my own personal reading challenge

Every year, Goodreads has a reading challenge. It is pretty basic: “how many books do you want to read this year?” I have done it for the past three or four years, and while it is a good motivator to read more, reading more is not my issue. Last year, I read 153 books. My issue, reading so much, is that I find myself forgetting a lot of what I have read. Seeing a book he knows I have read, Bryan will ask me a question about it, but a lot of the time, I will only be able to shrug noncommittally rather than reply. I move on so quickly from one thing that I barely have time to digest what I have read before I am diving headlong into the next. That is one of the reasons I started the Young Adulters book club; I knew that it would force me to slow down, to really engage with what I was reading, in order to facilitate discussion. I also started a reading journal, where I write down quotes that grab me, thoughts on the characters and plot, questions I need addressed, etc. It has helped me, as well, but it is also easy to forget about it.

So this year, instead of choosing another high number of books to read, I chose a relatively low one, and I am focusing, instead, on going deeper. On choosing to read books that really resonate with me, or challenge me. I was going to do the PopSugar reading challenge, but I quickly realized that that was more of the same: forcing myself into a box not of my own choosing. Instead, I’m building my own box. Or rather, a map out of my box, where I have snuggled up with the things that make me comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to read the things that I love, but I am also going to go out of my way to search out new reading experiences that are a little bit outside my realm of experience, outside my comfort zone. That is where life is supposed to start, right?

I have nine personal reading goals for 2016. They are as follows:

  1. Read 1 book per month by a non-white, non-Canadian/American/British writer. I used this resource to come up with a list of possibilities.
  2. Read 5 classic novels.
  3. Read 1 book from a political viewpoint that I disagree with. (Ann Coulter, maybe?)
  4. Read 1 biography.
  5. Read 3 books of poetry.
  6. Read 5 plays not written by Shakespeare.
  7. Read 1 history book.
  8. Read 1 book on finance or business.
  9. Read 1 book that is more than 800 pages.

If I think of any more, I will add them at a later date! I also plan on posting about my literary adventures, so be sure to follow along. For now, tell me: what do you plan on reading in 2016?

my own personal reading challenge

Book of the Month: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


When we went to Florida in March, I took Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park with me. I devoured it on the plane, finishing it beside the pool in Orlando. I could not wait for my other Rainbow Rowell hold, Fangirl, to come into the library, and the moment I got my hands on it, I stopped reading everything else and dove in.

Rainbow Rowell is one of my new favorite authors. She has a gift for pulling into being these compelling, complicated characters that feel like they are breathing right next to you on your couch.

Fangirl is about a girl, Cath, who is obsessed with a book series, Simon Snow. Her and her twin sister, Wren, have always been in it together, and have been writing fanfiction for years. They are off to college now, though, and Wren is pulling away, distancing herself from the fangirls that they used to be, and Cath is left to figure things out more and more on her own. In the process, she learns a lot about herself, manages to make some new friends, and find a boyfriend, too.

I don’t know exactly what it was about Fangirl that spoke to me. Perhaps it is that I, too, am a fangirl about a lot of things. I even used to dabble in writing fanfiction (though none of it was ever any good). Perhaps it is that I identified very strongly with her first-year-of-college experience, and that I am so attached to my own experience of it, revisiting it in my mind more often than is probably healthy. Perhaps it is that Cath is a bit strange, and I have been working harder lately to embrace my own strangeness, to let my freak flag fly, you might say.

There are a lot of things to love about this book. There were a few times when the romance thing got a little bit off the rails with the gooeyness, but at the same time, I remember those feelings. I remember what it felt like when Bryan and I first got together, and it was a lot like that. So I can’t fault the book for that, since that is just an accurate depiction of how young love feels.

Anyway, if you are looking for a great book with great characters and a fun plot, this is my pick! Go check it (and Eleanor & Park, though a slightly less “fun” read) out of your local library today.

Book of the Month: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell