52 Books Reading Challenge

I had a lot of fun with this 52 book reading challenge I tackled a few years ago and thought it was time to search for another one.  While I don't always enjoy having my book choices narrowed down for me, I do find that these challenges stretch me to reach beyond my normal book selections and broaden my horizons.  

I found this great challenge with some new ides on Mommy Mannegren's blog and decided to use that to challenge myself this year. While I managed to read well over 100 books it took me until the very end of the year to finish the challenge as there were a few categories I kept putting off. 

1. A book with the letter W in the title-- Pretty Guilty Women by Gina Lamanna-- When old college friends and family unite at a week long wedding extravaganza no one would have believed that a man would turn up dead and 4 different women would confess to killing him.

2.  A hardcover-- Night Road by Kristen Hannah-- Lexie, Mia, and Zach become an inseparable threesome during high school until one fateful night that changes the course of all their lives.

3.  By an indigenous author--Two Old Women by Velma Wallis-- Based on a tale told by the Athabaskan tribe of two old women who were left to die by their tribe one horribly cold winter.  The two women worked together to survive the long winter. 

4.  Set in winter-- In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn-- Finn's life ends In an Instant as her and 10 of her family members and friends plummet over the side of a cliff one winter's night. We watch through Finn's eyes as those she love struggle to survive and deal with those choices long after they are rescued.

5.  A character who is a senior-- The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan-- Boop is in her 80's and looking to sell her family home but she wants one last girls week with her best friends.  When her granddaughter Hannah shows up with some unexpected problems Boop can't help but remember the summer she turned 18 and her whole world changed.

6.  Written in the 1970's- Love Story by Erich Segal-- I haven't read this story in ages and ages but I remember being pretty obsessed with both it and the movie in my late teens.  I wanted to re-read it to see how it had changed in meaning for me now.  I still loved it and discovered there was a second book in the series!  I also read Oliver's Story (and watched the movie too). 

7. An author local to you-- The Night Before by Luanne Rice-- I was pleasantly surprised to realize that Luanne Rice lives in our state.  I shouldn't have been surprised since most of her books take place in Connecticut! In this short story a storm rages through a local tree farm the night before they are hosting a wedding.

8.  Orange on the cover-- Twisted Twenty- Six by Janet Evanovich-- In book 26 of the Stephanie Plum series Stephanie is trying to protect  her grandmother from being kidnapped by a group of geriatric mobsters who think she has the keys to their fortune.

9.  Set in space--The Space Between the Stars by Ann Corlett-- Jamie is one of the .001% to survive an inter-galactic pandemic and feels completely alone on her colony until she receives a message from Earth that gives her hope that someone she knows may have survived too. 


10. A best seller-- Verity by Colleen Hoover--  When she's hired to finish writing Verity Crawford's latest book Lowen has no idea what she's in for. She stumbles upon an unpublished manuscript that documents Verity's life and Lowen can not seem to put it down.

11.  A book that leaves you thinking-- The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes-- I loved this historical fiction novel about the packhorse librarians of Kentucky.  I never knew that packhorse librarians were a thing set up by Elanor Roosevelt as part of the WPA.

12. A "guilty pleasure"-- Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand-- I just love Elin's books and this was an iconic Nantucket book with lots of secrets and lies and intrigue. Three women meet each year for a midnight swim and catch up session on one of Nantucket's beaches but this year one of the ladies goes missing.

13. Written by a female author-- Out of the Easy by Rupta Sepetys-- Josie Moraine has grown up in New Orleans, the daughter of a prostitute.  At 17 on the cusp of turning 18, she is determined to leave the town and all the whispers behind her but unexpectedly gets caught up in a murder scandal.

14.  Book in a series-- The Nantucket Inn by Pamela Kelley-- I enjoyed this first book in the Nantucket Beach Plum Cove series so much that I read all 4 of the books in one week. When Lisa decides to turn her house into a B&B her whole family pitches in to help; despite each of them having their own life dramas to deal with.

