Admittedly, 2019 was not a banner year in the reading department for me. My goal was to read 36 books over the course of the year, or approximately 3 books per month. While I did come close (as of this writing, 32 of 36 books), this is the first year since I started setting a goal for myself that I didn’t make it. It’s not a huge disappointment in the grand scheme of things especially as last year I just barely made that goal and this has been a particularly difficult year. But I am disappointed that I didn’t manage my downtime better.
At any rate, even though I didn’t read a whole lot of books this year, most of the ones I read were very good. Here’s a little summary of the different challenges in which I participated and what my reading goals are for next year.
Back to the Classics Challenge (8/12)
I’ll start with my favorite of the book challenges and the one that can also be the most difficult to complete. Before I started participating in this challenge each year, my book selections were primarily modern. The Back to the Classics Challenge has been an encouragement to me to step out of that modern book comfort zone and explore older tomes (for this year, those published before 1969) that I probably wouldn’t otherwise even give a second glance. I didn’t make my goal of reading all 12 categories this year, but I enjoyed the ones I did read!
- 19th-century classic: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
- 20th-century classic: Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien
- classic by a female author: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
classic in translation
- classic comedy: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
- classic tragedy: Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Brontë
very long classic (>500 pages): I started to read The Once and Future King, but had to return it to the library before I finished. Wuthering Heights could’ve also fit in this category.
- classic novella (<250 pages): Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
- classic from the Americas (includes the Caribbean): The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley
- classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia): I still have hope for this one as I’m currently reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
- classic from a place you’ve lived: Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (I grew up in Minnesota)
And looking over this list, I just realized that I did not read one Austen novel this year (though I did start Northanger Abbey)…. that’s a first in several years. Maybe Charlotte Brontë can be my substitute this year.
Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge (9/10)
The Modern. Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge is the one in which I’ve participated the longest and is a little more flexible than the Back to the Classics Challenge as books of any date can be used. Usually I don’t pick books in advance for these categories but just fill in as I read where things fit.
- a book you’ve been meaning to read: Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte
- a book about a topic that fascinates you: Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
- a book in the backlist of a favorite author: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
- a book recommended by someone with great taste: Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien
three books by the same author:I listened to two Jan Karon books, but didn’t make it to a third
- a book you chose for the cover: The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
- a book by an author who is new to you: The Green Ember by S. D. Smith
- a book in translation: Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
- a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin
- a book published before you were born: The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
I also thought I might try the categories in the Modern Classics Challenge, but didn’t get far and there was some overlap with Modern Mrs. Darcy, so I’m not posting those. Other books I read that don’t fall under either of these categories are:
- The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde
- Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren
- Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
- Your Eight-Year-Old by Louise Bates Ames
- Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
- At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
- Marry Cassatt: A Life by Nancy Mowll Matthews
- Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
- Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers
- A Light in the Window by Jan Karon
- Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Emily Carr by Maria Tippett
- The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
- Holiness by Andrew Murray
- Leonardo da Vinci by Emily Hahn
Goals for 2020
I’m really hesitant to even give myself a goal of reading x number of books in 2020 because in the last few years it has really felt like just.another.thing added to my todo list. The future also feels really uncertain right now for our little family so I’m not even sure I’ll have the luxury of having time to sit down and read in the new year. On the flipside, I feel like this particular addition to my todo list isn’t superfluous. I’ve written before that I believe mother culture is important and I know I need to make it a priority.
So, I’m still going to give myself a goal, but dial it back quite a bit. Instead of 3 books per month, I’m going to move that down to a more comfortable 2 books per month, which gives me a total goal of 24 books for the year. That seems sad to me, but it also seems more realistic and a little bit of a relief, which helps negate the sadness and hopefully will allow me to actually enjoy reading more as I’m not worried about meeting an arbitrary goal.
As of this writing, the new Back to the Classics Challenge hasn’t been posted yet, so I’m not sure it’s going to be around officially this year. Either way, I do plan on continuing on with the classics tradition as I’ve enjoyed these books so much more than I thought I would once I actually gave them a chance. If she does happen to host the challenge again and posts the categories soon, I’ll update this post with my picks. If not, I may go back and use the categories she posted for 2014.
Since I can’t set goals for the Back to the Classics Challenge yet, I’m going to put down a few ideas for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge here:
- a book published the decade you were born: One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
- a debut novel: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
- a book recommended by a source you trust: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
- a book by a local author: The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf
- a book outside your (genre) comfort zone: I’m going to have to think about this one…
- a book in translation: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- a book nominated for an award in 2020: obviously need to wait on this one…
- a re-read: I’m not sure I’ll do this one. I feel like my time is so limited already that I’d rather read something new, but we’ll see.
- a classic you didn’t read in school: Emma? Northanger Abbey? probably something by Jane Austen
- three books by the same author: I think Chief Inspector Gamache and I are going to become good friends this year as I absolutely love the narrator of these books and a few trips to Three Pines might be a nice reprieve while I’m folding laundry or driving somewhere
What are your reading goals for the new year?