For the past three years I have been attempting the reading challenge created by Tim Challies. In the challenge there are 4 sections to try out, depending on your desire of books to read. I usually don’t stick to one of the sections and just challenge myself with the number of books to read in a year. I use the Reading Challenge as a guide to read genres I would typically not read. Here is the challenge if you are interested in looking at it.
Usually, I fail every year. I challenge myself with 40 books and fall short, but I get closer every year. This year, I will finally reached my goal and I am so excited! Here is the list and a short review of all the books I have read this year.
Reading Challenge = RC
Finished Reading = FR
1. RC – A Novel: “The Word is Murder” by Anthony Horowitz. This is the second book I have read by him and I really like this author. He is the creator of Midsummer Mysteries and Foyle’s War. His books are generally clean of cuss words and sex. I recommend this book to those who like British mystery, who-dun-it books. The books is 390 pages. FR -January 10
2. RC – A Book by or about a missionary: “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret” by Howard and Geraldine Taylor. This book was about the life of Hudson Taylor. Christians should always challenge themselves to read books about missionaries. Hudson’s Taylors faith and life encouraged me to live out my faith more boldly and to stop complaining about things that happen around me that I have no control over. I recommend this book to all Christians or those specifically being called to mission work. This book is 256 pages long. FR – January 28
3. RC – A book about Christian living: “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Don Whitney. This book is about ways to bring order to your faith. It is also a book on freedom through discipline. I really enjoyed this book and took so much out of it. I recommend this book to any Christian needing some structure to their faith. This book is 272 pages. FR – January 29
4. RC – A sad book: “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. This book is one of the best books I have read! The life and pain of its main character, Connor is so very well written you feel like you are Connor yourself. There is also a magical context to the book that just is enough to make the book an instant classic. This is why I love these challenges, because I would have never picked up this book had it not been for this challenge and I am so grateful for it. I recommend this book to anyone who has felt the pain of loss or feels like life is out of control. The book has great pictures also that just add to its depth. It is 237 pages long. FR – February 15
5. RC – A book over 400 pages long: “Scythe” by Neal Shusterman. This is a dystopian book about a world where all diseases and death have been cured. In this world, special people (Scythes) are chosen to do what no longer exists and that is to kill any who they choose. There is an order to it and there is a villain that is despicable. I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it any dystopian lover. This book is 435 long. FR – February 15.
6. RC – A book published in 2019: “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides. This book had a great twist at the end that I had no idea was coming. I literally gasped out loud! It’s about a patient who isn’t speaking and a psychiatrist’s attempt to get her to talk about a murder. I recommend this book for any who like psychological suspense. This book is 323 pages. FR – February 17
7. RC – A book targeted at the opposite gender: “Spartan Fit – 30 Days Transform Your Mind. Transform Your Body. Commit to Grit” by Joe DeSena. This book made me curl up into a ball and feel bad about myself. I found this book by looking up “books for men”. I didn’t want to read about becoming a better leader. I didn’t want to read about becoming rich and my own boss, so I picked this one. This book is for super athletes who don’t mind breaking their bones and then going up a mountain in the winter, carrying a bucket of rocks. I only recommend this book for the super-adrenaline junkies. Don’t read this book if you are just a mere mortal. This book is 256 pages and comes with illustrated training techniques. FR – February 23
8. RC – A biography: “The Butchering Art – Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine” by Lindsey Fitzharris. This book is about Joseph Lister and is not for the faint of heart. There is plenty of information about Victorian medical techniques that just shocked me and made me grateful that I live in a world where doctors wash their hands and patients are anesthetized before amputations!! If you are into biographies, you will like this book. This book is 304 pages. FR – February 27.
9. RC – A book more than 100 years old: “The Wonderful Wizard of OZ” by L. Frank Baum. This is another genre that I wouldn’t normally read, but I am usually grateful I do. This is a rare time when I think the movie was better than the book. Baum seem to be on drugs when he wrote this. But if you like fantasy and easy reads, you will like this book. The book is 154 pages. FR – March 4
10. RC – A book for children or teens: “Closed for the Season” by Mary Hahn. I read this book out loud for my kids. The plot was okay and the characters made my kids laugh, but I hated the attack on conservatives, the religious and republicans. Yes, it was that blatant. Let the kids enjoy your story, without the political brainwashing. Because of this, I don’t recommend this book or this author. This book is 192 pages. FR – March 8.
11. RC – A book a friend recommends: “Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People” by Bob Goff. This book is about loving people radically as Christians. I do warn that this book can easily becoming very humanitarian since Mr. Goff doesn’t use a lot of Scripture in his book. But this book encourages the Christian to get up and love people, even the difficult ones. I recommend this book for strong Christians who know their Scripture and want to be challenged into loving on people the way Christ did, fearlessly. This book is 240 pages. FR – March 9.