15.  Book with a romance-- The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty-- Ellen is a hypnotherapist who is dating a wonderful man.  Turns out he's got an old girlfriend stalking him and while Ellen doesn't yet know it that stalker is one of her patients.

16.  Borrowed from a friend-- High Country Bride by Linda Lael Miller-- My mother in law thought I'd enjoy reading this historical fiction. It was a cute story about Emmaline who signs up to be a mail order bride for Rafe McKentrick.  Rafe's father has promised to leave his ranch to whichever one of his sons marries and produces an heir first.  Rafe has no idea what to expect with a mail order bride and is pleasantly surprised that Emmaline is beautiful and spirited.  However Emmaline is keeping a secret that might just ruin everything.  

17.  Written by more than one author-- The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, & Allyson Charles-- I had no idea when I picked this book up that it was really a set of short stories.  All three are set in the town of Moonbright, Maine and are intertwined slightly.  I thought they were so cute and fun. 

18.  Published in 2020-- Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews -- When Conley unexpectedly finds herself back at home in Florida and working for the family paper for the summer she is assigned to rewrite the gossip column until one unexpected accident that claims the life of a local congressman becomes the start of a media frenzy.

19.  A Stephen King novel-- Elevation-- I'll be honest, I'm not a huge Stephen King fan.  I had read quite a few of his books in middle & high school when they were popular with my friends but I never really loved them.  I picked this book because it was one of his shortest and ended up really enjoying it! Scott is steadily losing weight even though he doesn't look any differently the other weird thing is that even if he's holding weights or items on the scale with him the numbers never change.  

20.  An author who's last name starts with the same initial as yours-- Last Day by Luanne Rice-- I love a good murder mystery and this book did not disappoint.  When Beth is found strangled in her suburban CT home her sister Kate teams up with Detective Reid to figure out who would want her sister dead and find out who stole the paining Moonlight; a weird parallel to the night their mother was taken.

21.  Written by a blogger or journalist- I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel (creator of Modern Mrs. Darcy)--This was such a fun book all about books and what it's like to have a love of reading.

22. A character that frustrates you-- Regretting You by Colleen Hoover-- While I just loved this story I couldn't help but keep thinking if the mother and daughter just communicated they would have had such an easier time dealing with their grief!

23.  Title beginning with A-- Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane-- Two families living next door to each other who's son and daughter become best friends until the day an unspeakable tragedy occurs and the families must find a way to keep going.

24.  Title beginning with B- Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe-- This 5th book in the series finds Cara Rutledge moving back home to the beach house to be surrounded by family.  Her niece Linnea moves in with her both open their hearts to the lessons of nature and the possibilities of love. 

25.  Title beginning with C-- City of Thieves by David Benioff-- Two boys who have been arrested in Russia during the war are given the option to try and find a dozen eggs for the colonel's daughter's wedding to save themselves from certain death.

26. A strong "friendship" theme-- The Perfect Dress by Carolyn Brown--  Mitzi and her two friends Paul and Jody run a bridal shop designing one of a kind dresses for plus sized brides and their bridesmaids.

27. A comic book-- The Red Pyramid: Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan & Orpheus Collar- My boys are huge graphic novel fans and offered to lend me on of their favorites.  Since I had already read the Kane Chronicles I knew the basic storyline. I, once again, found myself wishing for more details in the storyline.  

28.  Literary fiction-- The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa-- Another fabulous World War II historical fiction written in two time frames.  Hannah and her family are fleeing Germany before the start of World War II and Anna is searching for clues about her father's family since her father died before she was born.  The two find themselves meeting in Cuba and find that their stories are interwoven.  I loved reading all the notes in the back about which parts were based on real life occurrences-- I didn't know much about Cuba's role during this time.

