 2) by [Han, Jenny]

30.  A book recommended by a librarian -- The Perfect Couple by Elin HilderbrandI already knew I loved Elin's novels but when the librarian suggested this book I just knew I could use it for this category!  Much like all of Elin's other books this one is set on Nantucket and the morning of her wedding Celeste finds her maid of honor, Merritt, floating face down in the cove.  A police investigation ensues and all sorts of secrets come rising to the surface.

The Perfect Couple by [Hilderbrand, Elin]

31.  A dystopian novel-- Matched by Ally Condie-  I enjoyed this book so much that I went on to read the two other books in the series. It reminded me a lot of the Divergent series (which I just loved!).  When Cassia turns 17 and attends the Society's matching ceremony she is matched with her perfect mate and best friend Xander but through some malfunction she is also shown a second choice; Ky.  In a post apocalyptic society with many rules and regulations Cassia is left questioning so much of the life she has always taken for granted.

Matched by [Condie, Ally]

32.  A book about theology-- The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire-- Fit this category pretty good even though it was a fictional novel.  When his daughter Lucy is murdered, Will cuts himself off from the world and shrouds himself with his anger until a local priest contacts him about painting murals of the saints for a local church.  At first Will is completely against the idea but he begins to see signs of sainthood in all the faces of the people he sees in town and soon finds inspiration.  There is much talk about the church and what makes a saint.  I loved that there was so much talk about how the saints were real people who struggled, had problems, and often weren't thought of as saints until after their death.

The Halo Effect: A Novel by [LeClaire, Anne D.]

33.  A book set in Asia-- Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin was a wonderful book.  Translated from Korean and set in Korea it was a book about a family who's mother has gone missing.  All the children are older and have families/lives of their own and no one really realized how much their mother was aging and failing until she went missing.  I really enjoyed it!

34.  A short story-- June's Lace by Cathy Lamb is one of the short stories in the anthology Beach Season which is made up of 4 short stories I have not gotten around to reading the other three yet but I really enjoyed June's Lace.  June is recently separated from her husband and starting up her own wedding gown design business.  Not looking for love or romance of her own she doesn't quite know what to do when she stumbles upon Reece.

Beach Season by [Jackson, Lisa, Lamb, Cathy, Chamberlin, Holly, Noonan, Rosalind]

35.  A book about adoption-- Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain-- I love Diane Chamberlain books and this one did not disappoint!  When Molly and her husband turn to adoption and the long process of adopting, secrets from her past threaten not only their possibility of becoming parents but also their marriage.

Pretending to Dance: A Novel by [Chamberlain, Diane]

36.  A book based on a movie-- I read Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium to my younger boys.  It was a fun book and we followed it up with a viewing of the movie.

37.  A book with a blue spine/ cover-- Only The Rain by Randall Silvis-- Russell loves his job in the quarry but with one wrong move it begins to feel like he's living a nightmare rather than the American Dream.

Only the Rain by [Silvis, Randall]

38.  A book set in Europe-- Dear Thing by Julie Cohen-- When Romily offers to be a surrogate for her best friend and his wife she never imagines just how hard it will be and how much it will change all of their lives; and not necessarily for the better.  I just loved this book!!

Dear Thing by [Cohen, Julie]

39.  A biography-- Talking as Fast As I Can by Laruen Graham-- I am a huge fan of Lauren Graham and when I saw this I just knew I'd love it!  I was right too!  She writes with the same flare as she speaks and all this nostalgia over the Gilmore Girls made me want to re-watch the whole series.  It didn't hurt that I was watching Parenthood at the time and falling in love with yet another wonderful character she was portraying.

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by [Graham, Lauren]

40.  A book from a thrift store-- In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson-- I really enjoyed Bill's book A Walk in the Woods and hoped I'd like this book just as much.  With just a $5 investment I figured it was worth the risk. I had a great time reading all about his 4 week trip to Australia and even read many parts aloud to my family.

41.  A book with a child narrator-- Reading a lot of children's and young adult books with my sons this was another category that was so easy to fill! We really enjoyed the entire Mastermind series of books by Gordon Korman and each book is told from the point of view of a few children who grew up in the town of Harmony, New Mexico and who discover that the whole town is really a cover up for a huge science experiment.  Full of action and good humor my boys and I could not wait to settle down and read them each morning. 

Masterminds by [Korman, Gordon]

42.  A book with a one word title-- Neighborly by Ellie Monago-- When Kat and Doug move into their new house they are met with welcoming smiles and open arms.  It is the neighborhood they have always dreamed of... but secrets lie beneath the surface and as the facade cracks Kat and Doug are left floundering in a sea of unfamiliar faces.

Neighborly: A Novel by [Monago, Ellie]

43.  A murder mystery-- Dark in Death by JD Robb-- I love the In Death series and in this latest installment Eve Dallas is trying to catch a murderer who is following a popular book/ crime series.

Dark in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 46) by [Robb, J. D.]