12. RC – A book of your choice: “The Chemistry of Death” by Simon Beckett. This book is a psychological thriller. It had a great ending. It is about a doctor helping authorities with a grisly death. If you like thrillers and don’t mind some smelly scenes, you will like this book. This book is 320 pages. FR – March 27
13. RC – A book by an author you have never read before: “Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson. This book is in the Young Adult genre, a genre I usually don’t read. I think I would have enjoyed it more without the usual drama that comes with Young Adult books. But if you like Young Adult tomes, and don’t mind the mean-pretty girl, the conceited-hot boy, the shy-but-pretty-smart girl and the token lesbian/black person; you will like this book. The mystery behind it is great. This book is 416 pages. FR – March 31
14. RC – A classic: “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. I am so happy there is a challenge to read classics. I have really enjoyed reading or re-reading books I have long forgotten. There is a good reason these are classics! If you like books about the human condition, you will like this book. This book is only 103 pages. FR – April 3.
15. RC – A book by someone from a different continent than you: “The Dry” by Jane Harper. This book takes place in Australia and it made me thirsty. Like literally thirsty. The story is good, but it really wasn’t too impressive. The characters were a bit bland and underdeveloped and the past coming to haunt them made me get lost a couple of times about who was who. I don’t recommend this book, it was a bit boring. This book is 352 pages. FR – April 6.
16. RC – A book with a verb in the title: “Blindsighted” by Karin Slaughter. This book was dark and gripping. Slaughter is a superb stoty-teller. If you like Gillian Flynn, you will like this book or if you like thrillers. This book is about awful murders and trying to find a serial killer and is not for the faint of heart. This book is 418 pages. FR – April 14.
17. RC -A commentary: “God of Covenant – A Study of Genesis 12-50” by Jen Wilkin. Jen Wilkin is a great writer. I love it when women study God’s word like this. I recommend to any Christian wanting to know more about these chapters of the Bible. Great read! FR – April 21.
18. RC – A book of your choice: “Thunderhead” by Neal Shusterman. After reading “Scythe” I was so ready to continue the story. I believe the second book is better than the first one! I just wish I would have known that the third book hadn’t come out yet, now I have to wait. The cliffhanger it ends with is almost unbearable! The audio book for this is also stupendous! If you love dystopians, you will absolutely love this series! This book is 504 pages long. FR – April 22
19. RC – A book about science: “The Naturalist” by Andrew Mayne. This book is fictional but contained a lot scientific material. It is about a biologist who is seeking out a serial killer. I really enjoyed reading this book, so much so that I plan on reading all of the books Mr. Mayne writes. I loved following the awkward Dr. Theo Cray around as he solved very heinous crimes. If you love mystery thrillers, you will love this series! This book is 382 pages long. FR – April 29.
20. RC – A book that looks easy to read: “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown. I read this book out loud to my kids and they absolutely loved it! We all fell in love with Roz and Brightbill. We loved this book so much so that we are currently reading the second book in the series! Definitely recommend as a read out loud book for your children. It has pictures and the kids will love this lovable robot’s adventures. This book is 279 pages. FR – April 29.
21. RC – A book of 240 pages or more: “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman. I really thought this book would be as good as Norse Mythology, but it wasn’t. I really couldn’t get into the book. It was a bit too fantastical for me. If you like fantasy this may a book for you. It was a bit too weird and I couldn’t get into it. This book is 304 pages. FR – April 30.
22. RC – A book by a female author: “The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchison. This book was dark and sad. There is a lot of death and I hated the villain in it. This book was very violent towards women. I recommend it only if you have the stomach for an abuser of women. This book is 288 pages. FR – May 13
23. RC – A book of your choice: “The Looking Glass” by Andrew Mayne. I really liked the main character, Dr. Theo Cray. I had to read the second book in this series and I loved it. I can’t wait to get the third book! If you like mystery/scientific thrillers, you will love this series! This book is 312 pages. FR – May 20.
24. RC – A book about Christian Living: “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller. I still have problems with the title of this book. Regardless, the book is a great read about the tendencies of Christians to be hypocrites and the righteous “good” son. I recommend this book to any Christian. It’s also short and to the point at only 139 pages long. FR – May 29
25. RC – A book by an author you have always wanted to read: “The Line Between” by Tosca Lee. I’ve always wanted to read “Demon” by Tosca, but was unable to find it on audio and I had a credit and couldn’t wait to get something! So I settled for this one. It had some romance that was a bit eye-rolling for me, but the story was well written. She is a good writer, but I didn’t like the apocalyptic/plague genre. If you like those kinds of things then you would like this book. It is 384 pages. FR – June 6
26. RC – A book about an interest of yours: “Well Nourished – A Guide to Mindful Eating, Inner Nourishment and Feeding Your Whole Self” by Andrea Liberstein. This book has a lot of pointers but I am a person who needs things simplified. Most of this book was making eating more difficult and time consuming. I really don’t recommend this book. It felt like a waste of time. This book is 208 pages long with illustrations. FR – June 18
27. RC – A book with a great cover: “Krampus” by Brom. This man is a great artist and writer. He is an excellent story teller and creates places that make me feel I am there. This book is about Santa Clause’s nemesis and makes you root for the anti-hero. If you like folk lore, you will love this book! It is 357 pages. FR – June 22
28.RC – A book of your choice: “Rosemary’s Baby” by Ira Levin. I really wished I had never seen this movie. I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more than I already did. It is very well written and did have a lot of tense moments. If you like suspenseful novels with a religious twist, you will love this book. It is 308 pages long. FR – July 2
29. RC – A book about Europe: “Night” by Elie Weisel. This book is also a classic and should be read by all. It is a book about the depravity of man. This book made me cry and shake my head at how awful we are to one another. I recommend this book to anyone who likes history, the holocaust and/or biographies. This book is 115 pages. FR – July 4.
