2016 Reading Challenge Recap

reading challenge

What a fun year of reading now come to an end! Not only did I finally get around to reading things that had been on my list for years, I also learned a bit about my reading habits and preferences:

  • I’m an emotional reader; I read best when I choose a title I’m in the mood for. Otherwise, I tend to easily lose interest. About halfway through Challies’ reading challenge, I found the categories a burden and I losing interest in reading (seriously – who wants to read a book about finance?) So I started reading whatever I wanted and just sticking it into any category that loosely fit. Next year I’ll be doing away with even the facade of categories.
  • I enjoy nonfiction more than I expected. Of the 52 books I read this year, 21 were nonfiction. I would rarely have even considered picking up nonfiction before, but I found I enjoy them, especially memoirs and biographies because of their narrative structure. 
  • New favorite authors I discovered this year and would read anything written by them are Wendell Berry, Anthony Doerr, N. D. Wilson, and Zack Eswine.
  • Theology and Christian living books are not as intimidating or difficult as I expected. Of the 52, 16 fell in to these categories. I found (most) of them edifying and sanctifying, though I need to digest them much more slowly than fiction because there is so much in them to think about and apply to my life.
  • Prior to this year my comfort zone was the classics – the novels I knew were worth reading because they’d been around for decades or even centuries. But I’ve found that if you’re willing to do the research, there are modern novels and authors worth reading, like All the Light We Cannot See, Wendell Berry, N. D. Wilson, For the Glory, and The Shallows. The prize-winning or finalists books are a good place to start.

Favorite books: It’s hard to pick just one, so my favorite nonfiction was a tie between Running on Empty and The Shallows. Favorite fiction was All the Light We Cannot See.

Least Favorite books: For nonfiction, Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd – I literally wanted to throw this book across the room several times for not only poor writing (or maybe editing? I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt) but also shallow, disorganized thoughts. In fiction, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett- not terrible, I just didn’t resonate with the driving theme of the book.

Abandoned books: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. It was just way too philosophical for me to follow. Perhaps I will pick it up another year.

Here’s a full list of what I read this year:

  1. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. The Terrible Speed of Mercy by Jonathan Rogers
  4. The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
  5. Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
  6. Forgotten Power by David Butts
  7. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  8. This Is Awkward by Sammy Rhodes
  9. What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
  10. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  11. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  13. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
  14. Running on Empty by Barbara Bancroft
  15. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
  16. Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd
  17. Recovering Eden by Zack Eswine
  18. A World Lost by Wendell Berry
  19. Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine
  20. 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson
  21. Dandelion Fire by N. D. Wilson
  22. The Chestnut King by N. D. Wilson
  23. The Hidden Smile of God by John Piper
  24. Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis
  25. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
  26. Tinkers by Paul Harding
  27. For the Glory by Duncan Hamilton
  28. The Martian by Andy Weir
  29. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield
  30. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  31. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  32. Phantastes by George MacDonald
  33. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  34. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  35. Church Planting is for Wimps by Mike McKinley
  36. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  37. The Family at Church by Joel Beeke
  38. The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
  39. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  40. Small Town Jesus by Donnie Griggs
  41. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  42. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
  43. What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? by Ed Welch
  44. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
  45. Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
  46. The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris
  47. The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
  48. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  49. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  50. That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis
  51. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  52. Call the Sabbath a Delight by Walter Chantry
  53. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Happy reading for 2017!

2 thoughts on “2016 Reading Challenge Recap

  1. I honestly can’t imagine reading that much ! While I enjoy reading, my work schedule just does not allow for that much time. And I find that in the evening I am mentally weary – my mind has difficulty focusing and staying connected. Having said that, you have certainly challenged me to read more.

    Happy reading in 2017 !

    1. Thanks Wendy! I have found that reading easy books (such as ones with fast-paced plots) at the end of the day is helpful when I’m braindead. And reading has become pretty much my only hobby – because I was reading so much, I didn’t sew at all in 2016. I miss sewing, but I love reading. Maybe I will find a balance in 2017.

Leave a Reply