29.  An award wining novel--All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr-- A powerful WWII historical fiction novel about a blind girl from Paris who moves to a city by the sea with her father to try and survive while hiding a relic from the museum her father works at & an orphaned German boy who is recruited into Hitler's army when he shows skills with using & repairing radios.

30. A book with recipes inside-- The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel &  Nancy Garfunkel-- A fun book chock full of recipes.  Written as a series of letters and recipes back and forth between Lilly and Val the reader also sees their life long friendship and the cause of their long silence in each other's lives. 

31.  A book featuring royalty-- American Royals by Katharine McGee-- A fun fictional story about what would have happened if George Washington and his wife became America's royalty after the revolutionary war.

32.  A spy novel-- Spy by Danielle Steel-- Alex is recruited by SOE and trained as a spy during the second world war.  After the war she is recruited by MI6 to report to them while she follows her husband around the world in his job as ambassador.

33.  A book containing poetry-- Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner-- This murder mystery novel was fun and fast paced.  Daphne, the main character, often thinks with words or verses from poems and even recites a full poem at a funeral she attends.

34. A book with illustrations-- Essential Oils: All-natural remedies and recipes for your mind, body,  and home by Susan Curtis-- A beautifully illustrated book about essential oils, how they are made, how to use and mix them, and so much more.

35.  An author's debut book-- The Glass Castle; A memoir by Jeannette Walls--  This book reminded me so much of Educated.. growing up with a nomadic existence and unconventional parents Jeanette reveals what life was like with her family.

36.  Written in the first person-- Inheritance; A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, & Love by Dani Shapiro-- In her 50's Dani submits some DNA to Ancestry.com and discovers that the man she always thought of as her father is not actually related to her.  She goes on a hunt to find her biological father and struggles with her identity because of her DNA results.

37.  A book featuring the medical profession-- The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin-- This novel reminded me so much of Grey's Anatomy.  A story about two best friends who went through medical school together.  An old doctor that mentored them shows up in the town where they are living and practicing medicine and stirs up old memories and secrets.

38.  Set in the future-- Golden in Death by J. D. Robb-- The 50th book in the Eve Dallas series finds Eve and her team of cops and civilians trying to hunt down a killer that sent a toxin the mail to one Dr. Abner, who is turning out to be quite the beloved pediatrician.

39.  A book used in a celebrity's book club-- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Reese Witherspoon's Sept. 2017 pick)-- I just knew I had to read this book when I saw that Reese was starring in the Hulu remake of the book. When Elena Richardson meets Mia Warren and her daughter she has no idea just how much all their lives are about to change.

40. A book on the Mensa reading list for grades 9-12-- A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute-- I was skeptical to read anything on the Mensa reading list but I really liked this book so much!  Part love story, part historical fiction, part women's empowerment it was a fabulous read.

41.  Published when you were 20-- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone By J.K. Rowling (released in 1997)-- My boys and I re-read all the Harry Potter books this year.  This is the first book in the series where Harry discovers that he's a wizard and attends Hogwarts for the very first time.

42. Reuse a prompt from a past year (an author you've never heard of before)- Room to Breathe by Liz Talley-- Daphne and her daughter Ellery are having a tough time relating to one another.  After her divorce Daphne is redecorating her house so she can sell it.  Ellery is fresh out of college and struggling to find her place in the world. After much fighting and strife, Daphne decides to give her daughter room to breathe.

43. Set in a country you've never visited before-- The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys-- Set in Spain this novel look at life under Franco's rule.  18 year old Daniel is an American visiting Spain in the 1950's.  He meets and falls in love with Ana who works at the hotel where he is staying but secrets, whispers and his photo journalism project get him into trouble.  A deeply moving story.  

44.  "Recommended" to you by Amazon-- After finishing up the Nantucket series by Pamela Kelley Amazon recommended I try the Candle Beach series by Nicole Ellis. I downloaded all 8 books and eagerly dug into Sweet Beginnings.  It was such a cute story where Dahlia inherits her aunt's home and bookstore in Candle Beach.  Each of the next 7 books in the series deals with the same cast of characters (with a new one thrown in now and then.)