30. RC – A book about animals: “Shadow Beast” by Luke Phillips. Again this is a genre I would not normally pick. This book was okay, but I just couldn’t get into it much. And it had some romance in it that was eye-rolling. If you like books about animals who hunt humans, you will like this book. This book is 380 pages long. FR – July 10
31. RC – A book about Canada, Set in Canada, or written by a Canadian: “Deja Dead” by Kathy Reichs. I am so happy I picked up this book, I really enjoyed it and was ecstatic to find out about the many books in this series. This is a medical thriller and if you like that genre, you will really like this series. If you like BONES, I have heard you may not like the book. This book is 532 pages long. FR – August 5
32. RC – A book by Jerry Bridges: “True Community – The Biblical Practice of Koinonia” by Jerry Bridges. This was a great book! I loved it and recommend it to all Christians wanting to expand their love to their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This book is 176 pages long. FR – August 12
33. RC – A book of your choice: “Gretchen” by Shannon Kirk. This book was good. If you are interested in the dark thrillers with twists or if you like Gillian Flynn, you really will like this book. This book is 353 pages long. FR – August 20
34. RC – A book about a Christian: “Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce” by John Piper. It is always good to read about people who fought the good fight in regards to our faith. It is always challenging and encouraging when I read about these giants of the faith. This book is for any Christian wanting to know more about this phenomenal man. He was busy for the Lord. This was a short book of 76 pages. FR – August 27
35. RC – A book on the EPCA bestseller list: “Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan. This book blew my mind and came at the perfect time in my faith. Like always, Mr. Chan is challenging and exhorts us to step out of our comfort zone and seek a higher calling. I loved this book and I have changed several things in my spiritual life because of it. I recommend this book to any Christian ready to take the next step in their faith. This book was 224 pages long. FR – August 31
36. RC – A book based on a true story: “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” by Michelle McNamara. This book scared the heck out of me. At night I made sure my doors were always locked. This book is about several serial killers and what they did. It was my first true crime book. I don’t think I can handle this genre. I recommend this book to anyone who likes true crime books. This book is 352 pages long. FR – September 9
37. RC – A book about Christian living: “A Hunger for God” by John Piper. I like to pick out books about things I know I am struggling with in my faith. Fasting is one of them. This book was a wonderful read and very informative on what God expects from His children. I recommend this book to all Christians, especially those who want to honor God more with fasting. This book is 240 pages long. FR – September 16
38. RC – A book by Francis Schaffer: “The God Who is There” by Francis Schaeffer. I have never read a book by this author, but I had heard of him and decided to give him a try. I honestly couldn’t stand the book. He drew too much spirituality out of mundane art pieces. Yes, some were really well done, but I couldn’t really care for the depth he seemed to be forcing out of some works of art. If you like philosophy in respects to your faith, then you may like this book. This is book is 226 pages long. FR – September 19
39. RC – A children’s book: “The Wild Robot Escapes” by Peter Brown. I read this book out loud to my children and they loved it. It is the last book of the 2 book series and we were sad that there are no more books to read about this lovable robot. There is also a tender adoption story in the plot that my children really connected with also. I recommend these books to all who are children at heart. The book is 279 pages long. FR – September 30
40. RC – A book about an interest of yours: “The Huntress” by Kate Quinn. I have always wanted to know more about the Night Witches – Russian women pilots that bombed Germans during WWII. This book is historical fiction and deals with the aftermaths of WWII. It is written from the perspectives of several people, so it was a little difficult to remember who was who in the book. There is a lesbian romance also that I found a little annoying, but that’s life. Thankfully it wasn’t so descriptive. I recommend this book to women who would like to know more about these Russian pilots and about other aspects of WWII. This book is 560 pages long. FR – October 19
I look forward to next year’s challenge. I think I may try 45 books next year we will see. I am still reading my books, but only books of my choice right now. Currently, I am reading “The Shining” by Stephen King, “Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible” by Sandra Glahn and “The Toll” by Neal Shusterman