44.  A book on time travel-- The Year we Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke- On their 50th birthday three friends are given the chance to go back in time to the year they turned 40 to see how making different choices could change their lives.

The Year We Turned Forty: A Novel by [Fenton, Liz, Steinke, Lisa]

45.  A book set during World War II-- The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult- This was actually a few stories all rolled into one.  It's also one of the first books about World War II and the Nazi's that has part of the story being told from an SS Officer's point of view.  I found the weaving of the stories so compelling that I just could not put it down.

The Storyteller by [Picoult, Jodi]

46.  A book that's more than 500 pages-- Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult-- A death row inmate wants to donate his heart to the sister of the young girl he has been accused of murdering.

Change of Heart: A Novel (Wsp Readers Club) by [Picoult, Jodi]

47.  A western-- Come Sundown by Nora Roberts-- Bodine's family runs a working ranch and family resort in Montana.  When two women turn up dead in just under a month and a long lost family member returns home the entire family must work together to help keep everything going and everyone safe.

Come Sundown by [Roberts, Nora]

48.  A banned book-- I did a few Google searches and could not believe how many books I remember reading and just LOVING that have been banned in various schools and libraries across our nation.  I was really surprised that so many Judy Blume books were on the list! She was one of my absolute favorite authors growing up.  I decided to read Forever by Judy Blume and while I can see why it would make the banned list I honestly kept thinking it would be a great book for older teens to read and help open up discussions about sex and love.

49.  A celebrity memoir-- The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers -- A fun book written by Melissa Rivers chronicling her mother's life.

The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation by [Rivers, Melissa]

50.  A financial advice book-- The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen & Harold Pollack.  While I can't say I loved this book there were some practical tips and easy to understand advice on personal finance.

The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated by [Olen, Helaine, Pollack, Harold]

51.  A book recommended by a stranger-- Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews -- When Grace finds out her husband is cheating on her she goes a bit nuts but she had no idea that walking out on her husband was going to find her homeless, unemployed, and sentenced to group therapy.  She meets up with a wacky group of friends who are all in a similar boat and winds up reinventing herself and her life.   I really enjoyed this book that was recommended to me by a lady I ran into at the library.  Luckily she gave me a few other suggestions as I enjoyed all those too!

Ladies' Night by [Andrews, Mary Kay]

52.  A book you've been wanting to read-- The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty-- When Sophie inherits a house from her ex- boyfriend's aunt she is thrilled to move to the exclusive Scribbly Gum Island and getting to know her new neighbors; the rest of his extended family.  Each family member/ unit is dealing with their own problems and hiding secrets.  Everything come to a head during the annual party the island hosts and Sophie begins to realize that nothing is ever perfect or exactly what it seems like.

The Last Anniversary by [Moriarty, Liane]

Linking Up With: Dishing it and Digging it

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsjbrldhcx.jpg


  1. What a fun way to expand your reading list! The Great Alone was my favorite book of 2019, and Between Shades of Gray is one of my ALL TIME favorites. I learned so much by reading that book.

    1. I did too! I really had never heard anything about the Russian work camps. I went on to read a few of her other books too.

  2. Good evening! !
    It is 9:30 PM on 30th Japan time now.
    It is the custom of Japan's year end.
    In the year end, we say “Yoi otoshi wo” to each other wishing for the coming
    year to be pleasurable.
    The New Year season is the most significant season for the Japanese.
    All the Christmas décor is switched to the New Year’s in a blink.
    Major New Year icons are the pine tree, bamboo, plums and so on. All of them are symbols of good fortune and longevity.

  3. Wow! I am so impressed! I used to read more than I do now and I hope to read more in this new year. You chose some great books and what a fun challenge to undertake! Happy New Year!

  4. LOVE a good book list, and we share some books in common, although I must say I really enjoy the randomness of these categories. I listened to Wild in the car, and it was fun.
    Great job!

    1. I did too; the randomness of the list really pushed me to read a much wider variety of books than I would have chosen on my own.

  5. I haven't yet been able to choose a reading challenge to do. They seem more difficult than just reading what I want! I didn't know Anita shreve passed away, that's sad. I added The Year we Turned 40 to my list!

    1. They are a bit more difficult than just reading what I want; though often I read what I wanted and then thought creatively as to what category it might fit into! I was so surprised to read of her passing when I googled "deceased authors." I just love her stories.

  6. I need to get my hands on The Last Mrs. Parish. I am adding a couple of these books to my reading list. I love reading Pippi Longstockings to my students each year. They love that story. I also love all the genres you covered in this list and cannot wait to grab a couple!

    1. See, now my boys and I hated Pippi Longstocking! We did read the whole thing hoping it would get better but we just found it so absurd; perhaps if I had read it when they were younger and they thought her antics were more funny we might have enjoyed it more.

  7. I read a lot, but not that many books a year. My dad could read a book a day and sometimes did. He read every book that the high school where he was an assistant principal purchased for the library before it went on the shelves. - Margy

    1. My son often manages to read a book a day but that's just not something I have time to do anymore... I can read a book in about 2 days though.


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