45. A book that cost less than $5-- The Dressmaker's Gift by Fiona Valpy was a Kindle First free read that I finally got around to reading-- Told in two parts this story looks at the life of three seamstresses living in Paris during the war.  Claire arrives in Paris to live and work in the same building as her grandmother during the way hoping to learn more about the history of her family.

46. By an author used in an earlier category-- 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand-- A typical Nantucket novel written in Elin's usual style.  This book focuses on two main characters that carry on a "same time, next year" affair on the island of Nantucket for 18 years.

47.  Story takes place on a form of transportation-- The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware-- Quite a page turner! When Lo takes a trip on a luxury cruise line's maiden voyage she is having an OK time until she thinks she hears a woman thrown overboard in the middle of the night... a woman no one notices is missing on a tiny boat with just 10 cabins.  

48. Character who wears glasses-- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven-- Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on a ledge.  Violet has been struggling since her sister's death; wearing her glasses, refusing to ride in a car, avoiding all the things she used to enjoy.  Finch struggles with great periods of high and lows but finds a new found reason to live in his friendship with Violet. While this book did not have a happy ending and dealt with some really heavy topics I did enjoy it.

49.  About a world leader-- The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson-I enjoyed this book so much! When the president of the United States is fighting off an imminent terrorist threat he retreats to a cabin in the woods with just few trusted advisors.  While clocking in at over 500 pages it was a gripping, page- turning novel.  

50. An author you previously disliked--I struggled with this category because I couldn't think of any authors I disliked. Pulling up old book posts though I discovered that after reading the Year We Turned 40 and not really liking it much I never gave Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke another try.  I decided to give them one more go with The Status of All Things  and thought it was a pretty cute story.  

51. A genre you don't normally care for--  (Fantasy)-- While I love the whole Harry Potter series, I am not generally a fan of fantasy novels.  My youngest two boys have been reading the Wings of Fire series and have wanted me to read them too but talking dragons & a whole society built on prophecies is not really my thing but I decided to give it a try.  I read Moon Rising by Tui T. Sutherland and found that I really enjoyed it a lot!  It is such a cute series.  

52. A book with a foreword -- The Other Side of the Coin; The Queen, The Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela KellyI really enjoyed this book that chronicled what it has been like for Kelly working with the Queen & designing clothes for her to wear.  

You can see the ALL 116 books I read this year by clicking on each individual link:

Linking Up With:


  1. Wow! Congratulations for reading so many books:

    1. Thank you! Technically I'm only at 114 right now but know that I can easily read 2 more books in the next two weeks.

  2. What a wonderful year in books! I've read a few, there are a few I already have on my TBR list and a few I'm writing down. I loved this.

  3. Wow! That's a lot of books! Impressive!

  4. YOU ARE GIVING ME SO MANY GOOD BOOK IDEAS. I love Janet Evanovich. I have read to 16; I believe. I lost count. I also love Jojo Moyes too. I have been getting holds from the library and now they all have come in. I currently have 8 books that I have to read. I told my husband I am spending the week between Christmas and New Year's off of social media and only reading. I need to do it for my soul. :)

    1. I finally stopped requesting books from our library (only temporarily!) because I had so many holds coming in I literally could not find them to read them all! I think that sounds like the perfect way to pas the time between Christmas and New year's.

  5. Great job! I try to do a few reading challenges because I like how it directs my reading.

    1. I sometimes like that it directs my reading... other times I find myself wishing I could just pick books I want to read. So I like to do a bit of both.

  6. Way to go! I think I need to find a reading challenge for 2021.

    1. Thanks! It's a fun way to break out of that reading rut. I always take a year off in between challenges to read all those other books that I have piling up!


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